Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez
Unlocked: Here’s what the Philly music scene loves about Hop Along
More than simply a great band, Philly’s Hop Along is a great band that understands the value of community. They’ve opened shows and tours for their more established scene peers like mewithoutYou and Dr. Dog, and in turn they’ve taken given opening opportunities to Thin Lips and Clique. They record at Philly studios, they have Philly friends contribute to their albums, they work with Philly people (like Cat Park and Tiff Yoon of Amanda X) on their music videos and merch. And in turn, they’re a band that’s embraced the Philadelphia music world around.
Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee has a tattoo of Hop Along’s Freshman Year album art on her left arm (opposite Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things on her right). When Modern Baseball recorded their Key Studio Session, bassist Ian Farmer rocked a sweet Hop Along t-shirt. And pretty much any time the band has a Philly gig, the crowd is filled with local musicians…meaning we’re expecting their headlining show at Union Transfer tomorrow night to be a total love fest. To get prepared, we got a bunch of their Philly music friends to tell us what exactly it is they love about Hop Along.
“I met Frances Quinlan maybe 6 or 7 years ago. She and her brother Mark lived directly around the corner from me in super-South Philly. We started playing some shows together and did a duet of ‘Wild Horses’ at Space 1026. My band at the time did some touring with Hop Along and I just fell in extreme love.
“It’s really important to me to support women in the music industry, and I felt lucky to be asked to do this do so I could publicly state that Frances is a force. Get Disowned was a perfect album. I wasn’t at all surprised that Painted Shut is equally and differently stunning in all of it’s glory. I think the album is a masterpiece that somehow, in all it’s strange darkness, achieves an amazing pop sensibility that stems from almost sixties song writing styles. However, and always, Frances lyrically intrigues me in a way that pop music often doesn’t.
“She is an unparalleled story teller, lulling me into each song like I have this amazing gift of visiting ten different and dark worlds. It’s almost like reading a series of short stories that have a cohesive narrative. As a musician I often love my friends’ bands, and I know a lot of people that are making amazing and important work. But something about Hop Along gets into my guts. Way to go dudes. You’re killin’ it.”
–Chrissy Tashjian of Thin Lips
“I’ve never met a band who cares so much about the music they create than Hop Along. They are all phenomenal and incredibly creative musicians.”
-Ian Farmer of Modern Baseball
“The first time I heard Hop Along, I was in a van with Dominic Angelella on the way to Baltimore, in February 2007. He played me her first record Freshman Year. I hate to admit it, but I was non-plussed. Maybe I was close-minded because of the math rock world I was steeped in, but it just didn’t hit in the way that I wanted at the time. Fast forward to two years later and I’m in Frances’ South Philly basement, fumbling my way through the bass parts of her songs. She hired me for a tour that led to SXSW 2010.
“‘These songs are fucking tricky,’ I thought. And then it occurred to me that I was uncontrollably crying as she sang through a rendition of ‘Who’s Loving You’ by The Jackson 5. I had to turn away and face the basement wall. I was ashamed that I underestimated the power of what this person was capable of. It floored me. It still floors me to this day, and I consider myself lucky to call Frances a friend. You rarely meet an artist who has raw vision, integrity, and talent. She has all of this in spades.
“Listening to Hop Along record is a lot like watching a P.T Anderson film. Infinite density, beautiful, idiosyncratic, perfectly imperfect. Seeing it live is transcendent. I always write a song after I see Hop Along, because it inspires me to be better. I don’t know if I can say that about any other band. I love them like family. They’re the best.”
-Eric Slick of Dr. Dog / Lithuania
“I think whats undeniable about the band is how powerful the music it. Whether it be the the grit in Frances’ voice, or the wall of sound produced by the band as a whole. It was a truly great experience hearing the songs in their entirety late last week.”
-Shane Woods of Mo Lowda and the Humble / assistant engineer on Painted Shut
“When I found out that they accepted to be on our Catch ten-year tour last fall, I was genuinely giddy that they were going to be one of the bands we would get to share a stage with. There aren’t many groups on tour (due strictly to the rigmarole of extensive traveling) that you make a point to catch all or most of their set every night. Hop Along are just one of those bands that have a wonderfully endearing quality to their song writing and earnest live show. And after having met them, I was fully charmed; I could talk for a while about each of them being rad.
“Philly and the surrounding area is so rich right now with great music and exceptional talent (to even begin to start naming names would be an epic task), it’s hard to choose favorites; but once you get a load of what Frances is putting out there, it’s undeniable that they are among the best. I feel really lucky to have shared such a special time with them and that I can call them my friends. Much Love to Ty, Marky, Joe Mambo and Frances. I am stoked for you guys.”
–Rickie Mazzotta of mewithoutYou
“My old band P.S. Eliot toured with Hop Along, I guess in 2008 or 2009. Before that, I was just obsessed with her first record, Freshman Year. I had met Frances in 2007 in Birmingham, which is my hometown. I was just obsessed with that record, and it still holds up. It’s so good. It’s funny that all these years later, here we are living in the same city, running in the same circles, still. It’s cool.”
-Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee
“I’ve had a musical crush on Frances Quinlan since I was a freshman in college. Obviously at that time, her record Freshman Year was resonating with me, and shortly after I was lucky enough to meet her and to get to know her and the rest of the band, growing with them as friends and musicians.
“I can now say that they are some of my best friends in the world, and I am so proud of them. Never have I met a group of people so dedicated in improving themselves as musicians and pushing the bar as songwriters.”
-Evan Bernard of The Weaks
“I feel very fortunate that I have a few friends who always inspire me. Hop Along is one of those groups of friends; they worked so hard on this record. They made demo after demo and spent a year rehearsing. The songs started off a little rough, but each time I heard them they took shape a little more. Then they somehow pulled together all the loose ends, between the studio, different schedules, a new label, John Angelo and a bunch of other considerations in order to orchestrate the making of the record.
“Looking from the outside in I almost couldn’t believe they pulled it all off!! Then they hunkered down in the studio and put everything they had into this record. Mark and Tyler knocked out their parts in a few days with very solid takes while Joe and Frances labored over every detail while John, like a super chill ship captain, kept everyone focused. I got stoned and listened Painted Shut by myself in my room a couple weeks ago; what finally came to be surpassed my expectations of how the record would sound and all these memories rushed back to me. I feel lucky to be their bud and to have been able to help them make this record.”
-Kyle Pulley of Thin Lips / assistant engineer on Painted Shut
“Hop Along is like the glue that holds our artistic community together. Whether it’s playing music, making art, making t-shirts, making videos, Frances always tries to have everyone involved. I respect her integrity more than she’ll ever know. Hop Along gives me hope that a band can be completely sincere, absolutely real to the bone and still make it on a big stage, in ‘the industry.’ Everything that they achieve is so well deserved and so humbly accepted.”
–Cat Park of Amanda X
Painted Shut is the featured album in this week’s installment of Unlocked. Listen to “Happy to See Me” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review, watch the video for “Powerful Man” in Wednesday’s post , read yesterday’s interview and don’t miss Hop Along’s record release party tomorrow night at Union Transfer. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.