Premiere: Boon’s Biggest ‘Hunger’ Yet

By Alison Baitz

"Hunger" growing: Boon's latest tune took shape with the help of input from listeners.
"Hunger" growing: Boon's latest tune took shape with the help of input from listeners. Courtesty of Boon

Boon’s latest track is actually the D.C. band’s oldest. Brendan Principato wrote “Hunger” during his 2014 summer break from college, hanging in his parents’ house. He played it at an open mic and it was well-received, though he got an important piece of feedback: Turn it into something bigger.

So Principato added his friend/schoolmate/roommate Jesse Paller (who is also in June Gloom) on drums. They played the track as a duo for some time, even entering it into an NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Still the audience feedback was the same: Make it even bigger. Principato describes the public reaction: “‘OK, this is cool [but] is there more? Like, what is this?’”

The duo Boon added more personnel — Drew Sher on guitar and keyboard, and a rotating cast of bassists. Principato guesses that “Hunger” went through about six or seven iterations (though just two recorded versions) to get to where it is today — a shimmering track that soars and dips through four minutes of deep interpersonal analysis that belies its emphatic vocals.

When describing the meaning of the song, Principato turns meditative.

“The hunger that the song is talking about is just sort of like, people have hunger for things emotionally, and there’s many roles that you play in different relationships,” Principato says. “And it’s sort of like, how much of it is real, and how much of it is something you’re doing to adapt to a situation?”

Putting the meaning into words is somewhat tough for Principato. “The main thing I think it talks about, and the reason why I think it’s confusing for me to talk about, is because it’s a confusion,” he says. It’s about parsing out needs from relationships both romantic and platonic. And it’s definitely not about one person in particular — Principato explains that whenever a song is about “a person” it’s really probably more about up to three people, sometimes including himself.

Principato’s clearly working through some stuff here, but that doesn’t mean all his inspiration came from within.

“A lot of the lyrics I sort of drew from weird places. There’s a line in the song that’s, ‘Are you sleeping or not talkative?’ And I remember as I was writing the song, a few years ago, I was at this bar and I just saw this guy texting this to someone and it struck me as this really weird, sad text message [and] my brain then assumed that whoever he’s talking to had no interest in talking to him and he was looking for a reason why, when maybe there wasn’t one,” he says. “I think that’s a big theme that runs throughout the album — and also this song is an acceptance of something, adapting to reality, even if it’s kinda sh***y.”

The album to which he is referring is the 10-track There’s No Saving This House, made at his and Paller’s shared home (Kokomo Studios) and mixed by Rusty Santos (who has also worked with Animal Collective and Prince Rama, among others). The album is finished, though there is no release plan just yet — the band is looking for someone to put it out.

Though Kokomo Studios sounds amazing to hear Principato describe it — the band recorded different parts of songs in different rooms throughout the house, including the attic and the bathroom — it’s really in the band’s past. Principato and Paller are transplanting themselves to New York City; by the time you read this, they’ll have left D.C.

Principato says this isn’t the last D.C. will hear from Boon, however. He gives the kind of promise one can expect from a newish band and a recent college grad: “We’ll be around, though. I think.”

  • Elijah Fosl

    That drop….. Dirty……..