By Julie Garisto
Hip-nappers: Patrick Hernley, drums and percussion; Paul Chlapowski, piano and keys; David New, guitars and vocals; Chris Powers, bass; Kevin Clark, trumpet; Matt Gawlik, bari sax and flute; and Matt Zettlemoyer, sax.
Beginnings: New, tired of Bon Jovi requests and lonely gigs as a solo performer, recruited members over the past year, nabbing Hernley first and the others one by one, through ads on Craigslist. The guys, all in their 20s and 30s, are formally trained in at least one instrument.
Why the name? "We hope to abduct and hiptify one crowd at a time," New said. "Honestly, I leave the name open to suggestion and wonder."
World on his back: Hernley provides much of the band's Afro-Caribbean and all-out multi-ethnic backbone, playing congas, timbales, hand kick, tabla, dholak and cajon. He toured with Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman and also performed with him at the Nokia New Year's celebration in Mumbai.
Please don't call them a jam band: Despite worldly predilections and world-class skills, Hernley chafes at labeling Hip Abduction "world beat" or "jam," and intensely dislikes the word "fusion."
"Fusion has a connotation of dilution," he said. "World beat is a problematic term, and most world beat musicians are douchebags."
New: "Pat steers me away from the Jack Johnson groove. Every song is a three-chord song, but the rhythms are so danceable. You can come home to it."
Filling things out: Keys and horns fully flesh out the spaces between words and beats, adding a hypnotic dreaminess and uplifting vibe to Hip Abduction's sway. Pianist/keyboardist Chlapowski, the most recent addition, joined the band in January. Though his experience has mainly been in classical piano, he says he has blended in both personally and artistically with his funkier bandmates. In fact, his playing earned a rare superior rating from a panel of judges at Eckerd College in the early '90s.
The singer: Singer and songwriter New creates a sensual mood for each tune, influenced heavily by his time spent in the Bahamas and traveling throughout South America from 2002 to '04. His favorite album is Paul Simon's Graceland, an influence that colors the band's composite of pop simplicity and tribal textures. "I try to write songs that are uplifting, even if the subject isn't necessarily uplifting," New said.
Cannibal course? Powers taught in Micronesia through a Harvard program, working in a village that practiced cannibalism until the 1950s.
New: "Did you eat human meat?"
Powers: "No, but I was told I played on a drum made with human skin."
Hear them: 8 p.m. Friday at Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa, with Buffalo Strange and Christie Lenee. $8. (813) 971-0666. They're also opening for the Spam Allstars at Crowbar on Feb.27. myspace.com/thehipabduction.