“[Being on tour] can really mess with your head when you are home for an extensive period of time. you have to learn yourself again. most importantly you to learn to be by yourself.”
By Sam Tolman
Master Cheif Martin Yan once said that “…being famous is more of a hindrance, a constraint, than just letting yourself be free.”
However, Yan was 38 when he got his first taste of fame when offered to have his own cooking show on PBS. He was at a much less influential stage of his life then the four, now 21 year olds of Hippo Campus got their first taste of fame. Hippo Campus has been on sold-out tours, radio airwaves and late night TV shows, all in a short, two years period.
Such a rapid change in lifestyle can make a group of then 19 year old’s group up very quickly – which becomes a major theme of their upcoming album, landmark.
landmark represents a big shift in the four young men’s life, and they pour that into their album by mocking the same forces that helped make them – social media, questioning fame and being part of a youth culture they ridicule. Check out what they have to say, and more, in the interview below.
[To Jake] Your family is primarily made up of musicians, and your mother’s a professional musician – how did that affect your life up to Hippo Campus, and Hippo Campus itself?
Hippo Campus: I was fortunate to have a family that was always supportive of me pursuing music. my mom would always encourage me to practice and hone my craft from a young age. that background helped me gain the work ethic that i possess today. the ability to see that family members were able to make a career of music, made it far more of a tangible goal for myself to achieve.
What are other influences on the music of Hippo Campus, outside of music?
movies, book, and friends. this record was especially influenced by the way we interact with the people we love.
What changes in sound should fans expect to hear from your previous album, Bashful Creatures to your upcoming album, landmark
the sounds of landmark aren’t necessarily tied to the instruments that we usually play. there are a variety of new sounds and textures we added. we intended to approach each new song with a fresh pallet.
landmark’s album art has got an eclectic mix of charismatic items in it –can you talk about those items and their significance to the new album?
the album is a culmination of experiences that we underwent over the past two years of touring we did for Bashful and South. each of the objects on the cover represents a song written about a particular experience. the idea of a landmark assigns metaphorical importance to a physical object (a guide along a journey), it seemed fitting to do the same with objects on the cover.
Hippo Campus’s “landmark” upcoming album artwork.
The understanding of the invasiveness of social media into people’s personal lives is nothing new to talk about – so how do you guys approach the subject in landmark to give a different perspective?
we utilize humor in discussing it. we are just as ridiculous as those we are critiquing. we still worship trends, check our twitters, and polish our docs. it’s important to laugh at yourself.
Sold out tours, radio airwaves, late night TV stages – all of that can make you grow up quickly. In what ways did your views and perspectives changes over the last two years, and how does that play a role into landmark?
You realize how important self discovery is. tour is an artificial reality. it’s this strange perfect world where you don’t have to clean a toilet or take out the trash. it’s the closest you ever get to some rock star fantasy you had as a kid laying in your bed. that being said it can really mess with your head when you are home for an extensive period of time. you have to learn yourself again. most importantly you to learn to be by yourself. that struggle comes to manifestation on the second half of the record (poems on down.).
In talking about landmark, Luppen has been quoted saying that, “It’s our most honest release yet, but it didn’t start that way at all”. Where were you guys not being honest before, and where will that change be found in the new album?
It’s our most honest work in terms of it being our most introspective creation. in the past we had written about generalities; ideas or situations that were happening to people “like us.” some of them we took part in, some we didn’t. landmark is different in the way that nathan and i are referring to more direct instances. Vacation is a song i wrote about complications in the band family. Boyish is a direct account of divorce. I can pin point a more direct personal source for each of these tunes.
In landmark, you talk about the qualms of the youth culture that you’re part of. What are some of those qualms, how do you address them, and how do you propose to change them, if at all?
I think the flaws we critique in youth culture, are the precise things that make it “youth” culture. even though we are 18-21, we still have a lot to learn about the way the world works. we still as a band don’t fully understand what our identity is, or what we want at this point. social media is confusing for us right now because we can’t tell if it’s a detriment to real social interactions, or the way of the future (especially when it’s one of the chief ways we market ourselves). obviously right now the world is in a pretty chaotic state, but i think that people our age (ourselves included) will naturally find a way to prevail.
You guys are young, and still discovering yourselves. How does creating your music help with that process?
you can learn a lot about yourself by writing words down without a theme in mind. most of the time a song will reveal what it’s about half way through writing the words. creation is a necessity, it’s a from of therapy for us four.
Lastly, are there any quotes that resonate with you guys in creating your music, or just living your life in general?
“take it day by day” has been the mantra since the beginning.
Hippo Campus will be playing in Missoula soon – February 21st soon. You can get tickets here.