“Make sure the band gets paid” would be the last words out of Patrick Tinning’s mouth if he took his last breath on the stage. That’s just the kind of man you want taking the lead in a band, which just happens to be what he does. Patrick does double duties with his pipes and bass alongside Cullin Kress on guitar and TJ Walker doing his thing on drums. The three make up Chicago’s The Hops.
The Hops’ Won’t It Be Fun takes center stage soon and will take you for a genre ride. Always sticking with a base of rock, The Hops take pit stops from everything from funk to indie and even a hint of jazz in “Thermometer Splits.” All the side dishes of The Hops only embellish their main course, which is rock. “Fantasma” has that 90’s alternative feel with its Gin Blossoms/Counting Crows vibe. Won’t It Be Fun will be an entertaining time for music fans who fall in that indie scene but who aren’t afraid of experimentation and appreciate the addition of other styles in their music.
With Won’t It Be Fun on deck, The Hops are hard at work plotting their national take over and before they set out in their trusty van, they were kind enough to school us on the basics, from touring to Hip Hop.
Kendra: It all starts with a moment. Was there a particular one that made you want to write music as opposed to writing say, books?
Patrick: I’d say when I was trapped in my dorm room in college I made that decision. I considered writing books but I feel that music is a way to connect with an audience that may not have an interest in the written word. In a lot of ways music is the international language because you don’t necessarily have to know what the words are to be influenced by it.
Kendra: Patrick, do you feel there’d be any significant change in The Hops sound if you’d stayed in Texas?
Patrick: The Hops would never have existed cause I was drowning down there. I wanted so bad to put a band together but I had no idea how. I didn’t figure that out till I moved here and joined someone else’s band.
Kendra: How has the Chicago scene treated you guys by the way?
Patrick: It’s been good. We’ve played around a lot. Had some successes. Had some not-so-great moments. I’m most happy with having met a community of musicians that are solid and professional. That would be thanks largely in part to Shannon Hinkle of the Broken Belts, who introduced me to many of the musicians I know here. That’s also how I met TJ, our drummer.
Kendra: Time to go from the general to the specifics. How was it working with Ian Spudes?
Patrick: That’s probably a question best left to Cullin. He’s the one that had the most back and forth with Ian.
Cullin: Well, I had never really worked with a producer who actually cared about the quality and sound of the final product. It became frustrating at times because I tend to get impatient with things like that and so does he, so I think we clashed a bit at times. I tend to take an awkward situation and try to make it funny, so there was a lot of that going on. In the end though, I appreciated his dissatisfaction with most everything I did because the final product was a very polished and quality record.
Kendra: Did he release anything out of you guys you didn’t know was there before?
Cullin: I don’t think he necessarily released anything in me that I didn’t know was there, because there was a lot of improvisation on my part, which seems to be my specialty. He did manage to release some form of anger which I tried to channel into my fingers.
Patrick: For “Let Go,” Cullin and Ian went back and forth. It was funny to watch. Ian would try to get Cullin to do something he heard in Cullin’s playing and then Cullin would be like, “I never even did that. Pothead.” At which point Cullin would lapse into a story about Paul, the alien, and the weed that killed Bob Dylan.
Kendra: Won’t It Be Fun is soon going out to the world but before listeners get it, you have a task. Compare the sounds on Won’t It Be Fun to a popular boardgame…Think hard on this one!
Hops: Pictionary-people might have different images that come to mind because of the atmosphere and the lyrics of each song.
Kendra: A little more nostalgia then we’ll get back to 2011. Spudes worked with Veruca Salt, very 90’s, and I heard a little Gin Blossoms, even more 90’s. So with all this 90’s being tossed around I can only ask you to do one thing. Choose one track off Won’t It Be Fun and put it in the soundtrack to a classic 90’s movie and let us know why you think they’re a perfect match.
Patrick: Clueless and our song, “Let Go.” It could fit in where she realizes the guy that she’s been pursuing is a total douchebag.
Kendra: You said that you don’t want touring to just be a road trip, so tell us three major goals you want to get out of playing live?
Patrick: First, I’d like it to pay for us to eat, sleep, and pay for gas. Second, I want it to be the seed that helps us grow a nationwide fan base. And third, I’d like it to create enough buzz that we could even go to Europe. That would be awesome.
Kendra: Choosing a musical life is always a gamble. Is there anything else you’d be willing to take a chance on besides music?
Patrick: Farming. Or being a shepherd…But I’d probably quit after I had to milk a cow or we had to kill one of the chickens.
Kendra: Like starting your own charity perhaps…But if you were to play a benefit show, which charity would it most likely be for?
Patrick: Make A Wish Foundation. I like them. They do a lot of good for kids that don’t have a lot of hope in their life. And I know several people that they have made a profound difference for.
Kendra: We talked about moments, 90’s and cows, but now it’s mixtape time! So I’d love to get a Hops mixtape of the top 5 Hip Hop essentials…go!
Reviewed by Kendra Beltran
Originally published on Sept 9, 2011