The good feeling is always there, unlike the first time you do a drug and that's the best time and then it fades. This gets better all the time because we're always bringing new things to the table. We're connected on an inexplicable level.

-Loicano on his relationship with Bluhm

Photo by Josh Miller

Got Rhythm

Paul Hoaglin by Josh Miller
The pairing of Hoaglin and Hofer ranks up there with Patrick Hallahan and Two Tone Tommy of My Morning Jacket, or dipping further back, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle of Derek and the Dominoes. Bluhm says a rhythm section like this pair is "like a weapon. It breaks down the door so the rest of it can come in."

"There's no rules in music but lots of times I'll say to the bass player, 'If I'm getting busy maybe you can stay simple, and if you're getting busy I'll hang back.' Paul and I do that without having to talk about it," offers Hofer. "Paul is one of the most incredible all-around musical talents ever. We're just glad that we've got him. He produced the first two Mother Hips records and he was there when Isaac decided to quit the band. He was really already part of the band, and in that way I still sometimes feel like the new guy even though I've been in the band 10 years [laughs]."

Hoaglin says, "When I joined the band I went to [Hofer], physically went to him, and tried to pull him out of his high-hat staring shell. I was always watching his kick drum, his snare drum, paying attention. He's really trying to be a bad ass on the level of Jim Keltner - to be the rock, the foundation. I don't care where he goes. I'm going with him, and I think he knows that now."

"Hofer's somewhere between Bill Kreutzman [Grateful Dead] and Alan White [Yes]," adds Hoaglin. "To me, [original drummer] Mike Wofchuck was Bill Bruford, down to his snare drum sound. He has the same kind of brilliance and limitations. Hofer is the Alan White to Mike's Bill Bruford, total stylistic opposites."

Goodness Abounds

Vintage Greg Loicano
Things are looking rosy for the Hips, who in the past have struggled with substance abuse, frustrating big record labels and the other flotsam and jetsam facing any hard working American band. They're about to embark on their first national tour in years in celebration of an album they're intensely proud of. According to the band, being on the road less since 2004 has been nothing but good for them.

"We don't have to play all the time. I'd venture to say, for almost anyone, if you play too much you're going to burn out – on the material, on the lifestyle, on performing itself. That's definitely not happening to us because it's exciting," says Bluhm. "We're at the point where we don't need to play every night to stay well oiled. Sometimes we play better when we haven't even seen each other for two weeks. It's a lot of fun now."

"In hindsight, the hiatus we took was the best thing for us," adds Hofer. "Greg and Tim had never done anything else since they met in the dorm rooms. We never stopped appreciating it. We just took a break. I really noticed how fresh and new it all felt when we came back."

Tim Bluhm by Josh Miller
Bluhm has just opened a recording studio in San Francisco with Jackie Greene. "I've had this longstanding dream of having my own studio so I can really make the record I want to make because there's no limitations whatsoever," says Bluhm. "I finally got a great space and some nice equipment. It's called Mission Bells. When it was in my home it was called Pacific Dust." The other thing he shares with Greene is a new side project called Skinny Singers currently recording their debut. When I suggest they could add other skinny vocalists later, Bluhm retorts, "Or they'd have to lose weight! It could be like Menudo, where you quit when you turn 18. If either one of us started to put on weight we'll get kicked out!"

Right now, they're loading the tour van preparing for the bohemian lifestyle of itinerant musicians once again. "For a long time, we had a problem coming to grips with the fact that we're hippies," laughs Hofer. "People used to say I killed the hippy feel of the band when I joined because of Later Days [which Hofer actually likens to the Dead's Workingman/American Beauty period]. I laugh because I love the Grateful Dead and I'm more of a hippy than the rest of those guys. There's a lot of misinterpretations about this band and we've probably not helped that."

The Mother Hips by Josh Miller
Loiacono enthuses, "I'm feeling more hippy than ever! I like to go on psychedelic journeys [laughs]." When he says 'psychedelic' the word seems to have more to do with opening one's third eye and less with lysergic experimentation. "For certain fans it'll be a rough ride. They want to hear the old stuff and they aren't going to. The new songs make up half a set, so they'll get half of what they already know."

The only definitions they seem cool with are the ones they bring in themselves, and even those hold no special attachment. The group's identity is ever shifting, true only to immediate inspiration, and this embrace of changeability extends even to the name Mother Hips.

"I love it. The literal meaning of the words is lost. It's just an entity in my life," says Bluhm. "I don't think about its origins or what it really means. It defines itself now."

JamBase | California
Go See Live Music!

The Mother Hips kick-off their National Tour this weekend (4/6 and 4/7) at SF's Independent.

Full tour dates available here.

Check out The Mother Hips at HSMF 2006:

[Published on: 4/5/07]

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willydog starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/5/2007 07:00PM
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The hips are crazy good. Been a fan for years. Like Neil Young with the Beach Boys singing at times> Great live show, good wiskey schwirl. Do not miss. Thanks jambase for shoutin out to Chico's best kept secret. - Chum!!!!!!!!

Sizlunt Thu 4/5/2007 07:17PM
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Haha I was at that stage when they were playing last year, it was crazy hot that day, even under the net thing they put up for shade. Hips are awesome.

Captain Sammy starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/6/2007 10:20AM
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Captain Sammy

Excellent as always Mr. Cook! An insightful read about an amazing band. Can't wait to catch this tour and hear the new sounds.

cassiebob Fri 4/6/2007 10:23AM
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Nice one Dennis. This article tells it like it is, answers all the questions that have been multiplying in my brain in anticipation of this very momentus release and tour and should hopefully turn a lot of new folks on to the coolest band around. Thanks! These guys deserve it.

brewer247 Fri 4/6/2007 11:22AM
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Great article. Only wish they would play the Denver area.

brewer247 starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/6/2007 11:25AM
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Forgot to rate this great article about a great band. Cheers.

voopa starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/6/2007 12:46PM
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Great band, great article! Thanks!

cassiebob Fri 4/6/2007 01:21PM
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It sounds like there might be plans in the works for Denver area shows. Check out The Grotto, their fan forum site.

Tan starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/6/2007 01:45PM
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There has never been enough love for the California Soul! Long live the Mother Hips.

DeepBlue starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/6/2007 08:03PM
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D-Cook. Nice word wizardry! That photo with Wofchuck is a true classic. For those who know, that photo was taken at a bend in the river running through Bidwell park, and that same dead tree is there today. The memories, the memories, the melody!

Someone should cover the works of Mike Wofchuck post Hips. Mike is an amazing drummer. It is quite the story and a huge part of Hips History.

joshmillerphoto starstarstarstarstar Sat 4/7/2007 07:54PM
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Thanks again for some great prose, D. Cook! Have a fantastic evening with the Mother Hips tonight!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/11/2007 04:46AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

The New Album kiss the crystal flake is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!
holy !@#$%%$#@ :-) Peas...

phoolish starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/11/2007 10:39AM
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The Hips are the greatest band no one's ever heard of. I cant wait for the NYC shows...first time east in like, what, 12 years?! Hell yes!

mcmanust Wed 4/11/2007 08:46PM
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FUCKIN' AWESOME!!! The new album is great. First 3 songs on that album are terrific. I'll see you at the mercury lounge show. The place is great for them too.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/12/2007 06:34AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Time Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear!!!! what fun!! :P peas...

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/12/2007 09:26AM
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Kiss The Crystal Flake is fantastic!

winecorker starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 03:21PM
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Been grooving to the Hips since '95ish. Love their SONGWRITING!!! Well put, Dennis. It's almost sacrilege to compare anyone to The Beatles, but I think the shoe fits in this case.