Hockey Interview 2010
By Alexander Laurence
Hockey is a band based in Portland, Oregon. They are Benjamin Grubin
(vocals), Brian White (guitar), Jeremy Reynolds (bass guitar), and Anthony Stassi
(drums). They released an EP in 2008. The album Mind Chaos just came out
recently. They will be playing Coachella in April. They will also be playing
Spaceland on January 16th, 2010. I got to speak with Ben this week about the
AL: Are you all from Portland?
Ben: None of us are. Some of us lived in Spokane, Washington a little
while. But we have lived all over. Jeremy and I met in college in southern
California. The other two we met in Spokane, at Gonzaga University. We all moved
to Portland together. We started the band in 2002.
AL: What was the early version of the band like?
Ben: We played with a drum machine. Jeremy played bass guitar. I would play
piano and guitar. It was a little bit more on the novelty side. It was
really loud drumbeats, and it was crazy. Maybe a little bit more urban. We did
that for a while.
AL: When did it become more like how it is now?
Ben: When we added the new members, it slowly changed. We were able to
write different sorts of songs. I would say a year and a half ago. It started
when we did this album. It was all a filling out of the original idea. We were
always serious and practiced a lot.
AL: Since you were on “Late Night with Jools Holland” many people thought
you were an English band.
Ben: We got that for a while. We were embraced there first. They played us
on the radio. There was a feeding frenzy over there. And then we went over
there to play some shows. We have been there so many times now, and have
opened up for so many cool bands. We have done one headlining tour of our own.
We are so much further along over there than we are here. We have done three
or four tours there, and a bunch of festivals, and individual shows.
AL: Did you have to re-locate over there?
Ben: No, we just went back and forth a lot. We did a co-headlining tour
with The Passion Pit. That was our first tour. They are huge now, but then no
one had heard of them. We also played with Friendly Fires and Little Comets.
AL: How was Glastonbury?
Ben: That was cool. We were playing so many festivals, that it was just
another festival. Most festivals are cool. Most people ask us about
Glastonbury. We were there about four hours, and then we went back to France. It was a
AL: How did you record your album?
Ben: We did most of it by ourselves in our basement in Portland. There was
one old song with just Jeremy and I that we did before. We did that song
with Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, at his studio. We recorded ten songs
with him in Sausalito years ago. But only one song survived. We put that song
on the album. We did a few songs with an engineer at our studio in Portland
after we had signed a deal. It was low key.
AL: Do you think Portland is a great place to live if you are in band?
Ben: Totally. It’s cheaper. That is the bottom line. When a place is cheap,
and culture is still happening, that is the magic time. It’s probably in
the process of being spoiled. There might be too much culture, and things
become expensive. Right now it feels really good.
AL: Do you know the Dandy Warhols?
Ben: We did a little recording at their warehouse. But I have never met
them. We know a band called Blind Pilot. We are not from Portland. We are more
like a band who has moved here.
AL: How do you write the songs in the band?
Ben: I write the lyrics and the melodies, and the band arranges it
together. We didn’t have a guitar player for a while. Now we have come together. We
are jamming and writing together. We do things both ways. A lot of songs
come along in the studio.
AL: What is your setlist like now?
Ben: We play songs from the album, and two new songs.
AL: Are you playing Coachella?
Ben: Yes. The reason we are playing this small west coast tour right now,
because you can’t play California in April. We are going to tour the world
and come back to America in March. The next American tour ends with Coachella
AL: Where else are you going?
Ben: We have never been to Japan or Australia. That is where we are going
AL: Are there any books that you read recently?
Ben: I like authors who have strong styles. I like how they use words. I do
read a lot. I like James Joyce. I read Ulysses aloud to myself for some
reason. I like Celine. Tom Wolfe’s Electric Koolaid Acid test is pretty
AL: Have you seen any good bands recently?
Ben: I saw The XX in Portland. I like this band The Virgins. I like their
EP a lot. It was raw and cool.