At the Experience Music Project Pop Conference last month, Kembrew McCloud presented a paper that detailed the fallout of a Spin magazine story that dubbed a sleepy Virginia town "the next Seattle." Within a few weeks, A & R dudes were descending like plagues of ponytailed, coked-up locusts, only to discover they'd been had. I'm sharing this cautionary tale with you, Spokanites, because I want you to be prepared when the floodgates open. Once the higher-ups get wind that a band moved to your sleepy little town from L.A. and is about to hit the big time, prepare for the assault.
The founding members of Hockey, bassist Jerm Reynolds and primary songwriter Ben Grubin, moved to Spokane from the City of Angels after a deal with Columbia collapsed. Even though their old classmate Joel Smith lives here, the move was a pretty big leap of faith for both; neither had ever been to Spokane, and Grubin, who was born and raised in Manhattan, had never been to the Pacific Northwest. After signing up Smith, the pair decided to keep expanding and recruited drummer Anthony Stassi.
"The move has really allowed us to focus on developing our live show," says Reynolds. "We were unhappy being just a duo with a drum machine. And we wanted to be a real band." Being a real band and focusing on crafting songs has always been Reynolds and Grubin's main goal — one that often put them at odds with label execs in L.A. "The whole process of signing to a major went on for over a year, and in the end, we never finalized the deal," he says. "They would put us in the studio and tell us to do things like make the chorus sound more dancey. I could feel my soul being sucked out of my body when that happened."
Reynolds says the band is looking to sign with an indie label the next time around, although he's not ruling anything out. "There is nothing really huge on the horizon in terms of signing anything," he says. "A friend of a friend told us that someone from Sub Pop loved us, but that's as far as that went."
While a record deal might not be in the cards, a quick impact in Spokane is, and the band is using that momentum to hit the road and wow other cities with their stellar four-man live show. "We've got some shows in Montana and Portland, and we're also looking to do some showcases," says Reynolds. "But our main focus is on developing our sound and show. Everything else should fall into place after that."