“They are an undiscovered gem. They are seven J’s that lead to an H. They are energy with music at its powerful core,” a reviewer enthused of The Hunts live performance for No Depression.
Those “seven J’s” stand for each member of this family band – Josh, Jenni, Jonathan, Jordan, Justin, Jamison, and Jessi – all of them siblings.
Whether it is legendary bluegrass acts like The Stanley Brothers or The Osborne Brothers, or current bands like The Secret Sisters, or The Avett Brothers, sibling bands play a large role in American folk and roots music traditions.
Add The Hunts to that distinguished list.
The Chesapeake, Virginia-based band is rightfully heralded for their tight harmonies and expansive take on indie folk. Their songs come together organically in a way perhaps only those who grew up together can pull off. These gifts are on full display on their latest album, Darlin’ Oh Darlin’.
We recently caught up with singer and guitar player Josh in an email conversation. He discussed how he and his sisters and brothers balance their personal lives with the demands of the band, their influences, and a bit of how their songwriting process works.
Based off your Instagram posts, you all have very active lives outside of the band, from careers and school, and some of you are now parents – how do you keep the band together?
Over the years we’ve always balanced activities and school and our everyday lives with band practices and touring and music retreats. Music is something we all love and no matter how busy our lives get, I think we’ll always find our way back together to play and write and share and create with each other.
On a related note, do you think it helps that you are siblings, or does it make it more difficult than if you were not related? (I imagine there are pros and cons!)
I believe it helps more than it hurts to be related to your band. There are definitely pros and cons, and the ability to be honest with each other is a perfect example of both.How does your songwriting process work? Does someone bring an idea to the mix that is then fleshed out? Is it more collaborative? Or is there no set formula?
It’s always hard to describe our writing process because it’s different every time! Our most recent work has been ridiculously collaborative. We’re all songwriters and I think we thrive at bringing out each band members artistic touches in whichever song we may be working on.
With seven members, you no doubt have a wide range of influences. Can you name an artist or two that has had a big influence on you that you think your fans might find surprising?
From our childhood, bands like The Mamas and the Papas and the Bee Gees (believe it or not) have influenced us! But honestly there are hundreds of artists I could mention that have impacted me personally and this band.
Folk can be a very vague term – how do you keep your sound modern and timeless all at once?
I think the coolest thing is that we aren’t aiming for a modern or timeless sound. If that’s where we fit, it’s only a bonus. We’re aiming to create something we think is cool, and real, and joyful, and emotional, and whatever relates to us personally. I believe that’s how you create the most genuine music.
How have roles changed – musically and personally – within the band as you have grown up together?
I know that I’ve had to transition from treating my siblings like… well siblings! to respecting them as professional musicians. I’ve certainly enjoyed watching my family grow and fill the roles that they do, and I look forward to being apart of the growth as we continue doing what we love.