Members of Minneapolis power-pop provider The Hang Ups feel out of place in this Britney-Backstreet-Ricky world, but they don’t let it get them down.
“It seems like if we were around like 20 years ago, we’d be huge,” lead singer-guitarist Brian Tighe said recently. “The fact that we’re not hugely popular, there’s plenty of other rewards to it. We’re going to these different towns, and clearly we’re building up audiences in each one, and it’s still such a thrill to make albums.”
Especially the quintet’s latest, “Second Story,” released Oct. 26 on Restless Records. Not only is it unabashedly pop, from the Beatles and Kinks school of melodies and harmonies, it marks the studio reunion of Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, who haven’t produced a full album together since R.E.M.’s “Reckoning” (1984).
“That was huge,” Tighe said. “It was a dream come true, and I continue to love the result of it. Don Dixon was friends with someone at the label, and then Don came up with the idea. He said the two of them had been looking for a project to do together and thought we’d be the deal.
“Don originally remixed our track (‘Jump Start’) for the ‘Chasing Amy’ movie a few years ago. The song is in a primary scene in the middle of the movie, when the guy and the girl first get together and they go to the playground, hanging out and having a good time.”
The Hang Ups – Tighe, guitarist Jeff Kearns, bassist Aaron Lundholm and drummers Chadwick Nelson and Stephen Ittner – are having a good time of their own. “Second Story,” a critics’ favorite, hasn’t exactly lit up Soundscan’s computers, but Tighe sees a silver lining knowing that the album is selling 200 copies a week almost solely on word of mouth.
“A lot of the touring we did paid off, because it’s selling in a lot of different cities, and that’s cool,” Tighe said. “What it tells me is that there’s a lot of pop lovers out there. People like melodic music, memorable tunes. They like good singing. It’s something I don’t think will ever go out of style. The people we do get to play in front of, we’re able to turn them into fans pretty easily.”
The Hang Ups recently finished work on a video for the single “Long Goodbye.” They’re looking to release “Second Story” in Japan soon and are heading out for a U.S. tour with Matt Wilson (formerly of Trip Shakespeare).
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘Classic Yes.’ I really bonded with it. I proceeded to buy all the Yes albums. There’s something about the way they create a space, an environment, with the music. It had a pretty big effect on me. The music is so advanced; granted, some of the lyrics are goofy, but at the time it didn’t matter to me. The guitar work is incredible, all the musicianship is immaculate, the song structures are more classical structures than pop, but they’re completely memorable.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “It’s a little embarrassing. It was Quiet Riot in Milwaukee, about 1984. It was during that whole scary, hockey mask, ‘Bang Your Head’ thing. I went with a friend who was really into it, but I was more of an interested observer. The thrill of going to a concert without your parents for the first time was cool.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “It must’ve been the Magnetic Fields’ box set, called ’69 Love Songs.’ It’s a three-CD set with literally 69 love songs. Great lyrics, kind of Smiths-like, very sarcastic.”
ON THE WEB: www.thehangups.com.
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