Hooveriii – ‘A Round of Applause’
Time after time, we all talk about … well, time — often in aphorisms and cliches. X is “a waste of time,” while Y is “time well spent.” We are all apt to lose track of time but, perhaps in equal measure, we have plenty of time on our hands. We think we have all the time in the world — until we remember that time flies, after which our time runs out and we’re dead (for a long time).
Since 2020, internal clocks have had to be readjusted with the pace of life ebbing and flowing. For Los Angeles psych-rock sextet Hooveriii (pronounced “Hoover Three”) that adjustment seeped its way into their songwriting and ultimately their forthcoming album, A Round of Applause.
Though created in large part by founder Bert Hoover, Hooveriii has grown to include
Gabe Flores (lead guitar and vocals), Kaz Mirblouk (bass and synths), James Novick (synths), Casey Sullivan (vocals and synths) and Owen Barrett (drums). Together they looked at this newly found time as a gift. As a result, A Round of Applause isn’t just another “COVID record” that dithers on subjects like isolation and community. Instead, Hoover broadened the scope of the band’s new record by not only reflecting on time as a concept but also allowing the band to flourish creatively.
“There’s a struggle with what your relationship to time is,” said the chill, amiable and down-to-earth Hoover. “It’s a back and forth. On the one hand, it’s like, ‘Fuck it, time doesn’t matter.’ But then there’s also, ‘Oh shit, I’m running out of time, and I’m scared.’ ” (“Out of My Time,” the second song on the record, is its thematic cornerstone).
Prior to delving into A Round of Applause — Hoveriii’s second album through The Reverberation Appreciation Society —this band of space voyagers stuck to a routine of issuing about two releases a year (including singles, live albums, etc.). The routine worked well, so why tamper with it? Yet after the rise of a certain five-letter word that starts with a C, they realized that time really shouldn’t be taken for granted, cliché be damned. Finding additional inspiration via Nick Cave, who once said that dabbling with new ideas continues to fuel his near-50-year career, the band decidedly took a different approach with their new album and gave themselves the freedom to explore in the studio.
The end result is A Round of Applause, an expansive and even, at times, experimental record. Across the 11 tracks, Hoover stresses the importance of sequencing, so the record feels inviting instead of jarring – it segue almost seamlessly not only from song to song but within the songs themselves.
Whereas 2021’s Water for the Frogs was akin to a jam-band record — most of its seven songs are about five minutes long, including a closing track that lasts nearly 10 — A Round of Applause has broader appeal. Hooveriii consider the new record, which occasionally pays homage to the Canterbury scene, to be a palette cleanser of sorts.
“I am not really a playlist guy or a singles guy,” Hoover admits. “I’m really into the album experience. … So yeah, we made a pop record. But also, to me, this record is very progressive as well, and I thought that that provides a nice balance.”
Hoover previously referred to Water for the Frogs as his band’s equivalent of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. Playing with that idea he says A Round of Applause is the kindred spirit of Lust For Life.
The record cherrypicks from an array of genres — pop, girl-group ditties, synth-ish keyboards and funk —but the end result is a cohesive long-player with songs that revolve around the Spanish Inquisition (“Stone Man”); or follow “the legendary Peruvians who run long distances in the Andes Mountains (“The Runner”). “I let my imagination run wild,” Hoover said. Elsewhere on A Round of Applause, the Hooveriii frontman finally recorded a song, “The Pearl,” that he wrote in 2017. “It sounds like a Harry Nilsson jingle like to me, a fantasy song,” he continued. “It’s more like a nursery rhyme than a song with an important message. You know, it’s just like keeping things fun. … Nilsson didn’t take everything so fucking seriously. We want to avoid that self-seriousness. We’re a bunch of goofy musicians.”
The aforementioned songs deal with external cultures and circumstances, to a large extent. But on “See,” the opening track, Hoover turns inward. “I got a lot of people in my life, including myself, that I feel take things for granted,” he said. “ ‘See,’ to me, is a song about not doing that.”
Finally, Hoover pointed out that “Twisted and Vile” is one of the heavier songs on A Round of Applause. Written around the same time as “The Pearl,” he disclosed that David Bowie’s work inspired the Hooveriii song’s classic-rock-sound. “It’s a song about trying to figure out your place in life,” he said.
Hooveriii derived the album title from the late-‘80s Roky Erickson song “Click Your Fingers Applauding the Play.” “That’s too much of a mouthful,” Hoover qualified. “My title, A Round of Applause, just came one day, and we were like, ‘Yo, that sounds like a Gentle Giant record.’”
Reflecting the mostly lighthearted and uplifting record, A Round of Applause closes cheekily — but not sarcastically — with the sound of people clapping. Hoover adds graciously: “We’ve been lucky so far. I don’t think we really have a, you know, ‘bad song.’ ”
Maybe one will, someday. But Hoover doesn’t dwell on that; after all, his band has more records to make — and time is of the essence.For tour dates and more visit: www.instagram.com/hooveriii