Flyer Profile: Hosta

When we heard that Fayetteville artist Greg Moore was involved in a new band in Fayetteville called Hosta, we had a feeling it was going to be pretty awesome.

We’d seen some of Greg’s paintings, were familiar with some of his work with Block Street and Building, and we’d heard a few of his solo tunes on his myspace page.

Combine that with the fact that Hosta’s other two members were Iris Shepard (one of the NWA Rollergirls) and Randy Kehne (a solid drummer from the home of Rock and Roll in Memphis Tennessee) and I guess our hunch that these guys were gonna rule wasn’t that much of a stretch.

We were right.

As much as we anticipated hearing Hosta for the first time, we couldn’t have predicted just how great these guys would be until we heard them live for the first time at Cheers a few months ago. Hosta combines 60’s R&B influenced pop with fuzzy Pixies-style guitar solos, some electronic weirdness happening in the background, and some solid songwriting with two unique vocalists. We even heard some hip-hop in there somewhere. (Read below)

If you’ve never seen Hosta, you’ll get your chance this weekend when they play at the Smoke and Barrel Tavern with the Memphis Pencils. You can also get a preview of their song No More Video Games below.

We got in touch with Hosta, and they were nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Hosta: Iris listens almost exclusively to Outkast. Randy listens to the techno channel on satellite TV. Greg’s head is swimming with all kinds of great new music: Deastro, Xui Xui, J-Live, Electronic Cumbia music is so rad! Particulary the band Tremor.

FF: What are some other bands you guys have been in?
Hosta: Randy was in a series of Memphis bands. Among them Bluejazz, Mea Culpa, and Indoor Aeronautics. Iris was in two very short lived bands called Pink Accident and Queen Mab. Greg was in a christian rock band in high school called Linoleum Methuselah and later he was in a Siloam Springs band called The Beau. Greg has spent a great deal of his life making music all by himself. Years ago he used 4-track machine he used to record a series of cassette tapes under the moniker Exploding Plastic Ipanima. He was doing a kind of bossa nova. Now he uses Garage Band to compose music.

FF: You guys are one of a handful of new-ish bands that are freaking us out right now (in a good way). What are some other bands in town we should check out?
Hosta: We’ve seen a lot of great shows at the Smoke and Barrel. Epiphany, One oz. jig, Opal Fly have put on really inspiring shows. We played with the F*** Tards at Cheers and they rocked! They took us by surprise.

FF: Iris is a Rollergirl, right? That’s so awesome.
Hosta: Iris’ derby name is Wasabi. She’s played a bout in Dallas last weekend and will be happily showing of her bruises all this week-maybe even on the stage at Smoke and Barrel on the 23rd. Get in on the derby action for our next home bout June 6th at 7 pm at Roller City in Springdale.

FF: Last time we saw you guys, it occurred to me that the way Greg phrasing when he sings at times has a rap-type feel to it. Have you ever noticed that?
Hosta: The other day we were trying to sound like “Son of a Preacher Man” but we ended up sounding like “Hits from the Bong.” Maybe its kinda like that. Greg is trying to sound like Jonathan Richman or Lou Reed when he sings. But we all listen to a lot of Hip Hop and we want to acknowledge its all-pervasive influence. Cherrywine comes to mind (a project of Ishmael Butler from Digable Planets). He was doing a kind of loose talking rap style. Greg loves Cherrywine. Greg wants to have an intense, focused style. He doesn’t want to be all whiny and shoegazer.

Another aspect of Hip-Hop that is present in our music is the approach of looking over the past and just grabbing stuff and recombining it. Ever since we were young, Hip-Hop has been re-digesting the whole history of music, sampling it cutting it up, combining elements with their opposites. When we are writing a song we’ll often use that kind of approach. Here’s a 60’s R&B type riff, lets see what happens when you combine it with laser sounds.

FF: Who programs the samples, and how the heck do you guys play with those without getting off time?
Hosta: Greg programs the samples and we’ve recently added a Roland sampler drum pad to the mix. We use a metronome/click track to stay in sync on stage and in practice but to be honest we get off time more then we’d like to admit. We really really don’t want our sound to be limited to drums, bass and guitar strumming. We want to be able to use the basic rock sounds, but also have other options. We’re excited by the possibilities of including strange new sounds. Greg remembers being introduced to his uncle’s massive KORG keyboard when he was very young, he stayed up the whole night just scrolling through all the sounds, wanting to hear each one. That feeling of exploring possibilities and awakening curiosity is something we’d like to convey in our music.

FF: We’re digging the EP you guys just released. Where did you record it, and where can folks get it?
Hosta: Thank you! We recorded it with Dwight Chalmers at Listen Lab. He was great. Right now you can only get it at our shows. $5

FF: Wanna weigh in on the great taco debate? Who has the best taco in Fayetteville?
Hosta: This is a topic of ongoing discussion with us. Greg says El Camino Real. Randy says La Huerta. Iris says Osguera’s

FF: What’s next for you guys?
Hosta: We want to continue to write new songs. Iris is practicing to play a show in roller skates. Randy’s whole drum style is being impacted by his new drum pad. We want to continue to build a fan base in fayetteville and go on to play out of town. Eventually we’ll make a full length CD. We feel like we have so many influences and right now they’re not as meshed together or fully articulated as they could be. Give us some time.

Click below to hear “No more video games” by Hosta

[Photo by Sabine Schmidt]