Thursday, June 3, 2010
HOLLOWS play in Millennium Park for FREE! Opening for She & Him!
"Giggly with a post-band-practice high, the five members of Hollows roll into Ukrainian Village dive bar Stella’s late one Thursday evening. As they settle at the table with a round of icy PBRs, the group bursts into fits of laughter at the tail end of a story about underwear. “Going to practice is therapeutic,” laid-back bassist Emma Hospelhorn says. “This is corny, but I’ll turn up in a really shitty mood and come out totally happy.” Organist Maria Jenkins, a blond with a slash of shaved hair above her left ear, chips in: “We all genuinely like each other. I’ve never been in a band with this many girls, so it’s been interesting to see how the dynamic unfolds.”
Hollows formed in 2008 when Jenkins, 26, posted an ad on Craigslist. She had been gigging with local rockers Parsley Flakes but wound up with a bunch of songs that didn’t quite fit with that act’s synth-punk sound. When Hospelhorn, 29, a learning-sciences Ph.D. student and freelance flutist who also plays in New Millennium Orchestra, answered the online classified, the two hit it off. They brought on Chicago Symphony Orchestra employee and guitarist Megan Kasten, 29 (the group’s “most respectable” member, Hospelhorn says); quietly wry drummer Jason Davlantes, 22; and Hannah Harris, 26, a sprightly, curly-haired jazz vocalist and fine-art undergrad.
You might expect the sum of those parts to come out sounding something like Rush. But prog rock couldn’t be further from Hollows’ catchy, lo-fi 1960s sound. A darker version of bubbly girl groups, the quintet puts a modern spin on the beehives-and-switchblades vibe fashioned by the Shangri-Las, spiking the mix with stabs of organ and sinister lyrics about wayward loves and men whose postmortem body parts are packed in ice and shipped around the Midwest.
After gigging with Chicago garage pals like CoCoComa and the Alright Alreadies, the band hit up SXSW for the first time in March. “We ended up playing a house show immediately upon arrival at, like, 3am,” Davlantes says. Hospelhorn adds, “We didn’t even have time to stop at the place we were staying. We ended up changing our clothes and plugging in our flatirons at a Boston Market.”
Spontaneity is nothing new for the fivesome: “We’ve written lyrics in the car on the way to a show,” Hospelhorn says with a laugh. “I almost got in an accident because we were practicing them over and over.”
As Hollows gears up for its biggest gig yet—supporting actor Zooey Deschanel and indie icon M. Ward’s project, She & Him, at Pritzker Pavilion Monday 7—the gang is palpably anxious. “All of our parents are coming,” says Davlantes, who has a tattoo of a mystic pyramid on his right bicep. Jenkins, who recently graduated with an M.A. in women’s and gender studies from Roosevelt University, notes, “It’s more of a family environment. We’re not allowed to say any swear words onstage.” The band has a “no obscenity” clause in its contract and has been told it will be fined by the city if any cusses slip through the set.
“It shouldn’t be too much of an issue. We only have, like, two songs with swear words in them,” Harris says. “Jason says our songs sound like preschoolers should be dancing to them anyway.”
There are some big ideas being bandied about, something special to mark the occasion, but not all of them are practical: Hospelhorn says, “We were thinking of asking the Millennium Park Segway cops to roll back and forth while we play.” She sighs and drains the last of her beer. “But we might just have to settle on having a roller-derby sax player.”
Catch Hollows opening for She & Him at Millennium Park Monday 7. Hollows’ self-titled debut LP is out now on local imprint Addenda Records."
(We'd also like to add: and a smokin' 7-inch on Trouble In Mind too!)