Ben Grubin from Hockey talks to eGigs

a quick chat to the singer whilst they're on the road on Tuesday 2 March 2010

Ben Grubin from Hockey spoke to eGigs just before the band played their 4 UK dates last week, when we caught up with him the band were still in France.

What are you up to at the moment?
We're just going through soundchecks at the moment at the pre-show in Lyon.

How's the tour of France going?
It's pretty good. Yeah, Germany was maybe a little bit better maybe. France is good, but I don't know many people really know of us in these cities, other than Paris. The shows are pretty cool though.

Do you get the impression they know your material at all?
Yes, I guess the people who come have been really enthusiastic, I'd say it's been pretty good. It's weird the venues' soundsystems are cool. We're used to really bad soundsystems touring in America in not very big places, anywhere small usually has awful sound in America.

How did Hockey get together?
Jerm who plays the bass we met at school he was my room-mate in college, and it was in California near Los Angeles, and we just started playing back in 2002. We were a two piece for while, then we wanted to get a proper band, got together and moved around in the years since then.

What bands have influenced you?
When we started it was a lot of soul stuff like Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, and now all our songs have pieces from various sources like Talking Heads, Lou Reed a little bit, and then a mixture of modern day sounds like the revival of club music with synthesisers and drum machines.

Is the American dance scene and the UK dance scene pretty similar?
I think it's similar yeah, even though people associate Portland with rainy acoustic music, where really there it's a similar kind of synthesiser/dance music is happening there now, that's happening everywhere. Dance music is just everywhere.

Who has been the best band you've ever seen live?
Probably Radiohead after 'Kid A' came out, in New York, I liked that a lot.

Do you get much chance to see other live acts these days?
In the summer we did a lot of festivals, and we've just been on the Laneway Festival in Australia and I got to see some people. I got to see and Bridezilla, The xx, and Florence And The Machine play, it was really cool.

What was the last piece of music you recorded?
I think the last piece we recorded was one of the last songs on the album, 'Put The Game Down', that's one of my least favourite songs on the album. We didn't do that one in our basement we did that in a real studio, and so it has this imitation lo-fi that I don't like as much. We haven't recorded anything since then, and that was over a year ago.

Was most of the record done in your basement?
Around 70% of the record was. There was no money involved, and it was harder to make it sound good because we had such limited equipment but easier in a sense because there was no obstacles like time, or an engineer we had to go through, so we could always get what we wanted in the end. It took a lot longer but the results were better, and more consistent.

Will you go that route again with the next album?
I don't think so because ideally we would like to work with a producer who we'll see eye to eye with and like what they were coming. In the past we've had a lot of experience of producers where we haven't known what they've done and liked what they've done. When we're working with them we don't finish each others sentences at all. It would be ideal to find someone, because regarding the sonics of the album I'm reaching the extent of what I can do, I can't even move beyond that. It would be nice to make a second album that was a little bit different.

Have you got any new material on the horizon?
Yeah, we're playing two new songs now in our set every night. We're just going to start working on some more. We've just figured out for the first time how to write on tour. We never knew how to do that, we didn't write a song for the whole of last year because we were always on tour. Now we're having a little bit longer soundchecks, so we're starting to write them.

How are the new songs being received?
Good, fine, I really like putting the songs in the show. It makes it exciting again for us to play. Not that I get bored of the old songs, but it just gives it a new, fresh feeling. I think they've gone down pretty good.

When you're on tour what essential item do you need to have?
My computer with Garage Band on it, and lots of vitamin C tablets.

Are you planning on doing any festivals again this year?
I know we're doing Isle Of Wight Festival and the Coachella Festival in California, and that's all that I know of.

Which festival did you most enjoy last summer?
I really liked Hove Festival in Norway last summer, it was really cool, and Eurockeenes in France was a really fun. I liked a lot of the ones with a really beautiful setting, were really cool, and a little bit smaller. The other ones were cool like T in the Park, and Glastonbury but those were massive, like apocalypse camps, they just have a different feeling you know. They were a cool experience as well, but I really liked festivals like Bonnaroo, those ones which have a host touch to it. Somewhere where they aren't only trying to make money, where they want it to have a bit of an aesthetic too.

What was the last record you bought?
I think it was Simon & Garfunkel, a 3 CD set, and Vampire Weekend in Portland, just before I left.

What are the top 3 records in you collection?
OK Computer, Blonde on Blonde, and Ziggy Stardust.

..and who would you most like to collaborate with?
Mmmm, let's see, I'd like to record a song with... well, we played once with I Blame Coco, in one of our first shows, and she's got a really cool voice, so maybe her, that would be cool. It's cool to work with a female vocalist sometimes, it's cool to have a good kind of sound.

If you were to record a cover version, what would you cover?
I don't know, we never even do covers. I like a song by Gillian Welch called, 'I Dream A Highway' it's around 14 minutes long.

How do UK audiences compare to a home crowd back in the States?
It's kind of different, I'd say more people know us in England, so there's often more energy in the room at those shows. The last shows we played in America were pretty fun. We're really in a kind of chaotic moment, where wo don't really know what to expect anywhere we go. I never know what to expect anywhere we go, you just can't get comfortable with anything. You might show up and everyone is going crazy, or you might show up and no one seems to care that much, it's totally random, right now.

Thanks for your time.
Thanks for giving us a call.


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article by: Scott Williams

published: 02/03/2010 12:22

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