Band of the Week: Hop Along

Concert Preview

Meet the band: Frances Quinlan (vocals, guitar), Mark Quinlan (drums), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar)

In the Beginning: In 2004, Frances Quinlan started performing as Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, a solo effort that showcased her highly personal songs. "It was just me because when I was in high school, I used to perform with my oldest brother Andrew," she says. "When I was going away to college, I knew I would have to play shows on my own. I started playing under that moniker and recorded [my debut] Freshman Year in my parents' basement with the help of some friends. [Drummer] Mark [Quinlan] was in a hardcore band that was breaking up. We decided to start jamming together." When Quinlan went to college, she didn't devote as much time to the group. But upon graduating, she put a formal band together and the band signed to the indie label Saddle Creek in 2014.

Get Your Freak Folk On: Early on, Quinlan says she regularly listened to freak-folk acts like Kimya Dawson and Devendra Banhart. But now, the band downplays that side of its sound. "We get classified in so many different ways now, I don't know where we fit," she says. "Or if we should fit in."

Why You Should Hear Them: The band recorded its latest album, Painted Shut, at a studio space that its guitarist shares in Philly. It worked with producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth, Sweet Apple), whom Quinlan describes as a "punk," and that's meant as a compliment. "He stayed at my house on a blowup mattress," she says of Agnello. "It was great to work with him. He wanted to help the songs be as much as they could. He genuinely cared about what we were doing. Those are the things that matter more than a signature sound. We weren't looking for that." The song "Happy to See Me" is a sparse tune that shows off Quinlan's brittle vocals. It has the intensity of Nirvana's unplugged session. "We had thrown that song around a little as a band and it didn't seem to be happening and it didn't seem to need anything so John set the mics up and I played and sang it live," says Quinlan. "I loved doing that. It's very daunting. I'm glad it managed to come across. John is very easy to work with and he doesn't let you agonize. He did a great job of navigating me, because I was very nervous and I didn't know how we would get it in one take."

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Hop Along performs with GoldMINES and ShiSho at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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