Hidden in Plain View

Hidden in Plain View Biography

Though only five songs long, the new self-titled EP from is a shot across the bow of contemporary rock. Mincing no words or notes, the New Jersey-based quintet arrives at a time when music needs new blood, new ideas. Says lead singer and co-lead songwriter Joe Reo, "We use this standard: "Keep it as real as possible."

Produced by Chris Badami (The Early November, With Resistance), the EP displays marked growth since the band's last indie release, "Operation Cut-Throat" (2002). While the tracks hint at early influences (HIPV heroes include everyone from blink-182 and At the Drive In, to Jimmy Eat World and Foo Fighters), the band has come up with their own "sui generis" style: guitar-centered, melody driven, rhythmically complex. "We try to keep it catchy," notes Joe. "We play what we think we'd want to hear."

The band writes deft lyrics that suit Joe's passion-laden vocals. In "Where the Highways End," he sings, "21 years out on the run from our small hometowns/you could hear a whisper in the wind/filling me with confidence." In the hard-rocking "The Chaser," he sings: "Somewhere beyond these unforgettable days/we can find it in ourselves to live our lives again/you're misplaced in time, authoring your tragedy/but your dreams and lies never fill the voids in me."

"Rob and I started writing together when we were 17," says Joe. "A lot of our songs have no one single meaning. They're mostly about everyday life, but people can interpret them how they want. The song ‘Shaman's Witches Magic' says if there's a problem, responsibility always seems to lie a ways off. It's always someone else's fault, and blame is always avoided."

That partnership between singer Joe Reo and guitarist Rob Freeman goes back several years. Both natives of Stanhope, NJ (a straight shot on the I-80 about 40 miles west of New York City), the two met in high school, and immediately discovered an artistic affinity between them. They began playing together in rough-hewn local bands, performing mostly covers, but eventually branching out into writing originals.

"As we took music more seriously, we developed a sound of our own," says Joe. "We're both singers, so we got accustomed to writing harmonies. Our ideas clash in a good way." Once the two met bassist Chris Amato, the emerging HIPV style began to take shape. They became a fully-self-contained operation, booking their own tours for short sorties between college classes. Mike Saffert and Spencer Peterson joined later, but rounded out the line-up to perfection.

The band first met producer Chris Badami several years ago, collaborating on a demo. That studio experience set the stage for the six-song LLR Records indie release "Operation Cut-Throat," which sold respectably even outside their eastern seaboard home turf. Things came together last summer when the band came to the attention of drive-thru records. It was a short courtship and a quick wedding, with HIPV now proud members of the drive-thru roster.

In concert, the band is, to say the least, energetic. "It's hard for us not to lose ourselves," says Joe of their on-stage persona. "We freak out, have a good time, and pull the crowd in." The band has performed all over the country, touring with the likes of MxPx and others. For the new EP, the band and Badami headed for Portrait Studios on Lincoln Park, NJ, to best capture their live sound.

"We did add some digital effects, but we try to keep things as raw as possible," says Joe. "The more you soup up a record, the more realness you lose. We didn't go crazy with the salt and pEPper."

The months ahead will see continued touring (including drive-thru records 2004 invasion tour in Europe with allister, home grown, the early November and senses fail) as the band prEPares to record their full-length debut CD next spring. Meanwhile, everyday is Christmas for the five members of Hidden in Plain View, who are living the dream 24/7. "We're a very diverse band," notes Joe. "We just want to go out and play rock ‘n' roll, and give people a chance to take from our music what they want. It's totally personal."

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