Band: Hoots & Hellmouth
Members: Core members are Sean Hoots, Andrew "Hellmouth" Gray and Rob Berliner. Aaron Blouin, Matthew Stein, Todd Erk and Tim Celfo also play with the band for shows.
Who we talked to: Hoots
How did you get into music? I grew up around a lot of music both from being involved in church and my mom's influence. She played a lot of '60s R&B, soul, Motown and that kind of stuff. And, you know, I just kind of grew up very aware of music. Elvis was another huge (artist) for my mom. (I was into) watching videos and listening to records and then finally messing around on a couple instruments we had in the house. I kind of got interested in music with piano first. I took a couple years of lessons and kind of gave that up once I decided to pick up the guitar. My music tastes were taking me into different directions. I guess I was about 12.
How did Hoots & Hellmouth get together? We had all come to the little town of West Chester through various paths. I moved there with my family when I was in high school. Being a little college town, it had a good music scene and a few bars to support it. Over the course of several years . . . we all sort of got to know each other through playing shows with each other's bands. A little over . . . three-and-a-half years ago, we were all just sort of floating, doing our own things and going in an acoustic direction. I think that's kind of what brought us together. We started with two guitars and added various things (including) mandolin, cello, drums and . . . singers.
What are your musical influences? It's a feeling you get when you listen to music that really resonates with you. It doesn't really matter what kind of music it is. (You have to be) open enough to . . . try to connect with what that person is expressing. As a result, we're all very open musically to a lot of different stuff.
What's on your iPod right now? We listened to Tom Waits "Storytellers" album. We were in Oklahoma City yesterday, so we listened to that song from . . . the Broadway play "Oklahoma." We were listening to The Smiths this morning. It's really all over the place.
Do you remember the first concert you saw? Not really. I've kind of been going to shows my whole life, especially once I got to the age where I was able to drive myself. Me and my friends would go to shows all the time. And when you play a show, you see all these other bands playing. I've just been in the culture of it for so long. It's all kind of a blur.
You guys live in Philadelphia now. What's that scene like? It's really diverse, but at the same time, it seems to be kind of connected in a lot of ways. Playing acoustic music, we definitely are involved with XPN demographic there with all the folk/Americana/rootsy stuff . . . including The Sisters Three (and) Hezekiah Jones. And then there's a whole . . . sort of psychedelic, fuzzy pop kind of stuff that's really awesome like Dr. Dog. We went to school with those guys. There are a lot of connections in the music scene, which makes it really comfortable, like a family.
You've guys have been touring in the West Coast and the Midwest. How's that been? It's pretty inspiring. All the canyons and the vistas and mountains coming up though Utah and Colorado (are) really nice. It's a pretty stark contrast to the topography of home. We try maintaining some sense of consistency or normalcy despite the fact that our apartment has four wheels. We're just playing and making our way and making friends wherever we can. We end up staying at a lot of people's houses and crashing on floors and houses.
You guys are kicking off the CapLive music series Friday. Have you ever been to the area? I don't know that I've been to York proper. We did a show with (Waitin' On A Train) at an American Legion Hall. It was in the York area. We've been to Harrisburg a few times and we played in Lancaster at the Chameleon Club. We're psyched to play in York at the theater.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF