Hockey Dad ist ein australisches Surf-Punk-Duo, bestehend aus Sänger und Gitarrist Zach Stephenson und Schlagzeuger Billy Fleming. Momentan holen die beiden ihre verschobene Europatour nach, auf der sie unter anderem auch in Hamburg, Berlin, Köln und München vorbeikommen. Unsere Redakteurin Nina hat sich mit Zach und Billy getroffen und mit ihnen über das Älterwerden, Mental Health in der Musikindustrie und das Touren auf einem anderen Kontinent gesprochen.
A lot of your songs, like “Seaweed” and “Jump The Gun” have themes of running away to a sort of made up paradise. What helps you get away in daily life?
Zach: It’s really nice to just get outside and stay active. Especially on tour, it’s really important to take a little time for yourself. Just like walking, being outside, playing some sports, swimming. Also, getting out into nature is an important thing for me personally.
Billy: We surf a lot when we’re home, and Zach has really gotten into golf. So, yes, it’s always part of our lives to keep the balance up, for sure.
Your first albums deal with youthfulness. How does making music change with getting older and with new views that come with it? Do you feel „wiser“ in any way than you did, for example, on the first album?
Billy: I feel like the writing that we did back then was kind of observational or a bit distant from ourselves. Now the songs are a bit more internalized, I would say.
Zach: Yes, the songs now are more personal, and the problems you face and the situations you find yourself in as you get older change. So, that comes across in some of the newer stuff that we’ve been doing. The songs kind of look more insight with more personal experiences and situations. And yes, hopefully we’re a little bit wiser, and can tackle things a little better. And I think our writing kind of reflects that.
Hockey Dad – Seaweed (Musikvideo)
How do you feel about sharing personal stuff? Is it easy for you to open up to so many people in your songs?
Billy: I guess it’s kind of ambiguous in a way. I don’t think there are many lyrics that reveal too much detail or exact scenarios, situations or opinions. But the listener can kind of tell what they think it’s about, which is cool.
What about you, Zach? Have you ever spilled the bean and revealed a bit too much?
Zach: I don’t know. Possibly. But I always like saying personal things, but I blanket them under a kind of ambiguity or generalization. So, I think being personal is getting easier and easier the more we write. Because at one point, there’s kind of nowhere else to go except talking about yourself and being personal. So, I think it’s getting easier over the years, and you learn cool and neat little tricks of hiding your own stories in these songs that can be accessed by everyone.
One thing that I also find very noteworthy is that you as a band have been actively involved in promoting mental health awareness. Can you tell me more about it?
Billy: It basically started during the whole Covid situation. We tried our best to just make something happen, and initiated driving shows that were a really big thing. We were like “OK, we just put a show on, it doesn’t matter if you’re staying, sitting or whatever”. Everyone was missing music, and we just tried our best. That was kind of the bigger push that we were trying to make, and with this it definitely felt a little bit like going back to normal in a way. And we just tried to make sure that the crowd is happy, we are happy, and the crew is happy.
Zach: Yes, I think the biggest thing is looking out for the mental health not only for the fans but of bands themselves and their crew. That’s part of the job. I think it’s nice to speak up and give a little bit of awareness around what band members, the crews and people working in the music industry in general are going through and the challenges they face. So, that’s probably like a new target for us to put awareness on these topics and inform people that there are ways to get help and navigate through this.
I think it’s very cool that you speak very openly about this topic because I have the feeling that it’s not addressed enough yet. How would you as a band describe the handling of mental health issues in the music industry?
Billy: In the pre Covid era, it was just a rat race, and I don’t think anyone really almost had the time to even think about it. Everybody just kept going, even though you were burned out physically and mentally. But I feel like during the forced time off you had enough time to reflect, and I think this helped in a way that now you have the possibility to slow down more often. It’s becoming a need rather than just a thing that might happen here and there. So, I think that’s good.
Zach: I think the whole industry has gotten better in recognizing it and speaking up about it, and just letting people know that it’s okay to feel this way. A lot of people go through the same kind of issues in this job. So, I think it has gotten better than it used to. And after Covid now, people are just more aware of it.
Billy: Yeah, I think that’s awesome.
Also, mental health is getting more and more awareness on social media recently. And I think it’s so important that people use their reach to open up about it and destigmatize mental illness.
Zach: Definitely. That’s really a step forward. Having an open conversation with everybody, and not hiding behind working hard and drinking or whatever. It’s helping a lot of people.
You have toured extensively throughout Australia, Europe, and North America. What are some of your favorite memories from touring, and how have those experiences influenced your music?
Billy: A few songs have been written on tour. “Good Eye” for example was written when we were on the road in North Queensland. You just get some spark of inspiration, for sure, because you soak in so many experiences and differences. Especially in Europe and the UK, where you have so many different cultures and stuff. You just soak it all up like a sponge.
Zach: We did a pretty big American tour last year. We played really big venues that we could cross off our bucket list, which was incredible. Everyone treated us so well and was so nice to us. That’s been a good memory. Also, we haven’t been to Europe for about three or four years now. So, coming back here and being out on tour again is even better than how I remembered it. This will also be a nice memory.
Hockey Dad – T’s To Cross (Musikvideo)
After postponing your Europe shows for so long. What were you looking forward to most? Have your expectations been met?
Billy: We have a pretty long tour now. Europe and the UK first, and then we’ll head over to the US. We’re going to be on the road for about four months, I think. It’s pretty awesome to be back. I feel the more often we come here it just gets comfier, and you just experience everything different and can relax more. The first times we came here we were like “What is going on?”. It was just so overwhelming.
Zach: Especially in Europe, all the different countries are so close together. In Australia, you drive for five hours straight, and it feels like you’re still in the same place. Here, everything is so different. It’s fun to experience!
Do you have a favorite city in Europe?
Zach: Oh, good question. We were just in Antwerp for the first time. That was really beautiful. We could hang around, relax, and take it all in. A lot of beautiful architecture, which we don’t have in Australia. Nothing is over 50 years old there, really. So, it’s nice to come through and see all these old buildings and that kind of stuff.
Billy: I always have fun in the Netherlands. I don’t know what it is, but every time I go there, it just feels like home in a way.
Zach: The people there are so welcoming and polite. It’s great.
Do you have any particular traditions or habits when you tour a new city or country?
Zach: I always like going for a walk. Even if it’s just half an hour. I love going out and taking in as much as possible of the city we’re in. I guess you could say this has become a tradition.
Billy: Also, having a beer somewhere after the show and just hanging out is always a lot of fun.
Sounds really nice! Thanks so much for your time, and enjoy the rest of your tour!
Hockey Dad – Good Eye (Musikvideo)
Foto: Ian Laidlaw