Advertisement
  1. Music

After three big years, St. Petersburg's Hip Abduction is set to grow again with a new album

St. Petersburg band the Hip Abduction will release their fourth album, “To the Ends of the Earth,” on Friday. [Photo by Ryan Noaker]
St. Petersburg band the Hip Abduction will release their fourth album, “To the Ends of the Earth,” on Friday. [Photo by Ryan Noaker]
Published Aug. 8, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Powers sat down with a hibiscus soda fresca as he awaited his sandwich at Bodega.

"This is like the band favorite," said the bassist for the Hip Abduction. "Whenever we have time in rehearsal, everybody's like, 'Let's take an extra hour! We're going to Bodega!'"

It's been a while since singer David New has been here, though. So long that he didn't know a second Bodega had opened across the bay.

"There's one in Seminole Heights? I used to live there," New said.

"That place has changed. Drastically," Powers said.

"In a good way?"

"Yeah. There's just so much more stuff there."

Still, the Hip Abduction aren't looking to leave St. Pete — even though New himself moved with his girlfriend to St. Augustine in December. And even though the band — which on Friday will drop its fourth album, To the Ends of the Earth — keeps moving on up to bigger and better things around the country.

In the three years since their last full-length, the Hip Abduction has toured with bands like the Dirty Heads and Twiddle; twice played Colorado's iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater; and appeared at mega-festivals like Atlanta's Shaky Knees and Monterrey, Calif.'s Cali Roots. Atlanta's SweetWater Brewing Company brewed the band its own limited-edition beer. This fall, they'll embark on their first West Coast headlining tour and play the inaugural Miami Beach Pop Festival.

It's all rarefied air for any local band. Especially one as tricky to pin down as the Hip Abduction.

Almost from the beginning, more than a decade ago, the group resisted the "global fusion" label — even though that's kind of what they were, blending African pop, tropical sounds and reggae-rock flavors from Jamaica, California and New Zealand. Even today, New said, "I don't want to put a stamp on who we are. People have got to figure it out."

Such sonic shape-shiftiness enabled the Hip Abduction to bounce between the jam-band and reggae-rock worlds, expanding the range of festivals they can play and bands they can open for.

"We don't fit perfectly in any other scene," New said, "so it's been hard for other people to figure out who we are."

That has, at times, included their own team. Early in the making of To the Ends of the Earth, the band's management flew them to Los Angeles for sessions with hit songwriters, to try to cross them over and get on the radio. For a band that had written many songs at Fort De Soto or Pass-a-Grille, it felt completely unnatural.

"They wanted to shape us and go in an alt-rock direction," New said. "And it wasn't us. We scrapped it all. We came out like, We need to write this music."

New would also like the Hip Abduction to be bigger, so long as it's on their own terms. He believes they can someday headline Red Rocks on their own merits. But so far, they've built a still-growing fan base just by doing what they do. In almost every city, they end up playing for fans who've already seen them at least once.

"It's been a slow grind, but as we've seen, those fans don't go anywhere," New said. "Bands we've played with in the past, they get a song on the radio, and boom, they can't even put 200 people in a club anywhere in the country. Whereas we haven't released a song or an album in going on four years, and we do pretty good numbers pretty much everywhere."

To the Ends of the Earth, recorded in Tampa and New York, captures the band in a state of emotional unease, from personal breakups to label unease (the band rejected one potential multi-album deal because of the control over touring it would've cost them). While some songs still carry the band's hallmark summer-adjacent sound, "this record has a lot of weight," New said. "We made light out of all the darkness we went through."

Take the opening track, Float, a song New said is about trying to get back to your happiest place in life, "knowing that you've been there and you get to go back there, and that piece of the world is part of you."

As long as they hold onto that idea, the next phase of their evolution out of St. Petersburg could take them anywhere.

"We've carved out our own niche, and we're doing really well," New said. "I don't care where we get shelved. That's better for the music. It's better to put our guard down and let it flow out without overthinking and trying to sound like something else."

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Sammy Hagar performs at his 70th birthday party, dubbed Sammy Hagar's Rock-n-Roll Birthday Party, in 2017 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. [Jill Trunnell]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  2. Disturbed will perform at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on July 23. [TRAVIS SHINN  |  Warner Records]
    The nu-grunge giants are hitting the road to commemorate the 20th anniversary Disturbed’s debut album.
  3. Yesterday• Arts & Entertainment
    Broadway, film and TV star Bernadette Peters will perform with the Florida Orchestra at their annual fundraising gala on Feb. 1 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. [Andrew Eccles]
    Broadway’s Bernadette Peters headlines gala, Monster Jam returns and Lyle Lovett has a two-night stay in Clearwater.
  4. Billie Eilish poses in the press room with the awards for best album and best pop vocal album for "We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?", best song and record for "Bad Guy" and best new artist at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) [CHRIS PIZZELLO  |  Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]
    She is the first artist to sweep all four of the Grammy’s top awards since Christopher Cross in 1981.
  5. Kris Kristofferson performs at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Jan. 26. [JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The 83-year-old songwriting legend brought his songbook to life one more time at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre. | Concert review
  6. Roger Waters will perform at Orlando's Amway Center on Aug. 13. [AEG Presents]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  7. DJ Khaled has announced a residency at Hard Rock venues around the country, and it includes a show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. [Epic Records]
    The omnipresent hip-hop dealmaker kicks off his stretch of Hard Rock dates in February.
  8. YBN Cordae will perform at Wild Splash at Clearwater's Coachman Park on March 7. [Jimmy Fontaine]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  9. Alicia Keys will perform at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa on Sept. 20. [Milan Zrnic]
    The Grammy-winning superstar is scaling down from the arenas she’s used to.
  10. Nickelback will return to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater in Tampa on Aug. 16.
    Love 'em or hate 'em, they’re coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement