Hockey Dad, the duo Zack Stephenson (guitar) and Billy Fleming (drums), call Windang, Australia, home but have not been for a while now. After their sophomore album Blend Inn hit the airwaves, earning them a peak at #6 on the Australian charts (the first from their town to do so), they’ve been touring flat-out across Europe and now in the United States.
Ahead of one of their shows at The Great Escape, we sat down to talk about their thoughts behind the most recent album.
What kind of influences did you put into this album?
Billy: We’re probably listening to a little bit more ruder [sic.] music. I think that influenced the feel of the guitar tones. Just trying to work on tones and be a bit more precise on what we wanted sound-wise, that was cool. We had a really good producer helping us out, so he was encouraging us to really nail it, so that was inspiring having him there.
Zack: Just being able to be in a good studio and have really nice gear and somebody who really knows what they’re doing was inspiring enough. Being able to get whatever you wanted down made it much easier. We’re just inspired by gear. Inspired by sound.
Was there any kind of overall concept, sound, theme you were looking to achieve on this album?
Zack: Not so much of a concept. I guess we just wanted to go a little bit darker, maybe a heavier, or just at least a bit deeper.
Billy: Yeah, I think because the first album we put out was a little patchy. There were a few songs that were a year apart. I think this one was more consolidated in the fact that we recorded it all in the one time, and we had them written within six months of each other.
Zack: It felt like more of a standard record where it was all written around the same time and recorded at the same time and all that. More of a snapshot in time, rather than the last record, which would be a compilation of a few years’ songs together. What we were going for was to have a more solid front-to-back time-shot album.
Other than things being a little bit more consolidated, how do you feel you’ve evolved in your sound since putting out your first album?
Billy: I probably hit the drums harder now than I did two years ago. You’re probably sadder than you were two years ago. Louder and sadder.
Zack: I use more amps now onstage. It’s just gotten bigger. It’s grown. I think the themes of the songs are looking inward a lot more than the last record as well, on a personal level. We relate to the outside world more than just talking about the outside world.
Because you’ve toured through the US and other places quite a bit, especially with The Frights and around surf rock culture, do you think you can see or hear different influences playing on surf rock?
Billy: People have always posed that. They’ll be like, are you surf rock because of where you grew up? If there is somewhat of a scene in the town where you do grow up, then that would help influence it, but I think there’s people all over that are into it. You don’t have to be in the one spot to be doing that kind of thing.
Zack: People who say, how does living next to the beach inspire your sound? It’s just bullshit. It doesn’t. It’s just a fucking beach. It doesn’t matter where I live, really. I don’t think the specific place as much of an influence.
Billy: In saying that, there wasn’t really much of that scene going on when we started anyway, really.
Interview and images by Francesca Tirpak