Hot Cops Interview: “It’s important to connect with something but it’s also really hard”

hot cops interview

New Single ‘Dumbbo’ Out Now Via Paper Trail Records.

Belfast alternative rock trio Hot Cops have been at this band thing since 2013. A fine job they’ve done of it too. However, even by their own standards, this new track of theirs ‘Dumbbo’ is an absolutely gem. A pensive song that revels in the slow build, it patiently unfurls and unfolds until exploding into fuzzy guitarist and singer Carl Eccles exclaiming repeatedly, “When I say your name I choke / When I say my name I choke.” It seems like a watershed song in the band’s development.

We sat down recently with singer/songwriter with group Carl Eccles to discuss the track, working with Paper Trail Records and the group’s plans for the future.

Overblown: So the name Hot Cops. You don’t happen to be named after an Arrested Development episode do you?

Carl Eccles: Arrested Develo-whaaaat???

O: Your newest track ‘Dumbbo’ is quite a harrowing and yet cathartic listen. Could you tell us a bit about writing and recording of the track?

CE: The idea for ‘Dumbbo’ came from watching a nature documentary one night when i was feeling “~existential~”. There was a part where a herd (or “memory”) of elephants was travelling somewhere to find water and a baby got separated from its mother while playing/exploring, it started following the tracks of the herd (or “memory”) but in the wrong direction and wound up dehydrated and starving and dying alone.

‘Dumbbo’ is about trying to stay soft in an age of information and apathy. It’s important to care and connect with something, whether it’s spiritual/physical/emotional/ideological, but it’s also really hard. Keeping up is difficult and prioritising can be overwhelming.

I was mostly wondering why I had an emotional attachment to something that does not affect my life in any way whatsoever. ‘Dumbbo’ was recorded with Chris Ryan in Start Together Studios and an undisclosed location. The hardest aspect was trying to build tension and dynamics while also keeping things as restrained as possible. We’re all totally insufferable people as well and i think that came across in the recording.

O: You’re releasing the ‘Dumbo’ 7” via Dublin label Paper Trail Records. How did you come to be working with them?

CE: International Handsome man Dan Finnegan emailed us and set up a coffee date with me and Conor for the day he was flying back from Iceland. I had a pretty dank brownie and lemonade (sweets for the sweet) and then we spent most of that time discussing how much we like indie rock. When he left we just kinda blushed over how good he looked and then decided that anyone who appears that fresh after a 2 and a half hour plane journey with a 2 hour drive to Dublin ahead of him probably knows what’s best for us.

O: This is your second single since your debut EP #1 Babes. Do you have plans to release another EP or a debut album?

CE: We have plans to release a third single with Paper Trail. Our creative cup overfloweth and while we’d all really like to record and release an album it’s a pretty monumental project to take on without a fairly big audience to present it to and a decent amount of support behind it. When we do it we’d want to take our time and do it how we want to.

O: Has your approach to writing songs changed since the first EP? How so?

CE: Typically I’ll have a number of songs in progress and I’ll have notes and recordings saved to my phone and then eventually when I think it’s good enough I’ll record a demo and send it to Nathan and Conor. They’ll listen to it and come up with their parts and then we’ll go over it in practice. Recently though I’ve been sitting down and working on songs with Nathan at his house before I consider them “finished” and it’s been interesting to see the results and how certain parts and structures might change. Nathan even wrote a chord progression and gave it to me and I changed it (for the better) and made a song out of that. So it’s cool to change things up as we tentatively explore the crevasse of collaboration.

O: Recently you played an all ages gig in Belfast which is quite rare. How did that go?

CE: Yeah it was really cool! The venue was sort of part of an arts centre and on the same floor as an archery class which was a little odd. I would consider the show to have been a real bullseye. Oh Boland and brand new friend really killed it. I don’t think there were that many people under 18 at it though but it was only advertised as all-ages at the last minute. It was mostly so brand new friend’s younger brother could go.

O: Your artwork is quite evocative. Is it all created by the same person?

CE: Yeah the artwork is amazing. It’s all created by my long distance partner Elise Schierbeek (they/them pronouns). Working with them is the most ideal situation because we’re kinda growing together and I feel like you can see a creative trajectory that’s in sync with the music with each release. They’re very understanding of what we’re trying to achieve aesthetically and at this point I can just give them an outline of a concept to work from and they’re able to produce something I like every time. It removes a lot of stress having an artist you can communicate with so easily and know that whatever they’re going to make for you is going to be exactly what you need.

The ‘Dumbbo’ artwork was based on costumes they made for characters in their performance piece for art school in Chicago. They were inspired by footage from these weird VHS tapes that had children singing and dancing to biblical songs. The costumes are actually in the video for ‘Dumbbo’ we’re releasing in September which Elise directed and filmed and edited. It was important to me that we got our first video to look and feel right and Elise did exactly that. We can’t wait for people to see the video, it’s a little bit funny but mostly creepy and uncomfortable. My parents think it’s really good and I think that’s endorsement enough.

O: What would you consider success for Hot Cops?

CE: Making music we really like for as long as we can. Playing lots of fun shows with bands and artists we like. Big fat stacks of cash. Having people connect to something in our songs.

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