Indianapolis is in for a treat on April 25th and 26th. Ultra Violet Hippopotamus is invading The Mousetrap for a two night run they are calling “Fan Appreciation.” This power packed band has a unique jam sound and a tight fan base all through Michigan and Indiana. Indy Mojo recently spoke with the band to find out a little bit more about why they chose our city to celebrate. Casey Butts (percussion, vocals) and Russ James (lead guitar, vocals)
MOJO: You guys are gearing up for a two night run April 25th and 26th at The Mousetrap in Indianapolis and calling it the fan appreciation weekend. What makes us so special to get a fan appreciation weekend?
Russ: It’s hard to describe how great the music is in Indianapolis. Not just the musicians that are there, but the fans. We do a lot of touring around the U.S. and the type of people and the type of music lovers that are in Indianapolis are so unique. It’s like this rabid base of music lovers that support musicians and support art in general that you just don’t see anywhere. It’s got energy that you don’t get in other spots. It’s just a wonderful thing.
We’ve never done a two night run in Indianapolis. The trap is really a place where we have grown so much musically, and also financially. So much has happened from the support we have gotten from The Mousetrap and the people in that area. To be able to go back and do a two night run in a venue like that is just great. We are so excited to share that with the community.
MOJO: So what do you guys think about playing at The Mousetrap in comparison to other venues?
Casey: Well, there’s a certain energy in that room, and that’s what that place is all about. It’s small and we can barely fit on the stage anymore. There’s no room for us to move in there, but there’s just an energy in that place that you don’t get playing in the other venues. It’s almost like playing a house party or something in the sense that we are down there with the crowd. It’s not us playing above the crowd. It’s like we are all in this together and that’s what creates the energy in that room.
Russ: Yeah, Casey brings up a good point. There is a definite sense of beauty and wonder when it comes to playing large rooms like the Fox Theater and things like that- they are fantastic- but at the same time there definitely is a disconnect that you get from the crowd that makes you have to generate the energy back and forth with each other.
MOJO: I want to talk to you guys a little bit about the album you just released, Translate. Why did you decided on the title Translate? Most of your other albums are titled with song names.
Russ: As you just pointed out, we have always chosen a song title. This album isn’t as thematic as the ones before. It’s more about a bunch of different types, styles and genres of songs. In a way, fan interpretations of songs that we do- chord progressions, or stories that we tell- it’s all up to a person’s translation of that. That’s kind of the reason we chose to go with that title.
MOJO: So how would you say that this album sets itself apart from your previous albums?
Casey: We have definitely upped the whole production of everything. We put more work and time into this album than before. First, we went into a top-notch studio, with top-notch engineers. We were able to go in there and get more done in ten days then we have in any other previous albums. I think bringing in the horns and bringing in the background vocals just gives the album a much larger feeling to it then we previously had. I feel like pretty much, all around, every song has a larger scope to it than what our previous albums have. I feel like it represents where we want our music to go. It’s definitely more progressive rock and even more jazz influenced than before.
MOJO: What is your favorite song off of the album?
Russ: I think it’s different for everyone in the band. For me personally, I love “La Marea.” It’s funny how different songs come together and the writing process. The way that “La Marea” came around is we were just warming up for practice and Brian, our bass player was laying down a line and Joe was playing a drum line over top of it to get warmed up. We started warming up with some guitar lines, and within 15 minutes we had a song. It’s always beautiful and wonderful the songs that come together like that. I think that’s the song I enjoy playing the most right now.
Casey: For me it really depends on the day. When I listen to the album it even depends on what mood I’m in. The last 20 seconds of “Ruben,” whenever I hear that with the trumpet line, I’m like pumping my fists in the air. Then other days I’ll hear “Tiny Eyes,” which is a song we never play live. We’ve maybe played it twice live, but I hear it on the album and it sounds so beautiful. I don’t even think we should play it live again. I’m not sure we can match how great it sounds on the album. So, it really just depends on the day for me personally.
MOJO: It looks like you have a pretty full summer festival tour. You’re going to be at Summer Camp, Dark Star Jubilee, GrooveFest and a bunch more dates. What are some must see shows on this summer tour? What are you most excited about?
Casey: All of them! Just quit your jobs and come on Hippo tour. Summer Camp is going to be amazing- that whole weekend playing both Summer Camp and Dark Star Jubilee.
Russ: Summer Camp has a special place in our hearts because it’s in the Midwest and one of our first huge festivals. To be able to go out to Groove Festival in Colorado, that’s just going be a blast. We go on before Carl Denson[’s Tiny Universe]. It’s going to be an amazing time.
Casey: Another thing about Summer Camp: when we’ve played in the last couple of years, and we look out into the crowd, I feel like I recognize the first 30 rows of people. I feel like it’s become this spot where all of our Midwest fans have all come to collaborate and meet each other and basically celebrate that for the weekend. That is obviously very special to see all the work we’ve been doing in all different regions come together for this one event.
MOJO: So, say we miss a date on the summer tour; we can catch up with it on “The Hive” right?
Russ: This is something that is still a little bit in development. Ultimately the goal is to record every show and release every show so that if you miss it or just want to listen again you will be able to do that. As of right now we aren’t doing every show. We are trying to raise the funds to get a digital soundboard and all the things necessary to record everything, but this is kind of just the early stages of that. Right now we are just releasing stuff that we have had in the archive for a while. Hopefully by Fall or by the end of the year we will be recording and releasing every show.