Hospitality Interview: Band Discusses Debut Album, ‘Betty Wang,’ and ‘Arrested Development’

Mar 8, 2012 4:33pm

Hospitality released its self-titled debut album with Merge records.  Its Feb. 3 record-release show at The Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn started off with a stroke of bad luck — two of the band members were pulled over on their way to the venue and a surprise visit from the health inspector delayed their set.  Once the group came on stage and started the night with “The Right Profession,”  the soldout crowd knew it was worth the wait.

AudioFile sat down with Amber Papini, Nathan Michel and Brian Betancourt before their show. Check out the interview here:

 

 Hospitality recorded the album before signing with Merge.  It  tracked everything live in a studio over the course of four days, mixed it  and sent the album around to record labels.  Brian described Merge as “a nice family to support you,” and said that releasing the record had been “effortless” and “painless.”  The result is 10 dynamic songs showcasing the band’s talent and originality.

Many reviews have compared Hospitality’s sound to that of Belle & Sebastian.  While Amber admits they like Belle & Sebastian, they  don’t  completely agree with the comparison.  Nathan explains, “The very opening  ["Eighth Avenue"], sounds like Belle & Sebastian, so the fact that it’s the first [song] people hear I think they tend to focus on that.”

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Brian Betancourt, Nathan Michel and Amber Papini from the Brooklyn-based band Hospitality. (Kyle Dean Reinford)

In speaking to their musical influences, Amber says “they’re really diverse and broad.”  The band members list Elvis Costello, Neil Young, the Clash, the Beatles and Robert Wyatt.  They also listen to a lot of classical music and jazz.  In her lyrics, Amber aims to draw on universal themes and use eclectic characters to tell stories that anyone can relate to.

The song “Betty Wang” celebrates a strong, inspirational woman, who is “the only girl on the team.”  Betty Wang is based on someone  who  Amber used to work with, but don’t expect to see her make an appearance at a Hospitality show anytime soon.  Amber says, “She’s a pretty private person. … I’m not sure if she even knows about all the attention the song is getting right now.”

Another catchy, character-driven song is “Friends of Friends,” the first single off the album.  The music video, directed by Scott Jacobson, takes a fun approach to a long-distance breakup.  The role of “girlfriend” is played by Alia Shawkat, who played George-Michael’s crush-worthy cousin Maeby in “Arrested Development.”

Take a look at the full video for “Friends of Friends”:

 

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