Spotlight Band: Hotspur
Joe Mach – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Dave Trichter – Keyboards, Vocals
Scott Robinson – Drums
Coop Cooper – Bass
Evan Anderson – Guitar, Vocals
Rockville, Maryland outfit Hotspur has been on the receiving end of a considerable amount of industry buzz lately. The band has been honored with a slew of awards, including the title “New Artist of the Year” by the Washington Area Music Association, and was named one of the country’s top unsigned bands by winning the grand prize title of “Artist on the Verge” at the 2010 New Music Seminar in New York City.
Taking inspiration from bands such as The Killers and Muse, Hotspur has said that they aim to create “the sound of rock n’ roll evolving.” Judging by the overwhelmingly positive critical and fan response to their current album, “You Should Know Better By Now,” it seems they’re well on their way to achieving their goal.
Recently, lead vocalist Joe Mach took the time to answer questions for TWRY readers about their creative process and the story behind their name, not to mention Bon Jovi, bananas, and the secret “alter ego” version of the band:
Interviewed by: Heather Kobrin
You describe your sound as “Fancy Rock.” Can you tell us a little bit about what that means?
Fun+Dancy=Fancy. We have the raw energy and excitement of rock and roll, but we also feature a lot of keyboards and a wide range of sounds. Production-wise it’s pretty elaborate and… fancy.
How does your current album You Should Know Better By Now build on what you accomplished with Beta your first full-length release?
I think the songs on YSKBBN have a little more depth, both musically and lyrically. Beta is a fun record and really established the Hotspur “sound,” but it was the product of several different recordings and always felt a little disjointed to us. With the new record, we were approaching it as a full-length album, so I think it is a little more cohesive.
Do you feel that there is one song on You Should Know Better By Now that best describes your overall sound?
We chose “Chandelier” as the first single off the record for that very reason. It really captured the energy and excitement of our live show, and the instrumentation and arrangement gave it this dark romantic vibe that just felt very “Hotspur.”
Tell us about your writing process. Is everyone in the band involved?
Typically, I come up with the basic song idea/melody/chords on an acoustic, then bring it to the band to pick apart and bring it to life. With our latest writing sessions, I’ve been doing the opposite — having the band come up with different grooves or progressions first — which has really forced me outside my usual writing box and puts the band more at the forefront of the writing process.
I understand that the name Hotspur has a connection to both Shakespeare and UK football. How did you end up choosing the name?
Our old bass player wanted to name the band “Arsenal”— which felt a little too much like a German industrial metal band to me — but their arch rivals are Tottenham Hotspur. We started researching the name a bit, and after finding the ties to Shakespeare and the historical figure Hotspur (a hot-headed rebel hero from the 14th century, total rockstar of his day) we decided that the name fit. Still have to correct people who call us “Hot Spur” — at least until our country album…
Can you talk a bit about your relationship with MTV? It seems you’ve gotten a lot of support for your music from the network.
Dave and I actually both interned at MTV right out of college with every intention of whoring out the music to our coworkers, but it wasn’t until a few years later that the band caught the eye of one of their music supervisors that we started getting placements in a lot of shows. We’ve also gotten a lot of support from mtvU — the video for “Chandelier” won mtvU’s “The Freshmen” in the Fall and since then they’ve put our video for “Heads/Tails” and “If These Walls Could Talk” into rotation.
How do you like the process of making music videos?
I definitely see why a lot of musicians cross over into movies and TV. I’ve been very hands-on with all three videos that we’ve done, and though the process is very different than in a recording studio or on a stage, there is the same creative pulse that I get from making music.
How do you think the DC music area differs from other parts of the country?
It took us a while to find our “niche” within the DC music area — I think our sound is a bit more polished and fun for the predominantly indie/shoegaze/hipster crowd — but I think between Baltimore, DC, and Northern Virginia, we eventually found a fanbase of people who love pop music and a great live show.
What song would you most like to cover live (that you haven’t yet done), and why?
Right now we’re actually part of a contest put on by Hard Rock Café — the winner gets to open up for Bon Jovi in London — and for part of the contest we have to cover a Bon Jovi song. As cliche as it is, I’m pretty excited to try and nail the vocal on “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Classic.
I understand that fans sometimes mail you bananas. Please explain.
(laughs) We recently played a show at Pittsburg University, home of the PSU Gorillas. After the show, one student bought a Hotspur shirt using her student debit card, or “banana bucks” as they call it. We were a little worried that it wouldn’t process, but she really wanted the shirt, so we cut her a deal — if the charge didn’t go through, she would have to mail us a box of bananas. Sure enough, two weeks later, the card failed, and our bananas arrived, only slightly rotted.
Can you describe each of your bandmates in three words or less?
Hmm. Well we’ve been planning a side project/alter ego band for Hotspur called STARFISCHE. It’s still a work in progress, but I can give you our alter ego band names:
Joe – JoeMach7G from 2093
Dave – Powder Blue
Scott – Scooter PI Private Eye
Cooper – Coop Jupiter
Evan – Mr. E the Mystery
It’s gonna be like Ziggy Stardust meets The Black Eyed Peas. Needless to say we’re pretty excited about it.
What does Hotspur have in the works for 2011?
New music! We’ve been writing a ton of new songs and are hoping to release two new EPs before the end of the year. Stay tuned!