16th Annual Artist Survey: Hop Along | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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16th Annual Artist Survey: Hop Along

Frances Quinlan on Anthony Bourdain, The X-Men, First Jobs, Bad Dates, and Disappointing Your Parents

Mar 12, 2019
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Frances Quinlan of Hop Along.

Philadelphia's Hop Along released a new album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, in 2018 via Saddle Creek. It was the band's fourth album. Hop Along is Quinlan (songwriter, lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums). Bark Your Head Off, Dog was self-produced by the band and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

What were your Top 10 Albums released in 2018? Please list them in order of preference, from first to last, and also feel free to write 1-3 sentences on each album. 

I have to confess, I take forever to hear new music. I also would rather not rank what I've been enjoying, as so much incredible work has come out this year, and the best part of it is how different it all is. I realize how corny that sounds, but let me at least say that these artists all put out beautifully written and performed albums: Noname, Natalie Prass, Lucy Dacus, Adrianne Lenker, and Thin Lips. I know there's more, and I can't wait to hear them, in my slow but intrepid fashion.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

The highlights by far were the shows, especially the ones full of excited people hoping to share an experience with us. London was probably the most wildly appreciative crowd we've every played to, even more than [our native] Philly, which is really saying something. All the low points were travel days home, I'm realizing. We've had a couple fiascos, right on the last days of tour, which for some reason always involved just myself and Joe [Reinhart]. However, in both instances we ended up being incredibly lucky and making it home as planned, so really I can't complain. Plus we ended up laughing about both of them, so I shouldn't even really call them low points. We've had a good year.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

Someone was saying on the radio today, following Trump's repeated blatant denial of climate change (despite increasingly obvious evidence that proves otherwise), that people, as a whole, are getting tired of him. I certainly hope that is true. I remember being so pained and saddened at Bush's re-election, back when I was just starting college. This has been far worse, and the resulting angry divide between a lot of people, who I believe really want all the same things, has been more than unsettling. That being said, I'm still hopeful.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn't believe Ford's story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018? 

I am so disappointed in how people reacted to Ford's testimony, her coming forward at all. There was a mistrust even before her story was heard. Think of what it takes to confront men in these towering seats of power. She had so much to lose, and she did it anyway. She had to move her whole family because of death threats! People only could see what Kavanaugh had to lose, which was a promotion. Yet that means the world to so many people still buying into this patriarchal system. It truly illuminates a bitterness towards women, especially anyone looking to be heard. How dare these women seek justice. Most painful of all, I've seen a lot of this anger and fear in women, in SURVIVORS. It almost seemed as though a lot of women were saying "I never got justice. Why should she?" It was an interview, and Kavanaugh supporters kept referring to it as a trial or witch hunt. We have a long way to go.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

I don't think anything's gotten better or worse. With every callout post is a think piece about why we should forgive these pieces of shit men who are hurting people.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

Everyone should have access to a safe space to freely express and unburden themselves emotionally, and be met with support and assistance. Society as a whole just isn't that kind of space. I'm sure it's why therapy was developed in the first place, and yet only a few people can afford to see therapists. It's really a shame that we just toss kids into the world and demand they exist and thrive in a system only intended to benefit those with the right tools and support within their reach. Not enough people have that, not nearly enough, how can we think of this as fair? How can we continue to stigmatize mental illness after good people like Scott Hutchison and countless others have suffered to the point of living no longer being tolerable? We have to get better at how we handle this, and quickly.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

Reusable bottles is a big one. We are still working on implementing this as a constant, and I know it can be a challenge for anyone who is always traveling to remember and always use a reusable vessel, for water and for coffee. However, it would help immensely for everyone, musicians included, to do what they can to use as little plastic as possible.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

It doesn't seem to matter if I'm ready, so I'm just working slowly on adapting to the changes that have already happened. I doubt that I'll be wildly successful in taking this approach, but I'm hoping there can still be a way for me to eke out a happy existence for myself and my loved ones, without hurting anyone. I feel for people who currently fear the loss of their jobs. What a terrible thing, to work your whole life and then have your position replaced by a machine. I can't imagine the pain and anger one must feel to be pushed aside like that. We also think of work and success in a problematic way as a society, but I that's a whole other discussion I suppose.

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

My memory is awful, so it's hard to conjure up specific events like birthdays. My favorite childhood memories in general involve laughing wildly with my family. Stupid hysterical laughter, it's my absolute favorite thing. I'm sure that happened on plenty of birthdays. There is a great photo of me with an ice cream sandwich in one hand and the other digging into a piece of cake. That must have been a fun party.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

Disney World absolutely blew my mind. I remember the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain being my favorite rides. I'm sure all my least favorite trips happened between ages 11 and 15. I wasn't too fun a person to be around at that time.

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

At one point during our set at Mohawk in Austin, TX, I looked up and saw that Doug Martsch [of Built to Spill] was standing in the stairway, watching my band play. He stayed for the whole set. I was elated. I've also met Conor Oberst a few times as a fan, but on the third time our bands were playing together in Toronto. Suddenly we were colleagues. That was strange. He was so kind, and we've since become friends.

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

Who says they're going to the Good Place? Those people frighten me, what a crazy confidence to have.

Tell us about your first job. Also, what's been your most disastrous job interview or business meeting?

My first job was house painting for my aunt's business. I did that on and off for many years, and the work helped pay for the recording of Get Disowned. It was very kind of my aunt to keep me on. I still paint houses from time to time, on my own and usually for friends. I can't think of interviews but I once quit a nightmarish dog-walking job by leaving my client's keys on my boss's desk and then telling her face to face just as she was walking in the door, though I was hoping I wouldn't run into her. For some reason I was frightened of her. "That's it," I remember saying, and then I ran to my bike and rode home at breakneck speed. It was as though I thought someone would chase me. My mind is strange.

Beloved chef, travel TV host, and music fan Anthony Bourdain died this year. If you could have appeared on his Parts Unknown show, which city or country would you most have wanted to travel to with him?

The Ethiopia episode looked pretty amazing. I would have loved to sit in that jazz club with him. That or Spain. What a loss. We were in Canada when I read that he'd passed. His death was rough on a lot of people.

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee also passed away this year. Which of his characters (Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc.) meant the most to you/did you most identify with?

I was super into Rogue, and I also really liked Nightcrawler. I always dug whoever I saw as the outcasts. For example, Raphael was my favorite Ninja Turtle, because of his bad attitude. I remember playing X-Men with my brother Mark, he was Gambit, he wrapped up playing cards in tin foil and threw them around the living room.

Where do you stand on social media in 2018, is it uniting humanity or ruining the world? And which platform do you find most useful and which one do you think is doing the most harm?

I personally have a tough time reconciling what my or the band's role should be as far is it concerns social media. I think it's likely a mistake to equate online presence with actual presence and action. They're certainly not one and the same. That's not to say that amazing things haven't been accomplished thanks in part to the use of social media, but ultimately I think those changes came from follow-up actions and presence in real life communities. People should show up for what they believe in if they can, it's dangerous to just seeth in front of a screen. I think actually credible journalism is suffering at the hands of those trying to personally tailor and push their own, often fearful and hateful, ideas of what is true on others. I'm sure we'll discover the actual consequences further down the road, but it certainly doesn't seem to be the proper solution to loneliness, and it can't create community strictly on its own.

This year saw the release of the music films A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Blaze, which film (of any era) do you think best represents what it's really like to be a working musician?

I loved the realism of Coal Miner's Daughter. It's a hard thing to execute in biopics, we tend to romanticize our idea of the artist's life. Even during Loretta Lynn's chapter of major success, I really felt like I was being allowed entry into the day-to-day of a fascinating human being. It's an excellent film.

What turns you off the most on a first date? And what's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

Humorless egotists are pretty exhausting, and very boring. I've been single a couple years so I've had a few rough dates, but nothing too disastrous, thankfully.

How do you think you've most disappointed your parents? How have you most made them proud?

I still to this day have nightmares about disappointing my mom. It's usually got to do with falling short of doing the right and decent thing. She tells me I'm a good person quite often, but for some reason I struggle with believing it. I think it's a pretty common sentiment. If everyone honestly believed in their heart that a good person existed, perhaps the world as a whole would be quite different. I'd venture to say it would be better.

[Note: A shorter version of this interview originally appeared in Under the Radar's Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.hopalongtheband.com

Read our interview with Hop Along's Frances Quinlan about Bark Your Head Off, Dog.

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Kalimpong
March 18th 2019
11:21pm

Kalimpong