“We ended up in the presidential suite at the Golden Nugget and our manager at the time bought some hookers and they ended up—I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what happened—but they ended up robbing us,” says Andrew Krissberg, the band’s frontman. “But the point of the story is we met another rock ’n’ roll band that night who was up all night partying with us, too. So there’s other groups out there doing what we do.”
Making friends—in this instance, Oakland’s Bare Wires—isn’t easy for a young rock band lyrically self-described as “shit-kickin’, motherfuckin’ good ol’ boys that everybody knows.” Hooves occupy an odd niche: too arty to be bros, too old-fashioned and surly to hang with lo-fi punk types on DayGlo skateboards, and too drunk and disorderly for most introspective indie bands.
Krissberg and Hooves drummer Chris Lamb met and started playing in Phoenix, Ariz. They were schooled in the methy western suburbs before moving to Roosevelt Row, a few blocks of Krylon-coated gringofication akin to Alberta Street. The band relocated to Bellingham, Wash., in June, a move timed to avoid a summer of haboobs and chemical temptation while finishing the album it had been working on for three years. Fetch, Little Doggie, which many (read: me, who covered Hooves in Phoenix) doubted the band would ever actually knuckle down and finish, came together quickly in the sleepy border town north of Seattle.
“It’s not a huge city or anything, which is kind of what we were looking for,” Lamb says. “When you’re likely to just go out and blow all your money on booze, it’s easier to do that in a big city.”
Fetch, Little Doggie—named for an insult hurled between female fans fighting over a tambourine at a show—suggests it was a smart move. It’s a hairy-chested rock album with burly licks, pianola frills and what sounds like three heavily made-up women bumping puffy hairdos together while sharing a microphone on the choruses. It’s a ’70s sound, but there are few Zeppelinesque cock-rock pretensions—it’s more like a gritty version of the Doors or a smaller reboot of the Band.
The nine-track album’s rollicking closer, “All Friends,” best captures the loose layers of the band’s shows, opening with a pitter-patter of keys and evolving through blaring brass and hoot-alongs before devolving into house-party chatter. It sounds like the band’s shows—minus the slurring, which could make the four-week tour that brings the band through Portland for the first time on the way to its South By Southwest debut a challenging proposition.
Drunken antics have long been endearing and afflicting for Hooves. The band was once tossed out of an Arizona charity bowling tournament and banned from the alley. Krissberg, Lamb and bandmates Christian Reeb and Brad Bielesch just aren’t big on pacing themselves.
“At our first show [in Bellingham], Christian puked all over the place and Andy fell asleep in the girls bathroom after the show,” Lamb says.
Setting the Vegas hookers aside, one of Hooves’ better-known exploits involved trashing a hotel room in a small Arizona town, an incident that angered another local rocker who publicly shamed them as “some of the worst people I’ve ever met.” Destroying the room is not something Krissberg, surprisingly soft-spoken and thoughtful on the phone when he’s sober, feels badly about.
“The thing was, the hotel room was literally infested with cockroaches, there were cum stains on the sheets,” he says. “My mindset at the time was, ‘This place is already fucked up.’”
At least the boys from Hooves have a place to crash in Oakland. Hopefully their new pals in Bare Wires are keeping the place clean.
“I don’t think anyone should be afraid to rent us a hotel room,” Krissberg says. “They should be afraid not to.”
SEE IT: Hooves play Red Room, 2530 NE 82nd Ave., on Friday, March 2, with Stolen Rose, 8-Ohm-Prophet and the Unicornz. Cover. 8 pm. 21+.