Cloven-Hoofed Devils

The Decline of Western Civilization, Part IV: Hooves

It wasn't supposed to happen like this. They practiced, they planned, they were ambitious and optimistic. Then, like so many rock musicians before them, excessive use of alcohol took it all away.

Before they knew it, Hooves had embarrassed themselves at probably the biggest annual event in the Phoenix rock scene, the Phoenix Independents Bowl. A legend was born: Hooves bowled a 100-point game (collectively), tossing multiple balls at once, treating Sunset Bowl's manger like a human bowling pin, and getting banned from ever entering the establishment again after trying to steal the event's trophies.

"Well, this is what I remember . . ." laughs Andrew Krissberg, frontman and songwriter, launching into the now-infamous tale. "We didn't mean for it to get out of hand."

Krissberg swears the band's drunken breakdown on the lanes wasn't some punk rock bullshit designed to burnish the band's reputation at a bowling tournament pitting against each other teams made up of notable Phoenix tastemakers, movers, shakers, and scenesters. Still, there was drummer Chris, "blackout drunk" before the guys even arrived to bowl as part of the 513 Analog Studios team.

"None of that was supposed to happen," Krissberg sighs. "I actually practiced; I spent three or four nights before [the event] going to the bowling alley after work. I was getting good."

Krissberg's low-slung demeanor and quiet, thoughtful phrasing make it hard to believe him capable of such classically styled rock 'n' roll debauchery, but Hooves' new EP, Greater Aspirations, Lower Expectations, further illustrates the fine line that Krissberg and the band toe between witty, literate songwriting and barely contained chaos. Informed by the rootsy swagger of The Band, the anthemic strut of early Springsteen albums, and the wry pop of Harry Nilsson, the band recorded at the 513 Studios, where they cut the album to analog tape with producer Mike Hissong, joined by Valley mainstays Robin Vining, who plays the blistering organ solo on opener "Roughness" and Sunorus' horn section on "Giggles."

The results are four loud, loose songs, far removed from the local indie scene where the band is often uncomfortably positioned. "We don't fit in at a place like Trunk Space; we're not part of that scene," Krissberg states. "They are good people, but musically, we don't fit in with what they're doing. Like it or not, we fit in better [next door] at the Bikini [Lounge], where Shane [Kennedy, who DJs at the bar and offered song suggestions to the band in the studio] is spinning rock 'n' roll stuff and the 'hip' kids have to listen to that."

Which raises the question, in 2010, as rock writers and bloggers seem dead set on describing every possible subgenre with impossibly shallow modifiers like "chillwave," "shitgaze" and "blisscore," what can a "rock 'n' roll band" possibly offer? Furthermore, after over 60 years of mutation and abuse, what does rock 'n' roll even mean?

"I figure that it's having a good time," Krissberg posits. "I'm not trying to sound like a bro, and that probably sounded really bro-ish, but that's what it's about. There's all this bad shit going on, and no one wants to work or argue about shit. When we play, people dance, not like Scottsdale club dancing, but these downtown kids just cutting loose and having a good time. It's really cool to play music for them and tell they're enjoying themselves. That's why I like doing this and that's why I like playing. That's rock 'n' roll."

To that end, the band aims to make each show a reflection of that "good time" spirit. "We have drum solos," Krissberg, says, nodding to Lamb. "We pour pitchers of beer down his throat when he plays drums solos, because it's fun."

"He fucking stunned me with a stun gun," Lamb says, one-upping Krissberg. Sheepishly Krissberg divulges the story: In an effort to bring people out to a gig at the now-defunct Ruby Room, Krissberg mass-texted his friends, saying he was going to Tase Lamb during a song. "I was totally joking, I never intended to do it," Krissberg states.

But as the Lamb started into a drum solo, Krissberg decided it might be fun to give the crowd what he had jokingly promised. "He shocked me, like, 12 times," Lamb says. "Finally, I shouted that if he did it again, I was going to hit him with a drumstick."

"If we're up there, super-tight and nervous, that's what will stick with [a crowd]," Lamb suggests. "Rock 'n' roll does require a little confidence," Krissberg adds. "Like dancing — if you're self-conscious, you're not gonna want to do it. We have fun, we knock each other's shit over, we slam into each other. It's not total bonehead, but it's on the cusp of that."

The band's "bonehead" live shows have always been their focus. Their early career found them playing out two to three times a week, often at art gallery Holgas. "We played the shit out of that place," Krissberg says. It was there that trumpet player Parker Morden connected with the band.

"He lived there," Krissberg says. "So he heard us a lot."

One night at the Modified, he unexpectedly showed up onstage and played along with the band's set."

Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets