“Raw emotion pins me to the ground”: Southern California’s Rec Hall Debut Their Sun-Kissed Indie Rock With ‘Localism’ EP

Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall bring Southern California’s sun and surf to life in song on their spirited debut EP ‘Localism,’ a feel-good indie rock record full of catchy hooks, bright, bold melodies, and tight, intoxicating grooves.
for fans of COIN, Bad Suns, Hippo Campus, flor, Dayglow, Beach Weather
Stream: ‘Localism’ – Rec Hall

In point of fact, it’s hard to say if Rec Hall’s music is sun-kissed, or sun-soaked.

One thing we know for sure, however, is that these three boys from South Bay almost surely get sunburnt every summer as they surf their local haunts and bask in the heat of those warm golden rays.

Southern Californians through and through, Rec Hall’s roots extend well beyond their love of a good wave, seeping into every crevice of the music they make as one of the country’s hottest new indie rock trios. A signing to Sony-affiliated label Arista Records early in their career speaks to the promise of this budding band, but to understand their full potential, all one really needs to do is listen to their debut EP – and we bet you can’t listen through once, without listening again.

Localism - Rec Hall
Localism – Rec Hall
Let’s stay up all night
And forget our dreams
Chasing neon highs
Through the empty streets
One last dance
Before the day’s parade
And as the music stops
I stand and watch your colours fade
Honestly, I don’t know why
I’m paralysed by your disguise

Don’t call me yours
’cause I’m losin’ my mind
She doesn’t get it, doesn’t get it,
doesn’t get it at all

She’s got her eyes on the sun
and her mind on her tongue

I wasn’t ready, wasn’t ready at all
I’ve got my eyes on the sun
and my mind on her tongue
– “She Doesn’t Get It,” Rec Hall

A spirited, feel-good indie rock record full of bright, bold melodies and tight grooves, Localism is a sunny, energizing reverie ready to be the soundtrack to our sweetest summer days and the nights that follow. Rec Hall have introduced themselves through a blistering, irresistibly uplifting five-song set that all but demands repeat listens through its catchy, singalong hooks, glistening, radiant instrumentation, and an enchanting, smile-inducing attitude that inevitably sends us soaring sky-high.

Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall © Charlie Park

Released December 7, 2023 via Arista Records, Rec Hall’s debut EP is the cherry on top of what, to date, has been a fairytale story of hard work actually paying off. The trio of John Barry [guitar, vocals], Lance Meliota [drums], and Ben Tyrrell [guitar, bass] formed in high school and played relentlessly for years throughout Southern California, winning various Battle of the Bands competitions and honing their sound before connecting with producer Nicolas Zagorin, who helped them capture their live it-factor on record. Their subsequent debut single “She Doesn’t Get It” released in 2021 and went viral online, ultimately leading to the band’s record deal with Arista last year.

Localism brings “She Doesn’t Get It” together with four more songs written and produced at the band members’ respective homes during the height of the pandemic. “Thematically they reflect our little bubble – the beaches, the garage, relationships,” Rec Hall’s Ben Tyrell shares.

In all, it’s sixteen minutes of achingly expressive passion channeled into one intoxicating blast of musical sunshine. That is not to say the songs themselves are happy-go-lucky, or even happy – the song “Marty” dwells in the frustrating gray areas of romance and intimacy, while “Pontiac” laments the ways in which we grow apart from one another. And yet, despite their subject matter, these songs still manage to fill our ears and souls with light.

When you’re feeling strange
And the edges around you are starting to fade
As you’re drifting away
Half expecting the world to come with you
Even when you’re gone
Even when you’re dreaming in colors and songs
At the end of the day
You will never belong where you used to
Paranoia, I’ve been hearing sounds
Doors are open, walls are falling down
Do you feel it? Do you feel it at all?
Do you feel it? Do you feel it?
Now I know that I can’t help myself
Raw emotion pins me to the ground
Do you feel it? Do you feel it right now?
Do you feel it? Do you feel it?
– “Paranoia,” Rec Hall

For Rec Hall’s three members, the songs on Localism all revolve around home.

They were written in our garage, they deal with our personal lives entering our twenties, and their energy reflects our growth into adulthood,” Ben Tyrrell says. “Localism is a double edged sword – it is love of where you live, but it can also reflect ugliness and insularity. The affection we have for our home, but also the struggles that come with it: This is Localism.”

Localism is also, we hope, just the start of a long and fruitful career for Rec Hall, whose seductive songs have an uncanny knack for getting stuck in our heads on repeat.

Atwood Magazine caught up with the budding trio to chat about their debut EP, get some new music recs, and find out who’s best at Fortnite (spoiler alert: They’re all cracked). Dive into the wonderful world of Localism in our interview below, and prepare to add Rec Hall to your new favorite bands list: There’s something

— —

:: stream/purchase Localism here ::
:: connect with Rec Hall here ::
Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall © Charlie Park


Localism - Rec Hall

Atwood Magazine: Rec Hall, it’s great to meet you – and happy new year! Not sure if you subscribe to this kind of thinking, but do you guys have any New Year’s resolutions for 2024?

Lance Meliota: Hello, great to meet you too! A resolution we have is changing up our writing styles. We’ve been writing in a much more live and organic setting recently and it’s really opened up a fresh new vein of songwriting that we feel like we hadn’t fully captured in the past.

To the reader who’s just discovering you today via this EP and interview, what do you want them to know about who Rec Hall is and what your music is all about?

John Barry: Rec Hall is fun, thoughtful, feel-good indie rock. We’re excited for the future and that we intend to evolve as we grow.

Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall © Charlie Park

I’ve just gotta ask - what inspired your band name?

Ben Tyrell: We’d been looking for a name, poring over library books and writing down ideas for months. One day, Rec Hall came out of nowhere. It just felt right. We think it fits with the fun energy our music has.

I discovered you a few years ago through “She Doesn’t Get It,” and now here we are, finally at your debut EP! What’s that journey been like for you, and how does it feel to have finally released your first multitrack release?

Ben Tyrell: We wrote ‘She Doesn’t Get It’ a number of years ago, and when we took it to the studio to record it we didn’t have a clear vision for our music. The song emerged out of the garage-y, raw attitude we had at that moment. Since then, we’ve honed our production and writing as a band and Localism reflects that. It feels great to finally have a full release out.

What, if any, impact has living in Southern California had on your artistry and the music you make? Do you feel like your environment affects your sound?

Lance Meliota: Living in Southern California has undoubtedly shaped everything about the band whether it’s the music we make, listen to, and even our album covers. I feel like we all lean into the culture here in slightly different ways than each other so when we all sit down and create music together, our love of surf, the natural environment, and as funny as it sounds the clothes we wear all contribute to the final product.

You’ve shared before about how the songs on Localism all revolve around home, and reflect your growth into adulthood. Can you share a little more about that, and where you were when you made these songs?

Ben Tyrell: Yeah, these songs really do literally revolve around home. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we couldn’t meet to practice anymore. We all bore down in our houses and worked on songwriting and developing our production skills. These songs were all written and produced at home, and thematically they reflect our little bubble, the beaches, the garage, relationships.

What’s the story behind the EP’s title, “Localism”? What does that word mean to you, and how does it capture the spirit of these songs?

John Barry: ‘Localism’ is defined as “preference for one’s own area or region.” To us, it means “locals only” and is directly related to surfing. Our local surf culture, it is a tight-knit community that works hard to uphold safety, cleanliness, and respect. However, it is often resistant to newcomers in order to preserve the established values. Our own internal mantra is one of openness and inclusivity. Localism is about preserving tradition through exclusivity. For us, we feel pulled by these two opposing forces. The EP is about the struggle of living with both.

You certainly put your best foot forward (pun intended) with the rollicking “If You Run.” Why open your EP with this song?

John Barry: “If You Run” was actually the first song we wrote after “She Doesn’t Get It.” Releasing the EP in the order we wrote the songs after “She Doesn’t Get It” felt like the story we wanted to tell. It chronicles our creative journey writing and recording Localism.

Look who’s falling down
You had us going for a while
That was swell
Just know that if you run
You know I’m gonna run right with you
Gonna run right with you
If you run
You know I’m gonna run right with you
Gonna run right with you

Who is Marty to you, and is this song based on a true story?

Ben Tyrell: Marty isn’t a real person or experience – ‘Marty’ represents everyone. It symbolizes a general truth about how people engage with each other. Call it masochism, call it the intoxication of romance, but we tend to act against our own interests even when we know we are doing so. We fall into webs even when we see them coming; we hope when we ought not to. I guess in this way, Marty is just the hopelessly confused part of our romantic psyche.

I’m feelin’ uneasy
Not sure what it all could mean
I fear I’m fallin’
Into a web you’ve woven
I can’t fight it moreover
I wouldn’t mind it if you came over
And we fade out
Each doubtful game been played out
This is what I want
This is what I needed
Leave it all behind
Leave it all behind you

All you have to do is show up,” you sing in “Pontiac.” The idea of catching up with a lost friend hits home for me. Was this also based on real experience, and did making this song help you make inroads at all?

John Barry: “Pontiac” was based on a mixture of real-life experience and a narrative we wanted to create. Sometimes we all grow apart. We realized sometimes that’s okay and it’s no one’s fault.

What are your fondest memories of making this EP, and what was one of the more challenging moments?

Lance Meliota: Finally releasing it! But more specifically I’d say the writing process of “Marty.” It was a special time. Everything came together so easily when we wrote it. Every first idea we had was the one that ended up making it into the song. Just being in that sort of “flow state” while writing music is a really special feeling, we all cherish.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you? What is one of Rec Hall’s “fun facts”?

Rec Hall: Some fun facts about us:

  • John – extremely colorblind, loves every boarding-type sport, is a master chef, cracked at Fortnite.
  • Lance – plays chess every day, also loves every boarding-type sport, met John in pre-school, cracked at Fortnite.
  • Ben – the only one that graduated college, bird watcher, the eldest in the group, cracked at Fortnite.
Rec Hall © Charlie Park
Rec Hall © Charlie Park

What do you hope listeners take away from your debut EP, and what have you yourselves taken away from making it and now putting it out?

Ben Tyrell: We didn’t have a specific agenda for this EP. If Localism attaches itself to meaningful life experiences, great; if it inspires you to write music, amazing. We like the idea that the audience can interpret the music any way they want. We hope people find their own personal connection to the songs.

In the spirit of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

John Barry: Cola. Great band from Montreal who rose from the ashes of one of my favorite bands, Ought.

Ben Tyrell: Alice Phoebe Lou. Amazing indie talent from South Africa.

Lance Meliota: Connan Mockasin. If you wanna listen to some sexy, sultry music, Connan Mockasin’s your boy.

— —

:: stream/purchase Localism here ::
:: connect with Rec Hall here ::

— — — —

Localism - Rec Hall

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? © Charlie Park

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