I met Hin Du frontman and guitarist, Austin Ferreira, on a quintessential sunny Southern California morning in Huntington Beach. Austin is a laid back kind of dude dressed in what looks like a ’70s vintage corduroy jacket, RVCA button up, tight, but not too tight, black pants and black on black Chucks. His laid back attitude is probably due to the So Cal environment that he was raised in. He was weaned on a diet of surf, skate and classic rock. At 16 he and his buddies started a band, Hindu Pirates, and stayed busy for the next 5 years playing everything from local backyard parties to SXSW. Together the boys literally learned to play their instruments and went on the crazy journey of finding themselves and their sound.
Now going by the name Hin Du, the band has matured into a sound that is both grounded in classic rock/blues and speckled with fun surf rock riffs and psychedelic imaginings. They describe their music as “combo rock” and it really is a sound that almost anyone can find something to like. Dedicated to perfecting their music, they have nightly band practice in a small walk-in closet studio in the arts district of downtown Santa Ana, all still work day jobs (Austin is a balloon artist for kids, which he prefers it to the retail job he was doing previously). Now with the near completion of their sophomore album they’re busy getting ready to debut the new music at a few LA area shows.
Tell me about Hin Du’s journey into the world of playing music.
As kids we all had similar backgrounds in music. Ben (drums) and Derek (guitar/bass) did the APA (Academy for Performing Arts) program at Huntington Beach High School (a special academy focused on fine arts). I was asked, but I wasn’t into it. And everyone has taken some sort of lessons when we were little, like piano. I took drum lessons, which was really my first step into music.
So you started on drums?
Well, piano, actually. My parents were like, “you have to take piano before drums.” So I took piano for a year and then they said, “ok, you can start taking drum lessons.” I wanted a drum set right away, but they were said, “no, you have to play on a drum pad for another year.” So I had to play on this little tiny drum pad for a year before I could get a real drum set and make loud noises.
Did you eventually get the drum set?
Where was that set up?
It was in my room next to my bunk beds.
Whoa, brave parents.
Yeah, my parents were really supportive of all my musical endeavors.
Was there a lot of music on in the house growing up?
Totally! All of us come from families that listen to music. Derek’s Dad has records all over the house. We’d hear great music all the time. My Dad grew up in the seventies so we listened to a lot of the Stones and Zepplin, all the classic rock stuff. I didn’t really listen to a lot of new music that was big when I was growing up. He didn’t really let me listen to all that. He said, “that’s all crap!” I kind of figured out more new contemporary music that I’m into recently.
What contemporary music are you into now?
We all really like the Flaming Lips. All the stuff Tame Impala is doing is really cool. There are so many great artist out there. We listen to a lot of blues too. Surf/blues is actually where we started and where we wanted to be. Now, we’ve gone in a little of a different direction.
Why the name change from “Hindu Pirates” to Hin Du?
Like I said, we started out as a surf/punk band and Hindu Pirates fit the name and the vibe of the music. We had established our sound as Hindu Pirates. Then as one of the members left and the sound started progressing into something else we didn’t identify with it anymore.
How long ago was that?
A year and a half ago he left, in June 2013. Since then we’ve brought in another friend, who’s name is Austin as well, to play keys. We had the idea to change the name for awhile, but we didn’t know when or how to do it. So we kept playing as Hindu Pirates until we established the new sound we were going after and then made a change when it felt right.
I read an interview where you said you recorded your first album, when you were still surf-rock, in 8 hours?
Yeah, we just went for it. There’s a band called Gestapo Khazi that used to be around, but they don’t play anymore. They had an old studio in Signal Hill that was all analog. It was just a 16 track tape set-up. So we got in there around 11 in the morning and did it in 8 hours. At the time we were still figuring it all out. It was all kind of funny. We could play the songs and jam, but we were still learning how to play with each other. We didn’t have vocals so I would just be like waving my hands and signal “there is a change coming. Do the change and go to the next part.” Stuff like that, that was funny. We busted out the vocals on top of it and called it good. It was straight up what it was…surf rock.
Where did you guys practice? In your bedroom with your drum set and bunk beds?
(Laughs) Nah, those were long gone by then. We played in Ben, the drummer’s, garage.
So literally garage rock?
Yeah, straight up. We were lucky enough that his (Ben’s) parents didn’t mind too much. As long as we stopped by 7 o’clock.
Go do your homework?
Yeah, we were all in High School then, so yeah.
You guys got a good following going while you were still in High School.
I don’t really know how that happened, but it did. We played a lot of warehouse parties and all-age venues. We couldn’t play bars anyway, they’d just kick us out. So we played private parties and warehouse events.
Is it a lot of the same fans now aging with you and coming to those 21 and over venues you now play?
I’ve noticed that, there’s a lot of kids I’ve seen for awhile. You recognize faces that have stuck around. Then there’s new kids and I’ve noticed older people too. It seems as though it is growing in a good organic direction.
After your first album you were invited to the Hurley Studios to record an EP. What was that experience like?
We did some stuff there about two years ago. It was a cool experience because most of the recording we had done prior were in my house and then that Signal Hill studio. So going from that kind of set-up to gnarly professional set-up with microphones was cool. It was really cool.
How did they find you guys?
We played Hurley for some parties, like warehouse parties at Hurley headquarters. And after one of the nights Davy approached me and asked what we were doing and if we had a record or anything. I said we had an old record, the Pelican Daze one, and he was like, “do you guys want to come in and maybe record some songs?” So we did.
Did you write new material for it?
Yeah, we pretty much literally wrote in the studio. We had raw ideas and went in there and sat down and put things together and just started building stuff. It was a cool experience because we had never done that. It really helped us grow and develop as musicians and writers.
You have a new album you’ve been working on, have you finished it?
We recorded it, it’s been mixed and now we are in that in-between stage.
Where was that album recorded at?
Well, over the past year we’ve wrote all new material and were building our new sound. A guy named Joel Jerome (Joel Morales), who runs a studio over in Eagle Rock and Highland Park area in LA and records tons of bands and is a genius and a cool dude; we asked him if we could come and record. So he co-produced the album with us. We took a little more time on this one. We took a full week and stayed in LA and record all day and hung out at night. Got a nice vibe going. It’s not all the way finished though, it’s mixed but not mastered and we’re not sure who we are going to put it out with. We are shopping it around and waiting to see what happens in the next couple of months.
At your shows I notice a couple of things. I see the surf kids instantly crowd surfing and chicks freaking out.
Yeah, instantly. I’ve always thought that was funny and they go crazy. It’s an outlet.
What’s the craziest things you’ve seen your fans do?
I’ve seen some funny stuff. We did this warehouse party once for this tape we made. The tape we made, and I guess you could call it an album, but we never really released it or anything.
Why? Did you sell it out of your trunk of your car or what?
We actually lost all the copies in Texas. We had a show and left and went back to this ranch where we were staying at and then we realized, “oh we forgot the merch.” And there’s no going back at Southby (SXSW) and getting it back.
How many shows did you play at SXSW?
We were there in 2012 and played four shows. One of the shows we didn’t even have a PA. Since we didn’t have sound we just jammed instrumentals for an hour and it worked. That was actually a cool experience.
So what did these crazy fans do at the warehouse party?
Oh yeah! So it was our tape release party and we made 250 tapes and we were just going to sell them and that was it. So, we were expecting a couple hundred people and it got way out of control. I think because we put “FREE BEER” on the flyer there was about 400 people there. There was one crowd that showed up that was a little shady. So they stopped serving these guys beer and they got pissed. So one of the guys was so wasted. We were playing on the stage and behind the stage was this big step van. We were plastered drunk and I was up on top of the step van and the PA blew up. Yeah, we always have PA problems. So we were jamming and making noise. I was on top of the step van and this homie guy that was wasted climbs up and starts taking off all his clothes. He gets fully naked on top of the van. And I’m banging on the side of the van looking up at this guys wondering what is going on. It was crazy. Then these girls start climbing up the side too. Finally, they (the promoters) were like, “if you guys get up on here again we are shutting it down.” And they tried to kick out the dude that took his pants off and his friends start throwing bottles at the van. They’re breaking and shattering bottles, people were screaming. Next thing you know a full on brawl starts in this small caged in area with 400 people. It was crazy. I got punched in the face. It was the most surreal and insane night. Kids getting hit in the face with skateboards. It was pandemonium.
Whoa, I was not expecting a story like that. I thought maybe a girl taking off her top and throwing it on the stage.
Yeah (laughs) that’s happened, for sure.
What’s next for you guys? When do we get to hear the new material?
We have a show with KCRW on the 21st with Hanni El Khatib at the Del Monte Speak Easy in Venice. Then we have Beach Goth on October 25th . I like the line-up this year because it is a wider variety. I’m looking forward to seeing Foxygen, DIIV, The Drums and of course The Growlers.
Why does music matters to you and Hin Du?
It’s the only thing we really know. It’s how it goes. I never got a real interest or felt a real passion to go to school or become an accountant or something. This is really the only thing I’ve ever really been drawn to this much. The same with the other guys too. It is what we know. We’ve grown up around it we’ve been doing it for half a decade now, which is weird. It feels like five minutes ago we were sixteen and just learning how to play guitar the right way or just play at all. Music is cool. It allows you to go anywhere with it. It’s very positive. There is no “NO” in music. There is nothing tying you down and there’s not a certain way you have to do it. Just do whatever you are feeling and go with it.
And Hin Du is certainly going with it. They have taken that brave step of embracing the evolution of their sound and letting their love of creating music guide them. No doubt Austin and the guys will keep rocking fans into bra throwing, crowd surfing, and bottle breaking brawls well into what seems like a bright future. Check out their music on Soundcloud and follow along on Facebook for news on the release of their new album in the spring of 2015.