For the past decade, HESS has made a name for himself as the principal songwriter and vocalist for New York rock & roll powerhouse Mail the Horse. Simultaneously, HESS has established himself as one of the more sought-after keyboardists in New York City, steadily building a resume of live performance and session work that includes work with comedian John Early and his variety shows “Literally Me” and “Now More Than Ever,” touring with staple NYC Americana acts Don DiLego and Hollis Brown, and playing keys for East Village legend Jesse Malin in his full band live-stream series throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.
Now, with the creation of Lamplight Motel (out October 9th – Baby Robot Records), HESS has gracefully moved into his auteur period, taking control of his sound and recording his most personal work to date. “When you’re working with a band, you don’t get to put yourself into the music as much, it’s about the band as a whole,” says HESS. “This was kind of my first exploration into more personal storytelling. My old songs would be inspired by real events or people, but I wouldn’t dig too deep. I think I was afraid what being that vulnerable might bring out in myself.”
To bring his vision to life, HESS enlisted Savior Adore’s Paul Hammer and spent roughly a year and a half commuting back and forth between his home in Brooklyn and Hammer’s studio in Upstate New York, crashing in Hammer’s guest room between marathon recording sessions. The hours of travel and erratic schedule proved worth it in the end, with Hammer’s production savvy leading to the creation of the lush, expansive soundscapes that set the tone for the entirety of Lamplight Motel. “Paul and I were always on the same page with the aesthetic ideas for the album,” says HESS. “We talked about mood a lot, put up pictures of 70s and 80s motels, the beach, a lot of nostalgic Jersey shore images. That’s my background and my spiritual home, so we channeled that and built the sound around that aesthetic.”
Two days before the official release Glide is premiering HESS’ Lamplight in full, a fully realized mix of rock’s most defining eras: New Wave, psych, yacht, synth, and arena rock. Shades of Beck, Fleetwood Mac and Todd Rundgren swivel up to HESS’ unique tasty rock candy. If the MTV era was just kicking off now, HESS would be a mainstay on the network where his pop goodness meets an exciting new shade of colorful art-rock.