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Hoops (Credit: James Lacroix)

Self-taught DIY quartet Hoops have come a long way since their roots as frontman Drew Ausherman’s bedroom solo project.

Progressing from ambient, low-fi roots, the Bloomington, Indiana band have shifted towards a summery power-pop sound, backed by complex drum beats and swooning vocals.

Drew says the sound progressed after “it got to a point where I became more interested in writing more conventional pop songs rather than just putting out synth and guitar drone-based music.

“As I got older I had started falling harder and harder for all kinds of pop music.”

Drew roped in friends to record with, remaining a loosely defined band – with some members only playing one show – before settling on the current line-up.

Bassist and guitarist Kevin Krauter says the project was “amateur, but so much fun. We were writing songs here and there, even though none of us even knew how to write songs.”

“It was just a natural thing that we all ended up doing this together,” says James Harris, who plays drums. “We’ve always been each others’ go-to’s for band members.”

The trio were eventually joined by keys player Keagan Beresford, with Jack Andrews, of fellow Bloomington band Daguerrotype, tagging along as an occasional touring member. With a solid DIY philosophy, the band have released three cassettes and one EP on four-track tape machines, self-producing their releases and with three of the four members both writing and singing.

Now, the band are set to release debut 'Routines', out May 5th on Fat Possum Records. Kevin says signing with a label has added more pressure and expectation, but the band are sticking to their roots. “There definitely is a new level of pressure and expectation since we’ve signed with a label, mainly because we have to approach making music with more perspective than just our own. But that can also be a really good thing, because it encourages us to pursue different avenues we might have otherwise overlooked.”

The album marks their first sessions in an actual studio — Rear House Recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – working with Jarvis Taveniere—who co-founded the influential indie band Woods and produced albums by Widowspeak and Quilt.

The quartet have maintained an aura of mystery in an age where most bands splash their entire lives across social media, but have edged towards a more ‘engaging’ angle ahead of their first big release. Kevin says the band “initially [we] didn’t really care to extend our online presence beyond posting the tapes and their artwork. Nowadays it feels more natural to put stuff up and be a little more engaging than we used to.”

The band describe their rough and ready sound as “medium-fi, because we’ve started working with higher quality methods of recording,” says Keagan, “but we also really love the creative capabilities and the character that comes with the whole lo-fi thing. “For 'Routines', we tried to use all of the tools at our disposal to make a really consistent, high-quality album, but we also wanted to retain some of the lo-fi qualities that kind of defined our sound up until now. It’s similar to our EP in that sense.”

“I think the songs are bit more mature than the ones from our EP,” Drew adds. “The songwriting is a bit more concise and refined. I think the direction we want to head in with are music is a bit more apparent on this record. We also think that this record represents us as band better than our EP.”

Their debut looks set to be a further step towards a poppy sound. Kevin says: “We put a lot of effort into the hooks and textures of the record, but most of it is just straightforward pop songs. We were all listening to a pretty diverse array of stuff going into it, and it definitely shows on some of them.”

Having just completed their first European tour to packed-out sweaty venues across the continent, the band are optimistic about their future. “We really just want to keep doing it for the sake of doing it,” Kevin says, “We’re all really comfortable working together and we’ve known each other long enough that it just feels natural to keep writing songs and collaborating, because it’s all we’ve really ever done.”

Drew added: “We’d like to continue to refine our sound with each record so that it reflects the kind of musicians we are and influences we have as we get older. We would never want to find one sound or style and stick with it forever.”

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Words: Megan White

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