Hippo Campus approached the making of their sophomore album, Bambi, with the intention of undoing any of the distorted, social-media-fueled perceptions of the band. “Social media promotes this weird non-reality when it comes to artists and bands, where they get put up on a pedestal and treated like some kind of upgraded human,” says guitarist Nathan Stocker. “We’d much rather make community happen with our fans, which is the whole reason we started this in the first place.” The four-piece steered away from their usual collaborative songwriting process, with each band member, Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Zach Sutton and Whistler Allen, writing and demoing their material individually before bringing it to the table. “When you craft a song from the ground up all on your own, it allows you to make it more personal and to write whatever you feel without holding back,” says Luppen. “I think we were all finally able to get more honest about things like mental health, and in my songs I interrogated my relationship in a way I’d never had the confidence to do before.” Sonically, Hippo Campus significantly expanded their use of drum machines and synth. “We were getting sick of starting songs with riffs—we wanted to change it up and get out of our comfort zone,” says Stocker. “Plus there were a lot of late nights on this record, and when you’re in a dark room there’s nothing that sounds like a Juno-60. We just got dreamy with it.” Overall, the band focused on material of self-examination, how the music might help others in dealing with their own pain. “I’ve always considered the responsibility of art to be representing your specific experience,” says Sutton. “We’re saying, ‘This is what I’m doing now, this what I’m living like.’ It’s about sharing what you’re going through, so maybe someone else will feel less lonely.” Luppen stated, “In the past we might have been apprehensive about being super-vulnerable, but now we’re more aware of how important it is to come forward about dealing with depression or anxiety. Because if more men are able to do that, they might be less likely to express those feelings as anger or violence.”

Guitarist Nathan Stocker and bassist Zach Sutton spoke to B-Sides about their latest project, how they approached the writing process, individual growth and more. Check out the interview:

Hippo Campus (Zach & Nathan) Talk Recording Process On Latest Album 'Bambi'

Hippo Campus - Bambi (Official Video)