This Band From ‘Laguna Beach’ Is Even Hotter Now
Remember that cute band that was on MTV’s Laguna Beach a billion years ago called Open Air Stereo? Yeah, they were the part of that show that made watching it semi-bearable in between the Kristin Cavallari vs. LC madness.
Even if you don’t remember their hits “Damned” or “Stuck On You,” lucky for us, these dudes are back. They’ve turned into even hotter babes since their days in Laguna have ended, and bonus, they don’t hang around crazy chick fights anymore.
They’re back as Half the Animal and have a new badass single called “Babylon” which was released over the summer. They’re a happy mix of 30 Seconds to Mars meets Panic! At the Disco and Maroon 5, but with like, more leather jackets and skateboards.
The band also has a pretty cute looking creature (which has lovingly been named “Bethany”) as their logo – suffice to say, you should probs listen to the tune and get some merch right quick.
Check the song below, an exclusive behind the scenes vid of the making of Babylon, and our Q&A with the hotties Nick Gross and Chase Johnson!
Is it true you guys started off as featured players on Laguna Beach on MTV?
It was a really exciting time in our lives having MTV cameras follow you around in high school showcasing what we loved doing most. We ended up headlining TRL and it was the first time MTV had a real soft scripted reality TV show so kids were just going nuts. They didn’t know what to think. Time Square had hundreds of these teenagers just trying to get a glimpse of our band and featured characters on the show. We remember cops in New York getting pushed over as we left the building, it was totally nuts but such an epic experience that was totally worth it. We grew up a lot from doing that show.
Why did you decide to stop Open Air Stereo and form Half the Animal?
After touring for years in Open Air Stereo we gained a lot of experience on the road and during a lot of that time we spent in the van we’d always be writing songs. A lot of these songs had such a different vibe than OAS and we wanted to step away and give our group a rebirth. Chase and I always talked about it, so when we finally finished our new EP we decided it would be best to rebrand the band and start totally fresh. The OAS days were amazing, but we’ve stepped into a new time and have grown up a lot since the early OAS days. We also feel like Half the Animal is a stronger identity than Open Air Stereo in a lot of ways. We feel the name sticks and the branding is super memorable.
How is the music different from Open Air Stereo?
With rebranding/rebirth you almost just see “change” as something that is purely just new. Nick and I felt something different come alive inside of us that we knew we couldn’t ignore. We decided to connect with some old and new friends to help see the fruition of what was going on in our minds and that’s how Ammo, J Kash, and Matt Beckley became a large part of our new sound aka Half The Animal. HTA leans way more pop than OAS, OAS was much more rock driven, there is a big difference between the two groups for sure.
Tell us about your logo – which is a weird little creature’s face. Who designed it?
Nick is a huge fan of contemporary pop art, he’s collected art across the board from guys like Shepard Fairey, Murakami, D Face, Phil Frost, and the list goes on. He came up with the idea to create a logo that everyone could recognize and relate to. Something fun and interesting that pertained to the name but not so directly. It’s a creature that somehow garnered the name “Bethany” and ever since we named her, our fans have freaked out in a great way. There are so many merch ideas we have because of that logo and it has allowed us to be more creative in the way we market and the way we represent the image of the band.
If you were to describe your sound, like Cyndi Lauper meets Guitar metal, what would it be?
Maroon 5 meets 30 Seconds to Mars.
If “Babylon” were on a movie soundtrack, set to a specific scene maybe, what would it be and why?
That’s an epic question! Babylon is the perfect song for a movie soundtrack and we can’t wait to see where it ends up. The song can go so many different ways. Naturally, I’m sure most people would think of the track setting up for a perfect triumphant battle scene in a modern day action film, but we could also see it fitting great in a romantic film as well. There’s something about the track that fits the vibe of so many different kinds of situations. Ideally, it’s something with a big big payoff.
What bands/music are you listening to right now? Tell us what’s playing on your ipod/spotify right now.
We’ve been jamming to Joywave, those dudes are super cool. We also really dig stuff like Joey Badass, Chance the Rapper, and Kendrick. We’re all across the map. Chase loves stuff like Oasis, Coldplay, The Beatles and The 1975. We even really dig this new group called Lany, they’ve got a really neat so-cal laid back feel to them. Nick’s been getting into more throwback Rhyme Sayers stuff like Aesop Roc, Dilated Peoples — and definitely the new Blink 182 album that just dropped this summer. Does that pretty much cover the entire music industry?
If you could play an acoustic show like MTV unplugged, what songs would you cover?
MJ — Billy Jean or the B52’s “Loveshack” and have Halsey be the girl duet singer.
Tell me something you’ve done using your music to get a girl to go out with you.
Started a band.
You guys really like fashion, who are some designers you really like?
We grew up in Orange County, where a lot of lifestyle brands originated. Some of our dear friends ended up launching some of the biggest brands and we got to watch that, which was really cool. The LRG family are great friends of ours, Grenade Gloves, lifestyle brands like Obey, The Hundreds, Diamond Supply — Nick likes to rep a lot. Nick is a partner in a street lux brand called NTRL RBLS as well, based out of Los Angeles. We love fashion. Darren Romanelli aka Dr. Romanelli is a great friend and epic fashion designer of ours, the list can go on and on! Chase is also super bougie and likes Tom Ford, Rick Owens, and Chanel.
You haven’t toured as Half the Animal yet, but when you were touring as Open Air Stereo, what is the wackiest/weirdest story you can tell us?
There are always wacky stories on tour. We’ve had the craziest stuff happen to us. We had a group of girls follow us around from show to show for like seven days and they would show up at our hotels before we even got there. It was cool to have such amazing fans, but this group of girls got pretty creepy. We toured with Hinder for a few weeks and ended up throwing a smoke bomb into their engine on accident and it almost caught the entire bus on fire. I’d say one of the craziest though was watching someone light Chase’s back side on fire with lighter fluid. It caught fire and was actually pretty scary. Touring is always a crazy journey and lots of fun as you can image.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
We’re trying not to over think Half the Animal. We have a 4 song EP that we’re really focused on and decided to release 1 song this summer and focus all of our metrics and energy on that one song for a few months. It simplifies the roll out strategy for us and allows us to set up the entire EP a little bit better. In the past we used to just drop music without thinking why or how we were doing it. In some ways that’s great, but when you’re building a project on your own you have to be smart. Everything has revolved around our single “Babylon” so far, and that song totally defines the group in a big way — so we’re taking our time with it. The song is picking up some great natural specialty radio play and we’re focused on playing LA shows on the right nights. Everything is pointing in the right direction, but I think the ultimate thing we want to accomplish is a fan base that love our single, and will grow with us into the release of our EP early next year followed by a boat load of touring.
When can we expect to hear a full album from you? What’s next for you? Is there an upcoming tour?
We’re working on more music now. Our 4 song EP is our debut release as a group, but we want to build more substance as a band always. We’ve started to track a few other songs that we really really like and could potentially fit for an album. If we were to release an album it would be at the end of next year once we’ve let the EP to build a bit, but we are definitely excited and writing all the time for it. We’ll be announcing tours for 2017 very soon.
How Can we stalk you?
All our handles are all @halftheanimal