Hospitality's Van Is A Hit.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
Brooklyn-based indie pop trio Hospitality's recent debut for Merge Records is a simple yet catchy effort — not far off from what one might expect from the band's North Eastern brethren in Vampire Weekend.
Working in Hospitality's favor as far as uniqueness goes, though, is the thoughtful, earnest vocals of frontwoman Amber Papini, and the slow burn of the group's often minimalist sonic approach.
And, to that end, Hospitality's sound is one that's been catching on of late with critics from Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork and, well, most every other major outlet out there. Now, as the band has begun touring in support of its most recent release, Hospitality's sound is starting to fall on larger and larger sets of ears.
Just last week, in fact, the band stopped by City Tavern for a mid-week, headlining turn. Only, when we caught up with the band, rather than ask them about their well-received new album, we instead inquired about their clean-cut tour van.
What we learned in the process, is the story of how a post-show hit and run led to the creation of the group's top-selling piece of merch.
Band Name: Hospitality.
Van Name: N/A.
Year/Make/Model: 2010 Ford Econoline.
Where did your van come from? How did you acquire it?
Amber Papini (vocals, guitars): “We got it used. It came from a dealership in New Jersey.”
What makes your van special? What are its best and worst features?
Amber: “It's pretty clean. It's reliable.”
What are the best modifications you've made to the van, decorative or otherwise?
Amber: “We took out the seats in the back for gear.”
Who usually does the driving?
Amber: “We all rotate. I probably drive the least. I can't really drive for very long. I think some people like driving more than me, so they kind of take over.”
You're a three-piece. Does that mean everyone gets their own seats in the van?
Amber: “We're a three-piece, but we tour with Dave [Christian]. He's our touring member. Usually, when Dave is driving, [bassist] Brian [Betancourt] is co-pilot and I'm in the second seat and [percussionist] Nathan [Michel] is in the backseat. And when Nathan's driving, I'm the co-pilot, Dave is in the backseat. It's a rotation. Today was a little different, but usually it's assigned.”
Do you have any good breakdown stories?
Nathan: “Tell him the story about Eleanor Friedberger. The van is on our T-shirt.”
Amber: “We were playing San Antonio with Eleanor Friedberger. I was driving the van after the show — and it's really wide. I'm not used to how wide it is. I gently brushed her van and I made a little black mark. We thought it wasn't a big deal. We just brushed her mirror. So we kept driving. And it turns out she was standing right there eating a taco with her bandmate watching the whole thing. So she texted us, 'You just hit my van and you drove off!' So that's the story.”
But other than that you haven't really had anything major happen? It's been pretty reliable so far?
Amber: “Yesterday, Nathan hit some concrete in the parking lot going pretty fast.”
Nathan: “The back door almost didn't open.”
Amber: “Actually it sort of dented the bumper a little bit. But that's what bumpers are for. It did its job. It cushioned the collision.”
What are your best memories from being in the van?
Amber: “I like sleeping in the van a lot. I love listening to podcasts. Brian and Dave bring really good podcasts. We were listening to Analyze Phish. That's a really funny podcast.”
What's that one about?
Amber: “It's about this guy that tries to get this other guy to like Phish who doesn't like Phish. So that's a good one.”
Do you have any other good stories from the road?
Brian: “Besides her hitting Eleanor Friedberger's van? And her bass player, who also plays in MGMT, making us a shirt on his iPad that outsells all of our other t-shirts?
She didn't tell us that part.
Brian: “[Matt Asti] plays with Eleanor, and he's also the bassist for MGMT. The night after it happened, he did a little doodle on his iPad with his finger and we made a T-shirt out of it. We got this artist to design a shirt based on the name of our album; it comes in two different colors, it's real professional. [Matt's] outsells that every time. It's just some shitty drawing with his finger.
Hospitality released its sophomore LP, Trouble, on January 28, 2014. For more information on the band, head here.