“I’ve been in Hop Along for half my life now. The band started when I was 18 and now I’m 36, so it’s pretty wild.
In music, every decade has at least one major city or region that makes its mark. Fans know San Francisco in the 60s, New York in the 70s, LA in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s, etc.
These days, a good number of cities have their own reputable music scenes, like Boston and Providence in those areas, and Philadelphia’s indie rock community can’t be overlooked.
One of the many talents to come out of the Pennsylvania stronghold was Hop Along consisting of Frances Quinlan on rhythm guitar and vocals, her brother Mark on drums, Tyler Long on bass and Joe Reinhardt on lead guitar. This talented act will run back-to-back at the Sinclair on July 30 and 31 with fellow Philadelphians Sadurn opening both nights at 8 p.m.
Quinlan and I talked ahead of this weekend’s festivities about a solo album they released just before COVID-19 changed everything, painting album covers, being part of a festival at the crazy next month and being careful not to assume anything about the future.
Just over a month before the pandemic returned in 2020, you released a solo album called Like. When it comes to songwriting and creating music, what do you think is the biggest difference between what you do as a solo artist and what you do as part of Hop Along?
I think it’s the absence of my bandmates, they add so much to Hop Along. Each of them played a bit on the solo record, everyone in the band appears on the song “Rare Thing”, but these are major creative factors that contribute to what comes out of Hop Along. With the solo record I wanted to stay closer to my initial ideas for the songs because with the band we spend a lot of time editing. If I understand the arrangement correctly, I think a lot of arrangements can be edited. Sometimes the songs stay pretty close to what I originally envisioned, I would say with a band that what I write to start playing stays pretty much the same unless the pacing changes a bit.
When everyone is playing, the bass, drums and guitar add a lot while building on beats to create new ones. As I said before, with my solo album, I wanted to stay close to the origin of the song and it was the fastest between writing songs and recording them that I had done in a long time. Problem since freshman year of college when I was 19.
Yeah, I’ve been in Hop Along for half my life now. The band started when I was 18 and now I’m 36, so it’s pretty wild.
It’s pretty wild. You also created the album cover. like you did with all the Hop Along albums. Do you do a lot of painting and visual art when you’re not working on music and consider your cover art as your own personal stamp on a finished product?
Yes to both. I’ve been doing more visual art since the pandemic hit because there was just more time for it. I went to college to paint and once the band got busier and started touring a lot I found it helped me to paint in watercolors in the van. Some of the rides were over seven hours and the drag of being in the van that long got to me, so the paint helped a lot in my life and as a personal buffer, of course. I probably take things too seriously but I love creating album covers, it’s a labor of love.
A year later, after the release of your solo album, you released some remixes of it with an indie pop artist Nnamdi putting his own spin on “Now That I’m Back” and Ryan Hemsworth doing his own version of “Lean”. What made you want to do these remixes and how did you connect with Nnamdi and Ryan to make this happen?
I don’t think it’s super innovative on my part, I think the idea was proposed by my manager and it was exciting for me, especially since I’m a big fan of The work of Nnamdï. I love Brat, have you heard this album?
Oh yeah. It’s fantastic. He’s awesome, I saw him live with his band and it’s awesome.
Right? He is so good. He’s just a brilliant writer, producer and musician. I also love his drums with everything else, so I was really excited to work with him. I actually met Nnamdï in 2012, we played this festival with him over the summer at this warehouse in Chicago and it was the hottest place I had been to in a long time. We’ve known each other for a while and when I heard what he did with this song it was so cool, he really captured the anxiety of the music in my opinion.
Ryan is another brilliant talent. We had already collaborated on a song called “Postcard From Spain” and he was the first person outside of Hop Along that I really collaborated with to make a song in a very long time. He did a great job with “Lean”.
After this string of shows that have Hop Along playing back-to-back nights at the Sinclair, you’re going to be part of the Adult Swim Festival Block Party taking place in Philadelphia August 5-7. It’s pretty crazy with Run The Jewels, Dethklok, RJD2 and Hannibal Buress performing with exhibition panels, outdoor screenings and other aspects. How did you get involved in this and do you have a favorite adult swim show?
People keep talking about Joe Pera Talks With You and I really need to delve into this, I’ve been out of the loop for quite a while. There are shows that are no longer on it that I used to watch, so I honestly feel out of the loop when it comes to a current favorite show. As for how we connected, we’ve been very lucky to be involved with it before and I’m really excited to see Tierra Whack again. She is phenomenal and there are so many amazing bands and musicians on this poster. We got the bill thanks to our excellent booking agent Merrick Jarmulowicz who we started working with in 2012.
People like him are a big help for bands and artists looking for new fans and receptive people. Merrick was the first person in the music industry we hired and he got creative with where we could fit in, he’s a tremendous asset and he’s really good at what he does, so we are lucky.
It’s great that you have a guy like that that you can work with and who can help you get gigs like these and others to help grow your band. It must seem hazy from the craziness of the past few years, but it’s been four years since Hop Along released their last album, Bark your head, dogin 2018. Can we expect a new record later this year or next year?
Certainly not later this year, but who knows? I want to be careful not to assume anything about the future, really. It will be cool to have something next year, it will be great to start working on new ideas once we meet again after this tour.
Hop Along @ The Sinclair Tickets