In 1966, the Beach Boys wrote the seminal psych-rock masterpiece “Good Vibrations” about a girl who put out all kinds of positive cosmic energy. The Hip Abduction, a seven-piece outfit from St. Petersburg, sings about similar “good vibrations” in the 2013 song “Live It Right.” However, the meaning extends beyond one person and embraces love, nature, and the universe.
This Saturday, November 19, the Hip Abduction returns to South Florida for a show at Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live opening for New Orleans funk outfit Galactic. It’s one of
Like most Americans who fell in love with Caribbean and West African rhythms, bassist Chris Powers and his bandmates were introduced to the music by two artists who have long bridged the gaps between cultures and generations: Bob Marley and Paul Simon. And while both have left a lasting imprint on the Hip Abduction’s sound, the group's new record, Gold Under the Glow, leans more in the direction of shimmering electro-pop reminiscent of St. Lucia while still maintaining a hazy, laid-back atmosphere akin to a psychedelic version of Vampire Weekend.
When we speak to Powers over the phone, it’s during a brief break at home where he’s excited to buy groceries and make himself a home-cooked meal. There is, however, an excitement, even jubilation, in his voice when we discuss making music, playing live shows, and having the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.
New Times: How often have you been down here in South Florida?
And any experiences that stick out?
Oh, yeah, like playing at the Will Call, showing up and they tell us we’re the opening set at 2:30 in the morning. You know, Miami, so it’s normal. What do you mean you start when every other bar in the state closes? [Laughs] It’s a little different, and one of the things that we experience when we play in South Florida is the culture. We mix in some Brazilian rhythms, some cumbia, some samba, different things like that in our music, some Afro-Cuban rhythms. In Miami, people will come up to us and know what they’re talking about: "Oh, yeah, you’re quoting that from that Jorge Ben song from this 1960 record in Brazil," and we’re like, "Um, yeah. How did you know about that?" It’s cool to experience that because in South Florida every culture is there.
What’s the best venue in Florida?
Jannus Live [in St. Petersburg] is my favorite venue I’ve ever played, ever. I mean, I haven’t played Red Rocks or anything along those lines, but just the outdoor vibe. Our last three CD-release parties have sold out there. It’s always a $25,000 night. [Laughs] When we played Wanee back in 2014, that was absolutely crazy. Greg Allman’s ex-wife did a reading before we played and so he was there, stood off to the side of the stage like four feet from me and watched us play the first four songs. He’s like rock royalty.
Any plans for the next album?
No — it will come when it comes. We bring the laptop and the interface; I was laying down bass tracks in the back of the van on the interstate. But yeah, that’s what started this: writing songs and making music. We started out playing gigs, making $500, and no one would take the money because it would all go into recording.
What’s the best part of playing those songs live?
You know, we were playing Floyd, Virginia. Never been there before. We’re sitting there, six, seven people deep across the stage, and 150 people in the front, all singing the words. Never been there before, and these people are singing the thing I wrote. That’s weird. [Laughs]
Aside from touring, you’ve shot some beautiful music videos in some really cool places, and there seems to be a pattern: beaches, camping, mountains, waterfalls. Are you all active, outdoor types?
Yeah, we’re all constantly looking for a hike or jump off a cliff into a lake, or everybody’s in on the surf report. It is very much a part of it. We were tripping for trout out in Colorado. You know, some of the runs you’re in the van for five days straight, and then you’re in the venue and then you’re in the hotel. I mean, you just gotta get the fuck out.
The British Virgin Islands, where you shot the video for “Higher,” has that been the most impressive spot so far?
It was absolutely amazing. That trip was ten days on a sailboat. The point of it was to make the video, but we weren’t allowing the video to mess with our experience of going and doing our thing, and I think it shows that… Certainly that was one experience, but Yosemite in the “Before We Lose Our Mind” video, at the end with the clouds coming in and out of the landscape, was so ethereal and awe-inspiring that I watch it and I’m like, I was there and I saw that. [Laughs] And it wasn’t special effects — it actually happened.