Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 08:20 UK

Talking Shop: Hockey


Watch the exclusive video for Hockey's new single Learn To Lose

US four-piece Hockey are rising stars of slacker rock, pumping infectious indie choruses into west coast psychedelia.

That is all laced with free-thinking, freewheeling lyrics capturing the drudgery and joy of modern life.

Last year, they self-released their debut album Mind Chaos - the name of which was inspired by a university class singer Ben Grubin was taking, taught by bassist Jeremy "Jerm" Reynolds.

They were soon snapped up by a record label and have beefed up the album for a major release later this year.

Was the university class called Mind Chaos?

Ben Grubin - No, it was our take on what was happening in the room as everyone was trying to get their ideas out. It was this endless clash of people never agreeing on a single notion for a whole semester.

Jerm Reynolds - The class was called The Great Remembering. It was an inquiry into the history of civilisation and the trajectory of the modern world, and how to move beyond the pathologies of the modern world, if such a thing were to be possible.

It goes to the future of what human beings are doing with the world and how to begin to heal and evolve, rather than create a world that's fundamentally destructive and toxic. That's why a lot of people had a lot of things to say.

What was the ethos of the university [University of Redlands, California]?

Hockey singer Ben Grubin
Hockey singer Ben Grubin graduated in music and poetry

BG - You could make your own major. Study what you want and graduate.

JR - We ended up doing a lot of music and getting credit for it. It attracted a lot of interesting minds. You created an emphasis, rather than just getting plugged into a major.

People would mix very different things - psychology and Buddhism, or meditation and chemistry. Anything you could come up with that you could justify to a panel of professors.

Which I think was fantastic - it's what university education should be for everyone. It's a time to explore the world and explore what moves you.

Would you describe yourselves as hippies?

JR - Um... yeah, we can say we're hippies. We'd take that.

Take me to the place where you recorded Mind Chaos.

JR - We moved into this really old house in Portland and the guy who lived there before had walled off this part of the basement on two sides. The other two sides were the foundations of the house with mould and dirt.

Music is coming back in a big way - in a more ensouled, positive, artistic and expressive way than it was when we were growing up
Jerm Reynolds

It was exactly what we needed to play music in and not disturb people. We put a piece of carpet down but it was unheated and had a dampness to it. Benny actually had a problem with his feet from spending too much time working on the album.

BG - It was freezing cold down there and my feet were absolutely enraged. I had a huge beard and looked like a madman.

JR - They puffed up all red. He'd wear this gigantic Parka with a fake fur hood and be down at the computer mixing the album.

Anthony Stassi [drummer] - Jerm and I were genuinely concerned for Ben's sanity throughout that four or five month period.

What is your favourite lyric from one of your songs?

BG - I like the first line of Song Away. "Make me a deal and make it good for me/I won't get full of myself, 'till I can't afford to be."

Just because it's honest. If I become arrogant, at least you trust me to explain to you why I've become arrogant.

If you could live in a different musical era, what would you choose?

Now there are lots of genuine things to be dark about, people just want music to be an escape
Anthony Stassi

JR - It's a very exciting time right now. Music is coming back in a big way, in a more ensouled, positive, artistic and expressive way than it was when we were growing up.

We all joke about growing up in the '90s and what a drag that was. There was man rock and boy bands. It wasn't very inspiring and I think the culture is moving towards something that's more expressive and interesting.

You're from the home of grunge - there's not much more expressive than that.

JR - There was good music around grunge but I don't think we draw a lot of influence from them.

Brian White [guitar] - The energy of that music was genuine and good, and bands still exude that same energy, but not in a rebellious way. Now the music's more expressive and a little happier.

AS - The '90s were dark because there wasn't that much to be dark about. Now there are lots of genuine things to be dark about, so people just want music to be an escape. But a positive escape, not an ignorant escape.

Hockey's new single Learn To Lose is out in the UK on 1 June. The band were talking to BBC music reporter Ian Youngs.

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