By Kyle Pineda
Ah, reunions. If the 1990’s were known for their band breakups, the 2010’s are proving to be one for comebacks. You can go down any festival list and find a handful of bands amidst a reunion tour on the heels of their first album in over a decade. One of the most pleasant surprises has been the reemergence of Loop, Robert Hampson’s vehicle for driving, primal riffs and long extended drones. Originally formed in 1986, Loop’s five year run culminated in several EP’s, three albums, and a reputation that left music fans clamoring for a reunion for over twenty years. With their prayers answered, Loop is currently on their first US tour since getting back together, and Robert Hampson took some time to join Tropicult by phone ahead of their appearance at Austin Psych Fest.
Thank you for joining us, Robert. I’d like to begin the interview by talking about the reunion. How did it come to be? Why now?
Well, after many years of being asked repeatedly and always refusing, basically it came to a point where I found myself at a point where I couldn’t say no anymore. My interest had been peaked to try and do something, and there were a series of offers to curate the last ever ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties) in England, the last ever ATP festival, so in the end it was basically, I thought about it and asked myself “is there any reason for you to refuse?”, and I couldn’t find it anymore so I tentatively said yes, and that’s what put the wheels in motion.
How difficult has it been getting back into the rhythm of touring?
Surprisingly easy I think. Obviously we’re considerably older now than we used to be, and we do have a very grueling US tour, involving long distances, very long drives but at the end of the day, the thing you have to do when you’re in a band, when you’re a musician, you have to make these choices to do them and accept them, and accept the consequences of what all that involves. It’s been okay, it’s different when you’re considerably older, but at the same time, you seem to fall into a pattern very quickly that reminds you very much of what you’ve done previously. It’s not too difficult to acclimatize yourself to it. Once you’ve played a few shows, it all comes back to you very quickly.
Like riding a bicycle, you never forget?
Yeah, that’s it. You don’t really forget. I was explaining to someone earlier, they were asking had we forgotten the songs, and I think when you’ve written a song, it stays with you. It is like riding a bike, and maybe you’re possibly a little rusty over it, it’s still in you. It’s hard to forget. So I think you sort of have to reboot, so to speak and it all comes back. It’s surprisingly easy, the way they come flooding back after all this time, after 24 years. It wasn’t too difficult.
I know the albums were recently re-mastered, correct?
That’s right, originally we did the CD reissues, done in 2009, so that was a few years ago. They were all fully remastered with extra material, and unreleased material that had never seen the light of day before. Then about a year ago we started the process of remastering all the vinyl editions, and actually doing almost like carbon copies of the original, trying to mimic the originals as close as possible, with all the original artwork and original formats of Fade Out and Gilded Eternity, which were originally released on two 45 RPM 12” discs, so we’ve reproduced those. And the remastering process, because it’s so much more sophisticated now, it’s really brought back all the depth of the actual music itself that I think was a little bit lost in the early digital days, certainly on the CD’s.
So this was Loop as it was intended to be heard?
I think so, yeah. I mean, certainly on the compact disc format, when we originally released our records on CD, the mastering was just terrible, and it they always sounded really thin and quite lifeless. But also, I think there’s a massive improvement in the vinyl versions as well. We’ve taken a lot of care in doing this, you know, really took our time and did it very well; trying to give old fans and new fans the best quality we could give them. I can assure everybody that there’s never going to be any other versions, we’re not going to keep reissuing them and remastering them. As far as I’m concerned, these are the definitive versions.
I know you dislike labels, as do most musicians; they hate being categorized and pegged into these certain genres. Do you cringe when people say “Oh Loop, they’re alternative rock/psychedelia”? How do you feel when you hear those terms thrown around to describe your music?
Well, that’s the right analogy there, I cringe. (laughs) Everybody seems to need some sort of descriptive nature or something, so you can’t be averse to that. What I really dislike is when everybody seems to want to try and make “movements”, you know, there’s has to be a “movement” of a certain group of bands…
Like a “revival”?
Yeah, that’s when I really start seriously cringing. I’m like “Oh alright, if you must…” We get called shoegaze, which we definitely were very far removed from the shoegaze scene, and we were actually before that anyways. If you insist on labeling us, at least try and to get in the right ballpark.
What sort of set list can fans expect at Austin Psych Fest?
Uh…oh, that’s a secret. Just come along. It goes right across the board. That’s all I will promise, is that it goes absolutely right across the board. From very early material, to the late material, so everything is covered.
Well, are there any plans on new material?
Not at this moment in time, no. We’re too busy concentrating on everything that we’ve committed ourselves to. We have a lot of concerts left in America, then we go back to Europe, we have some concerts there in England, and also some festivals in Europe, which will take us right up to July sometime. We’ve got our hands full right now, so we don’t really wish to sort of make any other plans past that for this moment in time, and after that we’re going to need a little bit of a break, because we’ve been extremely busy.
Loop will play Austin Psych Fest on Sunday night. Information on their current and upcoming tours can be found on their official website, soundheads.org.