Starting 2020 with a Bang
The indie-electronic trio of Robby Hunter, Pat Howard and John Coughlin have made big names of themselves in Miami’s music scene with their band, Magic City Hippies. The band is coming off of a transformative 2019, which saw them release their much-heralded debut full-length release “Modern Animal,” and play numerous festivals, including Voodoo, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Peach Music Fest.
In 2020, the band is embarking on a major tour, which will see them stop in Washington D.C.’s Hamilton on Jan. 14.
Magic City Hippies first gained prominence with its 2015 EP, “Hippie Castle,” which garnered around 10 million Spotify streams and it has been only getting more popular every year since.
Loria: Preview the live experience for those coming out to The Hamilton on Jan. 14.
Howard: We’ll be playing a lot of cuts off the new record, and for many it will be the live debut, and that’s always exciting. We’ve had a lot of the same favorites in the rotation for a while and it’s refreshing for us and probably the crowds coming out. They can expect a sweaty funk-rock show. We always end up coming down a little harder on the guitars and digging in to the funk when we adapt the songs to the live show.
Loria: Where did you record the new album and what went into getting it released?
Howard: We have a few different songs from a few different recording situations. Some of the songs were started back when we were making music in our bedroom studio back in 2015. For a while we were working out of another small room in a house, and we started another song there. Then we were recording at a spot in Little Haiti, and that’s where a majority of the record was recorded.
Loria: How did you hit upon a theme for “Modern Animal?”
Howard: Well, in between tours and festivals we would work on it. The theme of hitting the road and the commitment to the dream we have been chasing together for pretty much all of our 20s, and the effect it has had on our relationships and the challenges inherent has been woven through this. We recorded it at different times and during different situations to piece it together, and it’s amazing that it ended up flowing together so nicely.
Loria: I know you started in Miami. How did the three of you first start playing together?
Howard: John and I met at the University of Miami’s music school and we actually started as a bar band in Coconut Grove, Fla. Robby originally had a gig outside and he would amp pretty loud, but the cops closed him down, so he went to a bar up the street and he would play every Friday with a revolving door of musicians. I ended up drumming for him and then eventually John came along, and that just become our thing on Friday nights. From there, we just played some more local gigs and I started producing some of the originals.
Loria: In 2013, you released your first music under the Robby Hunter Band, how did you transition to the Magic City Hippies?
Howard: We had an album called Magic City Hippies, which was the beginning of our music getting out on the internet, and fans around the country started to find us and we just went with that name.
Loria: What’s the secret for getting your music heard today?
Howard: Mainstream radio still has a lot of major label gatekeepers so we don’t concern ourselves too much with that, but college radio has been great for us. Spotify has been the biggest thing for us. Spotify has been recharging our batteries financially for us to be able to go on tour. When we put out the EP, we already had a good fan base and it ended going viral, and being No. 1 on Spotify. The momentum from that, and all the music we have put out since, has had a strong following. Plus, just getting on the road and playing shows—40 cities in two months—has helped tremendously and been the truest version of getting fans to know us.
Loria: What sort of goals do you have for the band’s future?
Howard: We’re just trying to make music that we like and trying to make music we’re excited about. It’s such a thrill to be in the studio and be focused about a new idea. If we really feel in our guts that there’s something we’re excited about, we want to deliver those songs to a live audience. We’d love to continue to see the font in our name get a little bit bigger for these festivals we’re playing and move up in the lineups a bit. I think we’re on the right track.