“Our mentality is to not have a rigid mentality. Serve the song, and the rest will figure itself out.”
Hippo Campus have wise words for a group of lads only just nudging out of their teens. Formed at high school in Minnesota, the band’s bubbly (but definitely not bubblegum) brand of bouncy indie reflects an un-cynical enthusiasm enjoyed only by the young.
These four kids from the ‘burbs - three from St Paul and one from Minneopelis – met in senior year as teens. Soon they were playing their first show: “We’d only just written the half hour set about two weeks before,” remembers Jake “Turntan” Luppen (guitar). “It was pretty loose. The video from that show was so terrible that it made us practice a lot, so at least we got something from it.”
Collectively, Jake says the band’s influence is “danceable indie” – think Bombay Bicycle Club – but that individually their tastes are “super eclectic, we’re all over the place”. He’s really into London’s cockney-drawling King Krule, but also dreamy American-soundscape Beach House.
“We work on a moment-to-moment basis,” says Jake. “Someone has an idea and we’ll all pick it apart and re-assemble it as a group, figuring out what works the best in an organic way.”
This process has resulted in an impressively varied debut EP, 'Bashful Creatures'. ‘Suicide Saturday’ is a joyful finger-snapping, toe-tapping pop number, ‘Bashful Creatures’ features a souring, mature vocal, and ‘Little Grace’ layers plucky surf guitar over a distinctively reggae backdrop.
They may be touring with Modest Mouse, and have an accomplished EP under their belts, but that doesn’t mean Hippo Campus have completely grown up: as we speak they’re in the tour van, heading home to spend time with their families – as if they were a normal bunch of university students, back for the holidays.
It’s hard to resist their enthusiasm as they teeter on that precipice between teen-hood and adulthood, an enthusiasm that infuses each song. Catch them now, before they get old and jaded, like us.
WHAT: Infectious summer indie pop, wearing its heart on its sleeve
3 SONGS: 'Little Grace', ‘Bashful Creatures’, ‘Suicide Saturday’
Words: Emma Finamore
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Catch Hippo Campus at London venue the Lexington on July 3rd.