CoMo Music: A Conversation with The Hipnecks

The Hipnecks, a Columbia-based band that has been around in one form or another since 2004, is playing a Pedaler’s Jamboree kick-off concert tonight at the Blue Note. I cornered one Hipneck, Pat Kay (banjo, harmonica, guitar, vocals), for a conversation this week. 

Photo by Kevin Dingman, 2011.

 You call your sound jambalya?

A reporter once called it “jambalaya” because of all the influences we gave her when describing our music. There are lots of ingredients, some seemingly dislike, that all seem to come together just how we want it. I think we may have overwhelmed her when listing the ‘ingredients’ of our sound.

‘Sound.’ Ours has changed quite a bit since then…but not too far. Lately I only feel a minor degree of difficulty explaining that we’re not what most folks would call a rock band because we tote around mandolins, banjos, fiddles, harmonicas, etc. However, we’re not a bluegrass band either. We have drums, driving electric guitar, keys…and we’re pretty loud. You can call it an attempt to avoid being labeled a country band, if you like…but to be honest we feel that we’re all of those, and yet none of those at the same time. I overheard someone call it “country-fried rock & roll” one time…and I think that serves us pretty well.

I like “country-fried rock & roll”. I think that you should go with that. I like “trash can Americana” too, but the country-fried term describes it better.  Since we are using cooking terms to describe music…imagine that The Hipnecks is a meal…what would each member be?

Ooh –thats’ a good one… I’ll have to ‘digest’ that for a while to answer that in a way that’s insightful to everyone’s contributions, musically.

I would be a rib eye steak (with too much salt).
Harrison would be BBQ ribs.

Danny would be a sirloin steak.
Bryan would be a BBQ pork steak.

Molly would be apples and brie.
We would guest musician in a loaded baked potato for a show.

It doesn’t work… but it works.

That’s a lot of meat! I like Molly best, for sure.  The Hipnecks is a great name. Did you really let an audience choose it?

True story. “Hipneck” was a term former Hipnecks vocalist/guitarist Scott Anderson and I coined one night to agree to disagree on the description of a friend of ours.  Scott said, “He’s a total hippie.” I said, “No way dude, he’s a redneck through and through.” We argued about as long as it took us to reach the end of the driveway at the old band house, and I finally said, “Fine, he’s a… hipneck.” Oddly, we both said “hipneck” in unison. The name kinda stuck in my head after that.

We were in the process of changing the name before we released our first album, Just Another Fine Day, because our name at the time was ‘Farmhouse’ (a tip of the hat to the farm my family owns outside of California, Missouri, where we currently host our annual shindig called ‘Barnout’). Unbeknownst to me at the time of choosing that name, it is also the name of a popular Phish song and a college fraternity as well. To minimize confusion, we decided it was best to land firmly on a new name, because after the album released we were going to be stuck with it forever. We narrowed it down to “The Hipnecks,” “Farmacy,” and another I can’t recall at the moment.

We were unable to agree on which. I decided it was best to leave it up to our current fans at the final show preceding the album release. It was at The Tap Room, in Fulton, Missouri, where we played our first show and maintained a regular weekly residency for years. Armed with a human applause-o-meter (our friend Peter), we let the crowd vote by applause before we started our final set of the night, thus starting the show under one name and ending under another.

Are there any impending decisions that this Friday’s audience can help you with? Anyone need to name a baby?

Haha–no.  Not yet anyway.

The rest of The Hipnecks are:  Zach Harrison (guitar, vocals), Danny Carroll (drums, sinks, trashcans & other household items, vocals), Bryan Kay (bass, vocals), and Molly Healey (fiddle, cello, vocals). 

You can catch them tonight at the Blue Note and/or the last weekend of May at the Pedaler’s Jamboree.


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