Q&A with Hop Along

by Kailey Williams

Q&A with Hop Along

WRBB’s Kailey Williams caught up with Mark Quinlan of Hop Along ahead of their show at Paradise Rock Club tomorrow, December 29.

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Do you have a band, song, or album that’s been a fixture of your music listening this year?

The Kurt Vile record Bottle It In. I’ve been playing that on repeat this fall. That’s the one that pops in my head first. My daughter is getting really into Kids Bop now, so a lot of it has been ‘Old MacDonald’ — I’ve listened to that maybe a million times. She also loves ‘Desperate Youth,’ the Santigold song, so that’s definitely been on repeat.

Do you have a favorite Boston venue to play?

That’s a tough one, because it’s hard to compare a couple of them since the size of the rooms are different. I love the Sinclair, that is one of the best venues in the country. They divide up the back so that there’s lots of space there for the artist too. A lot of times you’ll find venues that basically use the whole room for the venue and then give the band a broom closet in the back, but the Sinclair is really kind and fair to the artists.

I have super fond memories of playing with some of my favorite bands [at Paradise Rock Club]. One of the first tours we went on was with mewithoutYou, and I’m pretty sure that show was at Paradise. Also, this really good ramen place is near Paradise, I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s in the back of a shopping center and it’s just a little room, and there’s another ramen place pretty close to that.

You’ve been touring nonstop it seems, since the newest album Bark Your Head Off, Dog was released on April 6th. I imagine touring for that long must be pretty exhausting, so do you have any go-to ways to combat that exhaustion?

Really the biggest issue is I miss my family. It’s not so much that I get tired — I mean it’s tiring to a degree, lots of people’s jobs are tiring — It’s just that I’m away from my daughter who is about to be two, and she’s developing quickly. I’ll be on tour and when I get back she’s learned new words, she does a couple of new things, and it’s hard. Face-timing with them is probably the best thing that calms me down on tour, but also I think I’ve binged the entire series of The Good Place, before season 3 came out. Parks and Rec is another one that I’ve been binging. Really it’s just about a nice pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, and your favorite show. Sometimes a good conversation breaks out in the band too which is soothing.

I gotta find that ramen place that I was talking about earlier, I’m thinking about it now, I’m definitely going to go there when we play our next show.

Your sister, Frances, is the lead singer in the band, and you both have different tastes in music, so do you find this is helpful in creating the dynamic style of Hop Along or has it posed a challenge?

I don’t necessarily know that I have a particular aesthetic; I used to, for sure, when I was younger. You identify yourself as this person who is a collection of sounds and experiences you have, and as you get older these things start to converge with more of the people I respect around me. It is helpful, because there is some breadth there and there’s a lot of variety, but also it does create a challenge because you’re trying to achieve each other’s visions to a degree that is honest. You throw a lot of darts at the board and see what sticks and the more tools you have in your tool belt, I think, the easier it is.

I try to remain as eclectic as possible with music. I try and keep my ears open too when the people in my band tell me they’re listening to something and it’s good, whether or not I agree right off the bat, I will certainly give it an honest try, and that’s been rewarding personally. I think that directly plays into my life, you know, just to listen, and if it’s something important to somebody you respect, give it an honest shot.

If you could play for a night in any current band, if their drummer couldn’t make it to a show and they called you up to fill in, what band would you want to play for?

Oh, there’s so many good ones. I get attached to drummers after watching them for so long, like Ricky from mewithoutYou. What he writes looks so fun to play and he is so engaging. Also, part of me wants to just go do-do-da do-do-da for like fifteen minutes and that makes me kinda wish I was Charlie from the War on Drugs sometimes, where I can just cruise and play a lead and zone out. Not zone out, but really get into just one beat, I always found that pretty interesting. You know what would be nice to play, some heavy music, something droney, so maybe Sleep would be kinda fun to play drums in. That’s such an exciting question, I have so many thoughts on it. I know at some point I’ll think of something and be like ah, I wish I said that.

I can’t wait to see you guys play on the 29th at Paradise Rock Club, you should definitely get a bowl of ramen.

Yeah, well I think I’m maybe gonna get two. It’s funny because I want to give you the name of this place and it’s like walkable, like I walked to it from Paradise. I can’t remember the name of it but it was amazing, maybe it was Totto Ramen. There’s two super close ones, and they were both so good. Yeah, if you like ramen, that’s the spot.

Catch Hop Along tomorrow at Paradise Rock Club!

Listen to Hop Along’s newest album Bark Your Head Off, Dog here: