When Brooklyn based trio Hospitality released their second album Trouble at the end of January, critics and fans alike appreciated and embraced the growth and maturity reflected. The album explored pop, folk and electro, blending contrasting musical styles. Causing “trouble” for those who wanted to draw the previous “sweet” and “cute” box comparisons, Hospitality noticeably redefined these lines and removed any imposed boundaries. Eager to connect with Brian Betancourt from the group to ask about a myriad of topics including the new sonic direction heard on their sophomore effort and random embarrassing moments, mxdwn chatted with Betancourt as he prepared to embark on their latest tour, which will hit U.S. and European cities over the next few months.
Trouble has been described as having a more diverse, darker sound. Was that your goal with this sophomore album?
Somewhat. We definitely wanted to switch gears a little bit from the first record, just to show what else we could do and what we like. A lot of it was kind of organic. Tastes change and influences change. It was conscious in that we were trying to flex different muscles but it wasn’t THAT conscious of a decision.
Was it in response to being called things like “irresistibly charming” and “indie pop cute”?
(Laughing) That’s very flattering and positive, but it did seem to paint us into a corner. Our interests are pretty diverse and between the three of us, we have a lot of strengths. This is just Part Two in an ongoing project.
How has being in Brooklyn now influenced you as a musician?
We’ve made a lot of musician friends and I wouldn’t say we’re part of a scene, but there are a lot of mini-scenes around New York that help us to grow and meet people. It’s great for meeting like-minded supportive and non-competitive people.
If you could go back and speak to your 13-year-old self , what advice would you give?
I would tell myself to let go a little bit more and try to be more open minded. I don’t know how 13 year old me would interpret that, but that’s what I would say.
Where were you when you first heard your song on the radio?
I think we’re played on satellite radio but I’ve heard us in stores and in restaurants. I was in a Shake Shack by my place and it was nice to hear our song there and I would totally endorse them because they’re delicious. (laughing)
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
I’d feel guilty invading people’s privacy, but I guess I would spy on someone’s rehearsal session like Stevie Wonder to see how he works.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you while performing?
Luckily, onstage, not too much has happened but we did record a session video of three songs that featured this extreme close-up of me singing off-key during one of the songs. Luckily, I got to put the kibosh on that during the editing process. We toured with Wild Flag for a week and I was surprised that Carrie Brownstein didn’t break any bones. She did a lot of kicking and amp climbing but she’s a professional. I’m sure the first time I attempt to do anything acrobatic, I will injure myself.
What’s been the biggest WTF moment for the band so far?
I saw Amber [Papini, vocals and guitar] have a Twitter exchange with Norman Blake from Teenage Fan Club. He was praising our record and it felt like something went right. That was a pretty big WTF moment. We also made a video with Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips from Luna. They acted in our “Going Out” video. It was flattering and insane to have personal heroes do our video because they liked our music.
Have there been any awkward moments being on tour with a married couple?
Tons (laughing). They live together and they’re like a band within a band. We’ve found ways to make it work.They always joke and ask me if I feel like a second class citizen…(laughing) That’s why the new album is called Trouble because it’s always a push and pull when it comes to the creative process. Even within Nathan and Amber there are differing styles, but it has yielded positive results.
When you are touring the U.S. and Europe later in 2014, what will be your must-haves?
I just picked up a pair of these phone texting gloves because we’re going to be playing some pretty cold places. I need to be able to use my smartphone so I’m really excited about these gloves.
Hospitality will have a jam-packed performance schedule this spring. Check them out at SXSW at one of Waterloo Records’ day parties!