Need To Know: Hockey

10.5.2009

By Justin Ocean

Blame it on Facebook, the invention of RSS feeds, or the 7,000 daily distractions Hulu (bless you!) provides, but over the years we've garnered a serious case of ADD. No longer do attractive indie boys hold our attention based solely on their shag factor -- they now need a little something extra. Luckily for the Portland, Ore.'based dance-rock band Hockey, that comes in the form of some manic musical energy. The first single alone, 'Too Fake,' has had us shaking in our seats all morning. And based on the unabashed genre-flippin', mashed-up styles -- rap influences, soul, electro, and, of course, rock -- on the rest of their debut album, Mind Chaos, there's plenty more fun where that came from.

Initially formed in 2001 as a duo -- lead singer Ben Grubin and bassist Jeremy 'Jerm' Reynolds -- Hockey now numbers four and counts Talking Heads as a major influence, and one that's apparent in the way the group mixes left-of-center lyrics and straightforward songs to make accessible, esoteric pop with sick hooks and danceable beats. We caught up with the 26-year-old Reynolds to find out what else makes Hockey's clock tick.

Out: Where does the name Hockey come from? It's pretty butch.
Jeremy Reynolds: Ben and I came up with it in college. We were going to University of Redlands in California, a really strange sort of arts college, so finding something that could shock and interest people who are already completely out of their minds [led us to adopt] a band name that was completely unexpected. And I think that's part of our music as well. Having a name that's totally off the map, totally disassociated from what the word actually means, is part of the general mental experiment that we're running. Plus, aesthetically, we like how it looks. I do all the artwork for the band and I like working with the name Hockey. It has an interesting pull to it.

Your upcoming album, Mind Chaos, is all over the place -- in a good way. How would you describe the sound?
A mash-up of most styles under the sun. It's upbeat and energetic and every song has its own unique feel, like a little vignette or chapter in a book, and they hang together in a strange way. It's a strange album, not one people would expect. There's even a country Americana Bob Dylan-y folk song towards the end. We really went everywhere, and calling it Mind Chaos hangs together with the constant that it's a little chaotic.

So that's the story behind the title?
Well, 'mind chaos' is a term we came up with to describe the infinite variety of human individuality. Part of living in the modern world is the hyperindividualization of culture. With the Internet, Facebook, and things like that, everybody has his own unique things to say about everything. So to make a record in this day and age is to embrace and accept that. At least that's what we tried to do. Why not go everywhere and be everything? Take elements from the '60s, '70s, '80s, and maybe a little bit from the '90s -- I hate to say that, but, you know' [Laughs.] Now is a very culturally referential time.

How about contemporary bands -- which do you really admire now?
Bat for Lashes and Friendly Fires from the U.K., and Boy Crisis from over here. Chairlift. There are a lot of great bands out there. It's a cool time for creativity in general. Something is happening, something good in the air'

Have any theories why?
I think it's cosmic actually. It has to do with planetary alignments. A lot of planetary alignments that were around starting in the late '60s and moving on into the early '70s are starting to realign'40-year cycles. A lot of human activity has to do with the cosmos and the placement of planets. That's where the energy comes from.

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