Hockey: Hitting Their Goals
- Kristi Kates

   New-wavers Hockey began as a Los Angeles duo; now reside in Oregon; got their big break via the U.K.'s Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe when he took a listen to their homemade EP Mind Chaos (the title is the same as their upcoming full-length set, but the tracklisting differs); and when asked what they'd put on their grade-school "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" report this year, they said they were most looking forward to a rollicking live show at a Scandinavian festival.
   Yes, folks, this American band - comprised of frontman Ben Grubin, guitarist Brian White (who's also, surprisingly, a skilled classical guitarist), bass player Jerm Reynolds, keyboardist Ryan Dolliver, and drummer Anthony Stassi - has definitely become a multi-national indie-rock success.

   And as for that unusual name - is it a favorite sport of the band members, the moniker of someone's pet dog, or secret code for something else entirely?
   "We picked that up a long time ago," Ben Grubin laughs, "we just thought it was a name that isn't really supposed to work as a band name, and so we wanted to use it. Also back then, we were playing shows for 50 of our friends, and we weren't thinking about people being able to find us on the internet! Ah, well..."

   You've probably already heard Hockey's debut single, "Too Fake" - which has been followed up on radio in the U.K. by the hooky "Learn to Lose" - but what you probably didn't know is that this buzz band didn't rely on big-time producers to craft their ear-catching songs, instead relying on a completely DIY approach.

   "We made our EP in our basement in Portland," Grubin explains, "we had Pro Tools on a laptop computer, one good compressor/preamp, an Akia Professional for synthetic beats, and a couple of mics. We took a long time to make it sound how we wanted."
   A half-dozen of the songs on their new album are actually pretty much taken directly from those basement sessions ("they just got mixed again," Grubin explains); the band did some additional "almost real" studio recording to fill up the rest of the set.
   "We did some more songs in Portland, another basement but much nicer," Grubin says, "we did produce these tracks ourselves, but worked with an engineer as we didn't know how to work a complex recording setup."

   That sound has most often, to date, been compared to The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem, but there are far more threads than just those two trailing from Hockey's dense-knit musical jersey. "3 am Spanish" offers up a late-night disco feel, "Work" blends the Rolling Stones with The Walkmen, and "Song Away" offers up a veneer of modernity, but underneath it's all about the '80s, fer shurr.
   Grubin himself narrows it down to two influences - "The Talking Heads and Lou Reed," he says simply.

   Fleet Foxes are another band that Grubin himself is a fan of, and who they'll actually be opening for at that aforementioned Scandinavian show, in the middle of a tour schedule that Grubin says will involve him packing plenty of "sunscreen and books."
   "I really can't wait for the Hove Festival in Norway," Grubin enthuses, "we are opening for Fleet Foxes, who I love - and the sun isn't supposed to set."

Hockey's full-length album, Mind Chaos, will hit stores on August 25th; for more info on the band, stop by www.hockeyband.co.uk or www.myspace.com/hockey.