A crescent moon shape of people formed around the band at Rainshadow Community Charter High School on Jan. 9. Three men in ties assumed their instrumental positions. They tuned, they tested, they terrorized with song. The crowd, once stoic and unassuming, had become a big, fantastic group of jumpers, colliding and melting into each other like excited cells.
The tie-clad power source for this great human dance: Hopscotch Whiskey.
“When people dance … it’s all you can ask for,” says Daniel Sion, the band’s bassist. “It makes you play better when they’re dancing.”
The music itself does not stand still. It’s given to genre flirtation while still remaining as full of nails and hot sweat as punk rock allows. Their fast and bloody fashions give way to songs like “Hellbound Boy,” which initially seems slight and bouncy, but the titular refrain sails in a thick, dark smirk. There is also the Weezer-esque stretch of “Tea Leaves,” the guitar line of which curls and extends as though lazy and on a couch. The lyrics suggest as much: “Mama says, ‘get a job’ / And papa says, ‘get a job’ / But I’d rather waste my time with you.”
They carry this material with as much irreverent aplomb as is somewhat required by their name, which, according to guitarist Ryan deLaureal, is a pun of no specific origin.
“It’s the lowest form of humor,” he adds.
“I think people are starting to think it means something, but it most certainly doesn’t,” says Sion.
Hopscotch Whiskey began in 2008 when Sion and deLaureal met at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in George, Wash.
“We went with this girl that we had both dated,” says deLaureal. Continuing the anecdote, he looks to Sion for clarification. “You weren’t dating her at the time …”
“No, I only dated her once,” says Sion. “You dated her twice. And then I dated her again after that.”
After relating this strange and confused connective tissue, they unfurled the rest of their history with relative ease: Sion and deLaureal started playing folk music together under different names, before finally arriving at Hopscotch Whiskey and a more rock ’n’ roll sound in 2009. Drummer Mick Moore joined four months ago, filling a role previously held by Aaron Sion.
The band’s genre moves have lent an excited dysphoria to their sound.
“It’s always changing,” says deLaureal. “Every new song sets a new precedent for what we play.”
“The last thing I would want to do is be in an AC/DC type of band where every song sounds the same,” says More. “Even if they’re well-written, you’ve got to have variety, man.”
So a folksy-punk rock song can also give into its hidden lounge influences, as in the song “Picture You,” a three-minute lounge shuffle.
In fact, Hopscotch Whiskey is still expanding its sound. They’re looking for a keyboard player and are directing all applicants to their MySpace page
Hopscotch Whiskey’s music has thus far gained a glut of positive attention from both friends and unknowns.
“We get pretty good turnouts, and people say good things,” says Moore.
“And all the haters can fucking go home,” adds Sion with a joking sneer. DeLaureal laughs, but then reconsiders Sion’s dismissal:
“Man, I want to convert all the haters.”