Amber Papini of Hospitality: "Unknown Things...Are Just Out There Lurking."

Categories: Interviews

Will Mebane
Talking to Hospitality's Amber Papini is quite the experience. The highly talented songwriter is an idiosyncratic thinker, whether it's discussing the influence of the ocean on her songwriting or her love of gas station food. And that is reflected in Hospitality's truly distinctive music.

Speaking from her home in Brooklyn and in anticipation for tonight's show at City Tavern, Papini talked with DC9 about Trouble, Hospitality's great new album.

There has been a big promotional push for your new album, Trouble. Were you anxious to get it released?

We were ready to get it out there and then see what happened.

A lot of reviews say the album is quite a bit darker than the debut. Do you agree?

It was a conscious choice we made to make it darker. We like dark things. I like the sound of dark, dark things. I also like the sound of light things, too. I like both.

What jobs have you had besides being in a band?

I taught second grade. I was a secretary for a little bit. I recently started giving music lessons to kids. That is about it. Nathan is a composer. Brian helps make documentaries and he distributes them.

Did teaching second grade prepare you for being in a band?

I don't know. It did help me dealing with audiences, the performance aspect of teaching. That relates to being in a band, you have to perform as a teacher.

When did you get the band together?

We started playing together in 2007. We would practice in our apartment in Brooklyn. We would play small coffee shops and then we got to play bigger bars. We had to change our sound when we started playing bars. We started playing electric instruments and using real drums. I guess we grew from there. I met [percussionist] Nathan [Michel] at a party. He was in music school and I was in drama school. We met [bassist] Brian Betancourt through mutual friends.

Many trios are tempted to add a fourth member. Does that thought ever cross your mind?

We like the sound of the three of us. We always overdub a lot in the studio. On tour, we have a guy who plays drums and keyboards. He also plays guitar. He switches around a lot. I guess we truly are a four piece when we tour. When we record, we are a trio.

Where did you come up with the name?

We went through a list of band names and I just liked the sound of hospitality. It didn't sound obviously like a rock act. It was the opposite of what you think of as rock and roll. Rock is dirty and dangerous, but there is nothing dangerous about hospitality.

Are you working with a string section on this tour?

Yes, that's what we did in New York in January. Nathan arranged some songs for a string quartet. Before that, we had not played with a string section before. On record, we had used a cello. Nathan knows what he is doing.

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