After their debut EP release, the Hoosier band Hoops is one to follow. Their success has been undeniable after their formation in 2014. Hoops will be performing at the Fountain Square Music Festival, and PATTERN chatted with the group beforehand to catch up on the latest Hoops news.
Corey Regan: Your debut full length “Routines” came out May 5th via Fat Possum Records. Based on your previous cassettes and EP, what should people that haven’t listened to it yet expect? Will it be similar or did you diverge a bit on the album?
Drew Auscherman: Similar
Kevin Krauter: Pretty similar.
DA: I think the songwriting is better though.
Keagan Beresford: The songs are kind of similar. There’s like a lot more depth to them, as far as production goes. We just layered a lot more stuff on it. I feel like we tried a little harder as far as our subject matter goes, just making songs that aren’t just about nothing.
CR: Is there a central theme to this album or is it more of a collection of separate songs?
KK: It’s a collection of all the songs. We kind of threw the songs together.
DA: To me, I feel like as far as the album goes, as old as our band is, it’s a sampler of like the past three years of us as a band as like a little bit of each different sound that we’ve tried out.
CR: How’d you get the name “Routines”?
DA: Just pulled it from some lyrics on the album.
KB: Yeah, two of the songs had the word ‘routine’.
DA: Yeah, and we were like “ah, that sounds tight,” [laughs]
KK: We actually spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to name it.
DA: [laughs] Yeah, at first we were like “Routines sounds stupid.”
KB: Eh, it kind of fits, it’s like a vague enough word. But it wasn’t like we set out to write an album and were like “Okay, we’re Routines”.
KK: I mean, it was our first time having to name an album because every release was like “Tape 1,” “Tape 2,” “Tape 3,” “EP 1.”
DA: Which I kind of like better because I feel like trying to make a statement —
KK: — There’s less of a pretense.
DA: Yeah, with a band like us, I feel like we’re more just about individual songs rather than trying to like make a statement with a record.
CR: You guys have honed in on crafting this indie pop formula that you excel at and stick to, but it may come as a surprise to some that you actually started out as ambient, and you each have diverse tastes and your own broad influences. Do you see Hoops trying to perfect this sound and sticking to what you do well together or expanding and experimenting in the future?
KB: I don’t think it’s that straightforward because all of us are always listening to so much stuff. Usually, we’ll have a song that’s like a top 40 hit from the 80s or something and be like “oh, the drum beat is sick, we should write something with that,” or “I really like that synth texture,” so I don’t know, we tried to make our own production style and tried to make the album sound like it’s all coming from one band, but there’s a lot going into it that kind of gets filtered through into the songs we write. So I don’t know, we’re probably not going to do anything too drastic as far as changing our sound goes, but like I said, there’s just a lot of stuff that goes into our music that we’re always influenced by.
KK: Yeah, I feel like we all kind of see this outfit as a collective of the stuff we like to listen to and the stuff we like to write, as far as just pop music is concerned. If there’s any sort of end goal to what we write for this band, it’s just, like, “pop songs,” and that’s just kind of what we’re interested in
CR: So would you say you like to take things from diverse styles but then recontextualize it through the style of Hoops?
DA: Yeah, I guess so. Yeah.
KB: But also, not in a way that we’re… we wouldn’t want to appropriate this sound that is not at all derived from what we’re into. I don’t know. Yeah. I actually think about it a lot.
CR: A lot of your songs have a pretty short format. Is that an intentional thing with a certain philosophy of songwriting that you have in mind, or is it just how your songs tend to naturally take form?
KK: I think yes and no.
DA: Yeah, for a while when I was writing a lot of songs for this band, before these guys came along, and when these guys came along as well, I was listening to a lot of Guided by Voices. They were one of my favorite bands for a long time, and a lot of their songs are just like verse, bridge, chorus, and then the song is over, and I thought that was a really cool idea because you could squeeze in a lot of songs into one release and you could have a ten minute release of like five songs and not bore people. But I think as time goes on, we’ve expanded more.
CR: Each of you write your own material and record demos in your own time. Do you write things in advance knowing it’s for Hoops, or do you decide later?
DA: I do, yeah. I’ll write songs and I won’t decide which avenue I’m going to take it down, but once it’s finished, I’ll be like “oh, this is a Hoops song” or “oh, this is a solo song for me”, and I know that that applies to you, Keagan, as well, and Kevin.
KB: We all write pretty differently, and we demo stuff on our own, and usually for me what it comes down to is I’ll write a song and demo it and sort of rework it probably three or four times and at the end, if it sounds like something that would work for Hoops, I just bring it to the group and collectively ask “do you think this works?” I try to seek as much outside input as I can, but yeah, it’s not typically a conscious effort.
DA: I think, like I said, we all write for different things a lot, so whatever the finished product sounds like, we’ll decide then if it’s for Hoops or ourselves.
CR: I’ve read that when you were recording in New York that for a lot of the songs you recorded multiple takes and tried to make it fit with the whole album. How do you think the songs changed? What songs might have changed in particular?
DA: I think in a songwriting stance, they didn’t change in the way the song was written, but more so in the way the song sounds and was engineered and was mixed. We had a lot of hurdles to get over as far as mixing is concerned, like we knew that we wanted a certain sound, but we would get to a certain point with a song where it’s just like “Well, I don’t know how to make this sound more like Hoops,” but then we would try to figure that out. Songwriting would never change, but the way it sounds would change.
CR: Do you think the engineer you worked with shaped the tone or textures of your songs, or did they mostly just record you as you were?
DA: Yeah, and we took those files that he recorded and then just did whatever we wanted with them on our computers.
KK: The guy who engineered it, Jarvis Taveniere —
DA: He’s great.
KK: Yeah, he’s great. He’s fantastic to work with and really helped us out a lot.
DA: In a way, he was like a producer, too. Like he didn’t tell us how to play songs or anything, but when we wouldn’t know what to do, he would offer up a suggestion and kind of guide us, because he’s way more experienced than we are. But he would definitely guide us in the right direction, which was nice.
KB: It seemed like he recognized that we had never worked in a proper studio before, and all we really had to go off of were the demos we made, so we’d wind up with all these empty spaces to fill in songs, or we’d hit a dead end with how to expand on something, and he would just say “Well let’s try this” or “Let’s mic the drums this way.”
DA: Or “Let’s move on to another song,” and not get caught up with something.
CR: Did you find the process frustrating?
DA: Yes. Very.
DA: One of the most frustrating processes. Like, this record was one of the most frustrating processes of my whole life.
CR: I’m glad you finished it.
KB: I’m glad we made it through.
CR: You’re on a big tour. It’s not your first, but definitely your biggest. Where are you most excited to play on this tour?
DA: I’m excited to get back out to the Southwest. We had a really good time… a very interesting time, the last time we were in the Southwest, but just the landscape is really beautiful.
KB: It’s nothing like the Midwest.
DA: Yeah, it’s just really nice to be out there.
KB: We did some good hiking, too, out there, and we don’t usually get that on tour. I mean, I guess you can hike pretty much anywhere, but that place is like the moon. Like, quiet and barren. Very therapeutic to be out there.
KK: Yeah, like Phoenix, Arizona. Shouts out to Eamon Ford. And shouts out to Pro Teens, played with them in Phoenix.
CR: You’ve already played with some pretty big names before you even released your full-length EP. Who were some of the ones that you were most honored or excited to play with?
DA: For me, Porches, I’m a big Porches fan.
KK: Yeah. That was cool.
DA: It was cool playing with them in Chicago.
KB: [laughs] Yeah, you were there, Corey.
CR: It was a cool show.
DA: They’re a fantastic live band, and I remember I saw them probably four months before we actually played with them. Their record came out in February and I saw them in March of last year and I remember just being blown away by how good they sounded live, so getting to play with them was pretty awesome.
KB: We played one day with Tennis.
DA: They sounded greeeaaattt.
KK: They were great.
KB: Yeah, their earlier stuff I wasn’t a giant fan of, but they spent a long time writing and recording their newest record. We were supposed to tour with them but they ended up cutting it short, but we played one show with them and they were pretty phenomenal, and they’re people that are just at a different stage of life than us, so it was cool to see how they went through similar channels, like doing the indie rock circuit and taking a bunch of time and growing and maturing and writing a more mature sounding thing. I don’t know, it made ma little less apprehensive about my future, if I end up doing this for a while.
CR: If you were to do your dream tour, what band would you pick to play with you?
DA: Radio Department
DA: Radio Department or Prefab Sprout.
KK: [laughs] Probably not Prefab because they’re weird these days.
DA: Yeah, they are pretty weird. But it would still be fun to tour with them.
KK: Yeah, that would be fun.
KB: Radio Department was kind of, like, our standard of operation for making Routines because we’d be recording something and think to ourselves “Oh, that sounds like Radio Department, we’re doing something right,” so we, like, we may have ripped off them a little bit, but they’re a great, great band.
DA: Huge influences, yeah.
CR: Alright, well good luck on your tour, and hope the LP gets great reviews.
DA: Me fuckin too [laughs]