Hot New Band: Hockey

Photo by Pamela Littky
William Goodman

Last summer, Hockey's vegetable-oil-powered van broke down in Denver. Ninedays and three unsuccessful repair attempts later, they had to cancel the rest of their tour -- that's when things started looking up.

"We were stuck," recalls bassist Jeremy "Jerm" Reynolds, hiding in a tent with his bandmates during a storm at Bonnaroo. "And everything started to happen for us. Capitol called and offered us crazy shit. It was like someone pulled back a rubber band and let go."

Formed as a duo with frontman Benjamin Grubin in 2001 while undergrads at Southern California's University of Redlands, Hockey kissed a lot of frogs before their roadside nightmare turned fairy tale. After graduation, they landed in Los Angeles, where their shows, featuring affable party-starters backed by drum loops on an iPod, landed them a development deal with Columbia.

"We fooled our way in," Reynolds says. "We played for the A&R guy and had friends pack the venue to look like we were doing great work."

"Which," interjects Grubin, "we weren't. I think the Arctic Monkeys did that, too."

Ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison was tapped to produce Hockey's debut, but after battling the label over what the duo saw as heavy-handed direction, they decamped to Spokane, Washington, on a whim, recruited guitarist Brian White and drummer Anthony Stassi...and got dropped. Encouraged by the new lineup, they moved again, this time to band-friendly Portland, Oregon, living together as they recorded their proper debut, Mind Chaos (EMI/Capitol), producing it themselves. Like MGMT, they deal in retro dance anthems, less spacey than their would-be labelmates'. The synth-happy "Wanna Be Black" recalls Grubin's days growing up on Manhattan's posh Upper West Side, dreaming of a hip-hop career and outsider status, while similarly identity-pondering "Too Fake" first pricked up ears in the U.K., landing them a spot on influential show Later...With Jools Holland in April.

"This is poetic justice," says Reynolds as the tent fills with other shelter-seekers. "It's our time."

WATCH: Hockey, "Song Away"

00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
Now Playing
  • 1 Brandy Zdan — More of a Man " 03:33
  • 2 Tiësto & KSHMR — Secrets " 04:28
  • 3 Mercies — Every Echo " 00:00
  • 4 Jimmy Whispers — Heart Don't Know " 02:32
  • 5 GRiZ — For The Love " 04:41
  • 6 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — God Is in the Rhythm " 03:46
  • 7 FlatbushZOMBiES — Did U Ever Think feat. Joey BadA$$ & Issa Gold " 05:02

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA