Blues with a groove and beats that will make you move. This is Hip Route a three piece band from Swindon with one simple agenda, to play live as much as possible. They sure practice what they preach, they boast an extensive gig schedule which takes them all over the UK. When they are not performing live they are writing and recording which has resulted in three full band albums, the most recent ‘Hands Together’ which was released in November 2013. I asked Hip Route about their experiences of recording three albums.
“During my time working at a bar I was introduced to a studio engineer who recorded our first album ‘Sing It Out’. We got on really well with him and were pleased with the results so we went back to record our second album ‘Working On Hope’. By the time we came to record our third album we fancied a change to see what would happen. The first two albums had been recorded in about a week, but this third album was recorded over a period of 6 months. We took our time, the mixes were taken away and listened to before committing. This lengthier process has resulted in an album I'm most proud of. If we were to record a fourth album we would definitely take our time again”.
At live shows Hip Route don’t just selling CDs, they also sell t-shirts, badges and all sorts of other goodies.
“We would much rather just have CD's for sale and although people do still buy them we know that many people prefer to go home and download the album. So to help get our name out there we thought that merchandise would be a good way”.
Each time I have seen Hip Route perform Jim Blair (singer/guitarist) brings with him a vast selection of guitars. Which include standard acoustic guitars and Weissenborn style guitars. With so many guitars to choose from I asked Jim which was his desert island guitar.
“If I had to choose one it would be my Teardrop Weissenborn made by Anderwood. Not only is it a lovely guitar to play but I have had it signed by some of my favourite people, it has since been lacquered to preserve the signatures”.
Note: A Weissenborn is a Hawaiian acoustic lap steel slide guitar.
Hip Route’s cross genre of Blues, Reggae, Rock, and anything else they can squeeze in, is the result of many years work and an abundant passion for music. I asked what their musical journey had been.
“Jon Millard (bass guitarist) and I (Jim Blair) played together 10 years ago in a band which was a completely different style to Hip Route. I (Jim Blair) would stand up with an electric guitar. During this time we worked in a guitar shop together which meant lots of free practice. We were influenced by rock bands such as Guns N Roses, Reef, Red Hot Chili Peppers. A friend introduced me to Ben Harper, I thought that's wicked, I want to play like that. After experimenting with a standard acoustic guitar I bought my first Weissenborn. I soon discovered they are great guitars to play because you can sit down and see what you're doing, I actually find it easier than playing bottleneck slide. I had all the effects pedals left over from the electric guitar days so I started experimenting. I play barefoot which enables me to adjust the pedals with my toes whilst playing”.
Hip Route’s main goal is to play live as much as possible. They explained to me why they think getting out there and playing is so important to them.
“When we were younger and more naive we thought the thing to do was to get gigs in London. We would phone venues and get gigs, but there was always a condition, either bring a certain amount of people, or we would have to pay. When we got these gigs in London we started to think we’re making it. But we have since learnt that we are much better off playing in a village pub to 40 people who will buy CDs and hopefully tell their friends. But we just love playing music, we have no aspiration to take over the world we’re just happy to make a living from music. Every week I (Jim Blair) get to play my guitar with two of my best friends and I'm playing my own songs. To be able to play you own music and have people enjoy it is great”.
Please visit Hip Route's website