ReverbNation Artist of the Month: Hectic Hobo
Saturday Nov. 2nd, 2013
In the old vagabond gypsy styles, inspired by rusty cans, laceless leather boots, steel mill strikes, the disparity between the classes, the fear of being alone and the fear of being with someone, the crap people absorb from tv, and the fun that everyone wants to have but doesn’t dare, Hectic Hobo comes blaring out of the boxcar singing songs about mischief, trapdoors, hitchhiking, spicy Mexican dishes and spicier Mexican muchachas. Their live shows quickly engage audiences of all size, sucking crowds into the performance and not letting them go until the last cymbal has crashed and someone throws water in their face.
Bozeman Magazine: Where did the concept for Hectic Hobo come from?
Hasen Cone: I’ve always been a writer, a poet. For several years I fronted a band where I wrote the lyrics but didn’t play an instrument and didn’t even really sing—it was more of a beat poetry/rap thing. I hadn’t ever sang before but I had these songs, so I just kind of verbally spat the lyrics. But as I got comfortable behind the mic over time, I became more confident in my ability to sing. I still don’t have great pitch at all, but I can get a tune out.
I wanted to start a band where I wrote the lyrics AND music. I keep the chord progressions fairly simple and like to fill in the spaces with all these other great instruments: fiddle, accordion, piano, etc. My songs are still just a vehicle to get my poetry out there.
The idea for Hectic Hobo came from my love for old-time folk music. Mountain bluegrass, Appalachia gospel. I also loved the great story-teller lyricists like Marty Robbins. Woody Guthrie was a great story teller and protest singer, I’ve always loved how he made music for the downtrodden, he fought oppression with his songs and he was bold in doing it. Then the 50s and 60s brought us Kerouac and Cash and the stories of trouble and adventure. Tom Waits came along and really brought the human condition to light while writing about strange, really weird people and events. I love writing about those that exist on the fringes of society. The outcast, the minority, the twisted souls that don’t fit in. My songs tend to be edgy, often addressing controversial topics. One is written from the perspective of a guy that rufies a girl’s drink in a bar, drives her around town then takes her to his house, falling in love with her the whole way. We’ve had to edit the chorus during certain live performances where there are a lot of kids present or something. Frequently the songs include mischief and mayhem. Their main theme is definitely the struggle every human being faces to find love and acceptance, and the myriad bizarre paths we take in our search. It’s the internal battle between darkness and light that we all face daily.
BM: What are the members of Hectic Hobo’s musical backgrounds?
HC: Hectic Hobo has been together for over four years, with several changes in the lineup over time. Right now there are six of us and we feel pretty solid as a group. We all have pretty extensive experience in playing music, have all played for several years with past groups and such. Sam the fiddler has a degree in music composition from William and Mary. Nick the accordionist has fronted an Irish band for a long time and has a very deep repertoire. Eric the ivory-tickler studied piano for I think 12 or 13 years and tears that keyboard to shreds on a nightly basis. Marcus (bass), Todd (drums), and Eric (keys) all played together in a band called the Rock Bandits for 7 or 8 years before coming over to the dark side that is Hectic Hobo.
BM: What is the bands short term and long term plans?
HC: Our short and long term plans are to have as much fun playing as many shows as we can. We play a lot. We keep a pretty busy schedule, especially considering that we all have day jobs. We just got off an incredible west coast tour and we plan to keep touring more, recording more, and gigging more.
BM: Where can people get ahold of your music, to listen AND to buy?
HC: People can find our music on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Spotify and all the other main music sources online. Find our news, tour dates, videos etc. on facebook.com/HecticHobo, reverbnation.com/HecticHobo, and HecticHobo.com
BM: Who or what are some of your current musical influences?
HC: My favorite bands these days are The Felice Brothers (who can do absolutely no wrong) and Man Man (have always been great, but I just saw them live for the first time and they blew me away).
BM: What is the bands songwriting process?
HC: Song writing process: I write most of the songs before bringing them to the band to learn. Sometimes the words come first, sometimes the music does. Sometimes the music and words come nearly-simultaneously. I’ll be playing something out on the guitar, banjo, or piano and like the feel of it, then start singing a melody or lyric line that match it. Often times it’ll take me 15 minutes to write a whole song. Other times I’ll spend months or years revisiting a theme or a partial song until I can figure it out. Usually it’ll take a very different path than the one I had in mind when I began writing. But you learn to be a sail in the wind and let the song take you in the direction it wants, regardless of any original plans you had for it. Once I have the song done, I’ll take it to the band and explain the feel I was going for. They’ll come up with parts that fit. It always ends up sounding different than I imagined while writing alone.
BM: When can we expect you to come through Montana?
HC: We’ve been doing several mini tours through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado. I’ve been to Bozeman with past bands. I’ve skied at Bridger Bowl and absolutely loved it. It was in Bozeman that I learned you can mix cream cheese into your scrambled eggs, and I’ve never looked back. We are working on getting something set up in Bozeman or Missoula in the near future. Look for us this winter or spring. Hell, let us know if there is a great venue we should play and if you’d like to help us set it up. We’re eager to get to Montana and our tour van is running strong these days.
Hasen Cone–vocals, guitar, banjo
Nicholas Newberry–accordion, harmonica
Eric Peatross–keys, vocals
Sam Osimitz–fiddle, saw, vocals
From the 11/13 issue of Bozeman Magazine