A Quick Chat With Hippo Campus - Interviews - Soundblab

A Quick Chat With Hippo Campus

by Tim Sentz Rating: Release Date:
A Quick Chat With Hippo Campus
A Quick Chat With Hippo Campus

Hippo Campus is an indie rock quintet from St. Paul who make infectious funky pop look easy. Over the course of the last six years, they’ve produced a handful of eclectic EPs and two very diverse LPs. They’ve toured the world – playing festivals like Bonnaroo and sold out iconic U.S. venues like Union Transfer in Philadelphia, and the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.

As they set out on their latest world tour in support of 2018’s Bambi, I sat down with core band member Nathan Stoker ahead of their sold out Kansas City show at the Truman on January 25th.

Soundblab: Hey Nathan

Nathan:  Hey!

Soundblab: Looks like you’ve been to Kansas City quite a bit.

Nathan: Yeah we’ve been there a lot, love that city.

Soundblab: You have quite the following here.

Nathan: Every time we’ve been there it’s been a great experience

Soundblab: This will be your largest venue show here, last time you played the Record Bar, but the Truman is over twice the size.

Nathan:  That’s awesome.

Soundblab: Got a few questions here for you. How did you come up with the band name?

Nathan: Age old story is not very interesting. I was in psychology class and came across the term in a textbook and we had started just kind of sketching ideas. Nothing like super set in stone. But I always like to fantasize about naming bands. That’s the story.

Soundblab: What is the hardest thing about working in a group?

Nathan: There are so many things. The first thing that comes to mind is ego. Being okay with your ideas not being the best. Just shut up and listen type of thing. Always having respect for other ideas. How do I stick to my guns without coming off like an asshole? Maintaining friendships

Soundblab: Is Hippo Campus your first band?

Nathan: I was in a band with Whistler (Allen) our drummer in high school. That was the first band I was in and then this one.

Soundblab: What is your favorite song that you’ve written?

Nathan: They’re all kind of like our children so it’s hard to pick and choose. Usually, the songs we release are the ones that fit best with the album. But the ones we don’t release and haven’t found a place for yet are very special. “Alexandra” was a banger, so good, and it has yet to be released because it didn’t make the cut. So something unreleased I guess.

Soundblab: It doesn’t make the cut because?

Nathan:  Band consensus, not the label. Labels are pretty easy going. Some songs just don’t mesh together as well as they could in terms of an album. No cohesion.

Soundblab: What was the meaning or inspiration for the song “South?”

Nathan: We were just writing over the summer, just set up with our parents. It’s about being an angsty teenager. And feeling like choices are being made for you and you can’t do anything about it.

Soundblab: Any bizarre stories from the road? There was a rumor that Rivers Cuomo required his dressing room to be decorated to look like a womb. Any brown M&M situations?

Nathan: Whoa. Um… there’s a venue in Portland that separates the minors and adults in different sections – like completely gated off from each other, which was kind of strange.

Soundblab: In lieu of stamps on hands or wristbands?

Nathan: Yeah just separated by like a barricade. We’re pretty low maintenance though, so we don’t make any crazy demands.

Soundblab: Anything current music wise you’re really into?

Nathan: I just got into Tom Waits, I’d never really listened to him before. Rex Allen, this old country star. Cautious Clay is pretty cool. Frog.

Soundblab: Frog?

Nathan: Yeah they are like a two-piece from New York. I just got into the new Amen Dunes record too.

Soundblab: Freedom. Probably his best one

Nathan: He’s pretty rad. And then I’m digging a lot of ambient stuff. Just a little taste for ya.

Soundblab: Variety of listens going on. What’s influencing your sound?

Nathan: That’s a good question.

Soundblab: Overall. When you woke up and decided to be in a band…

Nathan: We were listening to a lot of British indie bands like Bombay Bicycle Club. Not a lot of OG musicians, but stuff that’s been around for a while. Our individual influences are pretty scattered. Like I grew up around a lot of church music so there was always a lot of driving, physical force behind wanting to be in a band that was not religion based. Playing guitar on stage is a draw for me and continues to be a thing that I love. In terms of sound, big bands like Low did have an influence.

Soundblab: Low’s Double Negative was Soundblab’s Album of the Year…

Nathan: Yeah the new one is sick.

Soundblab: You worked with BJ Burton, who also worked on that album, along with others by Bon Iver and James Blake. What was that like?

Nathan: Um it was weird. BJ has been a really interesting influence on the way we approach music in the first place. The way we look at it now, after working in the studio with others it’s just weird but… overall it’s been great. A lot of interesting growing up that had been done between us in the band and BJ. He really challenged us, pushed boundaries. It’s an ongoing thing too, trying to figure out where we go after the experience with BJ - working outside of that in kind of a foreign land. Very talented dude.

Soundblab: What’s it like going from smaller venues to larger venues in less than two years? 

Nathan: Every time we’re in a new city or town I’m amazed. There are elements of the smaller venues that are awesome, the intimacy. But the larger venues, it’s kind of nice to be able to take a shower and have a dressing room. Both have their perks. But no matter where we are we have the mindset that you can play in front of five fans and be awesome, or play in front of five thousand and suck.

Be sure to catch Hippo Campus on tour this spring, see dates below.

01/24 - Des Moines, IA @ Wooly's * [SOLD OUT]
01/25 - Kansas City, MO @ The Truman * [SOLD OUT]
01/26 - Denver, CO @ Ogden * [SOLD OUT]
01/28 - Santa Fe, NM @ Sunshine Theater *
01/29 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren *
01/30 - Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory *
02/01 - LA, CA @ Novo* [SOLD OUT]
02/02 - San Francisco, CA @ Fox Theatre *
02/04 - Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom *
02/06 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theater *
02/07 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theater *
02/08 - Vancouver, BC @ Imperial
02/10 - Boise, ID @ The Egyptian Theater *
02/11 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot *
04/18 - Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room %
04/19 - Columbus, MO @ The Blue Note %
04/20 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom %
04/22 - Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose %
04/23 - Peoria, IL @ Monarch Music Hall %
04/25 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium %
04/26 - Madison, WI @ The Sylvee %
04/27 - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection %
04/29 - South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground %
04/30 - Montreal, QC @ L"Astral %
05/01 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre %
05/03 - Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall %
05/04 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre %
05/06 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues %
05/07 - Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!
05/09 - Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater %
05/10 - Providence, RI @ Fete Music Hall %
05/31 - New York, NY @ Governor's Ball
06/15 - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
06/17 - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL @ Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
06/18 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
06/19 - Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live
06/21 - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
06/22 - Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
07/17 - Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks #
07/18 - Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks #
* w/ Now Now
# w/The Head & The Heart
% w/ Samia

Comments (1)

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Great interview.

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