No Matter Where You Are

Hospital Garden Celebrate Release of Debut CD

Chemistry is everything in rock n’ roll. You never know when a certain inexplicable combination of personalities might combine to create something much greater than its components. In the case of Chicago’s Hospital Garden, the indie trio discovered an enthralling dynamic in their music that can be heard on their self-titled debut disc which the band will release this weekend at Blind Bob’s.

While Hospital Garden came together in Dayton in early 2008, its roots lie in Michigan. Growing up in Jackson and later relocating to Ypsilanti for college, guitarist/singer Lucas Hollow had been kicking around in various bands before moving to Dayton for graduate school. Despite his being in a strange new city, Hollow quickly found himself a new group of musical compatriots.

“I put up a flyer saying I wanted to be in a band,” Hollow explained. “Jeffro Coffey was the only one who replied, and he was already in a band with (bassist) Sarah (Carey) called The Dirty Echoes. They asked me to play drums. However, this ended pretty quickly. I asked Sarah if she wanted to play bass and start a new band. Jeffro introduced me to (drummer) Ian (Spencer), and Ian ended up being interested. We practiced at Ian’s dad’s place a few times and we started trying to find shows. Our early shows were small, but extremely encouraging.”

Throughout 2008 and the first half of 2009, Hospital Garden continued to flourish on the strength of a rapidly maturing live show. In autumn 2008, the band recorded and self-released an EP which earned them critical attention around Dayton. While Hollow & Co. found that keeping the recording process in-house proved a rewarding experience, for their next recording venture the band sought outside help from engineer Todd Tobias at his Waterloo Recording Studios in Kent.

“In the past, I’ve usually recorded with friends, so it was somewhat different releasing control and allowing someone else to make decisions,” Hollow admitted. “We had heard albums that Todd has done and we trusted him. He had ideas, but tried not to impose on anything the band wanted. He worked fast too. We got the basic instrument tracks done the first day, and did vocals the second. Then we went back to Dayton and he mixed it.  Overall, it was a really great experience and we have a record that we’re very happy with.”

The results of these sessions can be heard on the band’s self-titled debut CD. which reveal a more mature band than appeared on their first EP. While Hospital Garden continues to channel vintage alt/indie acts like REM, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Built to Spill, the band has honed in on distinctive amalgamation that sounds fresh yet familiar. With Hollow’s guitar alternating between shimmering jangle and grungy fuzz, bassist Sarah Carey and drummer Ian Spencer fuse into a remarkably solid rhythm section. At their extremes, Hospital Garden show a penchant for psychedlic noise freakouts (“Tourniquet”) as well as somber introspection (“Hill”). At their core, however, lies a bed of classic indie pop numbers filled with incessant hooks. The undeniable “Ypsi” is recycled from their first EP, but this time around is taken at a brisk pace and the cleaner guitar allows Hollow’s twangy, emotive vocals to shine through. The biting guitar riffs of “Look Alive!” and “Young Republicans” deliver sludgy slacker anthems that may recall a bygone era, but still resonate in the modern musical landscape.

“With any band that has come out in the recent past a great deal of comparisons can be made, simply due to the vastly expanding catalog of music available,” Hollow suggested. “Obviously we are not exempt from that, although we hope that people look beyond those comparisons and listen to the songs as what they are. I feel that the songs sound fresh because I definitely don’t have a particular style in mind when I write, and the songs just come out the way they do.”

Before the new album could be released, however, Hospital Garden relocated to Chicago last fall. Although they left a receptive audience in Dayton behind, their successes in Chicago thus far indicate that the band may continue to flourish in their new environs.

“We have already played some of the better venues here,” Hollow said. “Our band name is floating around, but I wouldn’t say we’ve broken in. Playing here has some similarities to Dayton. It’s still the Midwest. We meet really nice people and bands at our shows. Obviously, Chicago is much bigger city. In Dayton, we would see primarily familiar faces, even as our shows got bigger. Here, we have friends come out, but every show presents a crowd of folks we have never met. That adds a different dynamic to the shows, a mix of excitement and tension.”

Hospital Garden will celebrate the release of their self-titled debut album with a performance on Saturday, May 1, at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also scheduled to appear are Idaho, Alaska (Lexington) and Roley Yuma. Doors open at 9 p.m. and admission is $5 for 21 and up. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/hospitalgarden.

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