The Hoot Hoots — comprised entirely of Knox alumni — will be making a return to Galesburg on April 18. The band has evolved much since leaving Knox, but will be returning as part of a 24-day tour hitting 19 venues and covering some 8,000 miles along with Friends and Family, which some members are also part of. They will be performing at The Box, which was not in existence during The Hoot Hoots’ time here. Nor was Taylor Student Lounge, where they performed one of their first major campus shows. It was called Wallace Lounge then and Weezer was in its prime.
“When I was at Knox, we listened to the early albums of Weezer like crazy and then we got really disappointed when they started to suck,” vocalist and guitarist Adam Prairie ’05 said.
The band got their start during Adam and his brother Chris Prairie’s ‘08 high school days. Natives to Chicago, they took “The Hoot Hoots” name to college, and the band took off during Adam’s post-baccalaureate year.
“We were most prominently known as the band that accompanied a Shakespeare production of ‘As You Like It’ … there was a ‘60s throwback version of ‘As You Like It’ that was going down,” Adam said. “People were really into that. It was super overwhelming.”
The sound has changed over the years as music tastes matured, locations changed and members were added. The current four members live in Seattle, Wash. and describe their sound as “fuzzy power pop”. Current influences include Flaming Lips, video game Katamari Domicy, The Unicorns, The Shins, Queen, Neutral Milk Hotel and, yes, still early Weezer.
Keyboardist Christina Ellis ‘05, originally from the Seattle area, convinced Adam to move back there with her after Knox. They soon convinced Chris to do the same and later met bassist Geoff Brown ’08 who moved there from Colorado.
“Born from the ashes…”
“At the base of the Space Needle…”
“I like this story so far…”
The two brothers and Geoff narrated the start of the current Hoot Hoots. Humor among the four members is infectious and it translates into their musicianship.
“Actually the first time I met Geoff was in the music library, and he wasn’t part of The Hoot Hoots, doing a research project up there and he was like, ‘Hey, man, good show…’ and I was like, ‘Ah, cool, can I check out these CDs?’” Adam said.
“And I was like, ‘No, we don’t do that here. We just steal them and leave them,’” Geoff joked.
Since Knox, The Hoot Hoots have increased their exposure, performing at the Crocodile, Chop Suey and Nuemos — major music venues in Seattle.
“We paid our dues in that regard.”
The members described dive-bar venues with questionable restroom facilities and expressed elation at their recent success finding more quality stages that provide bottled water and food. Despite this recent success, the band still maintains a thrifty approach to the business side of things.
“We’re pretty DIY on almost everything. I am also a recording engineer, and so I record all of our music and we silkscreen all of our cases for our albums and all of our own t-shirts,” Adam said. “Being in a band it’s hard to break even, and if you get too many other people involved in creating a bunch of sh*t you realize that ‘Oh, yeah, we’re way in debt and we’re never going to get out of it,’ so by doing all this stuff ourselves we’re able to make money.”
Christina described their “tour bus” as a Prius which will hold all four members, amps, instruments, etc. Thrifty indeed.
“We’re excited to come back to Knox. Last year we tried to get a show and they kept saying, ‘We can’t do it that day’ and it turns out they couldn’t do it because it was Flunk Day,” Christina said.
Whether April 18 is Flunk Day or not, The Hoot Hoots will be returning to campus.