by Hannah Fuchs (‘23) & Michael Roscoe (‘23)
Earlier in the summer, Mike Roscoe ‘23 and Hannah Fuchs ‘23 chatted via Zoom with Maple Hill.
Maple Hill are an emo pop-punk foursome based in Ithaca. The band is composed of vocalist and guitarist Kristian Wood-Gaiger, drummer St. John Faulkner, bassist Joel Beckwith and guitarist Jordan Kulp (who was not present for the interview). It was exciting to talk to these local artists and learn more about their roots, musical inspirations and recent projects.
Faulkner explained that all of Maple Hill were born and raised in Ithaca and became friends through the tight-knit, local music community. The friends enjoyed jamming but realized their punky sound was missing from the typical upstate NY sound, which often leans more folksy or draws from jam-band influences.
Beckwith reflected, “It's interesting growing up in Ithaca being in our genre of music in that [Ithaca is] not known for its alternative or pop punk scene, so it was interesting being surrounded by a town with great music but kind of all in a different realm than us. It was a bit of a challenge for us to feel like we could break out here within our genre, but it's been cool.”
Maple Hill cited several musical influences, especially 2000s-era emo bands like All Time Low. “I think for the first few years we were just pretending to be them or wanting to be like that.” Wood-Gaiger mused. Faulkner interjected that the young age and success of other emo bands was inspiring. The band grew up listening to icons like Green Day, Paramore and Fall Out Boy and started off covering their hits.
Eventually pivoting from covers to original music, Maple Hill let their creativity flow while modeling songwriting and instrumental structures from their inspirations. Wood-Gaiger explained, “It wasn't until a few years into jamming other people's songs that we felt confident enough in what we were writing to go with it and actually play for people.”
Their debut album Headspace was released back in 2016, followed by the recent release of their EP Parallel. Maple Hill unanimously agreed that the sound on Parallel is more complete and mature. The band compiled a collection of songs written and recorded over years of college breaks and summer vacations in order to bring the EP to life. This process was far from seamless, with challenges like recording from several different studios and splicing together audio clips. Nevertheless, Maple Hill agreed Parallel is the “best thing they’ve ever done” and spoke with pride about the project (available to stream now!).
Parallel was fortunately completed before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic but the release process had to adapt to restrictions on travel and gathering. Maple Hill were able to sign with independent label Common Ground Collective out in Los Angeles which helped distribute the EP and garner listener attention.
The band can’t wait to get back to playing live shows and engaging with audiences. It was clear that they crave the energy hit of taking the stage and we hope to see them in person soon! In the meantime, follow Maple Hill @maplehillny on socials. Merch and even more music is available at maplehillny.bandcamp.com. Thanks to Kristian, St. John, and Joel for taking the time to chat with us!