Interview: Hop Along [April 2015]

By Ben Tipple

Alternative four-piece Hop Along have been gathering attention since the release of 2012’s ‘Get Disowned’. Now being able to call a host of veteran bands fans, the Philadelphia outfit are on the verge of stepping further up with the release of the incredibly accomplished and notably unique ‘Painted Shut’. Crammed full of emotion and seething with honesty, it provides an insight into singer, guitarist and songwriter Frances Quinlan’s complex mind. We caught up with Frances ahead of the album’s release to find out more.

You’ve been around as a band for some time now. What do you think it is that has now led to your increased publicity and popularity?

I think it’s mostly due to time, like you first said. We’re really fortunate to have people who (still) like the songs. There are even some folks who dig the folk stuff I used to do, which is amazing.

For many, ‘Painted Shut’ will be their first introduction to Hop Along. What do you feel it says about you as a band?

That’s hard to answer; I think a record has to sit with people for a while to really make itself known. There are things I am just now realizing now about it, I’m sure there will be plenty more in the coming years. But I would say we are really paying attention to each other now, I can kind of hear us talking to each other on parts of this record. Figuratively speaking.

There are some serious stories behind some of the summery tracks, such as on ‘Powerful Man’. How do these songs come together, and are they difficult to create and perform as a band?

Few songs came very easy on this album, even the ones that did, we still weren’t quite satisfied with some of them and changed a few things in the studio. I think that’s a good thing, for this record anyway. I edited the hell out of most of the lyrics, I had to change up with the band as we worked, and that was a real challenge for me as a writer. ‘Powerful Man’ had a totally different sound in the beginning, it was really heavy. It just didn’t seem to work in that form, even though that seemed like the way to perform dark subject matter. For some reason the sound we ended up with on that one just felt the most natural, so we went with that. I think it really works against a writer to assume the audience is dumb and won’t understand.

There are some brilliant sounds and vocal sections on the record that are vastly different to other music out there (‘Happy To See Me’ as an example). Were you ever tempted to tone your unique sound down a bit?

This was my attempt to tone it down [Laughs]. Screaming can be too much fun sometimes, it’s certainly not very subtle. I have a hard time with subtlety, but it’s something I greatly appreciate and do strive for, though often unsuccessfully.

How do you then pull the sound together?

We demo, demo, and demo. And then we change the whole thing at the last second. [Laughs]

We’ve been pigeon-holing Hop Along as indie-punk for want of a better classification. What bands do you most associate with, for any reason – audible or otherwise? How wrong are we?

Nobody’s wrong and nobody’s right, I suppose. I’m not even sure who I would call an indie-punk band. I tell people we are alternative because I don’t know what else to say.

What would you like to see following the release of ‘Painted Shut’?

I’d just like to keep having new experiences, keep meeting kind people. We’ve been very lucky. We can’t really expect anything, it’s already been pretty amazing in my opinion. I hope we can keep playing with interesting bands to different audiences and see new places. I’d love to go to Japan someday.

What’s next for Hop Along? Any UK plans afoot? We’d love to see you over here.

I’m sure we’ll be back!!

‘Painted Shut’ will be available from the 4th May via Saddle Creek Records.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]