When asked to describe the direction of their upcoming debut album, Hockey vocalist Benjamin Grubin almost instantaneously replies, "Dance-Soul-Dirty."
Sitting next to Grubin in a dingy changing room at Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side of New York, bassist Jeremy Reynolds concurs. "Dirty. That's a main vein of the sound and then we go all over," he says.
Released on Sept. 29 in the United States on Capitol Records, "Mind Chaos" is an eclectic mix of dance beats colliding harmoniously with alternative rock and rough vocals that give a punk-rock edge. The album, which is currently No. 29 on the Heatseekers chart, even has a hint of country with a harmonica harping on the song "Four Holy Photos." And, based on the sound of lead single "Too Fake," No. 37 on Alternative Songs, it has been compared to albums by The Strokes and dance-punk LCD Soundsystem.
It's this same fusion of rock and electro-pop that has brought Hockey this far; they played at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2009 and toured the U.K. throughout the summer. "It's something we had to do because it was a smaller place and somehow we got on the radio there," says Grubin about touring the U.K. first instead of the states, while adding that Hockey also performed at Bonnaroo in Tennessee this past summer. "England stole our summer this year," adds Reynolds.
But landing on the radio wasn't as fortuitous as Grubin makes it seem. Zane Lowe, radio DJ and host of BBC Radio "1's Evening" show, is who is responsible for bringing U.K. attention to the once obscure band from Portland, Oregon. Reynolds explains that a few songs off of "Mind Chaos" had been given airtime on Radio 1 in the fall of 2008, before the band had even been signed. Their home-made recordings grabbed the attention of Lowe -- and apparently many more music lovers in the U.K. Just a few months later, they were offered a deal with EMI Group under Capitol Records in the U.S and Virgin Records in the U.K.
Hockey was formed by Southern Californian Reynolds and native New Yorker Grubin in 2007, as the two attended the University of Redlands in California. They then moved to Spokane, Washington -- where they wrote most of the original music for "Mind Chaos" together --and joined forces with guitarist Brian White, from Washington and drummer Anthony Stassi from South Carolina.
All four then went to Portland, Oregon, which is where they later discovered the "magic" would happen. "I write the songs, the parts and words and then we arrange it together and mold it around," says Grubin.
Hockey's current touring schedule makes it difficult to pinpoint when a second album will come and what it might sound like, but a hyper Reynolds insists that it will examine the elements of the "fourth-dimension," as Grubin wearily agrees.
For now, Hockey will do what is now second nature to them, as they embark on an an international tour well into the beginning of 2010. Shortly after, they will head back to Europe and play in Tokyo, Japan as well as Australia and New Zealand. "After all our touring is over, we want to recharge -- go home and try and write new songs," says Reynolds. "We want to try and channel the cosmos into our second album."
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