Blame it on Facebook, the invention of RSS feeds, or the 7,000 daily distractions Hulu (bless you!) provides, but over the years weve 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, theres 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 Hockeys clock tick.
Out: Where does the name Hockey come from? Its 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 thats part of our music as well. Having a name thats totally off the map, totally disassociated from what the word actually means, is part of the general mental experiment that were 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. Its 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. Its a strange album, not one people would expect. Theres 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 its a little chaotic.
So thats 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 thats 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. Its a cool time for creativity in general. Something is happening, something good in the air
Have any theories why?
I think its 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 realign40-year cycles. A lot of human activity has to do with the cosmos and the placement of planets. Thats where the energy comes from.
Besides the obvious singles Too Fake and Song Away, what other songs on the album are close to your heart?
Theres a song called Put the Game Down, which is a very strange mash-up of a really dance-oriented, almost club-rave kind of verse, and a very straightforward Poison or Aerosmith [type of] rocking Rolling Stones chorus.
With such a range of styles, do the lyrics drive the music when youre writing or vice versa?
Id say were very lyrically oriented. It may not be immediately apparent on the first or second listen, but a lot of thought goes into the lyrics. Trying to make sure every song is worth something, as far as the content goes. Musically, we dont put a lot of restrictions on ourselves from one song to the other. They just sort of develop and take on a character of their own, as long as theyre digestible and upbeat and exciting.
Why do you think Hockey has been resonating with a gay audience?
Hmmm...its danceable? I dont know. We hope that it appeals to people from all over the place. Thats been our experience thus far. Often times were surprised by the people who show up to our shows. Its not just indie kids from 18 to 25. I think thats part of playing music thats very pop oriented. You can cross lots of musical barriers.
In your bands bio, Ben says he tries to emulate William S. Burroughs's concept of total confrontation in the lyrics and the way he handles the music. Could it have something to do with that?
Yeah, like whatever it is youre doing, be proud of who you are and dont be afraid to put that out there. The music we do is very honest and unapologetic and thats part of what works for us, and part of what people respond to about our music. Its not holding anything back. It just is what it is. Were confident about where we want to be as a band, and were doing what makes us happy and playing the music that makes us happy. I think thats important.
What can people expect in terms of a live show?
On a good night theres a lot of energy being transferred from the audience to the band. Were participatory like that. Its not shoe-gazing, stand-there-in-your-own-world music. Its a collective experience that were trying to bring forth.
Now that youve toured so much do you think youll return to Portland?
Yeah, I really like Portland. It has a small-town big-city feel. Its just the kind of place you want to go when youve been on the road for months at a time. You just sink back into it and get on your bike. There are people I know and love there. The bars are great, and the scenery is beautiful. You can go river-swimming and cliff-jumping. Its really good, but I shouldnt say that too muchpeople are moving there by the thousands every day! [Laughs.] Word is getting out is that its cooler than Brooklyn.
Mind Chaos (EMI) drops October 6. Visit Hockeyband.com for more info.