Hockey: Summer Sons

Having spent the majority of last summer playing bars across America as if it were some kind of overblown stateside pubcrawl, Portland's <b>Hockey</b> are about to take a step up and embark on a busy stint at some of the year's biggest festivals, including T In The Park. Still riding high from the attention and excitement surrounding first single Too Fake -even landing a spot on <i>Jools Holland</i> - the band look set to make a lasting impression. The Skinny grabs a quick word with vocalist Benjamin Grubin to hear their story so far and goals for the year ahead.

Feature by Ryan Drever | 20 May 2009
  • Hockey

Hockey are from Portland, Oregon, a city in the United States which has been a somewhat perpetual breeding ground for what many would cite as much of the world's 'coolest' modern music. Sounding as though they take influence from elements of everything from funk and pop to dirty electro, it's easy to see why this band sound like they could be the next big summer soundtrack. Easy to dance to with raspy melodic hooks and an often laid-back air, Hockey are already appealing to lovers of, again, arguably 'cooler' dance music and lo-fi garage-rock.

Originally from New York, singer, Benjamin Grubin, and bassist, Jeremy Reynolds, went to school together, and after jamming in various bedroom incarnations, eventually bumped into the seemingly mirror-like duo of guitarist Brian White, and drummer Anthony Stassi who also played in a band together. Though differing greatly in style, these two tag-teams, after 'taking a second to gel' as Grubin puts it, have since spent the rest of their time touring, recording and getting compared to LCD soundsystem a lot.

Though the band may not be especially influenced by the 'system, or The Strokes - another common benchmark associated with the band perhaps fuelled by the New York connection - Grubin offers his own interpretation of his band's musical output. 'I can definitely see where some of those [comparisons] come from in some of the production value. It's got a bit of grittiness and electronica to it, but it's very 'song'-oriented structure-wise and has like, a pop element.' So, though not exactly offended by the comparisons and references his band's music evoke, I ask Ben what/who does inspire him? 'I'm into stuff like the Talking Heads and a bit of Lou Reed. I really got into music when i was younger though 'cause of stuff like Radiohead, and trying to copy them for a long time. But ultimately i couldn't.' he concedes, 'My voice didn't have that kind of ethereal quality to it, so i couldn't write songs like that!'

This August will see the release, or rather, re-release of the band's first album, entitled Mind Chaos. Originally self-released and produced on a limited run, the album will feature new tracks as well as cleaned-up versions of the original album tracks. 'It's the same versions that were on the original release,' Grubin explains 'We just remixed them. We took the tracks and just ran them through the board or whatever, then we recorded six new songs that are gonna be on there too.'

Already, The Single Too Fake has seen the band's status escalate over the early part of this year. This new found interest and attention, fuelled by successful U.K. touring stints with the likes of Passion Pit, and most recently, Friendly Fires has even seen the band landing the opportunity to record their first ever TV performance, courtesy of Jools Holland. 'That was a crazy moment for us, we've never done anything like that before. We played next to like, Yusaf Islam, who was Cat Stevens. He just right next to us, which was just, 'Wow!', y'know?

Besides basking in the immediate presence of legends, the band are scheduled for several summer festivals this year, including T in The Park. It tends to be the case these days that festivals serve as stepping stones to higher levels of exposure and more often than not, great success - especially when, like Hockey, you're already 'tipped for the big time'. It's not too hard to believe then, that this portland foursome may soon be joining the litany of bright young things afforded a summer surge of nation-wide, drunken appreciation.