In July 2018 Hoops announced they were taking an indefinite hiatus. They left it open-ended, but it felt permanent. And it felt like a relief.
“I had to rediscover why I wanted to be in a band and make songs and perform,”
says Keagan Beresford.
With Hoops on the shelf, the three friends went back home and got on with their lives. Krauter and Auscherman formed a short-lived hardcore punk outfit called Matrix in order to explore some very different sounds and play some very different stages.
Krauter moved back to his hometown of Carmel, Indiana, and released two solo albums. Beresford, based out of Indianapolis, returned to college to complete his degree and released a solo EP in February 2019.
Freed from the weight of Hoops, they kept writing what they thought sounded like Hoops songs, demos of which they sent back and forth to each other. There was no pressure to make anything of them, though, and that revived some of the excitement they felt when they made their first cassettes. In December 2019,
Beresford called up his old friends to see how they felt about reviving the band:
“I missed working with those guys. I’d been writing these songs and I thought we could do well together. They’re my best friends and my favorite collaborators, so I was happy they were so receptive to it.”
Just a few months later, they met up in Bloomington, Indiana, to record Halo at Russian Recording,.
They invited their friend Ben Lumsdaine to produce.
For a week, they worked all day experimenting with each other’s songs, then hung out with friends and watched
The Sopranos at night. It felt like summer camp, not just because they were sleeping in bunkbeds but because it had been ages since they had all spent that much time together in the same space.
Where they had once guarded their own songs in the studio, at Russian they discovered they were opening themselves up to more possibilities.
“We were trying out crazy ideas, doing things on the fly, and not getting super caught up in things not sounding how we thought they would,” says Auscherman.
One thing they wanted to avoid was falling right back into their old routines. Instead, they took on new roles that allowed them more room to breathe, more space to create. They even wrote a few songs together—a first the band’s history. Auscherman had started “Fall Back” about a long-distance relationship, but he fleshed it out with Krauter and Beresford, who added jangly guitars, a buoyant rhythm section, and a swooning chorus.
Like many songs on Halo, it wasn’t written specifically about his bandmates but nevertheless addresses similar emotions about their musical partnership.
“That’s one of the first songs we ever sat down and wrote together,” says Krauter.
“That was one of the few songs that we ever collab’ed on that hard.”
Hoops take obvious joy in playing these songs and playing around with them, often nodding to their favorite bands but always putting those familiar sounds in new contexts.
An album defined by musical exuberance, full of gratitude and generosity to counteract and compliment the deep undercurrents of melancholy coursing through every hook and riff, Halo sounds like a lively conversation among close friends, each song a high five, as they look for some stability in their lives and figure out what they owe themselves, each other, and everyone around them. Reaching this point nearly destroyed the band, but Auscherman, Beresford, and Krauter emerged stronger and closer for their time apart.
“This record is a more honest representation of our influences and interests as musicians,” says Auscherman.
“We’ve grown a lot in four years, as people and as listeners.
We’re starting to sound more like ourselves.”