Hockey is a band from Portland, Oregon who have been gaining attention with their danceable tunes and enthusiastic live performances. Their sound is an amalgam of LCD Soundsystem’s relentless beats and self-awareness with The Strokes’ effortless cool. Hockey played Thursday, Oct. 15, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The following is an exclusive interview with Jerm Reynolds, the band’s bassist.
Q: You guys have admitted that the name "Hockey" comes from your sense of humor more so than any interest in the sport. Since your album is called "Mind Chaos," do you hope to inspire chaos in people’s minds when they listen to your music?
A: Mind chaos is more about the way that we see the world in 2009; which is this beautifully, fractured hyper-individualized insanity we think that might be a result of the internet or technology in general. We live in a world where it’s more and more about the individual and the individual’s opinion. When you have a world like that it makes interaction between people a lot sillier and a lot crazier. So making a record for a world of people who are all standing mightily on their own unique opinion is kind of an interesting process so why not make it totally insane and then say, "Ha! Chew on that!"
Q: You make all the artwork for Hockey’s releases, can you describe that process?
A: work mostly with singer Ben Grubin. He executive produced the artwork. I’m the one physically doing the artwork He works with me on the concepts. It was his idea to do the four covers. We kept doing the proofs and not being satisfied with them. He came into my room one day and just said put them all down. Then he said, "Yeah that’s it! That’s ‘Mind Chaos,’ four separate covers for insanity. The other guys put their opinions in as well, but I’m the guy who’s physically doing the cutting and the gluing and all the childish coloring with crayons and stuff like that but we all work together on it conceptually.
Q: Hockey has been doing a lot of touring at festivals in Europe and the United States and people have noticed. This has garnered you spots playing on Jools Holland, and press from Filter, Spin, NME, Q and even Marie Claire. How does it feel to see your hard work paying off?
A: It’s pretty fantastic, Ben and I have been playing in Hockey for almost seven years. We’ve spent a lot of time toiling in obscurity which was fine, but to finally see it come around at this point is really great. I tell people that most of the time that we’re just so concerned with keeping everything going; getting the record out; getting the right mixing done; being a really great live band and all the other things that we do on a day-to-day basis, that we don’t even get a chance to sit down and be like, "Whoa, things are happening for us." We’ve been touring the world for six months it’s just unreal and at the same time it’s really great, if I stop to think about it.
Q: You have done a lot of touring with bands like Friendly Fires and Passion Pit. Do you have any outrageous stories of hanging out with bands that you’re touring with?
A: We got trapped in Seattle, Washington in a big blizzard last winter with the band The Virgins. It was the last night of our tour and we had all just managed to reach Seattle just as two feet of snow fell on the ground. We were all hanging out together after the show because not that many people made it out to the show due to the snow. So after the show we all trudged out into the roads where cars were skidding everywhere. We had this hilarious adventure yelling at cars and laying in the street and just appreciating the anarchy of Seattle being totally shut down by a huge blizzard.
Q: You’re doing a tour with Portugal. the Man, who are also a band from Portland, Oregon. Had you met them before the tour?
A: Our guitar player and drummer’s old band played a show with them four or five years ago in Spokane, Washington. I’ve never met them; I’ve heard their music. I really like it; I’m really looking forward to meeting them on Thursday when our tour starts in Wisconsin of all places. I dig their Bob Dylan band style; that 60’s organ psychedelic rock sound.
Q: You guys are playing your U.S. network debut on The Jimmy Fallon Show on Oct. 15, do you have any superstitious rituals that you perform before important gigs?
A: I’m going to wear my lucky tour shoes. I’ve had these shoes since our first real tour last December and the bottoms are all out and I had to duct tape them together. Also I’m going to try to keep a lid on it for TV, try to not do anything crazy. I tend to get a little excitable if I feel like a lot of people are looking at me, I might go crazy. I’ll have to be cool. Wear the tour shoes and play the song.
Q: The songs "Too Fake" and "3AM Spanish" have a drum machine and bass sound. I know that when Hockey started out you had that kind of set up. Did those songs begin in that era of your band or did they develop later?
A: Those songs developed later, but that original core sound is still with us. It’s about drum beats and bass lines and everything else musically and melodically is built around those very basic components because we did play like that for over four years, longer than we’ve had a four-piece band. Most of the songs on the record were written after putting the band together, with a couple of exceptions. "Four Holy Photos" is a folk song. It’s the oldest song on record. Ben and I wrote that when we were still at school together in 2004. It’s an oldie but goodie that hung on and made it onto the record.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: I really like MIA quite a bit. I like The Virgins, Passion Pit, Ladyhawke, Yacht, and Little Comets. There’s so much great music right now. Sometimes I think about if it was still 1999, everyone would be all bummed out listening to Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson. What a drag that was! 2009 is so much better. It’s so much cooler, so much more expressive, so much more interesting and so much more positive.