Quinlan writes and sings with a vulnerability that transcends the traditional sounds and notions of rock music. Joe, Travis, and Mark are perfect contributors to layer with music necessary for Frances’ narratives. Each song acts as a collective journey, holding vigor and distinctive idiosyncrasies in an attempt to breathe truth into a world that does not stop moving; helping to gain ground when we may be lost.
Their music goes hard, but they couldn't be more lighthearted and silly. The banter actually made transcribing this quite difficult (but I laughed a lot). Below is just a glimpse into the thirty minutes I spent with chatting with Hop Along.
You’re all from Philly originally?
Frances—Well, we’re all from Pennsylvania.
Joe—And I feel like the city was the obvious place where, you know, creative people tend to migrate.
F—And generally we like things close to our families. The tours that we’ve gone on, there’s never been another city that grabbed me more than Philly.
Frances, this was originally your solo project if I’m not mistaken?
F—Yes. Hop Along, Queen Anselis.
And what is that derivative of?
F—Queen Ansleis is a wild flower, and I deliberately altered the spelling so it would become a character.
So almost like performance art?
F—Well, I don’t know who that character was, but I just wanted some strange name. I listen to a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel. I’m a little...mysterious sounding stuff.
Speaking of influences, any other notable ones?
F—I mean from that time, you know, Bright was was a big one, Joanna Newsom became a big one for me. We’re all really big Built to Spill fans.
How did you find your voice?
F—My mom loves to sing, I guess both my parents thought I was pretty alright at it. One of them picked a Tina Turner song to cover - ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ - I was 7, I wore my Halloween catsuit and my mom just cut the tail off.
I’ve honestly never heard a voice like yours before so am wondering how you found your sound exactly.
F—Thank you, I think I was affected by all the powerful women vocalists coming out at the time; Alanis Morissette, Fiona Apple, Ani Difranco, super into Celine Dion, Mariah Carey. So I’m sure years of trying to copy what they were doing physically.
I enjoy how silly you all are. You harbor a nice energy.
F—We’ve kinda got a Smothers Brothers thing going on. Or Sonny and Cher.
Of course, on a long list. So you have this strong sense of family. Any rituals or routines when on tour?
F—PUNCHING. No, no...routines? Uh, it changes every tour. I don’t think we had a routine on this last tour; it was chaos. We gotta get one! Maybe a group chant.
I bet you’d have a wild chant or handshake, a la The Parent Trap.
F—Oh, we do hacky sack! But I don’t know if I want people to know that…
J—Why? That’s cool!
Tyler—On the record!
Does anyone have a hacky sack on them?
Collectively yelling: NO.
Mark—I had a hackey sack on me SO many times.
F—It’s because Chrissy’s not here, that’s why we don’t have it. She’s part of the crew.
How did hacky sacking come into play?
M—There’s so much downtime on the road that it’s just something communal, uplifting…
F—No it’s not.
So you’ll pass the hacky sack from foot to foot?
M—Yea, we’re alright!
Collectively: Absolutely not.
J—Ask us this time next year.
Who’s the worst in the van on tours?
M—I don’t know, me and Joe are probably equal.
F—Nobody’s too bad. We’ve had nights where one person is driving really late and some people like to do things to keep that person awake that are very annoying...but I guess maybe it saves our lives. But very annoying.
Who’s funniest in the band?
Collectively: Probably Joe.
T—Mark’s pretty funny, but less frequently. But it’s hard-hitting though.
J—He’s got more quality. I miss a lot, but I try more, which makes me funny most of the time.
F—He also has more volume.
J—Yeah, so there are times when he could be funnier, but I’m louder.
Ah, but no tension though?
J—No, friendly competition.
Who’s the band rebel?
F—Joe. He loves hearing the rules so he can break them intentionally.
J—Because that’s punk!
F—He’s like ‘How many do we get? Can we get three more than that?’
T—Joe is the funniest and the most problems.
J—I’ve got the most baggage.
We appreciate some baggage though.
J—Yeah, Mark probably has the most baggage. Most physical bags.
F—We’re all baggage! Because we actually care about each other, it’s extremely problematic. Would be so much better if we didn’t care about each other.
J—Then we’d have to get a bus, so we never see anyone.
What would the bus look like?
F—It would be a giant Oscar Meyer Weiner bus.
J—He’s got shades on.
F—Yeah a hot dog with sunglasses. That would be amazing.
So the outside is a giant hot dog, how about the inside?
T—Some grateful dead posters, tapestries, whatnot.
F—Five jacuzzis, so I don’t have to share.
There’s an evident, what’s the word...synchronicity?
F—SEXINESS? Sex appeal?
That too! But yeah, I guess it’s because you’ve all been together for so long.
F—Together so long, without any scrutinizing eyes. Allowed to just be ourselves and...be fools. That’s the only way it could have worked honestly. For us to try and be other people, would be...I would think a disaster. And there’s something nice about not even having the hope of being cool? At least for me.
It’s refreshing to see such a familial connection between all of you.
F—I mean, not take the easy way out, but we don’t really know any other way to be. And our respect for each other is evolving too. It’s not all like we’re the same people from two years ago, by any means. We’re changing together, we’re in each others lives enough to have an awareness of each other and what everyone is going through. We spend so much time together, why would we not use that time caring for one another? Like when I see bands fly in together and take separate rental cars to the shows...that’s gotta be tough. Is that fun?
J—Not as fun.
Well, your project and the music is definitely a part of you. Holds a different value.
F—Hey, it could happen, it’s just….then it really becomes work.
So you genuinely don’t think of this as a job?
F—Aspects of it.
J—Maybe in just how serious we take it, thinking of it as a job or explaining to my friends that it’s a job makes me take it more seriously.
T—Definitely a career. Hard for me to think of as a job, but I do know it’s my career.
F—When I think of a job, I think of it as something you go do, you go home, and then it’s over. And this isn’t that for me; it’s never over.