Half Alive (stylized as half•alive or h•a) is an American band from Long Beach, California. The band was formed in 2016 and consists of lead singer Josh Taylor, drummer Brett Kramer and bassist J. Tyler Johnson. The trio are best known for their single "Still Feel" and its choreographed music video. Their first EP, 3, was released in 2017, while their debut studio album, Now, Not Yet, was released on August 9, 2019.
2016–2017: Formation and debut EP
Josh Taylor had previously been lead singer for "The Moderates", a band from Long Beach, California. The band released their debut EP Colour in 2013. In November 2015, Taylor announced that he had embarked on a seven-month songwriting program several months prior during which he hoped to write 50 songs, a project that would eventually end on December 30. Brett Kramer, who Taylor knew as they attended the same non-denominational church, joined him on the project. The duo decided to form a band in 2016 while "watching the songs evolve as were working together."
It was announced that The Moderates had disbanded in on April 10, 2017, due to other commitments, but that an EP as well as a new music video would be released by Taylor's new band, "Half Alive". The band's first single, "The Fall", was released on April 24 of that year alongside its music video. Their debut EP, 3, was released on the same day. It was recorded with the help of James Krausse inside a helicopter hangar in the Mojave Desert which had been converted to a recording studio. A behind the scenes video for "The Fall" was uploaded onto the band's YouTube channel in July. "Aawake at Night", the second single from the EP, was released on November 6. The three songs from the EP collectively amassed 4 million streams on Spotify in July 2018 and currently have over 95 million as of November 2021. Soon after the EP's release, the duo added a new member to their band, bassist J. Tyler Johnson, who Kramer met while performing at various music festivals at university, and together entered and won a jazz competition with during this time, while Johnson had been introduced to Taylor through the former's brother. This was done to avoid using computer-generated sounds in their songs and live performances in favor of live instruments.
2018–2020: Success with "Still Feel", major label signing and Now, Not Yet
Main article: Now, Not Yet
On August 3, 2018, the band released a single called "Still Feel", accompanied by a music video filmed at Popsicle LA. The video attracted attention for its choreography and cinematography, done by lead singer Josh Taylor and JA Collective, and received positive reviews from publications including Alternative Press and Rock Sound, the former calling the cinematography "first-class" and the latter calling the band "so multi-talented". NPR also featured the track on "All Songs Considered" playlist and directed praise at its music video, while Triple J placed it on their "Best New Music" list, expressing similar sentiments. Thanks to the attention received by the track, the band signed a record deal with RCA Records soon after. The band subsequently performed their first live show in October 2018 at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles. They embarked on their first tour from January to February 2019, taking place in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Soon after the release of "Still Feel", the band disclosed that they were recording two new songs that they had previously performed live, but declined to reveal when they would be released.
On January 18, 2019, the band released the single "Arrow" and a music video premiered later that day. Time named it one of the best songs of the week, writing that "the song is filled with small surprises, like mini drum breaks and a groovy synth sequence that break it up into an unexpected composition that pulses with fresh energy." After the release of the single, the band disclosed to Rock Sound that they were working "on a larger body of work but keeping it discreet and mysterious." The following month, the band's track "Still Feel" entered the Hot Rock Songs and Alternative Songs chart in the United States and eventually peaked at number 26 on the former and number 21 on the latter. On March 14, the band made their late-night television debut as they played the track on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The performance was well received by Billboard, calling it "spectacularly orchestrated," and Rolling Stone, who deemed it "cleverly choreographed." The band then announced a world tour taking place from June to November in Australia, North America and Europe.
On April 25, the trio announced on social media that they would be releasing all of their released material on a vinyl record named *7, which also includes an intro track and an unreleased song named "Runaway". On June 13, the band released the track "Runaway" as a single alongside a heavily choreographed music video, simultaneously announcing that their debut studio album, Now, Not Yet, would be released on August 9. They performed the track live for Vevo's DSCVR series alongside "Arrow" and incorporated various dance interludes from their music videos in the renditions. The album's fourth single, "Pure Gold", which was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid, was released on July 19 alongside a "colorful and jubilant" visual. A fifth single titled "OK OK?" was premiered on July 31 at 10 AM PST on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 show as that day's "World Record". A music video for the song also shared that day.
The band released an EP titled "In Florescence" on May 1, 2020, which features orchestral reimaginings of four songs off Now, Not Yet. The EP was accompanied by a documentary titled "Now, Not Yet: in Florescence" that was released on Youtube on May 4.
2021–present: Give Me Your Shoulders
On March 10, 2021, the band announced that they will be performing at the 2021 Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival in September of that year. On March 24, they announced the release of a new single titled "What's Wrong", which was released the following week on March 31 alongside a music video. They further confirmed that it would serve as the first single from their upcoming second album. "What's Wrong" was a collaboration with production duo Oji Volta. A second single, "Time 2", was released on May 26.
On June 26, it was announced that the band would accompany Twenty One Pilots during the Takeover Tour as an opening act. This marked the bands first time playing a live show since the conclusion of the Now, Not Yet Tour in November 2019. The band released a third single, titled "Summerland", on July 23. The music video for "Summerland" stars actress Fivel Stewart. The fourth single, "Make of It", was released on September 16.
On November 17, the band announced a North American "Give Me Your Shoulders Tour", set to begin in February 2022. The announcement promised more throughout the week. This promise was kept true with the release of "Hot Tea" on November 18, along with an accompanying music video the next day. Unlike their past songs, "Hot Tea" features distorted vocals and trap inspired hi-hats.
"Hot Tea" was accompanied by the formal announcement of the band's sophomore album, Give Me Your Shoulders. The album was revealed as a two part record, the first of which—Give Me Your Shoulders, Pt. 1—was released on February 11, 2022, preceding the tour across North America, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Musical style and influences
The band's musical style has been described as indie pop, pop, alternative rock, dance-pop, electronic rock and electropop, and further incorporates elements of R&B, funk and soul. The band have explained that they enjoy experimenting with numerous genres as well as sounds from 1960's, 70's and contemporary music. They have cited film and psychology, specifically Jungian and Freudian concepts from which the band's name derives, as some of their influences, in addition to the work of Sufjan Stevens, Vulfpeck, Christine and the Queens, Kimbra, Emily King, Chance the Rapper, Tyler, the Creator and Twenty One Pilots, and incorporate themes of anxiety and religion in their songs. Taylor, in an interview with NBHAP, illustrated that while songwriting he aims to hit the "sweet spot" between "abstract" and "relatable" lyrics in order to allow listeners to interpret them in their own way.