Earlier this week, I spoke via email with Hockey's Ben Wyeth about the transformation of Hockey, the writing and recent release of the band's sophomore album Wyeth Is and a tour that brings Hockey to Metro Tuesday night amidst a packed bill that also includes The Hush Sound, River City Extension, Genevieve Schatz and Lucas Carpenter...
In the nearly four years since the release of Hockey's debut, full length album Mind Chaos in 2009, Ben Grubin underwent a series of lifestyle changes, the least of which was a move to upstate New York. "I changed my name to Ben Wyeth" says Hockey's principle songwriter of the decision to take his middle name as his last (so transformative was the lengthy process of recording May's Wyeth Is that instead of changing the band's name, he changed his own).
Gone from Hockey's touring lineup are guitarist Brian White and drummer Anthony Stassi while Wyeth and bassist Jeremy Reynolds continue forward (keyboardist Ryan Dolliver remains in the touring fold) arriving at Metro Tuesday night in support of their month old release Wyeth Is (an album clearly influenced by eighties electro, synth-pop and much more).
Highlights of my email exchange with Ben Wyeth last week follow below...
Q. With the new album, it seems like you guys took your time with the writing process. What kind of effect did that have on the finished product?
Ben Wyeth: It took a lot longer because we were trying to make an album that was a unified piece. And we had never written like that in the past. We used to focus only from song to song and not on the bigger picture. We sort of had to endure the learning curve of curating an entire album, which didn't come naturally to us at first. But we made it through.
Q. What was it like working once again as a duo?
BW: I wrote the last album myself and I wrote this one too (with Jerm sort of helping to [create], direct and manage ideas and arrangements). So that situation wasn't really different. The isolation and the time involved was a change though. We were up in a rural area of New York state, and life did feel bleak sometimes. Social life was zero. And that in part led to us really wanting to create a cohesive world with the music (because I was listening to other artists specifically to be taken out of where I was). So we wanted to write music that sustained a mood and transcended our surroundings.
Q. I’ve read that you’re fond of writing in the studio as opposed to on the road. Did you do that for the new record and if so, how did that influence it?
BW: Yeah, this one was all written in the studio. For us it usually works best to write like this, because if you listen to a song over and over and it hasn't lost whatever spark of magic it initially had, then its probably truly alive and meant to be. We were really into early eighties hip hop for the production sounds (and also adding some Americana and tropical hints on top).
Q. Well, your current tour is underway... How has it gone so far and how has response to the new music been?
BW: It's been good. We're picking up steam. I feel much better live now than I did back in 2009. I feel more genuine response and energy. But we're getting much less attention in the media. Real talk, what can you do? I think this album needs to simmer a little in the world though because it doesn't come out blazing with two singles.
Q. For the Chicago date coming up at Metro [on Tuesday, June 4th], you’ve got a really cool bill with The Hush Sound, River City Extension, Lucas Carpenter and Chicago’s own Genevieve Schatz of Company of Thieves. Any fond memories of performing in Chicago over the years?
BW: Yeah it's a packed bill. River City brings a lot of energy and are powerful. The bands are all cool. The tour is definitely fun.
Once we lost power at our set opening Lollapalooza and the crowd was so cool and had fun with it and we threw beers out. One time, I was sick and singing at Schubas (not so well) and the crowed was really nice and encouraging. Chicago really has great music appreciation vibes.
*** This interview was conducted via email by Jim Ryan
(Details on Tuesday night's Hockey/The Hush Sound concert at Metro after the jump)
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Live at Metro
3730 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60613
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Doors open at 5:30PM
Show starts at 6PM
Also performing: The Hush Sound, River City Extension, Genevieve Schatz (Company of Thieves) and Lucas Carpenter
Click HERE to purchase tickets