ALPHA HOPPER

Irene Rekhviashvili Vocals
Ryan McMullen Guitar
Doug Scheider Drums
John Toohill Guitar

Years Active 6

Latest / Upcoming Release “Aloha Hopper” LP on Swimming Faith + Radical Empathy Summer 2019 / “Alpha Hex Index” LP on Hex Records due out late 2020

Current Album on Repeat IRENE:  I’ve been blasting Sayonara Wild Hearts, the soundtrack to the video game with the same name. Self-described as a pop album video game, the hour long rhythm based game felt like I was  “playing” a record (playing like a video game), and listening to the soundtrack feels like I’m playing the game in my head.

Currently Reading DOUG: About a third of the way through China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station.  A lot of the book’s concerns center around the experience of border spaces and how we navigate incommunicable differences.  Its style straddles the line between high art and pulp. There’s a lot of words that need to be looked up, but also it’s about aliens having sex with each other.

Favorite Venue to Perform IRENE: I really liked playing at the Glitterbox (RIP). This basement in our bud’s house was roomy, around the corner, and there was a controlled amount of glitter, so it was perfect. There were so many great shows with awesome bands there, I really miss the place!

All Time Favorite Album RYAN: Funhouse by The Stooges ; JOHN: That is the correct answer

Alpha Hopper Press Photo

How is everyone holding up during this time?

IRENE: Thank you for asking. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home, and I stay in touch with my buds and family via video chat. I’m raising plants and the two Dungeons and Dragons campaigns I’m currently a part of really play (get it?) their part in keeping me occupied.

Tell us about how this project got started?

RYAN: The initial spark that created Alpha Hopper goes back to Irene and John wanting to make music together and calling up Doug and myself to help out. Irene had fronted a cool band a few years prior and was eager to get back on the mic. Doug, John and myself had all been in a band together years prior and had all collaborated on different projects in different permutations in the time between, so we really spoke each other’s language already. So all the pieces were assembled pretty much right away and we all just naturally fell into an extremely democratic and equal creative dynamic. It was never about doing a particular style, genre, or even working on a batch of prewritten material—everything came together organically as a group and we just kept doing it.

Are you working on anything new / specific at the moment?

DOUG: We’re right in the middle of recording a new record, “Alpha Hex Index.”  It’s been an exciting process this time around because between it being our most ambitious batch of songs to date and making the call to record it entirely ourselves, it feels like we’re pushing what we’re capable of as a band.  We’re still figuring out how we’re going to finish up without Virusing each other, but we’re hoping the record release show will be the first thing people are willing to risk being out of their house for this summer.

How do you balance music with jobs, partners, children, etc.?

JOHN: You don’t. You just gotta make them all the same thing and then lug that around forever. No Juggling. Yer already a clown if you’ve decided to take music seriously. Start bands with your partners and don’t be shitty to each other so the group doesn’t break up after you do. Only work jobs that are flexible to your music schedule. Spell VACATION “T-O-U-R”. Have A LOT of roommates. Make it part of your daily routine. Get hopelessly addicted to it so you don’t even see what else might be worth your time. I’m kinda joking but it works for me and I love it. For real. Cept for that kids part. Don’t combine that. Then you’ll end up naming them River or Nimbus or something and try to make them play drums cuz you couldn’t. Jesus, just let the kid be good at math without forcing them to listen to Prog rock.

Previous Bands?

JOHN: We’ve all been/are in a ton of bands. I’m not gonna list them all cuz I’m mostly just answering this question so i can mention that Irene played drums in HOT TIP and I LOVED that band.

What’s the biggest thing that your band could use help with?

DOUG: Does anyone have the name of a good therapist?  Also though it feels like there are fewer options for places to put on shows in the last couple of years.  With more money and people coming to downtown, a lot of places that used to enjoy a night of weirdos playing punk music have either closed or transitioned towards more broadly appealing entertainment options. I think we and a lot of artists could use a couple more houses and bars willing to be a home to smelly kids and loud amps.

What does Buffalo have to offer aspiring musicians?

JOHN: Buffalo’s strengths and weaknesses are the same. It’s a small town vibe in an almost big city. Cheap rent. Places to practice. Everything is 15 mins apart. So close. There’s a lot of fun to have and it’s very easy to get in on it. Plus you got tons of other great cities to play that are a short drive. It’s really easy to be in a band here. Unfortunately that occasionally allows us to get too comfortable, lazy, and take things for granted. There is no real rush or pressure. It’s hard to keep people excited. You forget that you can, and really should, leave the nest before you end up hung up on it with all your energy drained. I have a saying “Buffalo is the best place to live if you remember to leave a lot.” I love it here… like 8 months a year.

What has your recording experience been like?

RYAN: We’re actually on a weird reverse trajectory with our recording experiences. Our first record (Last Chance Power Drive) was recorded by our friend Joe in a very professional studio with nice gear and all the bells and whistles; our second record (Aloha Hopper) was recorded in a basement on the east side with the expertise and gear of some knowledgeable friends; and now in 2020, we’re recording our latest record totally by ourselves in John’s attic. We’ve been lucky enough to always have a talented and generous network around us to help us pull off great recordings that we’re really proud of without ever having to pay a stranger a bunch of money to do it for us.

What are the ingredients to a thriving music/art scene?

RYAN: In my opinion, the primary indicator of a thriving scene is bands and artists inspiring people to start bands and become artists. When a person in the crowd who might otherwise be content just taking it in leaves a show feeling like they want to add their voice to the conversation, it’s a really beautiful and important thing. I’ve definitely observed that magical feedback loop happening here at many different times and different scales, but it certainly ebbs and flows and dries up at times. The most crucial ingredient in building it is a homebase; a venue that’s booking shows on the regular so people can look forward to seeing familiar faces and feel comfortable going to hang out and maybe take a chance on a band that they aren’t already familiar with. Everyone reading this should start a band!


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