The Beauty Shop’s music has been called “devoutly minimalist and unsparingly brooding” by RollingStone.com. Guitarist John Hoeffleur tells buzz of his wooing skills with people in the music world leading to his show with Pygmalionee, Maserati, and how after releasing albums in the U.K., he still is drawn to the homeland of CU. I got a chance to talk to John about rock and roll, Dramamine and groupies – err, industry people.
buzz: Your song Paper Hearts for Josie begins, “Passed out underneath the disco ball/That she bought from Spencer’s in the shopping mall/Kids these days love rock and roll.” What does rock and roll mean to you?
JH: I know those words. Everyone’s got their music of choice. For me it’s the joie de vivre, so to speak, the spirit of life. That’s not to say that it’s the best or most refined [type of music] it’s the opposite of that, in a lot ways. It’s what I like. A lot of what’s called rock and roll now features that disco beat, you know? I loathe that.
buzz: Is it frustrating making music that is so different from what’s popular right now?
JH: I like it. It’s what I want to do. In some ways our music is a response. I’m happy that everyone else sucks.
buzz: How did the first songs you wrote compare to the ones you’re writing now?
JH: They were better. That’s what everyone tells me.
buzz:What’s your goal when you sit down to write a song?
JH: There’s no goal. You can’t force it. Well … you could I guess. I could sit down for 20 minutes and come up with something to play, but you can’t force it, it’s better to sit on a song for a while.
buzz: What would you tell someone who’s never heard The Beauty Shop before about your music, if anything?
JH: Nothing. I have the microphone. If I want to just stand up there and talk to people I could, but that’s not what I want to do, I want to play guitar.
buzz: You write very American-sounding music, so why do you think you have been so successful in the United Kingdom?
JH: In other countries American culture is fetish-ized. People are interested in the traditions of it, whereas right now in America people don’t have a lot of interest in tradition.
buzz: Any stories from the road?
JH: Well … I guess there was the time we took a bunch of Dramamine in Louisiana. You’ll trip off Dramamine if you take like 10 of them, it’s not much fun though. It’s actually pretty awful.
buzz:You’ve traveled all over the place, why do you always come back to Champaign?
JH: There’s a lot of shitty places. I don’t like cities that much – fast and people and honking. I don’t like when there are a lot of people around, I’m not happy. And in a lot of ways the people in Champaign aren’t people, they’re like caricatures of actual people. Like when they were thinking about getting rid of the Chief, and everyone was like, “Oh my God!”
buzz: What are you up to now?
JH: We’re playing in Champaign, at Cowboy Monkey, on June 6 with Maserati and with the Chemicals. They’re great and I’m really excited about that. Before that we’re going to New York to woo some industry people. We used to call them groupies, now it’s industry people.