Governor's Ball 2024: Hotline TNT has a weekly “Check-in Thursday” tradition

Shoegaze band Hotline TNT is local to New York City, but Governor's Ball wasn't just any show for the four-piece. Their typical sets are more intimate, so we took a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the festival to sit at a picnic table and chat about the band's journey, creative process, and open communication on tour. The band shared their tradition of "check-in Thursdays," where the band takes time each week to openly discuss both positive and challenging aspects of life on the road. This practice has helped foster communication and support between bandmates when stresses arise, and despite the name, does not only occur on Thursday's.

June 13, 2024

Interview by Alyssa Goldberg

Photos by Alyssa Goldberg

SOUNDS OF SAVING: What is it like creating music together and how has that grown as the band develops?

LUCKY: Most of us are pretty new to the band. Well, Haylen and I are. Mike's been in the band for a while, but we're kind of just now getting a taste of making music together. Previously, Will was the mind behind everything. But at this point, Will will have an idea and bring it to us fairly complete, but we each have our input as to how we're going to do our part in the songs. It does feel collaborative to an extent that I'm really comfortable with, [it] feels good to me.

MIKE: You said it, buddy.

WILL: I think the more time we spend together, the more I think we trust each other and feel comfortable. Our tastes are pretty similarly alligned and it just takes a while to kind of figure that out. And that's what we're doing. We're getting there.

SOS: When you  make music does it comes from a place of thinking about how it sounds or about the lyrics and the story that you're telling with your music?

WILL: I would say neither. We're not too focused on like the tone. I mean, some of us more than others, but like, as the principal songwriter, I'm not thinking about the tone of the guitars or anything like that. But I also don't overthink the lyrics too much either. It's more just about like catchy kind of melodies.

LUCKY: Will's goal is to get a Hotline TNT song stuck in your head so you won't forget it.

SOS: How do you see community building as a part of your live show and your fan base?

LUCKY: I feel like it comes down to just having, like, we see a lot of the same people when we play. For me it's important because it makes me feel comfortable to see like familiar faces.

WILL: Yeah, just even thinking about like something like this, like Gov Ball. We're playing in front of maybe a few of our friends, but then a bunch of people who have no idea who we are. And this is a huge corporate festival. And that's fun. But last night we played you know, in Philadelphia at a DIY show with like, the people we came up with, we're still coming up, but like, we always want to keep a foot in that camp as long as possible. Keep playing in front of our peers and with our community and stuff like that, and that's been helping me not go crazy as the band grows.

SOS: I think when I talk about community, that's kind of what I'm going for. Ways to keep you grounded and ways to stay connected to  your community and other bands that you. Like you said, with DIY shows it's such a different feel than a huge festival like this, where  maybe not everyone knows the artists or knows each other or this and that. So when you get into those like smaller venues there's a lot of room for like, feeling like you're part of something. Going off what you were saying about feeling grounded, what are things that you guys do when you're on the road like on tour to keep yourself grounded?

HAYLEN: Every Thursday, we do "Thursday Check-In." That usually takes place in the van, like when we're going to the next city. And we'll just, you know, one at a time we'll check in, like a mental health check in. We'll say our warm and fuzzies and then our cold and pricklies. Things that we're happy about things that we're not happy about.

LUCKY: Sometimes there's nothing that we're not happy about. And it still feels good to just talk to everybody and say how pumped we are on the tour. Sometimes there's nothing to be happy about. And it feels so good to just be able to talk to everybody and not feel like you're being judged for having something wrong or something bothering you. Because it happens, as much as we tour, something's gonna come up and we have to be able to talk about it.

HAYLEN: Yeah, like he's being able to talk about it or just talking about it makes it so much easier to either solve the problem or just not sit on the problem and let it you know, like build up into something even more so that's why every Thursday. It was Friday, right?

MIKE: No, Friday is "Financial Friday."

SOS: What's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?

MIKE: We were actually gonna try to do that.

WILL: We have our we have a meeting with our manager every Thursday and just felt like, after we meet with them, let's have our own internal meeting.

HAYLEN: So it is like a little mini therapy session.

WILL: It's funny too, because when you asked the question, I was like, usually when I do interviews, I'm like, alright, what kind of joke answer can I give that's gonna make you laugh? But like, we actually do have a mental health check in every Thursday. So it's good that we're answering. And it helps. And it's funny, we don't have to be on tour like, literally two days ago I had a bit of a meltdown at Gov Ball. And, you know, we just need to be able to talk about stuff and it does help a lot.

LUCKY: That being said sometimes check in Thursday is not on Thursday, but we still do refer to it as "Check-In Thursday."

SOS: How did that start? Was tour getting more stressful and you guys thought like, how can we communicate well with each other? Or did it just kind of come about on its own?

WILL: I think it maybe it came out in a pretty light-hearted time. We were having a really great time and it like, everyone wanna say something about how you're feeling about the tour and stuff? It was like good time. I'm a 10 year advocate of therapy and I see the value in talking about stuff. Yeah, it started as a joke that became valuable quickly.

HAYLEN: Yeah, we look forward to it honestly. Like, it's good for us. Lucky and I have played in bands in the past touring bands where we didn't do stuff like that, and so we see the positive effects of it. I look back and I think man if we had done this in the past,, maybe things will be different. But yeah, there's a lot of value in it for sure.

WILL: It's kind of crazy how how much someone can feel relieved [from it]. It's not like anyone's forced to say anything but everyone has an opportunity to speak up. You'd be surprised at what can come out and what people are actually feeling and saying.