Rhian Daly 14/03/2010
Us Brits are quite often guilty of assuming the best things in the US happen in either New York or LA. In the case of Hockey, we couldn't be more wrong. Based in Portland, Oregon, the band released their debut album Mind Chaos around six months ago to mild interest on these shores. We here at GIITTV thought it was a brilliant yet underrated piece of scuzzy guitar pop, and Albums Editor Rhian Daly even voted for it as one of her top 10 albums of 2009. So, it only seemed right that she should meet singer Ben Grubin for a chat on the afternoon of Hockey's biggest London show to date.
What have you been up to since you last over here in October?
Let's see... I don't know, we did a small tour in America opening for another band and we went to Japan and Australia... stuff like that.
Thinking back to Mind Chaos - I know it probably seems like a very long time ago now - when you made it did you have any specific achievements in mind, with how you wanted it to sound for instance?
The stuff we were doing on our own was really simple and clear, and it didn't sound like... there's not a lot of tracks on the songs. There's like 9 tracks on each song, do you know what I mean? So it's kind of very clear and you can hear all the sounds. We just wanted to do something we could do on our own and take it as far as we could. We knew we wanted it to sound a little bit dirty, I think we did that.
So it's been out for a while now and you've probably had some time to reflect upon it - how do you feel about now?
There's a few songs on there that I don't like how they came out but yeah, it's fine. Some bits I wouldn't change them at all if I could, so that's fine. That's cool, we just move on to the next one.
What would you change about it if you could?
The only song I'd change is Put the Game Down. We didn't do that one in our basement so it's like a weird imitation, it sounds too clean and weird. I just don't like it. It's fun to play live, I just don't like it recorded.
What do you think about the reaction you got for the album from the press?
It was really mixed, to be honest. In a really strange way. You know, like super snobby press in England and snobby press in America... like, some saying we're total jokes and some saying it's good. It's a weird mixture. I guess I didn't have any expectations, exactly. It's not been overwhelming in any sense.
Do the criticisms you got and some sections of the press not taking you seriously bother you at all?
Maybe a little bit at first because that's a new thing to get used to. When you're used to making music in a small city - or a big city - no one writes about you negatively because there's no point. You don't take a band and say “Oh, this local band's playing tonight but they suck”. There's no point. But all of a sudden you're on the international music scene and there's a lot more generally negative stuff being written because I guess it's a competitive world. So any how, it's weird to get used to but now I'm not to worried about it. I think at the same time, maybe it's important as far as people hearing about you. If the press really falls in love with someone, it can help more people find them. So I don't know, maybe I should worry about it. But there's really nothing you can do. I don't like how we were pretty naive, like with music videos and stuff. We put all of our ideas into the music and then all of a sudden we've got these cheesy videos. We didn't pay attention to it so I think that maybe was kind of weird. We're a really strange band, we have our feet in a lot of weird places.
You're doing fairly well over here - headlining Koko's pretty good going, certainly. Are you in a similar situation back in America?
Not really, we've never ever done a full tour of America. So not so many people know about us, but we still get to play cool shows with like 300 people and have fun. I think we put all our energy into over here first.
Is it more important to you to do well at home or is it more a case of not really being bothered so long as you can do the band thing?
I guess, wherever. I don't know. You can't really pick and choose. It would be nice to do well at home, so you could be around people you know more. Other than socially, than I don't really care.
Have you started working on the second album yet, or any plans or ideas?
Well, no, we've just written two songs which we're playing live now. So they'll be the first two... because we didn't write any songs on tour before, we just didn't know how to write.
Have you been listening to anything new that's influenced those two songs?
Um, no, not really. It's more like still within our new world, like changing things from the first album. Not really what we're listening to. That's kind of more where it's at.
There's that age old notion of the 'difficult second album'. Are you worried you might fall foul of that?
(laughs) Not really. I think because this album hasn't built us up, and it's like I think that only happens to bands that have been built up by the first album. So I don't think it's added any pressure for us. I'm just looking forward to it. Hopefully it'll be better because the way that we performed a year ago was just insane, like really not good. So hopefully it should be better.
You're already booked to do Isle of Wight festival, can we expect to see you anywhere else over the summer?
I actually have no idea. I know we're doing Coachella and Lollapalooza. Other than that, I don't know. Maybe we'll be recording.
Would you want to be doing more festivals, is that something you enjoyed last year?
It was fun, it was cool. Some of them were cooler than others. I guess, I don't care. I'm kind of... what's the word? I'm quite fatalistic. I don't really care, but I do care. It'd be fun to play them but if we don't get to do them this year, then we'll probably get to them another time.
Did you have a favourite one that you played last year?
We played Hove in Norway, that was awesome. And Bonnaroo in the States was really cool. We played one called Eurockeennes in France... I really liked the ones where whoever's running it, like, curates it. They love it and you can really tell that. They're a little bit smaller maybe and not every detail is about making money, necessarily. Those ones are really cool. But most of them were fun and really interesting to play.
What are your plans for the rest of 2010 then?
Finish this tour, Coachella and some other festivals and then, I don't know. Hopefully just write and do the album.