First Look: Hoots and Hellmouth

With a distinctively East Coast, and more specifically, Philly attitude, born of the roots bred there, Hoots and Hellmouth are quickly becoming one of the most talked about bands emerging from a swollen indie circuit.

Though their sound can't be nailed down to one particular genre; roots, soul, and rock fuse together to create a sound specific to them, whatever it is their doing is working. And their fans aren't the only ones who've taken notice.

Their latest album, Salt, recorded at Miner Street Studios with friend/engineer Jon Low, known for his work with Dr. Dog, Sharon Van Etten, Twin Sister, has garnered critical reviews, with most echoing the same sentiment: you can't categorize them but you gotta hear them.

Hoots and Hellmouth are currently out on tour bringing their brand of music to the masses. antiMusic caught up with Hoots for a tongue-in-cheek chat.

Extra points for using the Galapagos as a reference. The Phanatic would be proud.

antiMusic: Talk about your name. Hoots is pretty obvious. Where did Hellmouth originate?

Hard to say, really. An esoteric few speak of its origins in hushed tones, but I've yet to hear a convincing word. I suppose we all accept unknown mantles from time to time.

antiMusic: How has your music evolved throughout the years?

Like a Galapagos tortoise - slow and steady.

antiMusic: How did growing up in Philadelphia influence your sound?

The author Thomas Wolfe once wrote a book called "You Can't Go Home Again." I've never read it. Fact is, no one has. But we all love to throw that phrase around, don't we? Again...unknown mantles.

antiMusic: Talk about the music scene you were exposed to growing up. Who did you listen to?

I received the clarion call to music at an early age and instantly established a pretty raging, if a bit isolated, scene in my bedroom. The music mix included the classics, metal, hip hop and Christian rock.

antiMusic: Who is responsible for the songwriting?

Not so much a "who"...more of a "what." And I'd love to know the answer to that if you (or anyone reading this) ever finds out. Or perhaps not...there's that unknown mantle popping up again.

antiMusic: Who have you collaborated with ?

The sun, the moon, the stars. Rivers and sinkholes. Electricians and mathematicians. And a whole lotta riff and raff in between.

antiMusic: Talk about your recording experience?

I do talk about it, yes. It really depends on the day and contextual reference as to how I may choose my adjectives and adverbs, though. Lately I've been saying a lot things like "fluid" and "enveloping." Water is a personal fascination.

antiMusic: What were some of the best stories?

The Bible has long held the imaginations of millions upon millions. They say that it's the all-time best-seller. And in a culture of success-based value, does it get any better than that?

antiMusic: What have you learned about yourself as a musician through the recording process?

1) The bongos are a whole lot of fun to play.
2) Alcohol is both necessary and detrimental.
3) The same should be said of fried chicken.
4) Certain (but few) magazines retain their appeal after 12 consecutive readings.
5) Animals always lighten the mood.

antiMusic: What have been your standout successes--personal goals achieved and as a band?

We proudly pay our rent and utility bills on time every month. Our parents are also proud of this.

antiMusic: Many people have been unable to peg you to one particular sound. Is the vagueness intentional?

We are not a sound, we are the sound. What you hear is us, plain and simple.

antiMusic: If you had describe your music in a sixty-second elevator pitch how would you do it?

"Hey. What floor? Cool...I'm a couple up from that. Have you ever heard my band? No? That's too bad. You'd probably like it. Alright, man...take it easy."

antiMusic: Aside from instant stardom and selling out arenas worldwide, what are you hoping to accomplish with your music?

That dependent clause is mighty presumptuous. But I guess that's how they operate...always depending on words more logically ordered to get the "real" point across. Some may suggest that this function of grammar is quite reflective of the human condition. We are often mirrored in our words, aren't we?

antiMusic: What have been your biggest challenges along your journey?

On our last journey up north we encountered some snow and ice, but our van is pretty steady. We made it home safe and sound.

antiMusic: Talk about how the band came to be. Is this the first or fourth lineup?

We started out as a Galapagos turtle, as mentioned earlier. Nowadays we're more like Finches.

antiMusic: Talk about your favorite track in your EP?

"Face First In The Dirt" is a quirky little monster that we conjured up over the course of 5 days in a wintry Michigan field. To select a favorite track would most surely enrage the monster. Monsters prefer to keep all their tentacles intact. Please don't make me sever a limb.

antiMusic: Can you give us an insiders story to one of your tracks?

NPR makes driving easier.

antiMusic: Tell our audience something they don't know but you wish they did about you or your band?

The members of Hoots & Hellmouth are more than mortal.

antiMusic: According to your schedule your launched a scalable tour. What show are you looking forward to the most?

Scalable in the sense of being easily expanded or upgraded on demand? That's been the story of our lives. We look forward to every show, because as with our breath, we never know which one's gonna be the last.

antiMusic: Why not SXSW?


antiMusic: What's next over the next six months?

Lots of music, food, driving, breathing and sleeping.

antiMusic: Tell our audience something you've witnessed but wished you hadn't?

Cougar attacks are never pretty.

antiMusic: What gear wouldn't you be caught broken down without?

The unfortunate thing about being broken down is that you don't really see it coming. Therefore, we resolve to be self-sufficient in all ways at all times.
If it isn't inside of me, do I really need it?

First Look: Hoots and Hellmouth

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