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Interview: Hospitality's Sound Is Darker But No Less Welcoming

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 5, 2014 7:00PM

(Hospitality. Photo: Merge Records)

Hospitality plays the Empty Bottle tonight, and they’re not entirely the sweet, jangly indie-pop band you might remember. On their second album, Trouble, the Brooklyn trio scuffs up their still hospitable hooks with edgier psych riffs and synth-driven sonic spaciousness. Ahead of Hospitality’s Chicago stop, Chicagoist discussed hair braiding, sea creatures, and the evolution of the band’s sound with vocalist Amber Papini.

Chicagoist: I just saw your new video for “I Miss Your Bones,” which I loved.

Amber Papini: Thanks I love it too!

Chicagoist: I’m pretty sure I learned how to fishtail braid from a YouTube video, but I was 25 not 14.

Amber Papini: I’ve always wanted to know how to braid my own hair. My mom used to braid my own hair as a kid so I got lazy, I guess.

C: Where did you guys get the concept for the video?

AP: It was [director Lara Gallagher’s] idea. She’s really into YouTube videos actually and she was inspired by the braiding. It spoke to her creatively.

C: Hospitality has been around for years, but you’re getting a whole new realm of exposure with the recent album. What do you want people to know about the band who haven't heard of Hospitality previously?

AP: A lot of people don’t know that Nathan plays drums and guitar. He also put out like three electronic records before he was in Hospitality that are really good.

C: There’s a lot of variation between your first LP and Trouble. Can you talk about your approach to the second record?

AP: I guess we wanted to sound more natural and darker than the first record. We were kind of practicing restraint. With the first record we added a lot of overdubs and this record we held back a little bit. I think it’s a more subtle record with kind of a darker vibe.

C: I’ve read more than one comparison of your first full length having the vibe of a cardigan and the second album to a leather jacket. Do you have any take on that?

AP: [Laughs] That’s kind of funny but I think it makes sense. The first record was a really specific story of a post-collegiate, New York, new world. I think this record has moved beyond that. It’s talking about other things like sea creatures under the ocean, sirens, and ghosts. It’s pretty different lyrically.

C: Do you have any favorite moments on Trouble?

AP: Yeah there are lots of vocals on Trouble. We did a lot of double-tracking which we didn’t do on the first record, and I think it sounds really cool.

C: How’s the tour been going so far?

AP: Well we just got back from touring Europe in May and we’re excited to start touring the U.S. We can’t wait to play the Empty Bottle in Chicago. We’re touring with Frankie Cosmos which is fortunate because we really love their music. It will be fun to hear them live every night, to see how they change and what their live show is all about. We’re also going to do a couple shows with Ex Hex.

The Merge Records 25th anniversary is happening soon and I’m hoping to see Destroyer, Caribou, and Teenage Fanclub. There’s so many great Merge bands.

Hospitality plays the Empty Bottle tonight, Aug. 5 at 9 p.m. Frankie Cosmos and Porches open. Tickets are still available online or at the door.