The Hoot Hoots: “We feel it’s our job to make sure people have a good time”

Sometimes, especially within the realm of “indie culture,” the coolest entities are those that make absolutely no effort to be “cool.”  I think this might be true of Seattle...

Sometimes, especially within the realm of “indie culture,” the coolest entities are those that make absolutely no effort to be “cool.”  I think this might be true of Seattle quartet The Hoot Hoots (I mean, see, it’s kind of even in the name.)  Unapologetically inspired by (and obsessed with) many facets of nerd culture, such as Star Wars and video games, The Hoot Hoots write ineffably infectious party anthems that blend fuzzy ‘60s psych with the ‘80s most intellectually quirky synthpop and come out sounding reminiscent of the sunniest imaginable versions of some of the ‘90s best “college rock” bands.  The band released their latest album, Colorpunch, this Spring.  They currently have two Seattle dates on the books – September 25th headlining Sunset Tavern and October 26th playing with Rubblebucket at the Crocodile – but they’re hoping to have quite a few more shows in the coming months, and in a recent chat with lead vocalist/guitarist Adam Prairie (who founded the band with his brother/drummer Chris) told me that he’s hoping The Hoot Hoots make their way to our neck of the woods in the near future… and also discusses much of the discourse regarding them as the ultimate good-time party band.

Izzy Cihak: So this band has been around for a while now, but you’re not quite yet a “household name,” especially here in the Mid-Atlantic so, I’m curious, is there anything you think is especially important for potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording together, or just your aim or mission as artists?

Adam Prairie: We’d love to head out to the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast sometime! Maybe next year? Let’s see, regarding the music, we’re completely dedicated to making catchy, fun rock songs. When we’re writing songs, we ask ourselves, “Does this have a hook that people can remember after one or two listens?” and if it doesn’t, we cut it. I must confess, though, that we do like to sneak in darker lyrical references and maybe also some environmental propaganda here and there… We’re also super DIY. We write, record, and master all of our songs, we book our own tours, we silk screen our T-shirts (and we might be silk-screening Hoot Hoots underwear soon? Stay tuned on that), we do our own PR, social media, and graphic design. In the past we’ve also handmade packaging and stamped or silkscreened our albums. This band is what we love to do, and we feel really lucky that we’ve had so many people appreciate it.

Izzy:  And what have been some of the highlights of the band since you first officially got together in 2008?

Adam: We’ve done five tours (all in a Toyota Prius… yes, all four of us fit in there with our gear) in the Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, and Pacific Northwest, we’ve got to open for some truly amazing bands. like Rubblebucket, the Octopus Project, Smith Westerns, and Deep Sea Diver, our keyboardist, Christina, crowd-surfed at this amazing show that capped a music festival called Big Ass Boombox that we help organize, ummm… I’m sure I’m missing something awesome… Oh, a dude told me once at a show that he had an absolutely shitty week at work and our music helped him get through it. I was bummed he was having a crappy go of it at work, but it’s gratifying to know that we could take the edge off, even if it’s just a little.

Izzy: Your latest album, Colorpunch, has been out for a little while now.  How do you think the album compares to previous releases?

Adam: Colorpunch is definitely more polished than our previous releases. You can kinda hear in each successive album that we’ve figured out certain things about how to record, mix, and master ourselves. It’s been natural in the sense that we just write whatever feels good at the time and whatever satisfies us sonically.

Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your most significant influences?  You seem to have a lot of significant influences from outside the world of music, which are almost always more interesting than a band’s explicitly musical influences.

Adam: So musically, we really love the Flaming Lips, the Unicorns, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and we cut our teeth on Zeppelin, David Bowie, etc. One huge influence has been the video game Katamari Damacy. It’s a Playstation 2 game that is just the best. We love its colorful art style, and it has a great soundtrack too. You play as the Prince of the Cosmos who is trying to roll up objects on Earth to remake the starry sky because your dad, the King of the Cosmos, accidentally broke the stars when he was zipping around under the influence. The cover art from our EP, Feel the Cosmos, was heavily inspired by the King of the Cosmos. Seriously, that game is THE BEST.

Izzy: Hopefully this isn’t insulting, but has anyone ever told you that you sort of remind them of Pixies? Your latest definitely strikes me as a slightly sonically sunnier version of Bossanova/Trompe le Monde-era Francis/Deal/Lovering/Santiago. If you are a fan, any particular favorite works of the proto-college rockers?

Adam: SO MUCH LOVE FOR THE PIXIES. My personal favorite is Doolittle, but it’s kinda hard to choose with them. We participate in this Halloween event in Seattle called Come As You Aren’t whenever we can, and one of these years we’ll get our Pixies act together. This year we’ve making a Queen super-group with a bunch of our buddies, a couple years ago we played fuzz rock versions of songs from the Little Mermaid.

Izzy: Being based out of Seattle, I’m curious about your take on the current Seattle scene, as Seattle’s a pretty profoundly significant city in terms of music.  How is it being a band currently in Seattle?  Any favorit regional peers?

Adam: We are so lucky to be in a city that supports the local music scene as rabidly as Seattle does. I also think that what you get out of a music scene is directly related to what you put in, so we try to go support the scene by attending shows or helping bands book shows or organizing events as much as we can. I’m proud to call Seattle our home base. Oh boy, so many good locals to mention…. We love Deep Sea Diver, Kithkin, the Jesus Rehab, Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount, the Young Evils, Tangerine… I could go on but that’s a good start.

Izzy: And you have a handful of upcoming live dates.  What can be expected of the live experience?  What does it draw inspiration from?  I understand your live shows have become kind of famous.

Adam: Live, you’ll see at least four people (sometimes five) dancing their asses off, you might see some Rainbow Jedi robes, and you’ll hear a bunch of loud, catchy rock tunes that are begging to be danced to. We feel it’s our job to make sure people have a good time, so we try to create an atmosphere that lets our audience members know that it’s okay to uncross your arms and dance around like an idiot. ‘Cause we’re definitely dancing around like idiots!

Izzy: And, finally, what’s next for the band?  How do you hope and plan to spend the rest of 2015 and the first part of 2016?  Anything you’re especially excited about?

Adam: Well, we just wrapped up a short 10 tour to the Midwest and back to Seattle. We’ll be doing that same trip in October as well. Right now, we’re working on demoes for an EP, but we don’t really have a target date for that release yet, probably beginning of next year some time. We’ve also been dreaming up ideas for a full-length concept album.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.