What the puck? - Hockey interview
Rob Dabrowski speaks to Hockey, the American new wave renegades ready to ramp up the enthusiasm on indie dancefloors
Until a few months ago Hockey were an unknown force outside the United States. But after a record label bidding war, they signed to Virgin and are being touted as the ‘next big thing’. Admittedly, there’s nothing startlingly original about their debut album Mind Chaos, which owes a pretty hefty debt of gratitude to late-70s new wave. But they do succeed in capturing the spirit of the era and regurgitating it in an exciting manner that no one has managed since The Strokes were catapulted into the spotlight in 2001.
It’s on the stage where the band really come into their own. While the band stand rooted to the spot, lead singer Ben Grubin twists and contorts his way across the stage like a skinny-hipped Iggy Pop. ‘We like being in the studio,’ says Grubin. ‘But playing live is what it’s all about, playing our songs to people and seeing them react; that’s when we’re at our best.’
The highlights of their first LP are ‘Learn to Lose’, an up-tempo number that recalls Parallel Lines-era Blondie and harks back to the golden era of CBGBs, and ‘Four Holy Photos’, a gentle country strum-along with phrasing that recalls Bob Dylan’s half-spoken half-sung vocals. ‘I guess we just do whatever we think sounds good,’ says Grubin. But with expectations weighing so heavy on their skinny shoulders, are the Oregon four-piece worried they may implode before they get the chance to prove themselves? ‘We were surprised about how quickly everything took off, especially in the UK, which always seems to “get” good music before America. But there’s not a lot we can do about it. As long as our songs are good enough we’ll be fine.’
Hockey play Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Sat 19 Sep and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Sun 20 Sep.