South West rockers Hypophora are a refreshing throwback to intricate guitar music of the 90s, fusing funky guitar riffs with hard-hitting catchy choruses led by the powerful, anthemic vocals of Katie McConnell.
The quartet began with school friends Katie and Karum Cooper (guitar and yelling – their words) forming a band back in 2012 and playing a few pubs, weddings and birthdays. Things ramped up a notch when they started at Truro College and added Lewis Pilcher (bass) and James Farmer (drums) to the mix and began recording songs and playing gigs across the south west.
That led to two previous single releases, Youth and Caught, that portray their angsty, rocky, riff-heavy sound, followed by last week’s release of their latest offering Headlines. The band describe the new track as “darkier yet jazzier,” so we caught up with them to get the lowdown on it.
They told us: “A few more riffs than Youth / Caught. To us Headlines seems a little bit less colourful, but perhaps it’s just colourful in a different way? We were lucky enough to get engineer Josiah Manning at Momentum studios to feature on his beautiful Fender Rhodes during some of the more chilled out parts. This definitely adds a different and interesting musical layer that we’ve never really had in our music before.
“Some of the chord voicings in the song are a much more experimental, open and darker sounding interpretations of the chords we’d usually use. So all in all makes for a slightly more sullen sound. Lyrically, it’s more bitter than some of our other stuff which makes it more energetic and hard-hitting. The choruses are great for getting angry to, and then the verses are a nice little breather.”
The track kicks off with a funky guitar riff with bursts of high-pitched notes, big driving drums and then drops down into a chilled opening verse with laid-back vocals, guitar licks supported by light drums and quicker bass. That’s blown away by a bigger chorus led by Katie’s powerful vocals, followed by a return of the funky opening riff.
The second chorus ends on a big long note from Katie, then a repeating guitar riff and bass noise then dives into a big fast-paced guitar riff, then a meandering guitar solo that sees the track chill down for a while before building into a big chorus to close. Check it out in the video below:
In terms of what inspires their writing, the band explain: “Katie and Karum will mainly write lyrics based on events that have happened – often places they’ve been to/people they’ve encountered and that kind of thing. Karum generally writes some of the more ‘out there’ lyrics about being confused and excited by practically everything. We used to write a lot of songs about being really sad / pissed off but I guess we’ve grown out of our edgy, angry lyrical phase.
“Newer songs like Youth hold a little more meaning; about being individual and a unique young person in this weird modern world – lots of similar lyrics like that will be popping up on our debut record – mostly stuff to do with life and how goddamn weird it is to be alive right here and right now.”
Hypophora draw influence from a wide range of music, in their words: “Quite an amalgamation of influences, but we reckon it’s pulled off in a way that doesn’t have that patchwork/forceful feel to it like a lot of genre-hopping bands do. We’ve got that 90s frat-boy funk rock vibe from like 10 years of listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers / Incubus – that’s quite prevalent, as well as the seattle grunge sound influenced by Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters – that’s our sound like at the base level.
“Then we’ve got bands like The Fall Of Troy, Chon and Dance Gavin Dance influencing lots of the guitar work as well as a bunch of random influences ranging from Trad Jazz and Motown to Prog Metal, Post Rock and Neo Soul. It’s kind of just like every band/artist we’ve ever been into was moulded into one sound and glossed over with some alt rock to finish.”
The band’s rise has seen them support the mighty He Is Legend, who we also saw earlier this year, and we asked them about the experience of supporting the band. They told us: “It was such a pleasure! Those dudes knew exactly what they were doing (obviously) from the moment they arrived at the venue to the moment they got off stage – absolutely teared the place down. They were so lovely and really accepting of us as their opener. Even gave us a shout out on stage and egged some people on to buy our 7 inch too!”
You can see the band in action with several gigs coming up over the next month, beginning tomorrow night supporting VANT at The Cavern Club in Exeter, then a Halloween show with a host of local bands at Bar Socio in Newquay on 28 October. That’s followed by a single launch tour beginning at Embers in Carlisle on 11 November, then a long drive down to The Crowndale Club in Camden on 12 November, The Underground in Plymouth on 17 November and finishing at Crofter’s Rights in Bristol on 19 November. They’re then playing the UK Tech Fest: Techabilitation All-Dayer at New Cross Inn in London on 26 November. More info on all their gigs is here.
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