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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 getting groups started.


Q: How did Hoop Jail come together?


A: I've been recording music since I was around 13-14…middle of high school I've been interested in it through friends I was in bands with. That progressed over time…

I recorded albums before Hoop Jail under different names. Hoop Jail became solidified in my brain in 2018 when I put out “Very Mantra”.


Even then, It was still just a recording project. The idea of performing this music live became a reality while recording “Upload Gem”. I thought it was the first time I had made something worth attempting to play live.


Q: How has Hoop Jail allowed you to express yourself through music?


A: It's definitely pushed different parts of my brain creatively speaking. I like taking on the task of making the whole thing and making the art…doing the mixing. What parts stand out, and what parts don’t. I'm lucky enough to have an amazing group behind me for the live stuff…they all rip and it really comes to life, and I’m super appreciative of them. Hoop Jail ultimately is an extension of myself…but at the same time, it is me. Your brain floods with

so many ideas during the day/night..what ends up becoming the finished product is such a mash of so many different concepts and states of mind.


Q: Do the crowd responses at Hoop Jail shows differ from your other projects?



A: I played in punk bands as a kid…actually it was supposed to be more in-depth than just punk. When I was 14, I was introduced to experimental bands and felt that phase of my life really pointed toward where I would be in the later years. That energy has been there since I was young. The process of recording is different than what is played live.


For the Hoop Jail live stuff, it was definitely a process of letting go of expectations to deliver the same sonics as the album. On albums, you have time to ponder the frequencies..and the arrangements…getting all that stuff dialed into your most delicate desire. The crowds have been great so far…I’m grateful for all the people digging on what we are doing and appreciative to be able to play in any capacity.


Q: What’s your approach to visuals like cover art or music videos? How do you get the visuals to match up with the music on the albums?


A: Again, it's really just putting your mind through a blender of ideas and concepts. I just like certain imagery and vibes- some concepts are recurring and others just flow naturally.


Q: Do you have any plans for the rest of the year?


A: Hoop Jail has another album coming out called “Health & Association”. Will be playing around to support that. Also, another group I’m in called Chorus Pedal will release our second album.

 
 

Stay Tuned:


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