Singer-songwriter Hod Hulphers has no illusions about it, he has a weird name—but he doesn’t try to fight it. In fact, he’s chosen a moniker that’s even weirder: “And Hod,” which is a result of always being the opening act for years and seeing his name listed at the very end of the flyer as “And Hod.” He just thought he’d go with it.
“Now, very often on fliers it says ‘and And Hod,’” Hulphers says.
He doesn’t always perform as “And Hod.” That moniker is reserved exclusively for his solo outings. He also plays shows with his backing band—which includes Dan Potthast and members of Slow Gherkin—which he calls “Hod and the Helpers.”
Band or no band, he plays more or less the same material, which is a strange combination of the Mountain Goats, They Might Be Giants and Nick Cave—though the band renditions are a bit more upbeat, and the solo stuff is more rife with melancholia.
Before diving headfirst into songwriting in the early 2000s, Hulphers played drums for a number of bands, most notably the Philistine Tent Revival—who went on to became local psych-rock legends Comets on Fire. Hulphers turned down an opportunity to join the Comets early in the game.
“It wasn’t really me in the first place. I was more into David Bowie and Will Oldham, people like that,” Hulphers says.
The one thing he got from playing blown-out, ear-splittingly-loud psychedelica was a lesson in how to rock—even while he’s playing weird songs on his acoustic guitar. “I’m not afraid to be an asshole when I’m playing sensitive music,” Hulphers says.
His songs aren’t so much quirky as they are complex. Hulphers wears an invisible costume, a character that is partially comedic, antagonistic and vulnerable, one that is always tough for audiences to gauge just where he’s coming from.
“I love riding that ambiguous razor’s edge line between sincerity and complete sarcasm,” Hulphers says.
Info: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, Art Bar and Café at The Tannery, 1060 River St. #112, Santa Cruz, 428-8989; $8-$10.