The Hood Internet, takes a break from mash-ups on ‘FEAT’
There are plenty of successful musicians who will tell you they formed their band on a lark—just a group of friends, jamming in a garage, drinking beer and never imagining they would hit it big. Until, of course, they decided to play a few bar gigs, and before they knew it, they were blowing up and inking a deal.
Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell have a similar story. Except this Chicago-based production duo, known as The Hood Internet, never had a garage.
“We started it as a blog—a place to post mash-ups for our friends to download,” explains Brink, who goes by ABX. “We had no intention to have an actual group.” But opportunities presented themselves, and soon ABX and STV SLV (Reidell) were performing all over the Windy City. And after the duo plays the Catalyst Atrium on July 31, they will continue their cross-country tour.
The name of their blog just sort of stuck. “It wasn’t a well-thought-out plan to call our DJ group ‘The Hood Internet,'” Brink says, “but it worked out.”
Brink and Reidell—who hail from Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively—met while playing in different bands at the University of Chicago. They started their group in 2007, creating mash-ups of hip-hop and indie rock tunes, following in the footsteps of Danger Mouse’s 2004 album of spliced Beatles and Jay-Z tunes, The Gray Album.
They’ve combined well-known groups, such as TLC and Led Zeppelin, as well as lesser-known acts, like The Pack and Crystal Castles. But on their forthcoming full-length, FEAT, the duo is creating all-original material—bringing in a slew of artists like AC Newman and Class Actress to sing and rap over the brand new beats.
Brink and Reidell met many of the artists who contribute to the new record while on tour in support of their previous mix-tapes, collecting the songs on FEAT as they traveled—coming up with a sample here, a verse there, and a hook on the way to the next show. “We kind of built it piece by piece over the past three years,” says Brink.
He attributes his success, along with the surging popularity of electronic dance music, to his group’s namesake. “What we do wouldn’t be possible without the Internet,” he says, insisting that without “the accessibility of it all,” The Hood Internet wouldn’t have been able to build its fan base (17,140 “likes” on Facebook).
That accessibility, he continues, has made it easy for people to try out different types of music. Taking a chance on a new group used to mean forking out cash, he observes. But now, while some in the music business decry the ubiquitous sharing and ripping of music, he thinks it has done a lot of good for the industry and culture on the whole—opening people up to new sounds and perhaps expanding some minds in the process.
Plus, he adds, the availability of cheap and free music production software has led to a generation with more skin in the game, artistically speaking. “The technology is so accessible and inexpensive these days for people to be able to make music,” Brink says. “When people can make it and interact with it, they get more excited about listening to it.”
Brink views his group’s mash-ups as a part of this revolution in broadening musical horizons. But, like the Internet, ABX and STV SLV are also about having fun—on stage, with their unapologetically danceable tunes, and online.
He and Reidell launched a Tumblr in 2010 called Album Tacos, which features pictures of famous album covers with tacos randomly Photoshop-ed into the frame. “We appreciate all the awesome silly things the Internet gives us every day, like pictures of cats,” says Brink.
The Hood Internet performs at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31 at The Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $13/door. For info, call 423-1338.
Photo: Clayton Hauck