Interview: Greg Hoy
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Oh boy — going deep up front! Creativity is within all of us. My house was surrounded by music. My three older siblings all played in bands. My mom played records around the house all. the. time. by tons of eclectic artists, and REALLY LOUD. Like, she was into blasting the neighbors in my little Pennsylvania suburb out! One day was Herb Alpert, the next might be Nat King Cole or Huey Lewis & The News. My sisters would play disco and 70’s rock. If a song had a beat and melody, my house would not discriminate. And yea I’d probably be a chef… like the Anthony Bourdain-type with a filthy mouth and a fast wit.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Speaking of being a chef, I cook a lot. And my new thing is painting. I fell into this store the last time I was out in the northeast where everything was $5! Since I knew I’d be bored in my hotel room that night, I got an acrylic paint set, some canvases, and an easel for $15 and change. My goal was to paint four small works that night. Well, there was some wine (a bit more than $5 for that), and there was an incident with a hot tub — but since then, I gave all of the paintings away to friends and no one seemed to cringe. My friends are incredible.
How long has music been your career?
The word 'career' is interesting, right? That’s usually reserved for things like ‘income’ haha! Things really picked up for me when I moved to NYC in my late 20’s. I got into the scene, meeting musicians, and began to do this thing my artist friend Lauren Asta calls ‘flex yo hustle’. I was a musician, a bartender, a vinyl DJ, a graphic designer, a ‘man with a van’… whatever stuff helped me pay the rent. For 10 years, I was a side musician as a drummer, keyboard player, bass player, producer. Basically whenever cool artists needed some creative hole filled, I offered my talent and time. I had a few placements with my early songs on HBO and MTV around the mid-00’s so that was the first real money I made with music.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’ve spent the last few years based out of San Francisco, California. The history of music here is incredible. So, so many movements and rock bands have done time here. My hope is the venues survive to see the next wave of touring bands and live music. It’s been really touch and go everywhere. Luckily, a lot of the community here is strong, and patient.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best shows always involved an enthusiastic audience dancing, singing, and participating in the moment! The worst shows are usually when we drive really far and the local support band leaves to get dinner during your set. (Looking at you, the band we played with in Portland, Maine, on the last tour.)
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I honestly will play anywhere. Some of the best shows are at breweries and wineries, or basements. We did a few all day shows with local bands in my basement in San Francisco in 2017 and 2018. They were fantastic! My two go-to club spots in the East Bay area are Bender’s in San Francisco and Winters Tavern in Pacifica which is this incredible little surf town about 20 minutes south of the city. My favorite all time place in NYC was the Knitting Factory when it was in TriBeCa, and the Bowery Ballroom which I only played once but it was a moment, if you know what I mean. Fontana’s NYC was also just amazing. And there was this great big room I think Lenny Kravitz had something to do with called Crash Mansion where we played a LOT of amazing Friday night gigs. Just magic and energy. I get bummed thinking about all the clubs that have closed however I’m so hopeful for the next wave of new rooms.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
We’d open for Paul McCartney, Tame Impala, Spoon, Brittany Howard, Guided By Voices, Living Colour, JD Wilkes / Legendary Shack Shakers… honestly, any great high-energy artist.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Make music every day. Write and rewrite every day. I have like 10 versions of some of my songs. Always aspire. Don’t compromise for anything or anyone. Have fun.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Stop worrying what other people think of you. And hey: you look really great in those stretch jeans, man.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
The song I’ve played the longest live is called ‘2 Fingers Crossed’. It’s got mojo, people dance to it, and the lyrics are a bit of a contradiction — just like life itself.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
The song that my close friends here in northern California like is called ‘My Parker Posey’. It’s catchy, it’s about my obsession with a certain indie actress from the 90’s, and the video is pretty good. It is also REALLY hard to perform live because I did a bunch of falsetto backing vocals on the recording that are hard to hit without great stage monitors which, usually, don’t exist. Any of the peppy fast songs that make people dance are fun to play. In fact, I put together a 20 song set (!) of them for the next incarnation of the band touring in late summer.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
There's gotta be a hook! Either musically, rhythmically, or melodically. Otherwise I get bored. I’m inspired all the time. Sometimes a friend is going through something and it turns into a song about heartbreak. Sometimes my daughter laughs and it turns into an anthem. Inspiration is all around you if you keep your eyes peeled.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Unity, evolution, and revolution. Every human has the same fears and hopes, dreams and desires. We are surrounded by this constantly manufactured narrative that we’re divided. That’s just a convenient story to get us all to buy stuff and keep a bunch of old white dudes rich.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
That’s a really interesting question! I’ve been the leader of the band for awhile now which means I always listen to suggestions yet always have the final say. The latest album ‘Cacophony’ was recorded really fast and loose last summer during the pandemic. Ian Miller played bass, and Jason Slota played drums. Since the songs were written the weekend before the studio session, they were super raw. And all the suggestions each of those fine musicians made around tempos, structure, and composition were correct. The song is *always* the way. I just remember that and never feel lost.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Tour! TOUR! Can we tour yet, please? I really miss performing. I miss traveling. I miss dancing with strangers and living in a shared moment. We’re releasing the next EP on streaming services just before summer which is ‘Part 2’ of the vinyl record (really side two of the vinyl — so if you HAVE the vinyl, you already have all of it!). That EP is a little more twang, and a little more Tom Petty-influenced than part 1. This is awesome because we're finally gonna play Nashville! I've wanted to play there all my life. Hopefully the stars will align.
And I’ve already demoed 5 new songs written for the next EP. I sent them to my pal Dave in Brooklyn to write and record some drums on. That new stuff is very, very influenced by Van Halen. That band is a huge influence on me though maybe you wouldn’t know it listening to my music. But the spirit of adventure is always there. Long live Eddie!