The hooks keep coming—and so do the left turns—on the new and second album, I’M NOT TRYING TO BE YOU…JUST KIDDING I'M TRYING TO BE YOU, by the Los Angeles-based 222. Creatively blending alternative rock, rooted in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with modern dance flares throughout the 11 tracks, the co-ed duo of vocalist Jade Howard and vocalist/guitarist Dennis Hamlin create a sound that’s both irresistible and mysterious. Highlights include title cut, “Heart Tied In A Knot,” “Dream Trigger,” “The Mortician” and "Everywhere We Go”—which Jade admits “might be our favorite song off the record. It takes place on the road but follows me into my dreams when I dose off in the car while Dennis drives.”
I’M NOT TRYING TO BE YOU… (Howlin Hamard Records) is the follow-up to 222’s debut album 2015’s Libretto. That album’s first single “One Night Stand” earned them airplay on Los Angeles tastemaker radio station KROQ, among other radio outlets. Their provocative self-produced videos for “One Night Stand” and “Headcake” are vivid mini movies; they can be seen—along with the “Fair Weather Send Off” lyric video—on 222, their YouTube channel. 222’s high-energy live shows have built a strong following across the U.S. via a string of well-attended club dates in the South, Midwest, Southwest, and East Coast, including a successful gig at the Red Gorilla Fest in Austin and select club shows in Los Angeles.
222 recorded, and arranged all songs on I’M NOT TRYING TO BE YOU…—as they did on their debut Libretto—and recorded in their home studio. “Jade and I have extremely similar taste which makes it a very simple, easy process,” says Dennis. “I write, arrange, and play all the instruments on the album and run it through Jade's filter. She gives me her opinions/ideas and we change whatever needed resulting in 222. Jade and I have been friends for a long time; we know each other very well and almost always agree on what the music should be. Live, the ferocious Tosha Jones plays the drum parts and came into the band a fan so she too has very similar taste so it just works. Because of that when we all add our own personalities into the live aspect it only gets better.”
The prolific songwriting team of Jade and Dennis draw their musical inspiration from books, movies and life experiences. On the new album, they dive deeper into song concepts while keeping the emotional element sourced from personal places. “Our life experiences definitely play a big part in our songs,” says Dennis, who also produced the album. “Even on the more extreme ideas, there is usually some sort of home ground from which they came.”
“The title track ‘I'm Not Trying To Be You…’ is about Jade and I moving out to L.A. from our small towns and being around each other so much that we actually start becoming each other, says Dennis. “I feel that describes how this album differs from the first in the way that the writing is sort of a sequel to Libretto; it just flowed naturally from the last one but there is definitely evolution happening.” Jade adds: "We have gotten to the point where we don't have to talk. We just start doing the same thing or get ready to go somewhere together.”
Another stand out track from I’M NOT TRYING TO BE YOU… is “The Mortician” which Dennis humorously notes was “born out of Jade and my sick sense of humor, but when writing it, the song took on a deeper meaning.” He adds: “I don't really see it as dark as much as circumstantial. This is a job where you spend hours giving dead people one last makeover before their family accepts them as deceased. We feel that you would almost have to fall in love with each of your patients to do your best job, especially after meeting their families and hearing their stories about this person, you have to sort of bring back to life for them.”
222 are psyched to bring the new songs on the road and kick them into an even higher gear. The band is committed to deepening their bond with fans and garnering new ones. Asked what they’d like to overhear one fan talking to another right after a 222 show, Dennis says: “Refreshing to see someone doing their own art and not following a trend. And they're fucking amazing!!”
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