From exclusive interviews, live performances, special collections and more, we’re celebrating music all month long. We talked to the bands and artists playing our upcoming UO Live in Austin shows about their musical beginnings and the places they’re headed next.to read more from our favorite musicians.
Bloomington, Indiana has always been a hotbed for music, but the city is undergoing a bit of a renaissance lately. “There’s not one set sound or scene—and you can really find anybody doing anything,” says Drew Auscherman, who fronts Bloomington band Hoops. “There’s a big punk community, a lot of DIY, and recently a lot of great rap. It’s really tough to pin it down.”
The same could be said of Hoops. Named for the “hoop houses” at the nursery where he used to work, the band writes elegant, catchy pop songs that tend to clock in under the three-minute mark. Despite their conciseness, Auscherman has no trouble packing in the hooks, which he pairs with dissonant vocals, surf-y choruses, and more than a few nods to soft rock auteurs like Steely Dan and indie pioneers a la Cleaners From Venus.
This May, Hoops—whose lineup includes bassist/singer Kevin Kraute, keyboardist/singer Keagan Beresford, and drummer James Harris—will release their debut LP Routines. Leading up to their performance at our UO Live in Austin showcase, we spoke to Auscherman about sports, Devo, and the making of Hoops’ first proper studio album.
Photos by Anna Powell Teeter
Words by Aly Comingore
When did you start thinking seriously about pursuing music?
I guess I knew I wanted to be a musician at a pretty young age. I played sports for a really long time, but I was never good. I play guitar and bass and a few other instruments now, and those all came really naturally to me—not that I didn’t have to try or anything, but with sports I would try really hard and I never get good. With instruments I got good kind of fast. Once I started writing songs and getting into bands, I realized I wanted to do something with it. There wasn’t one “a-ha” moment of, ‘I want to do this forever!’ But I’ve definitely thought it for a long time.
Did starting a band change the way you looked at music?
It didn’t change it too much. We bounce ideas off each other and share criticisms with each other in a way that’s really constructive. When I would write alone I know I didn’t take the time to criticize what I was doing as much. With a full band, my bandmates can pick out things they don’t like, or things that could sound better, and the same goes for them when they write songs, too. It helps that we’re all on the same page and all have a similar sound in mine.
Do you all have pretty similar taste in music, too?
That’s a funny question. I feel like we all have similar taste for sure, but at the same time we all have our things that we like separate from things that sound like Hoops. I don’t want to speak for anyone, but we all definitely have a list of bands that we all like, then we have our own lists of bands that none of us really listen to together. It definitely shows when you know each of the people, too.
What’s on your individual list?
I like a lot of hardcore punk, and I think I’m a bit more into it than they are. There’s this band called Laffing Gas—they’re phenomenal; this band School Jerks from a few years ago. I like Devo, too.
You guys worked with Jarvis Taveniere from Woods on your new album. How was the experience?
It was great. He’s an angel and a sweetheart and working with him was super easy. We’d never recorded in a studio before and he really guided us and showed us how the whole thing worked, and he was patient with us. All of that said, I don’t think that I want to do it again—at least not for a while. I like working in my home and mixing in my home. It gives you more time to craft and be specific about what you want without wasting money on studio time.
As someone who cares and knows about production, how do you feel about Hoops being called “a lo-fi band”?
I don’t really care one way or another, but I like the way it sounds. I’m a big Guided By Voices fan, and their songs are good on there own, but I think the way they were recorded adds a really weird uniqueness to their sound. The second you hear a Guided By Voices song, you know it’s a Guide By Voices song. Even bands like Unknown Mortal Orchestra—[frontman Ruban Nielson’s] production style is so unique to him that the minute you hear it you know it. Same with a Metro Boomin track—the second you hear one of his beats you’re like, ‘I know this is Metro.’
What Hoops song is nearest and dearest to your heart at the moment?
The song “Underwater Sea.” It’s on one of our tapes, but we re-did it for the record. I really like it a lot. I don’t know why, but it’s probably one of my favorites.
Finally, what do you hope people take away from Routines?
I hope that people don’t take it too seriously or think that we’re trying to make some statement, because we’re not. We’re just writing songs and having fun and learning how to record and get better at making music together. I just want people to have fun with it, too.
See Hoops this month at UO Space 24 Twenty for UO Live in Austin.for more schedules and information.