The Hip Abduction
Friday, July 8, at 9 p.m.
The Merry Widow, 51 S. Conception St., www.themerrywidow.net
Tickets: $10 advance /$13 day of show; available at The Merry Widow and its website
Hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida, The Hip Abduction has crafted a unique sound highlighted by influences from West Africa and the Caribbean. Its infectious and interesting musical style made it one of the most memorable and refreshing bands of 92ZEW’s 2015 Second Tuesday concert series. When The Hip Abduction returns to Mobile, its audience at The Merry Widow will notice the group has infused its sound with indie synth pop. This new aspect is best experienced through the latest release, “Gold Under the Glow.”
Bassist Chris Powers took a break to give Lagniappe readers an inside look into the sound and The Hip Abduction’s latest release.
Stephen Centanni: To me, you guys were one of the most memorable bands the Second Tuesday concert series brought last year. Did I hear correctly that it was a last-minute gig you just fell into?
Chris Powers: Yeah, you know, we were booked at Callaghan’s that Friday. They were spinning some stuff on the radio, and sure enough, things lined up, and we fell into it. We didn’t know what to expect. Of the two experiences we’ve had, [Mobile] was a pretty cool music town to come to. It has the same sort of music vibe as St. Pete, with people who just go out to support live music.
Centanni: Talking about St Pete — honestly, it blew my mind that you guys are from Florida. I thought you had to be from the West Coast.
Powers: (laughing) We get that a lot, man, but it’s the West Coast of Florida.
Centanni: The only reason I say that is that Florida seems to have two scenes that dominate it, metal and blues. With that in mind, was Hip Abduction a reaction to that scene?
Powers: We all connected mostly through reggae music. There’s always been a beach/island music type vibe in St. Pete. I grew up playing punk rock here, when I was 12 and 13 years old. So, I remember playing some metal shows and things like that. There was definitely a gap as far as something new in St. Pete, as far as a new type of music that you’ve not heard before.
You’re right. You’re not seeing a lot of fresh indie bands coming out of Florida. There’s a lot of metal in Tampa. In St. Pete, there’s a lot of blues and dance band type stuff. The scene in St. Pete has changed so much over the past 10 years, because of all the money that’s been put into the arts. You can go see five different bands on a Monday. It’s crazy. When the band was coming together, we felt like we were a type of music that wasn’t being made in St. Pete. That makes it pretty easy to get gigs, right?
Centanni: The latest album is called “Gold Under the Glow.” Where does the title come from?
Powers: It’s a lyric on the record. Dave New is the lead singer and came up with it. When I’ve talked to him about it, it’s sort of a suggestion of what this record is about. The last album that we recorded with Michael Goldwasser (Easy Star All-Stars) was all recorded on two-inch tape. It’s a “play it right or don’t play it” type of situation.
“Gold Under the Glow” is all in the box. It’s all digital. It’s interesting that we still are keeping that gold, vintage sound with traditional West African instruments, but we’re adding a glow to it with the electronic, indie-pop dance and synth influence to it. How I’ve understood it is that it’s descriptive of the sonic character of the record.
Centanni: You mentioned the synth pop element. That’s quite a deviation from your past albums. What made you want to go in that direction?
Powers: You are what you eat. We were listening to St. Lucia and a lot of bands like Miami Horror out of Australia. We were seeing these bands at different festivals that we were playing. After the last record, we were listening to a lot of Dubstuff and Scratch Perry and all that sort of stuff. A lot of the current synth pop stuff is taking vintage ‘80s sounds and modernizing them a little bit.
It’s been a very interesting blend of the two sounds to figure out that it makes sense. If you listen to “Holiday” on the last record, it indicates that trajectory. That had the electric sensibility to it. It was a natural thing that happened. The first song on the record, “Before We Lose Our Mind,” was written right after we recorded the last record. Because it was so different, we didn’t put it on that record. We realized that it was a different record. It took 28 months for “Gold Under the Glow” to come to full fruition.
Centanni: What kind of reaction have you been getting from your seasoned fans?
Powers: The seasoned fans love it. The people who love Hip Abduction are all about it, but there are some people who are into the reggae and West African, and they’ve given us some flak about it, which we expected. Ultimately, the record does have more pop elements, but we didn’t mean to write a pop record. Really, it’s the new fans on these new runs. We did this big run with The Expendables, which is a reggae rock outfit out of California. Just seeing the demographic of the people who are singing the words on the front row has gone from 25-35 to 18-24 like crazy on this record
Centanni: So, you’re letting fans get in on the creation of your latest music video for “Come Alive.”
Powers: Some of the videos have been great. I can’t wait to put them together. There have been some great submissions.
Centanni: What’s the craziest video you’ve received so far?
Powers: One that we just posted is of a fan who is free-diving all over the Bahamas and coming up on rays and things like that. It’s pretty outstanding. There’s another video that’s a group jumping off a bridge in Key West that’s hilarious. We’re not encouraging anyone to hurt themselves or anything, but people are having a lot of fun with it. There’s some that are just a family sitting at a dinner table singing along.
The way technology is these days, everybody has an iPhone, so it makes it so easy just to have people participate. I don’t know how many submissions we’ve had, but it’s gotta be close to 100, and we’re going to try to get everybody in it.