Saturday, 18 April 2009

Buzz Bands, Fake Letters and Susan Boyle - an interview with Hockey

"Look out!", proclaims the chorus of Hockey's wonderfully addictive debut single, 'Too Fake', and look out you should.  Fresh from the single's success and playing a UK tour supporting fellow buzz band Passion Pit, it's no wonder that the Portland-based band are being heralded as the next big thing; unlike many of these 'next big things', however, Hockey look set to live up to the hype.  Their songs boast powerful, soulful vocals and often zesty, passionate lyricism, whilst at the same time offering insanely funky, dance-like-nobody's-watching-style music and instrumentals.  Essentially, this is well thought-out music that makes you ridiculously happy, but doesn't compromise great lyrics for the sake of the good dance tunes.  Awesome. 

Try and catch them live supporting none-other than St. Albans' finest, Friendly Fires, or at one of their headline dates, as follows:

24 April London Roundhouse - supporting The Enemy  MTV @ The Camden Crawl

25 April Bristol University -- Support

27 April Manchester Academy 2 -- Support 

28 April Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall -- Support 

29 April Norwich Waterfront -- Support 

30 April London Forum -- Support (sold out)

 MAY 2009

1 May Southampton University -- Support 

2 May Brighton Digital -- Support (sold out)

5 May Leeds Met University -- Support

6 May Edinburgh Studio 24 -- Support

7 May Glasgow QMU -- Support

8 May Nottingham Red Room - headline date

11 May Reading Plug & Play - headline date

12 May Cardiff Club Ifor Bach - headline date

13 May Portsmouth The Cellars - headline date - I want to go to this as not only are they playing but Flashguns are supporting.  Probably shouldn't go as I have my AS exams a few days later, sad times.  Guess I'll try and catch them at Bestival.

14 May Great Escape festival Brighton

16 May Great Escape Festival Brighton

Or if you're lazy watch them on 'Later with Jools Holland' on April 21st.

Anyway, to find out more about the band, I interviewed their lovely lead singer, Ben Grubin:

Hi Hockey.  Tell us your names, what you do in the band and a unique fact about each of you.

Ben (sing), Jerm (bass) Brian (guitar) Anthony (drums)

The other guys aren't around now but I (Ben) have never looked through a telescope and would like to. 

Apparently you guys aren't actually big hockey fans, so why would you confuse the world by choosing that as your band name?  Is there at least a decent back-story as to why you picked it, or are you just cruel? (that sounds over the top but try googling 'hockey' - seriously)

No, not cruel. Most things we've done as a band haven't been done expecting that anyone would know about them. And the same with the name... We named it at the time because it was funny to us. We were going to call our first album "hockey puck"; at least we didn't do that.  

Would've been quite funny though, and given me an excuse to describe you as "pucking amazing" or something.  Describe your sound in three words.

 Neurotic American Ambassador. 

That's exactly what I thought first time I heard you.  I hear you're perpetuating eco-friendly vibes; bikes and veganism.  Do you feel pretty strongly about stuff like that?

Yeah we are into that stuff. Not much for being preachers of it... If I find out how to run a car on water or something though I would try and let people know about it. 

That'd be amazing - maybe you should ditch this band nonsense and become scientists.  Just a thought.  For now though,  when you write the songs are you consciously trying to make them danceable or does that just happen from the way you write music? 

Yeah it started as a conscious thing to make dance music, because we wanted to play for people at our school and let everyone have a good time.  That was the original framework. 

You've been touring with some other buzz bands recently (Passion Pit, Bear Hands) - is it nice to be a part of that, or a bit daunting to have that expectation to fulfill?

Yeah it's really cool to get grouped up with other good bands. It can be intimidating but that helps you to get better. 

You're currently touring with yet another exciting band, Friendly Fires, and their frontman - Ed MacFarlane - is quite a dancer.  Do you feel threatened, or can your moves outshine his?

I can't sleep because of this...  No, for real though I'm not worried. People just dance how they dance, you know?

I'm sure; that doesn't sound at allll like an excuse from someone scared of being outshone.  I hear you guys are Strokes fans; do you think the fourth album is gonna be able to top what they've already done?  

Yeah, we really like the Strokes. Have no projection on what their album will be like. Hope it's as good as the others.  

Me too.  The comparisons you're getting so far are pretty nice, but are there any bands you'd hate to be likened to?


Fair enough really. "I've got too much soul for the world, and it's breaking my heart in two".  What inspired that lyric [from debut single, 'Too Fake']?

It's about how you might want to be to honest, but aren't allowed to so much of the time and that's not the way you want to be. 

If you were curating your own music festival who would play, where would it be and what else would be going on there?

I'd get Gillian Welch. And Leonard Cohen. And then Susan Boyle would close it. It'd be outdoors of course, and James Tate would read a few poems from "Memoirs of the Hawk" during the change overs. 

Sounds amazing.  Also I did not realise Susan Boyle had become a stateside phenomenon too, crazy.  You've previously described your production as sounding "dirty".  Have you cleaned up for the album or maintained the grit?

We didn't re-record the songs that were on the first EP so they are basically the same with slightly different mixes. We recorded some newer ones though for the record as well, and they are a little less dirty because they were done in a proper studio, but they're not worlds apart. 

Have the fans ever done anything weird at one of your gigs? 

A woman sort of flew on stage once and tackled Jerm in Portland... I don't know if she was a fan though, just really drunk. 

Anything we should be listening to?  Any up and coming Portland bands?

Starfucker is cool. Blind Pilot. And Southern Belle

I had a quick listen to them all, they're actually awesome!  Good work.  Your artwork looks pretty exciting, who does it?  It's the sort of thing I wanted to do on one of the wall's of my room but I'm not quite motivated enough (nice little bit of trivia for you there).

Jerm does all the artwork. 

If Hockey were a beverage, which would they be and why?

Vitamin water, cuz it's like we take something normal and then try and give you something extra in it. 

That's actually a great description of you, maybe you should be a writer.  I feel like I'm suggesting way too many alternate careers, ignore me and go forth being great musicians.  Finally, anything you'd like to say while you've got our attention?  

I write fake letters to people some times: 


Last night was a mistake. The only way it'll ever happen again is if it never happens again. Got it!? See you whenever. 


Amazing.  I tried doing one:


Thanks so much for the time you put into this, it was very appreciated. Send my regards to Blake and please tell him to water the begonias;  I know he's upset, but that's no excuse for a neglected garden.


Hockey release their new single ‘Learn To Lose’ through Virgin Records on 1 June.  The single will be released on CD, 7 inch and download and is taken from their forthcoming debut album ‘Mind Chaos’ which is released later in the year [August 25th].  Go to their website and sign up to their mailing list to get a free MP3 of track '3am Spanish'.


Hanan said...

fantastic interview! love this band

Tara said...

Thanks, yeah I love them too - trying to see them live but the show I wanted to get to is sold out!

If that doesn't work out then I'm thinking about seeing The Virgins for the first time, though your latest live review of them didn't seem hugely promising...?

Thanks for reading!

Hanan said...

if I were you I'd go...the next time they're in town I'm gonna check em out just to make sure that it wasn't just an off night. I'm almost positive the magic is gone but I can't be absolutely sure until I see them one more time.

Tara said...

Okay, I'll let you know how it goes/probably review it. Not having seen them before I can't really judge, but I guess I'll be able to see if there's magic in the air when they play.

Hanan said...

if you can see a difference between this:

and this:

you'll understand.

Tara said...

You're right - the 2009 show seems a lot more...bland? It's a shame, I hope it was just a one-off!

Hanan said...

I saw them back in October of 2008 and they were still good.

Hannah+Alice said...

'13 May Portsmouth The Cellars - headline date - I want to go to this as not only are they playing but Flashguns are supporting. Probably shouldn't go as I have my AS exams a few days later, sad times. Guess I'll try and catch them at Bestival.'
this gig has been rescheduled for 7th july now! you're based near portsmouth then. should be a good gig!