Hand Signs chat new album ‘Great Chaos’ and their “biggest challenge to date”

Georgia trio Hand Signs dish on all things Great Chaos, experimentation and their “biggest challenge to date.”  

New Wave nostalgia meets punkish innovation on Great Chaos, the sprawling 15-track album from Georgia alt-pop trio Hand Signs.

Released late last month, the band’s sophomore effort traces them everywhere from the ethereal synths of World on Fire to the anthemic fervour of Get Home Safe, all anchored by Hand Signs’ knack for introspective storytelling. 

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The result is a triumph both in its carving of fresh sonic directions and its ushering of a new trajectory for the trio itself, who now stand firm in their status as a promising voice.

Fresh off the release of Great Chaos, we caught up with Hand Signs bandmates Gavin Livermore and Kolin Madison for a deep-dive into the artistry, the influence of Oasis, and the importance of “experimenting often.” 

Catch our full interview with Hand Signs below, and scroll down to listen to their new album Great Chaos. 

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

Gavin: Maaaan. Trees upon trees upon trees. Anywhere from classic country music, to death metal, to blues, hardcore, punk, etc… South Georgia, USA, has it all: but the scene is mostly metal/country depending what places you wind up going to.

Kole: Whole lot of nothing, but definitely some underrated talent hidden in the sticks. For the most part, everyone just kinda stays in their own lane. 

HAPPY: Describe an average day? 

Kole: Wake up, work out a little, stare into the void for a while. If I don’t work, I’m either working on music or listening to it. Then playing some video games into the wee hours of the morning.

Gavin: Wake up, wish I didn’t. Get to work. I’m an admin tech for a government agency currently aside from all this, and a Navy Reservist. Get off work, and annoy these guys, and annoy our manager about random things. All day, every day. 


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HAPPY: How did the formation of Hand Signs come about, and what inspired the band’s name?

Gavin: So I had known where I wanna go, and I had given up music before and I know quitting wasn’t in the cards for me. I had a vision. However, I was on that road alone for a bit, because Kole had hit his “done with music” moment in life.

But, having our past experiences writing together in the last band we were both in before that fall apart, I knew I needed him. His talent and styles if writing is rarely matched.

Plus, we’re twins and I’ve never met someone where we can HAVE IT OUT, but never wanna dip on each other. That’s more rare than anything. 

Kole: Gavin wouldn’t let me tell him no, honestly. He had a solution for every excuse I had to say no. So I agreed to write for him until he figured out the rest.

As time went on, I couldn’t separate myself from it, so here we are. As far as the name goes, I don’t think any of us remember where the name came from anymore haha

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HAPPY: What is the significance of Georgia in shaping the sound and identity of Hand Signs?

Kole: Honestly, Georgia kinda isn’t part of the equation. The diversity of sound here encourages everyone to try to “out-unique” each other.

Gavin: For me, it’s GA and my experiences. If it was a feeling I want to re-live, I bring that when I can. 

HAPPY: How do you approach the songwriting process as a band? Are there specific roles or responsibilities each member takes on?

Gavin: I take on stroking Kole’s ego, or accidentally deflating it from time to time. -Gavin

Kole: I hear bits and pieces of ideas all the time, and if I have the ability, I try to record everything. I always try to write with the guys in mind, and I send things to Gavin for inspection all the time


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HAPPY: Can you talk about any specific challenges or milestones you’ve encountered on your musical journey so far?

Kole: Our biggest challenge to date was putting Great Chaos together, while Gavin was deployed with the military. There were all kinds of smaller obstacles throughout the process, and it was difficult to coordinate. My personal favourite milestone is still our first show, and finally getting to share Hand Signs with everyone. 

Gavin: I’ve been our biggest challenge. Wholeheartedly. How they still want me around is beyond me. As far as milestones, our first show was amazing. And finally getting to release this record that we’ve been basically working on since day 1 together. 

HAPPY: How has your music evolved since your early EP releases to the creation of “Great Chaos”?

Kole: I feel like the EPs were us trying to figure out how we fit together, and what was going to make us different. With Great Chaos, it felt like I was much more confident as a writer and a performer. We stopped trying so hard to prove we were different. 

Gavin: This is a project that encompassing everything we’ve gone through for years. Kole killed this. I pushed for random vibes, but Kole gets all the credit. 

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HAPPY: Are there any artists or bands, either contemporary or from the past, that have had a significant influence on Hand Signs’ sound?

Kole: I’m heavily influenced by bands like Oasis, The Cure, and The 1975. My mom introduced me to Prince early in life, and his courage to constantly experiment with sound and be vulnerable was also extremely inspiring.

Gavin: Anything that makes me feel something. I just want to feel music. If I can’t feel something while listening, it’s not for me.

HAPPY: What do you hope listeners take away from your music, particularly from the album “Great Chaos”?

Kole: Be nice to others, cry when it’s time to cry, and love those that love you. Be weird, literally who can stop you?

Gavin: Never give up. Believe in yourself. We empathize with you. You’re never alone.

HAPPY: How do you approach live performances, and what kind of experience do you aim to create for your audience?

Kole: Practice like crazy, and leave everything outside of what’s going on onstage, outside. In a world where people are too cool for everything, I just want everyone to have authentic fun

Gavin: I just want to be fun and emotion. It’s all about creating experiences.


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HAPPY: Can you share any memorable moments or experiences from recording or performing that stand out to you?

Kole: Watching Gavin knock out his entire part for the record in two days was wild, I can’t lie. And getting put on a festival full of rappers and metal bands, that awkwardness was fun

Gavin: This is the most and fastest I’ve ever recorded. Knowing time was winding down to leave for deployment def helped. But if you hear any little flaws in the drums, mind ya business. Lol jk.

HAPPY: What advice would you give to emerging musicians or bands who are looking to establish themselves in the industry?

Kole: Have fun and work hard. If it’s real, and it’s good, it’ll go the way it’s supposed to. Experiment often. 

Gavin: Find people you trust. Be friends outside of the music. Don’t let each other quit (if this is what you all want). Love and embrace every hard, and great, moment.

And don’t treat every moment like it’s a band moment. It’s creating better and stronger friendship. When you take your mind if the fact that you’re friends first, that’s the beginning of the end.


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HAPPY: What makes you happy?

Kole: Sitting in the grass, coffee, music, and my loved ones. Watching thunderstorms. 

Gavin: Being able to help people, whatever that looks like.