By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
The Hiders are really something of homebodies.
When asked about the band’s touring, founder William Alletzhauser said “we haven’t been touring a lot lately.”
Families, day jobs, businesses, and other musical commitments makes hitting the road problematic. “We temper our expectations in that department.”
Instead they work their home scene in Cincinnati, and continue to produce recordings on their own studio, “the batcave,” that are heard around the world. “For us it’s more about the adventure of writing and recording. That’s what’s most exciting.”
So getting a chance to see The Hiders at the Black Swamp Arts Festival should be a treat for music lovers. The Hiders will play on the Main Stage Friday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. before heading down to Howard’s Club H for an after-hours show.
Alletzhauser said labeling the band has proved tricky, given it has elements of folk and psychedelia, mixed with country and classic rock, telling dark stories from the Americana underbelly.
To Alletzhauser that all just means The Hiders is a rock band, true to what that meant in the 1970s, not that the band sees itself as a throwback. Rather it’s a contemporary amalgamation of Alletzhauser’s musical history.
That goes back to getting a hand-me-down guitar that his older sister decided she didn’t want. As a teenager in the 1980s, Alletzhauser go involved in Cincy’s burgeoning hard core scene. “We liked the idea having a band,” he said. That meant writing their own songs.
He continued writing as he moved from band to band, culminating with Ass Ponys, an alt country outfit that toured nationally.
When the band broke up, Alletzhauser decided he wanted a band that played his music. He was a little late to the game, he said, being in his mid-30s. “I was always a side guy and I decided just finally I had to do it.”
He’d always written and did the occasional solo show, now he wanted a band to bring that book to life. “Mainly I just wanted a broader sound.”
The Hiders got started with informal jamming with musicians moving in and out.
One key piece of the puzzle came with vocalist Beth Harris joining early on. Alletzhauser met her during a local production of “Hedwig and the Angry Itch” in 2000.
She played Yitzhak, and Alletzhauser was in the pit band. The musical has an authentic rock score, he said.
So when he was setting out to form a band, Harris seemed a natural edition as a complementary voice. She grew up singing with her bluegrass loving family, and those roots inform her work with The Hiders more than musical theater.
The band will be a six piece for its Main Stage performance, and five piece for the midnight show – one member has to make it to a solo show.
Alletzhauser and Harris, who adds some auxiliary keyboards, percussion, and melodica, are backed by bass, drums, guitar and keyboards.
Harris, he said, “has been the one constant in the band.”
“It’s kind of easy for her to find a voice within the tunes I was writing,” he said. And she can make anyone sound good.
“People mention the way we blend. Well, that’s mostly her. I’ve become a better singer singing with her. We listen to each other closely. It’s something we work on. She can do that with a lot of people. I’m just lucky enough, she does it with me.”
Another constant is Alletzhauser’s writing process. “My songwriting hasn’t changed terribly much.” The band can draw on material he penned years ago and it blends in with songs written weeks before.
“There’s no one real answer” to where those songs come from. “Usually the best songs tend to come at once,” he said, but not always.
Musical and verbal phrase tend to hang around. “I’ll be strumming around working on a few chords and an old idea will connect with another old idea. It just sort of clicks in place. Those are the songs I tend to nurture,” he said. “The other night I was just strumming around and the right chord made me think of a phrase I’d been carrying around. The song was written, and all I had to do is fill in the blanks.”
Those blanks could be filled in a night or two, or in a year or two, he said. “The process seems to get slower and slower.”
Alletzhauser knows he could crank out a song a day if he was so inclined, and the results would be OK. That’s not enough for him.
“I still like bringing in the songs and trying to make them sound as good as we can,” he said.
That sense of molding the song and sealing on a recording will be evident on the Main Stage show where The Hiders will focus on tighter, more upbeat material. Later at Howard’s the band will stretch out.
The Hiders, he said, still love to get out and play for new audiences when the conditions are right. It’s good to reach out to new listeners, he said. There are new fans waiting in Bowling Green.