Comprised of Jake Luppen (vocals, guitar), Nathan Stocker (guitar, vocals), Zach Sutton (bass, keys) and Whistler Isaiah Allen (drums, vocals), the acclaimed St. Paul, MN-based indie rock act Hippo Campus can trace their origins to when the members of the quartet met while attending the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Interestingly, at the time, the members of Hippo Campus were playing in a number of different, local bands before forming their current project.
Hippo Campus independent released their Alan Sparhawk-produced debut EP Bashful Creatures in 2014. But when they signed to Grand Jury Records, their new label re-released the EP during the following year. The EP which featured singles “Little Grace” and “Suicide Saturday” was supported with an appearance at SXSW, their national, late night TV debut on Conan, a live session on KRCW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and KEXP before ending the year with an appearance on CBS This Morning. Paste Magazine also named them that year’s The Best of What’s Next.
“The Halocline” was featured in the series finale of TNT’s Falling Skies and building upon a growing profile, the members of Hippo Campus toured with Modest Mouse, Walk the Moon, The Mowgli’s, JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket, Vacationer and My Morning Jacket. They also toured across the national festival circuit, playing sets at Lollapalooza, Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Minneapolis’ Rock the Garden — and an appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festival. They ended the year with the release of their sophomore EP, 2015’s South, which landed at #16 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.
2017 saw the release of the band’s critically applauded and commercially successful, BJ Burton-produced, full-length debut Landmark, which featured album singles “Boyish” and “Way It Goes.” As a result of the album landing at #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Charts, the band made their second appearance on Conan, and went out a headlining international tour that included festival stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. They ended the year with the release of the warm glow EP.
Last spring and last summer, the St. Paul-based indie rock act played at Sasquatch Music Festival, the Reading and Leeds Festivals and they opened for Sylvan Esso at Red Rocks before releasing their critically applauded BJ Burton-produced sophomore album Bambi. Interestingly, album singles “Passenger,” “Golden,” and album title track “Bambi” found the band pushing their sound in a new direction, as the material incorporates an increasing amount of synths and drum programming,
Bambi’s latest single “Honestly” is centered around shimmering synths, angular guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and a soaring hook — and in some way the track reminds me of JOVM mainstays White Reaper, who also pushed their sound in a similar direction while maintaining an ability to craft an infectious, radio friendly hook. Underlying that the song possesses a wistful air for something seemingly simple and easy although that may be an illusion that you have to learn to deal with.
Directed by Brittany O’Brien, the recently released video for “Honestly,” follows the band goofing off behind the scenes while on tour — but underneath the hijinks and glamour, there’s the recognition that a life eon the road is lonely and profoundly strange.