Hop Along at the Irenic

Hop Along is a band known for their raw, emotional songwriting brought forth by lead singer Frances Quinlan’s mighty vocals.  The Philadelphia-based quartet began in 2004 as a solo project of Quinlan’s and later developed into a four-piece consisting of her brother Mark Quinlan on drums, bassist Tyler Long and former Algernon Cadwallader member Joe Reinhart on guitar. Hop Along has been a dynamic figure in folk rock in the post-2010 era, emerging even before Philadelphia was hailed as the capital of new indie with the 2012 release of their album “Get Disowned.”  As their 2015 release, “Painted Shut,” gathered even more praise, Hop Along became a band known for emphatic songwriting laced with expressive riffs.  

Taking the stage at the Irenic to promote their most recent release, “Bark Your Head Off, Dog,” the band worked to translate the powerful sentiments expressed on their record into a fulfilling live show.  The rustic backdrop of hanging lights against wood gave the show a homey, backyard-jam feel. Clad in a mix of shorts, baseball caps and t-shirts complete with a few cans of beer, the band’s natural chemistry effectively loosened the mature crowd.  Beginning the show with “How Simple,” the band had everyone swaying, with a mix of foot stomping and head nodding. They continued into “Kids on the Boardwalk” and “Fox in Motion,” pausing to address the crowd about the extremely high temperature in the room that had us all sweating in gross unity. What followed was a fan-requested rendition of “Powerful Man,” a personal story of Quinlan’s about the time she saw a man abusing his son in public and her inability to confront him.  A few times, Quinlan mentioned how the show was taking place in a church, proclaiming, “it’s weird to sing a spiritually questionable song in a place such as this” before going into “What the Writer Meant.” Finishing the set with album closer “Prior Things,” the group had the crowd bowing their heads rapturously. Returning onstage for an encore, the band played three older songs highlighted with a riff in “The Knock” that had everyone holding their breath. Closing with “Tibetan Pop Stars,” (once hailed by Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus as “the most painfully beautiful song ever”), the band retreated humbly, leaving a storm of applause in their wake.  The crowd responded appreciatively to every bit of light the band gave off, basking in the essence of comfort that permeated through the room. Amidst a room of scene veterans who probably had to put effort into attending a Sunday night show, Hop Along made the experience easy and worthwhile.

A Chat With Dryjacket

KCR:  How did you guys start playing music together?

Brad Wyllner: It was actually Joe and I. It came out of a shitty relationship I had with a pretty terrible girl. The best part of it was meeting Joe. She was a friend of his. We were at a party and started talking about music. After that relationship I hit him up, because I was interested in starting a band. I didn’t think he was going to want to be a part of it, but right away he was interested. We met up and talked some more about music and started forming some songs, and then slowly brought on Ian and Adam until we found the right members. That’s basically the start of Dryjacket.

KCR: Did you play in bands before that?

Joe Junod: I have – some of us have. I played in a few small ones, but you guys played in bigger ones.

BW: Yeah, Ian and Adam and I all knew each other longer than we knew Joe. Adam played in a band with my brother, and Ian and I played in bands [together] since we were in sixth grade. So, it seemed like our group of friends was always just mixing members and making different bands over and over. This is just the one that ended up sticking.

Adam Cerdan: We all played in bands, but nothing that we took seriously.

KCR: What did those bands sound like? Did they sound like Dryjacket?

(everyone laughs)

JJ: No, I was in pop punk bands up until this.

AC: Yeah, I did like acoustic solo project stuff.

BW: Yeah, like an indie, pop rock deal, not like this.

KCR: Were you a fan of Hopeless [Records] before you signed to them?

BW: Yeah, I know I can speak for Ian and I [in] that we grew up loving bands that were on Hopeless or still are currently on Hopeless. So, it’s kind of bizarre being label mates with bands that we used to go see every time they came through our area. So yeah, we’re definitely fans of the label and what they’re doing. It’s an honor to be a part of it now.

KCR: What do you like playing more, a house show or a venue show?

BW : They both have their pros and cons. I like doing a little bit of both every now and then.

AC: It depends on how narrow the stairs are (laughs).

JJ: We’ve played some really cool house shows in like backyards and stuff too. I guess…I don’t know if I have a preference.

BW: It doesn’t matter really. A good show is a good show.

JJ: I think we do prefer like smaller, more personal venues.

BW: Even Soda Bar is great for that vibe, because even though it’s a venue it still has that close quarters vibe and low stage.

AC: And you don’t have to have a lot of people come out. At a house show – it feels crowded – it’s good for a band like us (laughs).

KCR: Have you seen a lot while you’ve been touring?

BW: Definitely. We’re a band that likes to squeeze in as much as we can on the drives and stuff like that. We’re suckers for any scenic overlook – to the point that we might even get to the shows late cause we wanna stop and look at everything and take pictures.

KCR: But this isn’t your first national tour, right?

BW: No, this is maybe our third or fourth time on the West Coast. But, it’s still great and it never gets old looking at the views in Colorado and Utah. The drive we did yesterday was just beautiful.

KCR: What else are you doing to pass the time on the road?

BW: For this tour we all got into the show “Black Mirror,” on Netflix.

KCR: Ooh, creepy.

BW: Yeah, and we’ve been obsessed with it. We’ve been watching it together and then discussing it after we watch it.

KCR: I would ask which episode has been your favorite, but it’s more accurate to ask which one has disturbed you the most.

AC: All of them.

BW: The first 5 episodes are very sad. They bummed us out a little bit. But besides that, on previous tours, we played Uno a lot.

AC: We have a soccer ball we kick around.

KCR: What do you think of California compared to the East Coast?

BW: We love it. I mean, I didn’t come out here until I was in this band. None of us had been out here; it was all our first time coming to California.

JJ: No humidity.

KCR: Have you been to San Diego before?

BW: Yes, a couple times. This is the third time I think. We went to La Jolla a couple times, almost every time we’ve been here. Today we went down to…where was the park?

Ian Foley: Torrey Pines.

KCR: Wow, you guys do get out a lot. Did you swim?

BW: Yeah we had like 45 minutes and we ran down.

AC: We pulled off and ran down to the beach and went swimming.

IF: I feel like everytime I see water I’m like, ‘I need to be in that.’  Adam’s with me, we’re always jumping in.

KCR: Who in each of your opinions is the best artist to come from New Jersey?

BW: I almost feel guilty saying anyone and then just skipping over Bruce Springsteen.

IF: Demetri Martin is out of New Jersey.

BW: Yeah true, you didn’t say music artist, just any kind of artist (laughs). I think for me any project that Evan Weiss does has been pretty influential. “Into It. Over It.” is what made me want to start a band like this. So, for this type of band that would probably be mine.

Adam: My mind goes back to early Drive Thru [Records] bands, like Midtown.

IF: The June Spirit.

BW: For the 3 people who know who The June Spirit is (laughs).

KCR: What does “For Posterity” mean to you?

JJ: It’s kind of a couple of things. What it means is to stand for generations. It’s also the first words I heard my dad say. He passed away 25 years ago, and so I never really got to hear him talk. I have an old tape of him that never worked until we transferred it onto DVD this year. My mom was talking about the date and time, like “Hey, it’s Easter 1991,” and my dad cuts her off like, “It’s okay, it’s dated and timed for posterity.” And that’s just a funny phrase for someone to throw out. So, that’s kind of what it means for me. And, for this band and this record we recorded it “for posterity.”

An Interview With Party Favor

On June 25, the second day of the ID10T Festival at Shoreline Amphitheater, I sat down to talk to the EDM artist Party Favor about his fans, touring and of course, music.

KCR: First of all, congratulations on a great set tonight!

PF:  Oh, thank you, you’re too kind.  It was fun!

KCR: So, you went on tour last year and you’re playing quite a few dates this summer. How’s that been going?

PF: It’s been amazing.  I had my first Friday off last weekend and it felt great.  [Touring] is awesome. I’ve been doing this for a long time and as a musician, in any genre, you can only hope to tour a lot – but it’s definitely very taxing on you.  For shows like this though, where I can come up here (I live in LA) – the Bay is so close and they always show me so much love.  I’m very happy to be here.

KCR: What’s your favorite place that you’ve visited so far?  I saw that you’ve been all over the world recently.

PF:  Yes, oh man, I’d say Myanmar was really cool.  It was a country that was extremely closed-off. Until about five years ago, they hadn’t opened their borders. They didn’t have internet.  It was so neat to be there, and all these kids knew all the words to the songs [I mixed] and to my songs. There was so much energy I couldn’t believe it.  They had been in the dark for so long and they caught up so quickly. And it was a really cool country too.

KCR: Do you have any good tour stories from when you were abroad?

PF: Tour stories from when I was abroad?

KCR: Or just in general.

PF: I have other tour stories.  I don’t know if they’re appropriate for radio (laughs), but abroad was pretty cool.  In Japan, I was out in the Shibuya area, which is a huge shopping area.  So, I was out there walking around and I had three different people, all separate, come and find me on the street in this huge area where there’s hundreds-of-thousands of people walking around, because of my Snapchats.  Some girl brought me a picture she had painted of me. So it’s just really neat. I would never have thought that in some other country halfway around the world someone would have painted my likeness, and taken their own time to do that.  It’s humbling. But, it’s also super weird.  I’m like “wow” – I don’t know how to handle it.

KCR: So you went to Chapman–

PF: I did.

KCR: –and you studied film. How do you incorporate that into what you do now.  Do you incorporate it at all?

PF: I do. I mean, when I first started I was hands-on with my videos. I was like a video Nazi. I would want it just like this. I would edit my own videos and things like that. But, over time, I’ve released control and let other people edit. When I was first getting started in music I started by sampling [music] kind of similar to how I would edit a film. So, it was a nice transition even though I had never had a musical background. It worked out. It was meant to be.

KCR: And now your songs are getting in commercials and stuff too.

PF:  Yeah the irony is awesome.  Knock-on-wood, let’s keep it going.

KCR: You also listen to a lot of different genres – from when you were growing up to now. Do you incorporate those into your music?

PF:  I try to. I think that if [the many genres] don’t necessarily come through in my music, they come through in my sets.  I try to always be super diverse in what I play.  And I always try to respond to where I’m at – you know – If I’m in the Bay I always play some Thizz music. I think for me, I just like anything that makes me feel good.  So, it doesn’t matter what genre – if it’s rap, if it’s metal, if it’s Cali dub – I just like to make people feel good. If my music can do that, then I’ve done my job.

KCR: Speaking of genres, on your Facebook page it says “no genre.”  Do you wanna talk a little about that philosophy?

PF: My management’s fired, they messed up (laughs). No, you know, I think in this day and age, at least for me, to say “oh I’m this,” [would be pointless], because I don’t like being labeled and I don’t think a lot of people do. There’s so much you can do with music and for me, with “dance music,” you’re not necessarily rock and roll, you’re not blues, you can do so much. I can play dubstep, I can play deep house, I can play whatever, or make that if I want to. Having no genre enables me to be anything.

KCR: Do you have any upcoming plans for an album after putting out the EP that you did?  Or maybe another EP?

PF: I would love to, and I’ve talked with my management about doing another one this fall.  I’ve definitely got material. But I think in this day and age it’s so hard to do EPs, especially albums, because people’s focus is on one song and that’s it.  With streaming, the good thing is that you have access to a million songs, but unfortunately artists can work 7,8 months, sometimes a year, on an album and then people hear your stuff and two weeks later they go “Where’s your new stuff? Where’s your new song?” So it’s easier to put all your focus and energy into a single and say “Hey, focus on this, this is my new song, let’s put all our energy into this.” I’ll play new music at my shows but keep the focus on one thing.

KCR: Who are you listening to right now?  What’s on your playlist?

PF: I’m listening to the new 2Chainz album, it’s awesome. “Pretty Girls Love Trap Music” is what it’s called.  Seems to be the case (laughs). I was just listening to AC/DC on the plane here, and that always gets me fired up.  So a little bit of everything.  I’ve definitely been listening to a lot of hip hop, but I love classic rock so I’ll always put that on.

KCR:  Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

PF:  Oh man.  I don’t know.  Rick Rubin, he’s a producer from the stars.  He’s a hit-maker.  Or maybe Max Martin from Sweden.  But I’m not really a popstar so I don’t know if that’ll happen.  Unless I take a pop career.  I’ll be the new Jonas Brother or something.

KCR: That could be your genre.

PF: Yeah, Jonas Brother!  I’ll change it.

KCR:  Any last thoughts?

PF: Shout-out to San Diego, I love you.  Coming back soon to Bassmnt, let’s get sweaty.

Make sure to see him on Saturday, July 23, at Bassmnt. Get your tickets here.

Featured Image by Sarah Anderson.