“I tend not to get too wrapped up in what a rock star should be or anything,” shares Chicago-based Joe Tripp, front man for Joe Tripp and the Hops. “I’ve been there and done that but I feel like the best work I’ve done has always been heartfelt honest songwriting.”
That pursuit of honesty in his music, combined with an admittedly driven and persistent need to compete, complete with the demons that come with the desire to succeed, are among the forces that have driven the former Texan to his current position in life and music. Tripp’s journey into the music world began like so many others, beginning singing in choirs and the like at the age of ten and later learning guitar. He then added mandolin and piano to his repertoire, rounding out his skills.
College found him graduating as an English major but music continued to draw him in, the soul-stirring elements refusing to let him go as he found inspiration in bands like The Old ‘97s and Weezer. Further listening would expose him to a surprising set of influences in Spanish pop acts like Juanes and Julieta Venegas while more recently he’s been enthralled by the greats of swing jazz such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman, even to the point of hanging out with some of his musician friends and rocking out some old jazz standards, “which my music resembles not in the slightest.”
Harnessing each and every influence, Tripp eventually teamed up with band mate TJ Walker, who helms skins and percussion, and formed The Hops. Yet, as Tripp took more of a forward role in the band, managing all the songwriting duties and more, and in order to avoid any confusion with the UK band by the same name, the collective changed their name to their current moniker, Joe Tripp and the Hops.
The band’s sound falls squarely into the indie alternative rock realm, with a healthy dose of pop sensibility and has drawn comparisons to the likes of Weezer, Incubus, and The Gin Blossoms. And performing in and around the Chicago area has seen them experience the full gamut of mountain peaks and valleys.
Their 2011 release, Won’t It Be Fun, boasted some A-list production in Doug McBride (Fall Out Boy, Veruca Salt, Badly Drawn Boy) and led Campus Circle’s Mary Broadbent to comment, “Won’t It Be Fun delivers an upbeat sound… having a classic resemblance in production and sound to Weezer’s Blue Album, this is definitely a band to check out and see.” Wildy Haskell of Wildy’s World adds, “The Hops create some interesting sounds in their arrangements, filling up each song’s core with a tight-yet-informal sound that’s rough hewn and melodic. There’s a lot of good energy on the album…”
Tripp and company have tried to maintain that energy on their latest release, entitled 6 Songs, which finds the band continuing to press forward with their emotionally-tinged songs, capturing windows of time in honest lyrics and compelling melodies. And their biggest hope? That listeners will find a connection with these songs and share them with others. Because, as Tripp is wont to say, “Overexposure could be therapeutic.”