Interview: A Conversation with Hoops

Bloomington’s Hoops are definitely the most chilled bunch of guys you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet. I’m instantly offered hummus and beer on my arrival to Soup Kitchen, after synth player Keagan Beresford has showed me his upper-arm tattoo that bares my name. “I was obsessed with Brand New’s ‘Daisy’ when I was eighteen” he smiles sheepishly. “I thought I’d show it you and get it over and done with now”.

Hailing from Indiana, the dream-pop five-piece have been busy establishing themselves for the past year – aided by signing to Fat Possum and touring with the likes of Whitney and Twin Peaks. There’s a strong sense of closeness between the five. “You look like the pianist from the E Street Band” Drew laughs at drummer Mark Edlin, who’s reclined far back into the sofa in a nap, sunglasses on. Embarking on their UK tour with fellow friends Cymbals has been a celebratory rollercoaster for the release of debut album ‘Routines’. It was Leeds last night – tonight, for the first time, Manchester. “We all loved the Drake sign” grins vocalist/guitarist Drew Auscherman, referencing Headrow House’s ‘Hotline Bling’ fluorescent sign. “It was tacky but we all took photos!”

So, guys – tonight is your first ever Manchester show. What are you expecting?

Drew: [laughs] I hope Oasis come! It’s our first time here and we’ve been really looking forward to playing here.

Keagan: We’ve known some guys who work for our label, and they just said that this place is fuckin’ rad, and I believe that the show will live up to that.

 

I’ve never been fortunate enough to go to a gig in America. Is there much of a difference between UK and USA crows?

Kevin Krauter (bass): It depends on where you go, I guess, and what sort of show you’re playing.

Drew: I think if you’re playing a club show like this, it’s pretty similar. For the most part, there’s not a huge difference. But if you’re playing a house show, or at a college, things can get pretty rowdy and a little more high energy.

Keagan: It also depends on what kind of crowds you’re playing to. If you’re playing at a bar that’s twenty-one plus, things will probably be a little bit more subdued. But if teenagers and younger folks are coming, they’re more stoked to see you play. That can be more fun.

Drew: For sure. It’s easier. When the crowd feel good, you feel good, and you play better.

Kevin: Everybody feels a little bit more shameless. Or less shameful…

Drew: [laughs] Not that there’s a whole lot of shame that goes into what we do!

Keagan: As far as the UK goes, this is only gonna be our fourth or fifth show ever in the country. It’s been fun. We did two shows in London last year with a pretty receptive crowd.

Kevin: Glasgow was really fun. The people that were there were really into it. It kind of reminded me of these sponsored college shows we play. Sometimes we’ll play at a university, and those are always a little awkward. They’re put on by the school and not the kids that live in the town. So when you go to those sorts of shows, like twenty people show up and don’t really know what the fuck is going on.

Drew: And when we play at these universities, for some reason we always end up playing a dining hall [laughs] We’re sound checking and people are buying Starbucks in the background!

 

You guys have had a really busy start to 2017 already – especially playing SXSW. I saw while you were there you played a gig with Tumblr in aid of Planned Parenthood?

Keagan: It was a free show, not a fundraiser. So Tumblr put it on in support of Planned Parenthood, and you could donate at the show.

Drew: I think that’s an important distinction. It wasn’t directly raising money. But all of us support the organisation, and we were very happy to be a part of that.

Kevin: That was a sweet show. That was probably one of my favourites. It was our first show and one of the best.

 

Do you think it’s important for bands to be open about the organisations they support, and carry a political message?

Drew: I think if you have that platform, you should definitely use it.

Kevin: We never try and over-exert ourselves politically, ‘cause that’s not exactly our place.

Drew: Especially in the United States right now, and I guess over here too, I think it’s important to make your stance known and do everything you can to help and support groups that are under fire.

 

Your debut album ‘Routines’ is out tomorrow. How does it feel to finally release it?

Keagan: We finished it back in January, so we’ve been away from it for a while. It was definitely a long, arduous process. Getting it done felt really good. I don’t know – I think we felt that we reached a point where we felt pretty good about how it was sounding, and after all of the headaches, bullshit, and good things that went into making it – we don’t hate it [laughs]

 

What more could you ask for?

Drew: A lot of the headaches turned into just a lot of learning that we did – learning how to make a record, how we wanted it to sound, and how to deal with bureaucracy.

 

Is there a favourite song on there? One that you’re most proud of?

Kevin: ‘On Letting Go’. That’s my favourite on the album for sure.

Drew: That one, definitely, I think that’s one of the best sounding ones. I also just really love listening to it. I really like the first track, ‘Sun’s Out’, and the second to last track ‘Underwater Theme’. That’s another favourite.

Keagan: I like ‘Worry’, because it was the first time we ever used a saxophone on a recording. The guy that ended up doing the sax part was just called up, kinda spur of the moment, and then killed it in less than five takes.

Kevin: Yeah, he did five takes just improvising!

Keagan: And also, that’s song’s kind of a departure from a lot of the stuff that we’ve written in the past. It was refreshing.

 

How important do you think it’s been for you to release multiple EP’s before Routines? Was it a natural step, or something you actively worked towards doing?

Drew: I don’t think of that as a conscious thing. We were all still in school, so it was kind of just like the easiest way. Like, “Oh, we have six songs finished – let’s put them all on one cassette and get them out”.

Keagan: Yeah. We didn’t really try to make EP’s. We got into making cassettes because we got into recording on four track machines and cassettes are cheap.

Drew: It’s a fun DIY way… a lot of bands in Indiana do stuff like that. We just hopped on that train.

Kevin: And at the time, we were unsigned. When we were putting out music before we were signed to Fat Possum, we didn’t really operate under the EP structure. A lot of bands will try and self-release stuff as an EP, or an album or something, or kind of create an established band image – and that was something that we weren’t really concerned with.

Drew: We didn’t really play a lot of shows up until like, two years ago. So we were kind of just putting it out there to have it out there, rather than create some big public persona out of it.

Keagan: And also it’s fun!

 

You have a super busy next few months with your first full-blown proper US headline tour. How are you feeling about it?

Keagan: I mean, we’ve done headline tours in the past – but that was really before we released anything, and had much to go off. It was more for the sake of getting out there and touring and playing places we’ve never played before.

Drew: I’m really excited.

Kevin: Me too. We’re touring with a couple of bands who we’re friends with – and I think that’s the part we’re most excited about. Just getting to be with friends and enjoying their music a lot. That’s how it should be when you tour with a band. Good friends. It’ll be really easy, I think, to be with them. I think a lot of the time, when you’re not touring with friends, you can get kind of lonely.

Keagan: And also, we’ve done a few support tours in the last year or so, and managed to get around most of the United States at least. And most of those shows went pretty well. So it’s nice to take a proper approach to it, and do full sets instead of in support of somebody. You get a lot more licence to have fun with it.

 

What states or cities over there are your favourites to play?

Drew: Nashville’s always been pretty fun.

Kevin: I like playing Atlanta.

Keagan: We were gonna do a West Coast tour that ended up getting cut short. But we played one show in Phoenix, Arizona. The show was good, but driving through there we got to go out and hike a bit before we played.

Drew: We were just outside the city and met a wonderful friend whose band’s playing with us. So probably most excited to go Phoenix, and California cause I’ve never been there, and the Pacific North West – places like Seattle and Portland.

Keagan: [laughs] It’s gonna be hot. I’ve packed all my cut-off tank tops. I’m so ready.

Drew: I need to cut down half my wardrobe from this tour. I’m gonna make a bunch of crop tops.

 

Cymbals are supporting tonight, who I absolutely love. Are there any other bands you’ve played with, or are listening to now, that you dig?

Kevin: Furnsss for sure. They’re from Connecticut and have a record in the can that they haven’t put out yet.

Drew: It’s so good. I’m excited to see what happens for them. Joy Again, also, who we’re touring with.

Keagan: And Parts. They’re both kind of on the cusp of coming up in popularity, and they’re just friends of ours, but they make really sick music. Most of the other names we could drop are already bigger than we are.

Drew: There’s this band from America, I don’t know big they are over here, called Omni?

 

Omni are ace! I reviewed them a couple of months ago, one of the best live bands for sure. They’re back in Manchester with Parquet Courts in a few months.

Drew: They’re probably one of my favourite bands right now. That’s a great line-up! They stayed in our Airbnb in Austin for a couple of nights, and the drummer Doug was in a band called Warehouse who we’re friends with.

Keagan: Warehouse are good. I’m not sure how much of a band anymore…

Drew: But they made a great record.

Keagan: Bloomington bands are awesome. Jack, our guitarist, makes music under the name Daguerreotype and it’s some of my favourite stuff that I’ve heard in recent years. And then Drew’s friend makes music under the name Mannequin and it’s really tight.

Drew: Our friends Lala Lala from Chicago!

Keagan: Give it like a year or something and they’ll be flying high. We’re sorry, we’re just vomiting bands right now!

 

That’s exactly what I want! It sounds like Bloomington has a really good music scene.

Drew: Very diverse!

Keagan: Nobody really tries too hard to sound like each other, so that makes things interesting. A lot of punk-orientated stuff, like Laughing Gas are based out there and they’re pretty insane.

Drew: IAN SWEET are very good.

Kevin: There’s this little group called Whitney who are under the radar [laughs]

Drew: It’s crazy, we toured with them this time last year!

Keagan: We toured with them once, before their album dropped and before they got super huge, and then once after, and the difference was insane.

Kevin: First tour was really chill, except for a couple of shows that were kinda big. And then the second tour was literally, every night, sold out. It was crazy. Some of the biggest shows we’ve ever played.

 

Last question! What’s one thing about Hoops you want people to know that they wouldn’t necessarily expect?

Drew: I miss my home! [laughs]

Keagan: We’re all very young and pretty new to being in a touring band on the regular, so we all get homesick and all that shit. And sometimes we’re kind of juvenile with the jokes that we make amongst ourselves

Kevin: We’re just quirky and really weird. Human beings, just like you!

Keagan: We’re goofballs. But real-ass people, too.

Routines is out now. Catch Hoops at one of their remaining UK dates:

9 – Brighton – Green Door Store

10- London – Lexington

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