Philly’s Own Hop Along Discuss Their Inner Freak Before Made In America

Before hitting the Made In America stage this weekend, the stage in which they will share with none other than Queen B, indie rock foursome Hop Along couldn’t be more excited to perform in the city they call home. The festival, which used to be religiously held in Los Angeles, has relocated itself to Philidelphia, an underrated music scene where you can find a powerful sound, especially from Frances Quinlan, Mark Quinlan, Tyler Long, and Joe Reinhart, the four musicians with rural roots who make up Hop Along. With their energetic, yet equally moody, May release Painted Shut sure to be under their tracklist, we talk with lead singer Frances Quinlan and the band about the album, their feelings about Philly, and their inner freak that may just come out on the Made In America stage. They claim they’re pretty mellow, but you never know.

We’re all definitely freaks.  I think it manifests itself in our sound, we’re a fairly unusual sounding band.

Philly is pretty much home to you guys. Is it exciting to be playing such a big festival somewhere that’s so familiar to you? 

Absolutely!! We are still pretty new to the festival circuit in general, so things like this are an adventure for us.  I was just at the art museum yesterday with my boyfriend and we saw everything mid-set up.  It’s pretty magical to see a GIANT stage towering above a fountain and old cement steps. I have a feeling this is going to be a pretty dreamy experience.

It definitely will and it’s nice for the festival to have a change of scenery. What do you think Philly has over Los Angeles (where MIA used to be held)? 

There’s something so weirdly enchanting seeing this high-tech stuff set up right in front of a beautiful old museum.  But I’ve never been to Grand Park in LA (that’s where they had it right?), so I can’t really compare the two.  Also I’ve been to LA a few times now and still couldn’t tell you where anything is.  That’s on me, I suppose.

Yes, it used to be in Grand Park, but trust me LA is confusing, it takes you a while.

If you’ve ever googled yourselves, the ever reliable Wikipedia defines you guys as an “acoustic freak folk solo project”. I literally have never heard that term to describe a group before. Do you guys feel like you have a “freak” quality at all?

That’s probably there to describe what Hop Along used to be, a solo project of mine that I started around 2004 (called Hop Along, Queen Ansleis).  I was super into Kimya Dawson at that time, I was very influenced by the lo-fi sound on her records.

What about when you’re performing? Maybe that’s when the freak comes out? 

We’re all definitely freaks.  I think it manifests itself in our sound, we’re a fairly unusual sounding band.  Onstage, I’d say our behavior is pretty tame.  Joe and Mark are the movers, I think people really enjoy watching them play. Tyler and I are a little more mellow.  I think we have a nice harmony, though, you don’t want to force that kind of thing.  I also fear I’d hurt someone or myself if I tried to move around more.  I’m not very graceful.

Painted Shut came out earlier this year, how did that project come about? Was it a slow and steady process sort of as Get Disowned was?

There wasn’t really anything steady about Get Disowned.  We just recorded whenever we could grab a little time, which was often just a few days every month or two.  Painted Shut took a while to write, that process was slow and much more deliberate, but in bigger and (slightly) more organized chunks. There isn’t a single superfluous thing on that record, because there wasn’t time for that.  Not that Get Disowned is superfluous, but there are lots of strange layers on that album, chickens clucking and squeaky viola.  We played around a lot, we were younger and nobody was pressuring us with a completion date.  You can waste a lot of time when you’re younger, actually I think that’s exactly when you should waste some time and record sounds just to see what happens.

There’s a feeling I have that I’ve got to prove that I belong on this big stage, in a small amount of time, to people who may just be waiting for the band after us.

A festival set is so different from a regular set or tour show because there are people there to see so many different artists. Is it exciting or nerve-racking to play for people who may have never heard you play before? 

For me it’s both of those feelings in a big way.  There’s a feeling I have that I’ve got to prove that I belong on this big stage, in a small amount of time, to people who may just be waiting for the band after us.  However, that’s really exhilarating, especially if you DO get people to pay attention.  It really makes you aware in the moment, which is a very positive thing for everyone, audiences are perceptive and can feel that excitement.  You need that kind of recharge in anything you choose to pursue.

You guys grew up going to rural suburban high schools and I’m sure very into music. Did you go to any festivals or have any crazy festival stories? 

I wasn’t aware of that many festivals in high school.  I think Bonnaroo was the only one I knew about, and I’ve never gone.  I think Mark went to some hardcore festivals in high school, and I think that was a very important experience for him.  He told me about seeing Walls of Jericho one time and the singer, who is a woman, being an amazing performer, and super badass.  I remember that affecting me, and reconsider the kind of place I could have in music.

I went to Woodstock 99 with my Dad when I was 13.  It was very silly.  I got to see Rage though, which was sick.

Sharing a stage with Beyonce though, how crazy is that?

There are no words.  I just can’t believe it.

Anyone (besides B) you’re excited to see? 

Everyone I possibly can!! It’s really great to be playing with excellent Philly bands on a big fest like this.  I only wish I could see Sunday’s set as well but we’ll be in DC (with Modest Mouse, so I absolutely can’t complain).

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