Merging the studied cool of the new wave revivalist movement with the sleek textures and commanding rhythm of electronic pop, Hockey burst out of the Portland, OR music scene in 2009 to become cult favorites in the United Kingdom on the strength of a handful of live appearances and a self-produced demo EP. Vocalist and guitarist Ben Grubin and bassist Jeremy Reynolds formed Hockey in 2007 while they were both students at Southern California’s Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, a free-form college affiliated with the University of Redlands. The Johnston Center allows students to establish their own curriculum, and Grubin and Reynolds used the opportunity to focus their attentions on music. They began writing songs and playing out as Hockey accompanied only by a drum machine, and a demo recorded by this early incarnation of the band attracted the attention of A&R executives at Sony Music. Hockey were signed to a record deal, but communication between Grubin and Reynolds and Sony soon broke down, and attempts to cut an album with producer Jerry Harrison (ex-Talking Heads) came to a halt when Sony dropped the band. Grubin and Reynolds left California for a creative environment where they could start over, and after a spell in Spokane, WA, they found it in Portland, OR. Hockey expanded to a four-piece with the addition of percussionist Anthony Stassi and guitarist Brian White during the band’s stay in Spokane, and they started playing clubs and college parties as soon as they hit Portland. Home-recorded versions of the songs “Learn to Lose” and “Work” found their way to Zane Lowe, a disc jockey at BBC Radio 1, and airplay generated a demand for the group in the U.K.. After being invited to play the London club Water Rats, and a showcase hosted by the influential music magazine New Musical Express, Hockey were once again being courted by the major labels, and they signed with Virgin for the U.K. and Europe and Capitol for the United States. Hockey’s album Mind Chaos, featuring revised versions of the songs from their demo, was released in fall 2009.
The follow-up ‘Wyeth Is’ comes almost four years later. Check their Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.