I recently had the opportunity of speaking with Billy Fleming, drummer for the Australian surf-rock band Hockey Dad. We spoke of the band’s origin, navigating the music industry at such a young age, their recent signing to Brooklyn based Kanine Records and much more.
Billy and the other half of the band, Zach Stephenson, met at the tender age of 5, when Zach walked by Billy and his father playing cricket on the front lawn of their Wollongong home. But it wasn't until 2013 that they began creating music under the name Hockey Dad. “We grew up in a quiet little coastal town, surrounded by the ocean and a lake, and yeah, it's hard to leave... too bloody good,” Fleming said of the town located about an hour and a half drive south of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.
Based off of their surroundings and interests, playing the surf-rock genre evolved naturally. “There was this local band Mother & Son who got us into some real swampy 60s horror surf rock,” Billy said. “That's what we started off playing, although between the two of us, we've always listened to so much different shit, so I guess we've ended up taking the best parts from all different genres and mashed them up or something.” Another large part of Hockey Dad’s unique sound formed due in part to their recording situation while growing up. Billy admitted that he and Zach spent plenty of time writing and recording songs in Zach’s backyard shed, which may have be their source of grit.
Their EP entitled Dreamin’ (not recorded in Zach’s shed) is full of tasty guitar riffs and quick paced drum loops, a mixture of catchy pop punk and the songs you’d hear in a 90’s skate video. While only 5 songs, Dreamin’ is most definitely my favorite EP that I’ve come across in quite some time, with Beach House and Seaweed being my personal standout tracks. The EP is currently on Spotify along with their new single Can’t Have Them. Hockey Dad’s sound, both gritty and laid back, isn’t very evident in the mainstream. But Billy acknowledges that they’re on the wave, aiming to bring it back. “There are plenty of bands bringing it back, I don't know if it's edgy to call it a scene or whatever, but it's sick to be a part of it,” he said of the reemergence of surf-rock.
On January 28th Hockey Dad announced that they had signed to Brooklyn’s Kanine Records, who also currently represent Grizzly Bear and Surfer Blood, amongst other groups. The signing came at the perfect time, as the band is booked to play SXSW for the first time.
If you are too broke to make it down to Austin like myself, show their Spotify page some love. Also check out the rest of my conversation with Billy below and his Midweek Music that he graciously compiled for us here.
POND: Favorite Show that you’ve played so far?
BILLY: That's a tough one hey... I guess playing at Falls Festival was sick because that was our first experience on a big festival stage with live cameras on us and shit, heaps funny.
POND: How did you guys feel when you got the news about signing to Kanine Records?
BILLY: Yeah we were stoked! Lio and Kay are absolute legends, so we were amped to hear they were keen.
POND: What’s the first order of business that you want to accomplish with Kanine?
BILLY: Release our debut album... we've been hanging onto it for ages now, so we're frothing to finally get it out there.
POND: The best Australian food that most Americans don’t know about?
BILLY: Anzac bikkies, mate.
POND: Where and how do you guys do the majority of your writing and recording?
BILLY: We've spent many years jamming in Zach's shed, but in recent years our manager runs a music venue in town, so we just sneak in and have a dig when we need to write some new stuff.
POND: What’s it like being so young and navigating through the music industry? Is it a learning process?
BILLY: Yeah it's pretty funny, we've been playing gigs in various bands since we were like 13, so we used to cop a fair bit of shit in the early days... I guess the main thing is that it's harder for people to take you seriously, which makes you want to play harder and turn heads.
POND: If you had to opportunity to collaborate with anyone making music right now, who would it be and why?
BILLY: Alex Turner would be mental, I reckon. Arctic Monkeys have always been a pretty big influence in our songwriting.
POND: I personally found you guys on reddit. What has been the most successful medium for getting your music out there?
BILLY: I guess our music videos have been the most effective, but who really knows hey.