LA outfit Dot Hacker are perhaps best known for the membership of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer in the Red Hot Chili Peppers—but the quartet’s atmospheric meditations are worlds away from the Peppers’ funktastic explosions. The band (named after one member’s grandma) debuts in Tokyo, courtesy of crowdfunding site Alive, which conducted a winning campaign on their behalf. Metropolis spoke with bassist Jonathan Hischke.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: What’s it like having the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist in the band?
That’s an interesting question … we were all close friends and had started Dot Hacker—and had recorded our first album Inhibition—before he became the guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers, so we knew him as something other than a member of that band for a long time. We are very proud of him, and it is always interesting to hear stories from that part of his life. His experience being in that band has brought out more confidence in him which is a great benefit for our band, as well.
Tell us why you decided to release two albums back-to-back in 2014.
There were a few reasons for that decision. We had too many songs to fit comfortably on one album, and we didn’t know what to leave off. We didn’t want to put out an exhausting album that was too long, nor did we want to release a double-album set; we felt that it would be overwhelming for a listener. Also, we couldn’t come to an agreement about what order the songs should be in. Since our time is limited as a band due to scheduling, we also felt that staggering the releases would be good for the band in that it would extend the life of the album since we can’t tour much or be a public presence in other ways.
What are the main differences between the two?
Well, the songs were recorded together as part of the same “batch,” and the idea of making two releases came much later, so there was no attempt to make them separate or different when we were writing or recording. We feel the song order makes the most sense the way they ended up, thankfully.
You’ve been together for a while, but the recording and touring came quite late. What were you up to?
We are all busy making music and touring with other people, as well as our band, much of the time, so touring has always been a difficult thing for us to schedule. We wish we could tour all the time! However, we started recording early [in] the band’s life; it just took a long time for the first album to be released. We had to find the right label and circumstances; thank heavens for ORG Music!
Members of Dot Hacker have backed the likes of anyone from Beck to Charlotte Gainsbourg. How have these experiences shaped your sound?
We are able to reference different styles and sounds easily because of our experiences, and we can convincingly play live under most circumstances. It also informs our writing and recording because this band is our chance to not be guided or commanded to do anything differently! It’s very liberating. It’s our own safe little world we’ve created.
Tell us about the personalities of the band members and how that translates into the music.
We are all very different personalities, but there are many overlapping interests and tastes that keep us close. We love each others’ company, and we hang out together all the time. We’re all kind of best friends. I can’t imagine the band being any other way, really. Eric is very practical and organized. Clint is emotional and knowledgeable about many things. Josh is sensitive and quite artistic and literary. I am stubborn and idealistic. The other three love sports, and I don’t care at all. We all share our politics and humor. It works out great!
Tell us about Dot Hacker’s place in the current LA music scene.
We rarely play, so I don’t know! We have many friends in a lot of bands in the city, so we do have peers we see often. I don’t know if we sound like any other bands in town, though.
What does music mean to Dot Hacker in the grand scheme of things?
It’s our lifeblood! We all have been playing music as our main focus for most of our lives, and we hope we will always be able to do so. If anyone else hears it and it makes their lives a bit brighter, then that is an incredible bonus.
How did you come to be part of the Alive project?
We were approached by Alive and it seemed like a very constructive and efficient model! Our fans in Japan apparently had suggested the campaign to them, and they are the whole reason this is happening. We are very much looking forward to getting over there!
Shinjuku Marz. Feb 23, 7pm. ¥5,500. Nearest station: Seibu-Shinjuku or Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3202-8248. Tsutaya O-Nest. Feb 24, 7pm. ¥5,000 (adv)/¥5,500 (door). Nearest station: Shibuya. Tel: 03-3462-4420. http://dothacker.org