With new album 'Gold Under the Glow,' the Hip Abduction shifts gears, goes national
The Hip Abduction of 2016 doesn’t sound a ton like the Hip Abduction you might be used to. David New sees nothing wrong with that.
“I think it’s great that some bands have a formula for the same model of music, where every album’s kind of the same,” the singer-guitarist said over waffles in his St. Petersburg backyard. “That’s just not how I think we roll.”
The band on Friday will release their sophomore album Gold Under the Glow, and sonically, it’s something of a departure. Whereas their self-titled debut landed at No. 5 on Billboard’s reggae charts, this one would be classified rock or alternative, inspired more by acts like Bastille, St. Lucia, Cut Copy or Odesza — rhythmic indie rock with lots of synthesizers.
Straddling genres is a gamble, but after years of navigating their career on their own, the Hip Abduction believe they have a team in place to help ease the transition. The band now works with two management and marketing firms, Mason Jar Media and Big Hassle Media, that have extensive reach in the indie rock world (between them, clients include Mumford and Sons, Phish and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival), and who are working to make sure the band doesn’t get pigeonholed.
As New put it: “It’s a shame, but a lot of critics and people in the music world just hate reggae music. It’s unfortunate, so that’s kind of what our management has done, like: 'Let’s not let you get blown off as a white reggae band, because it’s not what you are at all.’”
Produced by Wild Cub drummer Dabney Morris and funded via Kickstarter — the band asked for $10,000 and ended up raising more than $17,000 — Gold Under the Glow does still showcase the band’s African and tropical influences, including a love for polycultural rhythms. But the dressing is sleeker, more current — synthpop without harkening to the ’80s. Think Vampire Weekend, or Arcade Fire's Reflektor.
“This album just feels more modern,” said bassist Chris Powers.
“We kind of want to be able to live in reggae and jam and indie pop and indie rock.” New said.
The band mentions acts like Toubab Krewe, Amadou and Mariam and Dirtwire as artists who’ve managed to combine diverse traditional music with new production and futuristic sounds. They even bring up the Dirty Heads, a group that started with reggae-rock roots and is now an alt-rock radio staple.
“There’s always going to be some of the reggae roots influences,” said percussionist Pat Klemawesch. “You just have to listen a little harder to hear it.”
Even before their most recent tour, the band could sense things were changing. Their guest lists were growing. They were getting interview requests from new outlets, so many that New couldn’t handle them all himself. They booked a May gig at Atlanta’s high-profile Shaky Knees Festival.
The band will tour more behind Gold Under the Glow than they have in years past, aiming for 120 shows this year alone. The biggest might be a hometown concert on March 18 at Jannus Live, a venue they’ve packed in the past.
Even if their sound is changing, members believe their fans will follow them. At a sold-out State Theatre gig last summer, some friends and longtime fans came up to tell them that while the new material sounded different, deep down, they could tell it was the same band they always loved.
““The vibe is still there,” New said. “It’s a little more dancey, but it still takes people to their happy place.”
-- Jay Cridlin