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Five Words with Hospitality



For their second album, Trouble, the Brooklyn-based rock band Hospitality worked to stop being hospitable.

Out this week on Durham's Merge Records, Trouble remains exceedingly smart and charming, but it's not quite the light, urbane version of New York that their self-titled debut evoked as ably as Friends. Thanks to darker grooves, sideways lyrics and entwined guitar exchanges, Hospitality have banished "twee" from the list of adjectives often applied to their work.

While storing up on domestic sunshine in Los Angeles, singer/songwriter Amber Papini chatted about the luxury of recording, trading warm indie-pop for cool downtown rock, and moving from Kansas City to write about New York—while singing with a vaguely British twist.


On Hospitality, we just didn't have a lot of money, so we were working with a producer who was a friend. He was doing it as a favor. He would work late at night when we weren't there and do a lot of things without us. But this record is more of a collaboration with the producer and us. We had more control and more time.

It would be a dream of mine to actually have a studio in my house, so that once I write a song I could get together with the band and arrange it all within a week of the writing process. I'm most inspired when I first write something.


The last record was super specific to time and place, and there was a narrative there: I was describing my experience after graduate school when I moved to New York. This record ended up being less and less obvious. I just tried to be more expressionistic.


I love Television. Their music is nuanced. People are still doing that sort of music in a different way. I feel like Dirty Projectors does that, Wild Flag—bands that fall into the line of progressive rock, or just rock where there's a toughness and a softness in there, interesting chords and harmonies. There's always indie pop. I guess it's an easy thing to make. It's cheap to make—two guitar players, drums, a bass player, record it live. That's what it is, economics.

But music right now is so diverse. So many different styles, and they're all acceptable. You don't have to just like punk rock. When I was a kid, there were so many divisions—punk rock, metal, grunge, hippy. I feel like you can like it all now.


I always think of a big sky and bright sunshine, lots of wheat and beef. 


It's not conscious, really. I listened to a lot of English music growing up, and I'm also trying to enunciate a lot of words. A lot of Americans artists have certain singing voices that don't match how they talk. Robert Pollard sometimes sounds British, and he's from Ohio. You wouldn't peg Prince as being from Minnesota, right? When I was a kid, I watched a lot of Cary Grant movies. Maybe that influence seeped into my brain. 

This article appeared in print with the headline "Knock before entering."

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