Artist of the day: The Hip Abduction
If you’re wondering which of St. Petersburg’s fertile crop of reggae-rock artists could be the first to break nationally, look no further than the Hip Abduction. They’re already doing it.
In December, the release party for their self-titled album drew a jaw-dropping crowd of around 1,800 to Jannus Live. “We were just a couple of tickets away from being sold out, so it was pretty amazing,” says singer David New. “Once that happened, we got calls from buyers and venues all over the Southeast. That really helped spark some things for us.”
The group signed to a booking agency in Georgia and began looking at gigs as far away as California. In September, they’ll play the Carolina Sessions, an East Coast offshoot of the hugely poppular reggae-rock festival California Roots. Their 2013 album — produced by Michael Goldwasser, founder of vaunted reggae label Easy Star Records — received 4.5 out of 5 stars from reggae-rock chroniclers The Pier Magazine. There have been inquiries about a bigger record deal, but “nothing too amazing to turn down what we already have,” New says.
"It’s moving a lot faster than it has been,” he says. “Starting in January, it’s been exponential growth, as opposed to two, three, four years before that.”
How did this happen? New acknowledges they’re getting swept up in something much larger than the Hip Abduction, a band whose sound has never really been what you’d call traditional reggae rock. Instead, the group specializes in Caribbean- and African-influenced pop and jazz from all corners of the globe (although, New says, “I loathe the terms world beat and global fusion ... all current music is global fusion these days”).
That unique sonic gumbo is part of what’s fueling the Hip Abduction’s rise in the reggae-rock community, said promoter Adam St. Simons. “I want to see them recognized, because they’re doing things like Paul Simon, not because they’re doing things that look cool or fall into the socio-cultural aspects of the genre — white boys with dreadlocks and surfboards and bongs on the couch,” he said. “They’re one of those bands that is taking it to a different level.”
In addition to playing the Carolina Sessions, the Hip Abduction played the Wanee Music Festival this spring, and is making inroads on the Southern jam-band circuit as well. “We’re not just up there skankin’ on the 2 and 4,” New said. “We can also get a little crazy and deliver a good live performance.”
But no matter what genre you put them in, New said the Hip Abduction is proud to represent Florida’s reggae-rock scene on a national level.
It blows my mind,” he said. “Florida is close to Jamaica, so why aren’t any of these bands playing and being repped nationally? This is nice, to be the only band popping up and repping that scene.”
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*