We recently got the opportunity to chat with co-frontman and guitarist Nathan Stocker from Hippo Campus following their show at House of Blues San Diego. Hear Nathan recount stories of how the band discovered their touring mates, Sure Sure, their adoption of a La Croix liquid diet, and hanging out in early frat houses where beer pong was first invented.(photo via OnestoWatch)
CT: Can you talk about your musical background? What was it like growing up in your household?
NS: I grew up in the church. My dad was a pastor, so I was surrounded by a bunch of church music, praise, worship and really bad pop music. But at the same time, it was nice. My dad played guitar a lot and he’s pretty good at piano, so there was some music in the family. Then, I started playing the drums at 9 years old. Soon, after that, I switched to guitar and didn’t take it that seriously until high school when I met the other dudes. Growing up, it was nice. There was a lot of Norah Jones and Enya in the household. It was relaxing, but it wasn’t as diverse. I’d say it was pretty sheltered.
CT: I really like an old comment you’ve made about having a love/hate relationship with Spotify. You only hear praises about Spotify, but I’m on the same train.
NS: Yeah, I remember a couple years ago I took a break from Spotify. I was super angsty towards it and I tried to only buy records and have them be like a single piece. But it doesn’t do any good to resist it. I think maintaining a level of listening to albums and keeping that art alive, it’s okay to do that on Spotify. But I think in this day and age, in the world we live in, might as well embrace it. Actually, the band that we’re touring with, Sure Sure I discovered them on Spotify. Here we are touring with them through that connection. There’s pros and cons and I understand both sides of streaming services. I think it’s going to get better for artists hopefully in terms of compensation. The good thing about it is the amount of connections that we have available to us. It’s just a matter of using them wisely.
(photo via A City Made by People)
CT: What were some of your favorite albums of 2017?
NS: I think one of my favorites based upon amount of listens was Rare Feeling by twain. He’s a singer-songwriter out of New York. Do you know Big Thief? He’s buddies with them and I saw him open up for them in Minneapolis. Just a solid record, holy shit. His songs are so well written. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but that shit really got me. I think another one of my favorites was Autoflower by Jesse Woods, another singer-songwriter out of Austin, Texas. That shit blew my mind.
CT: Are there any albums coming out this year that you are excited about?
NS: There’s a band called Palm. They’ve been releasing singles towards the end of 2017. All of them are just amazing. I don’t know how they write such weird dynamic rock music. I don’t know what the album is going to be called but it’s going to be dope.
CT: Are you the one who followed La Croix on the band’s Instagram page?
NS: Oh yeah, that’s me. I’m hoping for a sponsorship someday. We drink La Croix on this bus like nobody’s business. It’s a staple in our liquid diet. We’re drowning in La Croix over here.
CT: Do you have any pre-show rituals? Where did Hippo Campus’ pre-show chant originate?
NS: We were in Leeds and we were touring with Marsicans. In Leeds, it’s a thing where everyone’s like “Leeds, Leeds, Leeds” you know like the football chants? We started to mock it, and we were like, “Let’s have our own chant.” I think Matthew McConaughey showed up or just popped into the conversation. So, now we choose a character or something “We’re all ‘that’, we’re all ‘that’, we’re all ‘that’. We’re gonna let it fucking rip” I don’t know why that became a thing, but it’s a thing now. I think stretching is important. I don’t do it enough, but I like to do it. Usually a nap. You really gotta time out the nap though. If you nap too late and you wake up 10 minutes before you go on stage and you are so bamboozled. Playing some video games obviously. I try not to think about it too hard.
CT: Favorite festival you’ve played and favorite festival you’ve just attended?
NS: I don’t know if I can choose. Bonnaroo was fun. The bigger festivals can be really nice like Lollapalooza. They treat you really well there, the food is amazing, there’s so many famous people you get to see. Maybe Lollapalooza. But then there are some festivals that are like so small you never thought you’d be doing it. We’ve played at Dartmouth College and we got to hang out in some of the earliest frat houses in the nations. I guess beer pong was invented there. It was crazy. It was wild. I don’t know if I can choose a favorite festival. Sometimes It’s impossible.
CT: If you were to do a cover song right now, what song would it be?
NS: “Mad” by Solange is so fucking good. I would love to be able to pull something like that off, but that sounds insane. I guess more realistically it would be a cover of Peter, Paul, and Mary. Maybe Nathaniel Rateliff, one of his tracks from In Memory of Loss. It’s a really good album. It kind of defined a lot for me.
CT: Do you have a favorite poet or poem?
NS: I remember T.S. Eliot being one of the earlier poets that I really got into. “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” is a really good one and the “Four Quartets” of course. E.E. Cummings. I had one of his books and he totally flipped my idea of poetry upside down. That shit was pretty hot.
*Nathan didn’t know the title of the poem, but began reciting Kerouac’s “How to Meditate.” He expressed, “The stream of consciousness stuff, that had an effect on me.”
CT: What do you like to do on your days off?
NS: I do whatever anybody else is doing. I can’t be alone for too long. Like on Sunday, we went to the Redwoods. It was beautiful. Walking around, taking hikes, exploring cities. We go see movies a lot. Zach and I saw The Post in Spokane. It was pretty good. I want to see Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards.
CT: Besides Whistler being the band’s drummer and vocalist, he’s also a painter. Do you or your bandmates have any other threats we should be aware of?
NS: There’s not much else to our characters. Jake’s pretty good at basketball. Zach is pretty good at COD. Whistler’s probably the most interesting. He just does it all.