Student band Winterhill releases first EP and single
“Game Changers” by Winterhill opens with a gritty guitar riff and delves into a string of infectious melodies and clever lyrics ripe with social commentary and angst.
Active since fall term of 2014, Winterhill consists of four members: Lloyd May ’18 (guitar), Zoë Sands ’18 (vocalist), Thomas Hodsden ’18 (bass) and Zach Plante ’18 (bass). May and Sands met through the international orientation coordinator, Lanphord Cao ’16, after performing independently at the international talent show.
“Lanphord kind of brought us together, and we all mentioned that we were songwriters, so we just started playing together,” May said.
Hodsden was added to the lineup soon after they happened to walk in on him playing the drums.
“We were absolutely taken aback by how good he was, and we asked him if he wanted to play with us, and he was really keen,” May said.
After Cao’s graduation and a few more lineup changes, the band added Plante on bass. With perfect pitch and more soul/jazz background than the rest of the band, Plante adds a melodic edge to the band’s sound.
Winterhill’s first gig was an overflowing house at Amarna during winter term in 2015.
“There were people around the house looking through the windows, and the crowd was really enjoying it,” May said. “It felt like the first time we truly locked as a band.”
The band is inspired by a wide variety of genres, partly because each member comes from a different part of the world. May is from South Africa, Sands from Iceland, Hodsden from Vermont and Plante from California.
“There are these weird Venn diagrams you can make of who we listen to,” May said.
While Hodsden and May listen to deathcore, May and Sands love David Bowie, and the entire band loves The Beatles. Even the band’s two songwriters, May and Sands, look up to different artists. For example, May is influenced by Jack White, while Sands finds inspiration in Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and classic rock. Both are influenced by the Icelandic band Kaleo, a rock, folk and blues group.
Sands’ songs are mainly about her personal experiences, usually negative ones.
“I wrote about my parents’ marriage problems that really affected me, and that was one of my muses, you could say,” Sands said. “I also write about a lot of guys, and a lot of people probably don’t realize I’ve written a song about them.” Both Sands and May said that the personal nature of their songs can make it difficult for them to demo a song to the band because it requires so much vulnerability. They called the support they receive from their bandmates “incredible.”
“I feel like they know me in a different way than any other [people] on campus,” Sands said.
One day during the past summer, while rehearsing for a gig at Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, Sands noticed that some of her bandmates would always take their tops off during practice.
“We were just practicing, and I figured I would do the same,” Sands said. “So we were all at Chi Gam playing topless, and everyone felt so weird about it, but after a while it just felt so comfortable and normal.”
While divergent D-plans scatter the band, all members will be back on campus this spring and for the entirety of their senior year.
Winterhill recorded its first EP over the summer, which consists of five tracks, and they are currently in the process of releasing their first single, “Game Changers.” In the future, the band plans to go on tour and possibly continue pursuing the members’ musical aspirations after they graduate.
“We’ve made a conscientious effort to take our music more seriously,” May said.