Exclusive Interview: Hoop Jail Packs an Experimental Punch to the Pineal Gland
With the arrival of their latest EP, "Infinite Pop", the Long Beach-based psychedelic punk group Hoop Jail has been carving a name for themselves into the skin of SoCal's underground for their energetic sets and auditory voyages into experimental territory.
Photo by: Spenser Judd
Hoop Jail is basically the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Alan Connor (Chorus Pedal, ex-Wacko) where he plunges into whatever he's feeling passionate about at the moment. From gripping the sticks and dialing in ethereally distorted guitar tones to busting out mind-melting multi-media art, Hoop Jail's a creative vehicle that lets Alan travel far off into newfound worlds of expression.
Aside from being a solo recording project, Hoop Jail's metamorphosized into a full-on live act that showers audiences with enough raw energy to last weeks into the foreseeable future. Tracks like "Hard Red" and "Wristwatch Icedrop" can take the most serenely silent or anxious crowd (depending on how ya perceive it) from ground control to zero gravity at the strum of a chord.
The first time I caught them live opening for Meatbodies at Alex's Bar, I was honestly shocked in place, similarly to when I first saw Froth perform with the Desert Daze Caravan Tour in 2017. I couldn't get my mind to wrap around the idea of how these artists could be making so much noise and energy with their instruments. Alan flows his vocals while ripping the guitar in such a way that defies logic, it's hard to put into words. Think of a lumberjack chucking some logs into a woodchipper, where the woodchipper's Alan's guitar and his vocal delivery drive the logs (or lyrics) into motion. Don't hurt yourself with that metaphor...just bounce over to Bandcamp and slap some Hoop Jail for yourself.
Take whatever preconceptions you have about psych rock, punk, or lo-fi and toss them out the 13th-floor window, because Hoop Jail isn't another band you can really classify with words. They're an experience to feel live and to listen to whenever you have another chance to drift off into a bliss state.
We caught up with Alan earlier this summer to chat about his journey with Hoop Jail and the SoCal scene.
Q: Could you describe how you first got into music?
A: I guess I got into music at a young age. My dad had a pretty wide range as far as what he listened to, and what he exposed us to. I felt pretty affected by music from a young age. When I was 7-8, my dad asked me if I had to choose between guitar or drums, which would I pick? I said drums because my two older brothers chose guitar. Ended up backfiring on my dad, because I would go down to the basement and play those things for long periods of time…I used to not be able to keep a beat, but I would just be playing shit all day. He eventually made me move the drums to the garage.
Q: What’s your experience been like within the LA music scene? Has it changed much over the years?
A: I actually got really lucky because when I moved to Long Beach, I was 20 and hitting up a lot of people to try and jam n shit. I ended up responding to a craigslist ad in need of a drummer. I bugged the shit out of them, I think they thought I was some spazzed-out dude…which I was. It ended up being this band Free Babies…and they were practicing at the old Non Plus Ultra. Sleep Diet/CMFRTR played guitar and sang in that band…really sick group that fizzled out a little early. Although I'm based in Long Beach, I started jamming up in LA. Wasn’t until a couple of years later that I started rolling around down here and