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  • Gemma James

An Interview with Robbie Kingsley and The Hails

The 5-piece indie rock band, The Hails, is on the rise. Robbie Kingsley, Franco Solari, Dylan McCue, Andre Escobar, and Zach Levy are Florida-based musicians best known for their genre-mixing music. With fan-favorite songs, such as “Stay” and “Younger” each hitting well over 10 million listens on Spotify and recent releases “Breathless”, “Fiona”, and “Exonerate”, there’s no doubt that The Hails are an up-and-coming band. A few days ago, I had a chance to chat with lead singer Robbie Kingsley about the band’s history, the modern music industry, and future plans.

FDZ: “What first got you interested in music?”

Robbie Kingsley: “So for me it started by my middle school orchestra. That's kind of where I fell in love with music. I played upright bass just because it was the closest thing to guitar and I was so interested in rock bands and Guitar Hero and all that. So, that kind of fueled me, and I think a lot of the guys in the band too kind of resonated with Guitar Hero, which is hilarious. But yeah, so that's kind of what initially started it and then as I grew up, I took piano lessons and just kind of did my own thing until meeting the band. I never really was in a band growing up but the rest of them all were in like bands together growing up. Once I met Zach, our drummer, he kind of showed me the ropes to being in a band.”

FDZ: “How did you guys meet?”

Robbie Kingsley: “Yeah, so from my end, I met Zach in the dining hall at University of Florida and it was just kind of one of those funny opportunity meetings where like a bunch of people are hanging out and you just start talking to someone. He noticed I was wearing an Arctic Monkeys shirt so that was something we bonded over. I was talking about how I was just starting to sing because I didn't sing until pretty late, like pretty much going into college and once I found my voice, I really wanted to dive into music and do all that as much as I could around campus. So then we kind of assembled the band and we started playing out like weird fraternity or sorority gigs and you know, but really just like we just wanted to write songs and play at local venues. So we started cutting our teeth at like, High Dive and the Atlantic and Heartwood just really cool festivals in Gainesville. And yeah, just kind of grew up with some bands around the area.”

FDZ: How did you guys come up with your band name?

Robbie Kingsley: “The word ‘hail’ was on a football poster. I just like those kinds of old school names, like The Kinks like The Beatles. It's funny, I actually made the logo with the band name like before we were even a band, before we all really knew each other. I kind of had it in my back pocket and then didn't really pull it out until I found guys that I actually thought were worthy of having this band.”

FDZ: “How would you describe the typical type of music you guys make?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I think just because we grew up on so much classic rock and guitar based music, we always try to involve guitars in our sound, but then at the same time, we're really obsessed with like, good pop songs. So at its root, you know, it covers like that whole broad spectrum of, you know, alternative music or whatever. But I think at its root, we're writing pop songs with a guitar rock kind of focus, you know, just trying to be a band that appeals to a lot of different types and cliques and different groups of people.”

FDZ: “Do you think that's a product of what you're all interested in? Or do you think that's more of trying to appeal to the masses?”

Robbie Kingsley: “Definitely a little both. I think just because we are also obsessed with music, lyrics and songwriting and music theory, we like when something is super, uber-catchy. And you see that so much within the pop space that naturally we gravitate towards songs that have more of a mass appeal, you know, just those like ear worm things. Something you'll hear on Tik Tok and that’ll be stuck in your head the rest of the day. We want the production to be sleek and shiny and for it to be something that even sounds a little bit like something of the past, but also search for something that someone can go, ‘oh, that sounds interesting and new’, you know? I think everyone borrows from somewhere but, you know, we're trying to at least have a little bit of a percentage where it's like, that sounds like The Hails, you know.”

FDZ: “How would you say the internet and the age of social media impacts the music industry these days?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I mean, it's crazy, because it's so ever changing. The latest topic is AI music and stuff like that, you know, it's weird. I guess really, it's easier. You can kind of make a band and make a logo, write some songs and put out an EP and then all of a sudden you're killing it. I guess at the end of the day, I just try to have an optimistic look at it. You know, it's cool; more music, more things to listen to, more inspiration.”

FDZ: “What’s your creative process when you’re writing songs and coming up with new music?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I've always kind of liked writing on my own. That's kind of how I figured it out you know, just banging away. I like acoustic guitar. I like it when it's very natural and it almost feels like it comes out on the guitar. Anytime you pick up a new instrument, I feel like there's a song and you just have to bring it out of it. For the band overall, it's always fun jamming, kind of seeing where we go with it, just getting lost for 30 minutes. We've written some stuff like that, like our song “Sipping on the Daylight” was born out of a jam. But then “Breathless” and “Younger”, those are some songs that Dylan started on his own. So, he's also a really great songwriter, and brings a lot of the initial ideas to the band.”

FDZ: “Do you have a favorite song to perform?”

Robbie Kingsley: “Yeah, I've always liked “Sugar". I think that's a fun one. It's got a good drive and beat, people usually like to move around to it. And it's pretty raw, you know? So I think that one's fun. We usually always end our set with “Stay”. People love it. It's got a good ending and it’s just kind of fun.”

FDZ: “If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you want to collaborate with?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I guess, back to the whole Arctic Monkeys thing, Alexander Turner just because I try to emulate his songwriting a lot of the time. I think some of my lyrics on “Breathless” embody some of the stuff he did with the “Submarine” project or maybe even the “Last Shadow Puppets”. I know he produced that one record by Alexandra Savior. A lot of those songs are really cool, so I like that sound. It's got a desert vibe. I've always gravitated towards the 60s and he pulls from a lot of older stuff. I think it'd be cool if he spun some stuff on my songs.”

FDZ: “What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?”

Robbie Kingsley: “Best advice? I don't know. So many people are just like, “just keep being you”. I feel like that's almost the goal. There's nothing else you really can do. So just keep being yourself.”

FDZ: “If you could give advice to any aspiring musicians, what would you say?”

Robbie Kingsley: “Just hit up local bands and artists and play fun shows. We played shows out of this house that we kind of birthed the band from and we ended up packing it out. It was terrible to clean the next day, but yeah, those nights are really fun. I have this one crazy picture of like 150 people packed in the living room.”

FDZ: “Do you have a favorite or most memorable show?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I mean, honestly, we just played in front of like 1200 people in Atlanta. We opened up for The Happy Fits, so it wasn't all our crowd, but we're working towards it. It was crazy. It was like those venues that you just dream of and you’re like ‘wow, this is what I should be doing every night’. That's going to be stuck in my head for a while.”

FDZ: “What’s next for you guys?”

Robbie Kingsley: “So next is another single and then another single after that, and then we'll be building towards our first full length album. That's really exciting.”

FDZ: “Do you have a timeline for any of that, or just seeing how it goes?”

Robbie Kingsley: “The singles should be really soon. I’m not sure on the album, but the singles are like, within a month's time.”

FDZ: “Was there anything else you would like to mention?”

Robbie Kingsley: “I mean, we're hitting the road. We're opening up for a couple of different really cool bands, like The Beaches. We're literally leaving next week to go play with them in Texas and then we're gonna stay on the road and do a couple of headlines of our own. Then we're going to link up with this band called The Moss. We'll travel with them for a while, up through the Midwest over to New York. Then we're actually going all the way back down to Florida to play in Tallahassee, and then we'll kind of be doing content videos in the summer.”

The Hails will be playing various shows across the United States in the next few weeks. They are also set to release a remix of “Fiona” with Magic City Hippies on May 18th. To purchase tickets and stay up to date, visit their website and Instagram. Be sure to check out their new releases on Spotify!


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