Monday, July 1, 2013

The BD Interview with Frank Hoier of Crushed Out

This next week the Firecracker 500 will explode upon Iowa City. Revelers of this rock fest will invade The Mill on Wednesday and Thursday and then move to the Blue Moose Tap House over the weekend. Each night will feature local acts, bands that are up and coming, and national headliners.

The Fleshtones are scheduled to headline Friday night which, on it's own is enough to warrant excitement and buzz. But another band that is beginning to make some waves is Crushed Out, who will play in direct support of the Fleshtones. Like the Fleshtones, Crushed Out hails from New York. This husband and wife duo first began to play together in Brooklyn after they met in a hallway of an apartment building that they shared. Aside from having a deep and secret admiration for one another, they began to realize that they were also compatible musically, just from their passing flirtations in the hallway. Then, through a series of coincidental events they were eventually brought together. Naturally they began to write songs as a tandem. Now, as a married couple they are becoming a force on the national tour circuit.

Crushed Out is Moselle Spiller and Frank Hoier

Crushed Out is Frank Hoier and Moselle Spiller. They are the perfect example of what can happen when a band believes in themselves and works hard to achieve goals together. Entirely a grass-roots endeavor, Crushed Out has overcome it's share of obstacles but continues to push onward towards bigger and better things. They do their own marketing through the social networks and create their own posters. They don't rely on a record company to financially support their tours. They independently built and maintain their website. They graciously interact with fans and are genuinely excited to share their art. Crushed Out is paving their way to national acclaim. 

Oh yeah... and they will rock your fucking socks off.

I was able to reach Frank Hoier by telephone and he was gracious enough to let me into the band's proverbial inner circle. Our conversation was more of that than an interview, and I found Frank to be extremely engaging and open about the path that he and Moselle have taken during their magical journey. 


What is the biggest challenge a married couple has, as a touring rock and roll band?

Hmmm. Do you mean as an independent band, or as a couple? 

As a couple. You know... Obviously real life brings out tensions and everything else. How do you deal with being on the road together all the time? 

Well, we're pretty lucky because we love to be together all the time, and we just get a long really well. It is kind of hard doing everything just two people as far as driving and we are our own label. So the challenge is, a lot of work. The work is never finished... And I would say the biggest challenge of being an independent band is getting the word out on the shows obviously, because we don't have an advertising budget really, so yeah. That's probably the biggest challenge. But we are fortunate to be able to do the label ourselves because Moselle is such an incredible artist and actually a graphic designer also so she can do a lot of hand-made stuff and transfer it into the computer and you know, we totally do all our social media complete 100% ourselves, and tour blogs and Moselle does all of our graphics and website and stuff and even most of our videos. So yeah, I guess the challenge of being a couple on the road is all the work on two people.

So is it true you and Moselle met in an apartment hallway in Brooklyn?

We lived in the same building, yes. So yeah, we'd see each other in the hallway of our building and say hello to each other, and eventually one of us MySpaced the other because... This is the bizzarre part of the story... We had mutual friends in New York and didn't even know it and she was on MySpace to message a friend, and I was in that friend's Top Friends. She was like, 'That's the guy in my building!' and she clicked on it, and I think I had an acoustic show that week. I used to perform a lot and do more acoustic guitar and harmonica song writing and she came to the show and that's how we met each other.

You guys use MySpace?

Oh no... That was in early 2007. No. I don't think I've logged in in about four years (Laughs).

There seems to be a trend with two-piece bands. You've got White Mystery, Black Box Revelation, there's the White Stripes of course... The Accidentals. Would you say it's a financial thing? Is it just coincidence... What do you think the trend is there? 

Well I think probably all those bands do it for different reasons. But we were just so thrilled that we could even play together and that it was fun immediately. So that's what sparked our band to be a duo. We were a couple who was together all the time, and there I'd be playing an acoustic show and Moselle would be sitting int he audience and it just seemed kind of silly that she was getting so good at drums so fast, and we were writing all this new material together just purely for fun, so the reason we did the duo was because... Well it was an absolute accident. We never planned to be a two-piece rock and roll band. It's kind of... you know... Sometimes I feel like it's a disadvantage to be a duo because we get compared to the Black Keys and the White Stripes so much and I think that kind of turns some people off but what can we do, it's just what happened. You know maybe one day we'll have more people in the band or maybe not. It's a different energy, a duo. It's very exciting to me, it's like the two energies crashing directly into each other and there's so much room for improvisation and just changing the song, because we just have to look at each other. So I find it interesting and unique. A lot of rock and roll bands are a four or five piece and it's sort of like a big circle of energy, and in a duo to me, it's like two energies crashing AT each other.

From the fan's standpoint, I really like to watch the duos play. It DOES create a brighter energy.

Yeah. I totally agree.

So tell me about the "Atomic Era" of rock and roll and how you came to use that phrase to describe your sound.

Oh I love that because I mean, the kind of rock and roll that we play is that crazy joyous stuff like Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, that's how we love to do it. We like to make dance-based crazy joyous rock and roll like that. And so  I was reading a Bob Dylan book and he said something about that - how like all those performers in the '50s at the very beginning of rock and roll was so crazy with all those characters... Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis... There's such a unique energy to their delivery and their talent and their performance and that's just biggest in our heart, you know we love all kinds of different music but that's the stuff that we keep coming back to. That era in the '50s to call it the Atomic Age was super brilliant of Bob Dylan to say that. I think it fits it nicely. 

Yeah I love it too. Great description. 

Yeah definitely.

Crushed Out is on Tour
(Click to enlarge.) 
So Crushed Out has a new record out called Want to Give that just got released. How is the album doing along with your tour? 

Oh, I think it's going OK. We're our own label and we had to change our band name the month before we released this album because of a big problem with a trademark issue. We were served a cease and desist so that I think hurt some of our momentum, because we were touring really hard under our first name (Boom Chick) and then right as we were about to release this full length debut, we had to completely change our name and re-brand ourselves. But in retrospect we are in a much better position. We're in a much better position than we were 6 months ago because we worked so hard under the new name. So I do kind of feel that this new album got a little pushed under the rug because of the name change. But you know the reaction that we do have is pretty strong. I'm pretty proud of the album. The song writing particularly. 

Yeah. It's really catchy. It seems to push it self from one genre to another.


It does! It leaves me with questions. When I'm listening to the songs I Find myself going, OK... Gosh. There's that song about shaking a can to release the poison - which is clever... Another one, Country Star. It's done so well, in the old country tradition.

Thank you!

And I'm curious about "Miss Mouse." Tell me about the lyrics to this song.

Well that song came about, we were just kind of jamming something and I did this weird minor yodel (yodels "Whoooooooooooo"). I like to yodel a lot. I like Jimmy Rogers and Hank Williams and that era, so I just kind of came up with that little thing and liked it and I said, "What does these sounds and this chord make you think of, Moselle?" and I just put her on the spot. I said, what do you think of when you hear these chords? And she said something like... An owl. I like a lot of the murder ballad type of songs like the old folk songs and strange stuff like that. Um, and so I just came up with this kind of murder ballad kind of thing where someone is enticing Miss Mouse to come into the woods and it turns out that the character is an owl. Like, Come down to the river with me my dear... She won't marry him so he stabs her and pushes her in down by the banks of the Ohio... I really love those songs. The song kind of came to be this murder ballad show tune because of the way that we put the dramatic stops and stuff.

It's a cool song.

Yeah, it's probably the most left field song on the album, I think, in retrospect. It's kind of you know... that's just a whole different branch of American music but we still kind of do it a little bit more rockin'. I think of it a as a murder ballad show tune!

What exactly is your genre? When somebody asks you what is your genre, do you say rock and roll?

Well you've got to make it kind of interesting because "Rock and Roll" means completely different things to different people... Like VERY different things to different people so we came up with something fun. We like to call it "Honky-Tonk Surf" or "Surf Blues" to just kind of show it's... We are Rock and Roll but we are trying to specifically reference as many wide branches of it as possible. 


Pertinent Links:

Crushed Out Official

Crushed Out on Facebook

Crushed Out on Twitter

Firecracker 500 Official