Interview: Black Hippies

BLACK HIPPIES 300x300 Interview: Black Hippies

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Amidst recent hype surrounding Animal Collective’s newer, drone-heavy releases, drone music has experienced a resurgence in popularity. Minnesota drone group Black Hippies is composed of two seventeen-year-olds that are currently making some of the most inventive music in a field prone to dull, contrived attempts.  I talked to member Tommy Lawson regarding the band’s influences and musical process, as well as their new album, Laughing Sickness.

SOTR: With all the meaningless genres and empty titles given to music, how do you think your own project fits into current trends? Can you give a realistic description of the music you play?

BLACK HIPPIES: We really don’t fit into any of the current trends.  There is a lot going on with underground music, particularly psychedelic drone (which has some influence on us), but we are primarily influenced by a lot of bands and artists who aren’t fixed in with all the contemporary artists being belched out in underground music.  Taj Mahal Travellers, DNA, The Orb, Augustus Pablo: it really is a hodgepodge of influences.  Realistically, we play damaged, ritualistic drone.

SOTR: Can you tell me more about the band in general?  Your upcoming and past releases?

BLACK HIPPIES: Well, there is me, a handsome young man of seventeen, and my partner, Jack Vater, (another handsome man) who does a lot of work with percussion.  The first thing we released was Acid With Black Hippies, which I discourage people to listen to, as we didn’t have the means to actually make anything of worth. After obtaining some equipment, we’re ready to release Laughing Sickness on Animal Image Search as soon as it’s totally finished. I’m currently working on the self-titled release, which sounds a lot more fleshed out.  Imagine kitsch-80s cinema playing on June Paik’s television garden.

SOTR:In regards to your self-titled, how do you feel your sound is either shifting or staying the same from Laughing Sickness?
The focus on Laughing Sickness is making mucky, layered drone, but the new stuff is influenced by a lot of free-improv and minimalism.
How has your recording/writing process changed to fit this change in sound?

BLACK HIPPIES: Recording is mostly different due to new pedals.  There is no writing process, it’s pretty much “Pick up an instrument and press record.” It has been like that for awhile.

SOTR: Who is your celebrity drone crush?

BLACK HIPPIES: James Ferraro, but he’d probably get upset if he read that so I’ll just say the girls in Pocahaunted.

SOTR: Aside from other drone artists, what things do you draw influence from?

BLACK HIPPIES:A lot of ethnic music, especially afrobeat and dub.  Also bands like DNA are influential due to their non-linear sound.  Stuff like Royal Trux and The Hospitals also play a part in our sound.

SOTR: Everyone knows that noise musicians love pizza.  What is your favorite type?
BLACK HIPPIES: Probably a pizza with jalapenos and banana peppers. I can’t say what Jack’s favorite might be, but pizza is pizza…it’s good.

By, Cassandra Gillig

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