Hooray For Earth

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/hoorayforearthinterview.jpg" alt=" " />During their tour with California's Admiral Radley, Noel Heroux & Chris Principe of more-New York-than-Boston Hooray For Earth sat down with QRO. ...

Hooray For Earth

During their tour with California’s Admiral Radley, Noel Heroux & Chris Principe of more-New York-than-Boston Hooray For Earth sat down with QRO at Bowery Ballroom (QRO venue review).  When not being drowned out by the hard rock played on the soundsystem with a live filter (chosen by Bowery’s white-haired old bouncer…), Heroux & Principe discussed new label Dovecote, the re-released Momo EP (QRO review), plans for a full-length, touring outside of the northeast for the first time, touring with young bands vs. with older ones, their connection to ABC News, where you don’t want to play at CMJ, "My Own Worst Enemy", and more…



QRO: How has this tour been, with Admiral Radley?

Noel Heroux: Good.  We like those guys.

Chris Principe: It’s been great.  And they’re especially really nice people, welcoming.  And that always makes you feel good on tour.

QRO: How much had you played outside of the northeast before this?

NH: Just with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a couple months ago.

We went to Austin a couple times, by ourselves, just to screw around.  Played a couple of barbeque parties.

CP: But that was back, three or so years ago at this point.

QRO: How does touring with older musicians like Admiral Radley (QRO album review) compare with your last tour, with the younger Pains of Being Pure at Heart (QRO live review) & Surfer Blood (QRO album review)?

NH: Surfer Blood is definitely more rambunctious.  We’re pretty much middle-of-the-road.  We do our fare amount of drinkin’ & carousin’.

These guys are fun, too.  But obviously, they’re totally… They’re over it.  They’re like, "Whatever…"  You can tell they’ve been doing it for a long time.  We’re all like, "Make it to the club on time, and do everything right!"  And these guys are like, "Yeah, like, whatever happens, happens…"

And it’s cool to see that, because you learn a little bit, to relax & let things flow.

QRO: As opposed to the Pains/Surfer tour – where in Orlando you all together did a cover of Lit’s "My Own Worst Enemy"…

CP: That was a happy accident; a fun, goof off thing.

NH: I don’t think anybody knew that anyone was going to… record it.

CP: Yeah, we were definitely surprised to see it pop up anywhere.  That was kind of funny.  We were just having some fun.  Good time…

Surfer Blood, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Hooray For Earth covering Lit’s "My Own Worst Enemy" live at Firestone in Orlando, FL on June 11th, 2010:

QRO: It seems like Hooray For Earth has been doing more tours since signing to Dovecote – has the label been key to setting these tours up?

NH: Before, we were kind of a different band – we kind of just did shit here & there; we didn’t really have a specific plan. 

But when we did this EP, the plan was to actually become a band, to play music that we actually were feeling, and just run with that.

And, obviously, Dovecote’s been cool, and they’ve been helping us get out to shows.


QRO: How did you get set up with Dovecote?

NH: Friends of ours at forthebeat.com, they helped us out, getting things going, when we had the new EP.  They ended up putting us in contact.  We just met with them, and hit it off.  And that was it.

QRO: Momo was originally released through eMusic Selects (QRO eMusic release review) – was that connected to the Dan Harris interview?

NH: Yeah, it was five tracks.  When we met up with Dovecote, we wanted to release it properly, and include the song – there was meant to be a sixth song.  So we finished it, remastered, got artwork set up, got vinyl set up.  That’s what the deal with Dovecote was.

CP: The eMusic thing was great, but it was a digital download only, and it was only available through eMusic.  And we wanted to get it out to everywhere else.

QRO: Was that connected, or just the same time, as you were interviewed by Dan Harris of ABC News?

NH: They are connected somehow; I don’t know which direction it goes.  I’m pretty sure Dan put in a word for us…

QRO: Usually I interview bands before Dan Harris, not after, so I don’t get to ask how they managed to get interviewed by a network correspondent…

NH: Dan Harris is a music fan; he knows what he’s talking about.  He goes out of his way to find new bands.  He heard of us, and just got on the Amplified thing, he put in a word with eMusic – it just all worked out at the same time.

QRO: Are you working on a full-length for Dovecote?

NH: Yeah.  It’s close to done.  It will be out next year; I don’t know when.

QRO: Will material from Momo be included in the full-length, or is it all new?

NH: All new.

QRO: Do you play any new material live?

NH: No, not yet.  We will very soon.


QRO: Are you playing CMJ (QRO recap)?

CP: Yeah.  We’ve got two shows lined up already, and we plan on being there for the week.

QRO: What do you think of ‘industry fests’ like that, or SXSW (QRO recap)?

[NH & CP both shrug]

CP: I guess it all depends on your specific experience.  I don’t know.  I guess everyone wants to play those kinds of things, but maybe it’s hard to stick out.  All you can really do is get on the shows you get on, do your best, and have a good time.  Try to think about that aspect of it too much.

QRO: Have you ever had to play venues at CMJ that you, as New Yorkers, know you wouldn’t want to play normally?

[NH laughs]

CP: Yeah, but not gonna answer specifically…

QRO: I’ll just put in Crash Mansion (QRO venue review).  That’s what everybody says…

NH: You were there last year…

QRO: You live in New York, but aren’t you originally from Boston?

NH: I moved here three years ago.  Chris is moving here.

CP: I’m also about to join the NYC contingent of the band.  Right now it’s Noel & Joe who live in New York.  Gary & I still live back in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but I’m about to make the move myself to New York.  Make it more ‘official’, I guess…

ladies of Zambri 

QRO: How often do the girls from Zambri (QRO photos) join you on stage?

NH: Whenever we’re playing in the area.

It would be nice to have them on tour, but they do their own thing.

QRO: I ran into Seth [Kasper, the old drummer], who told me he’s now drumming in Zambri…

Is there an ‘Ellie Mae’ or "Ellie Mae"?

NH: No.  That song’s in the can; it’s done.  That was a different era.

QRO: Are you ever worried that no one will know what a "Videostore" is?

NH: [laughs] No, I’m not worried about that…

Hooray For Earth playing "Videostore" live at Cake Shop in New York, NY on February 24th, 2010:

QRO: Are there any songs you particularly like playing live?

CP: For me, I really enjoy playing "Rolling", the last song on the EP.  That’s a real fun one; I get to do a couple of different things: play a synth, run a sampler, sing some backgrounds.  It’s more fun for me when I get to do a bunch of stuff.  Also, I’m free from the bass, which is kind of nice, once in a while, to not be always having to play the bass.  It’s nice to do some different shit.

QRO: Are there any songs you can’t play live, because of the arrangement, or just don’t like to?  I guess there are old songs you don’t play…

CP: We look forward, artistically.  As far as what we’re doing now, we can play all of our tracks, and there’s no problems. 

And it’s actually fun to strive to play a song that’s got a crazy arrangement.

QRO: What cities or venues have you particularly liked?

CP: Previous tour we did with Pains, we had some great times in Birmingham, Alabama, randomly in Jacksonville, Florida, Washington, D.C….

On this tour, we had a really, really great Chicago show with Admiral Radley.  I really enjoyed the Canada shows.

QRO: Had you played Canada before?

CP: No, it was our first time, so it was nice to get up there, and actually meet some people who actually knew about us.  That was really nice.

QRO: Finally, do you have a favorite tour story?  Or one you can repeat, at least?

CP: Gary got a black eye playing basketball in Cleveland against Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  It was a complete accident.  Apparently, it was nothing more than a little nick to his eye, but he got one of the biggest black eyes I’ve ever seen.  And I felt so bad for him, because that was sort of at the beginning of the tour; he had to go through the whole rest of the tour with a giant shiner.  Poor Gary…

Hooray For Earth playing "Surrounded By Your Friends" live at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on June 1st, 2010:

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    Hooray For Earth

    <img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/hoorayforearthfeb24.jpg" alt=" " />Just as fun rock can be good, good rock can be fun, like Hooray For Earth. ...

    Hooray For Earth

    Too often in indie-rock these days, bands are either wild or artistic – but never both.  You can either be a wild party-rock band with indistinguishable, simple, forgettable songs, or you can be some complex, alt-alt act that’s widely respected, even venerated, but more confusion than a revelation live.  Which is why the world needs more of acts like Hooray For Earth, whose art-rock is also fun, like it was at New York’s Cake Shop on Wednesday, February 24th.

    Hooray’s been a bit under the radar until recently, with only a pair of recent EPs, 2008’s Cellphone (QRO review) and last year’s Momo (QRO review), but they’ve been ingratiating themselves in the New York music scene since moving there from Boston in 2007, and more recently getting Gary Benaquistaattention thanks to often being featured at the monthly benefits thrown by Johnny Leather, even getting interviewed by ABC News’ Dan Harris for his indie-rock Amplified series.  Of course, their Cake Shop gig was the same night as Leather’s latest, but Hooray can stand on their own two feet (they were a little cramped at Cake Shop – QRO venue review – with guitarist/keyboardist Gary Benaquista facing either a pillar or a wall).

    Hooray For Earth

    Noel HerouxThe set was dominated by Momo, playing all five songs of the EP, making up five-sevenths of the set (guess how many songs they played in total…).  Of course, they started with Momo‘s weakest, "Scaling", the a comb, maybe contacts?...kind of noise-rock that can put people off.  But "Get Home"’s art-rock reverb was quite accessible, thanks to its underlying – and overlying – harmony.  But even more enjoyable was "Comfortable, Comparable", whose art-rock catch perhaps reflects singer/guitarist Noel Heroux’s brighter mood these days (he recently got engaged to Jessica of Zambri – QRO photos – though she could have cleaned him up a bit; bassist Chris Principe threatens to upset the balance by being the best-looking guy in the band…).

    that's the other girl from Zambri on the right

    Hooray For Earth playing "Videostore" live at Cake Shop in New York, NY on February 24th, 2010:

    Chris PrincipeHowever, just as Hooray are not completely ‘hooray’ these days, they weren’t completely mopey before, instead grounded in an expanse that was & is still best represented by Cellphone‘s "Videostore" (though that song’s subject matter is quickly become out-of-date…).  After "Videostore" came new piece "Gibberish" (likely just a made-up, working title to put on the set listQRO photo – of which they had manyQRO photo), a mixture of higher singing and noisier parts.  But easy top marks went to Momo‘s "Surrounded By Your Friends", which kind of sums up Hooray For Earth these days, and they rocked their set out with an upbeat "Form".


    Hooray For Earth playing "Surrounded By Your Friends" live at Cake Shop in New York, NY on February 24th, 2010:

    Joseph CiampiniHooray For Earth were playing Cake Shop with Electric Tickle Machine (QRO photosQRO review), and the bill actually made a lot of sense: just as ETM (QRO live review) are more artistically capable than most Josh Ascalonparty-garage outfits, Hooray bringing better times than most artsy acts.  And ETM literally helped out, when, at the start of "Surrounded", drummer Joseph Ciampini’s stool broke, and ETM lent him theirs – "Surrounded By Your Friends" indeed (Hooray also featured sometimes-percussionist Josh Ascalon, of friends Paul & The Patients – QRO live review, at Cake Shop, with Hooray – but would this have happened to previous drummer Seth Kasper, now of Wild Light – QRO spotlight on).  This is what the alt-world, and the Brooklyn alt-world that both call home these days need more of.

    Hooray For Earth

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