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Interview: Hippo Campus

If we’re being completely honest, I am a huge fan of Hippo Campus. I have been since a few of my friends suggested I check them out before they came through Cincinnati in 2015. I fell in love with their unique sound immediately, and their songs still find a spot on almost any playlist I make.

Their first EPs, South and Bashful Creatures, are full of pop tunes that will get almost anyone dancing. Their full-length album, Landmark, was released last February and shows off a more mature and refined sound that still keeps their signature vibe in mind. The album has its fair share of happy-go-lucky themes, but touches on more sensitive topics such as going through the loss of a loved one.

The band has been busy touring since their start, and has joined Cincinnati’s own Walk the Moon and My Morning Jacket as a supporting act in 2015. However, they’ve become familiar with headlining tours in the past couple of years, and continue to travel around the globe sharing their music with crowds everywhere.

I got the chance to chat with guitarist, Nathan Stocker, before their show with Sure Sure at the 20th Century Theater on February 7th.

So, it’s coming up on a year that Landmark was released. How do you feel Hippo Campus has changed after releasing your first full length album?
We’ve changed in a lot of ways. I think in terms of our friendships, mostly. Our relationships with each other are changing constantly. I guess it’s like an every day thing. We’re constantly trying to be better at what we do and the way we approach writing and performing and that’s definitely changed since we released the album.

I saw on Instagram that you’re partnering with Planned Parenthood on this tour—can you tell me more about why that’s important to you as a band, especially with a fan base of a lot of young women?
Yeah, I think the fan base thing is definitely important. If we didn’t have the fan base that we do have, I think that it would be a different conversation. But at the same time, that doesn’t make it any less applicable or important for us as individuals. I think that we can’t separate things that need to be talked about from what we do as a band anymore; I don’t think we should try to ignore issues like this.

So last night was the first night of your winter tour, can we expect to hear anything new at the shows on this tour?
Do you want to expect something new? *laughs* Yeah, sure. Before we left for tour we’ve been demoing a lot, writing new material… so we might pull some fast ones on you guys out there.

You guys started doing headline tours only a few years ago, what’s been your favorite part of being on the road?
Oh, man. Favorite part? Well, right now we’re in the back of the bus just playing video games, so this is pretty nice. But I like finding little pockets in places we’ve never been. And also visiting familiar places that we’ve been before. Seeing the way that people live in different parts of the country and different parts of the world is just so important— at least for me.

Last question, how would you describe Hippo Campus’ sound in 3 words to someone who’s unfamiliar with your band?
This is hard. Okay! I got it. I got it. I’d say explorative, self-searching, and hopeful.

Check out Hippo Campus with Sure Sure at 20th Century Theatre on February 7th!

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