Editor’s Note: The purpose of the “Unleash Them” feature on Madness To Creation is to highlight a band/recording artist that is either just getting started out or a personal prediction from me that if they catch the right break, they could make it big! In this feature, I will be highlighting some news on Molehill, and then sharing their bio on where to find them! Enjoy!
Progressive indie rock band Molehill from Chicago has released the second single from their upcoming EP Hearts on Fire. The track “Reverie” premiered with Exclaim! and is an electronic/organic hybrid that tells the story of losing someone, but being thankful for the influence they had on you.
“The lyrics are about my father, who died when I was 6 years old,” says vocalist Peter Manhart. “Throughout my life, I have met many people who had stories about how great a man my dad was, how smart or funny or kind he was, how he helped so many people, or how he was this amazing piano player. However, to me, his legacy is more than just a story – ‘you left them a story to tell, but you made me the person I am’.“
Sometimes a song comes together very quickly and other times, it requires a little more attention. The latter being the case with “Reverie” explains Manhart. “It started as a 3-chord bridge in one of Greg’s (keys/vocals) other ideas which I really dug and turned into its own song. After cycling through many treatments for the song, we finally settled on this organic/synth hybrid – which is a direction we find ourselves taking more and more.” The track combines elements of their 2015 EP Tin God like the more synth-heavy approach heard on the track “The Repeating” and a more sparse, organic arrangement in “Two Souls.”
Hearts on Fire will be released via all digital retailers on May 12th and is available for pre-order here. Molehill also performed at Cherry Cola’s this past Friday at Canadian Music Week!
Molehill had humble beginnings in small local venues in Champaign, IL, and has since grown into an established presence in the Chicago music scene. They have played over 300 shows between the Midwest and Eastern United States, including some of the more prestigious venues in Chicago, as well as national (and international) festivals like Summerfest, Musikfest, SXSW, and Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Molehill has built a reputation for explosive live shows and a tireless work ethic, as well as the work they’ve done towards fostering a more friendly and cooperative music community in the city of Chicago. They were one of the founding members of the Chicago Roots Collective, which was a 10-band collective working together to promote the Chicago music scene and their music, and for the last 2 years Molehill has curated a monthly email list to dozens of local bands to try to promote live music in Chicago and encourage local bands to attend shows, discover new bands, and support each other even more.
Peter Manhart, lead singer, lyricist, and guitar player, started playing piano at the age of 3. At the University of Illinois, he pursued a double major in engineering physics and piano pedagogy, but dropped the piano major after 2 years so that he could focus his practice time on the guitar. He went on to get his physics degree, but also took numerous creative writing and poetry classes to develop his lyric writing ability. After moving from Champaign to Chicago, Peter met bassist Trevor Jones, who was studying double bass at DePaul University. Trevor had spent a large portion of his life in various orchestras and has always had a penchant for well organized noise, whatever the genre. He also grew up watching his father, a music professor, manage and play in a 16-piece jazz big band. This instilled in Trevor a strong business and management sense, and helped him complement Peter not only musically but with the business aspect of the band as well. After Peter and Trevor started working together, drummer Devin Staples joined the group. Devin has been a fixture in the Chicago gospel scene for years, and had also been a member of two highly-respected Chicago bands, NYCO and Cassius Clay. The 4th and final piece of the puzzle, keyboard/synth player Greg Van Zuiden, joined soon after. Greg had recently graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a music degree, moved to Chicago, and was looking for a band to join. As the youngest member of Molehill, he was the light-hearted “glue” that helped the band stay strong.
The Hearts on Fire EP continues the group’s tradition of storytelling in music. The dark, brooding “Old Soldier” tells the story of a proud, religious, soldier, living out his last days in a nursing home – “And he sits in a dead room, sterilizer and perfume, and the lights are slowly growing dim.” “Reverie” has the narrator lamenting the loss of a parent long ago, while also thanking that parent, for “you made me the person I am.” Last but not least, the title track was inspired by the “Euromaidan” protests in Ukraine – the birthplace of Peter Manhart’s mother. The song is about the common people rising up to fight an oppressive regime. Though the people in this protest were unarmed, the government sent riot police and snipers to kill them, and yet the people’s numbers kept growing until they were finally heard. This song is about the strength of community, sheer willpower, and the resonance of a good and virtuous idea. Though the few in control may try to keep the will of the people down, the masses can change the world if they fight together. With the recent wave of public dissent and protests happening around the world, this seems like the appropriate time to share this song.