Hop Along Extras: Frances Quinlan on Denver's "Amazing Free Clinic"

Last week, we interviewed Frances Quinlan of Hop Along, a genre-straddling indie-rock band that's made music critics (including this one) gush. (That voice, tho!) Our conversation ranged in subject matter from Chris Brown and Taco Bell to Denver's "amazing free clinic," which hopefully Quinlan won't need to visit again when the band plays Larimer Lounge on Thursday, February 11, with Strawberry Runners and Montoneros. Below are the interesting bits that didn't make it into print.

Westword: How do you like playing Denver?

Frances Quinlan: Sometimes the altitude seems to affect me. The second time we played Denver I got so sick. You guys have an amazing free clinic, I want to say. This guy I was dating called around while I was sick as a dog, and this free clinic gave me horse pills and I felt better. I just try to drink a lot of water and not go crazy with the beers.

Many of your songs are narrative-driven, inhabiting specific moments or characters. Are you always taking notes?

I should be! That's probably what a good writer does. I was thinking, 'I should start taking walks every morning and just observing.' Getting out of my head for a little bit, but I just never do that. I was trying to listen to the news for a while. Maybe I'll start doing that again. But you know, it's depressing. It's hard to hear about mass deaths, but that's what's happening. Can't be disengaged from that.

Do you have vocal influences?

I have people I strive to be like, but I can't say that I succeed in any way....Joni Mitchell is one of my biggest influences — she was just such a courageous writer. I think people influence me more as writers than as vocalists.

What's the scene like in Philly? Sounds like the city might be experiencing some growing pains similar to Denver's.

There's bands and show houses popping up constantly. It's a very affordable city so a lot of musicians are coming. The neighborhoods changing sadly – a lot of beer gardens and bougie stuff popping up which is pretty sad for the community. But there are a lot of families on my block.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Maybe I'll start running again...[laughs] Exercise has not been on my plate lately. Mostly it's been Taco Bell that's been on my plate. We got some coupons that we've been using...if it's free, I'll eat it.”

What do you think of the conversation — not new, but always coming back up — about sexism that female musicians experience?

I think generations are clashing. Killer Mike tweeted something that I appreciated: 'I really appreciate all the women who have educated me over the years.' We should focus on that....For so long we taught complacency and now women are realizing, 'That's fucked, I don't need to be complacent.' Men need to catch up. Grabbing somebody is totally fucked and there's innuendo underneath that that needs to be dealt with.

How do you help men "catch up"? An argument I've been hearing from men in music is that they don't know how to be better advocates or even notice sexist behavior.

They feel threatened. That whole #NotAllMen hashtag thing. It's the same issue with racism. Because of the culture I was raised in, which was 90 percent white suburbs, I have problematic characteristics that I'll be working on forever. A lot of people don't want to feel bad about it, but it's not about you. You're not the whole problem, the problem is systemic and you are benefiting from the system.

You're the only woman in your band. What would you say to your bandmates to be better allies in bad situations?

The only difference is that they're all men. They are more aware than ever of what goes on. We were on tour with this guy who was driving us and he put on Chris Brown. And my brother got furious, like, 'Why are you listening to this? This guy is an awful human being.' They're all cool guys. 

Hop Along plays Larimer Lounge on Thursday, February 11, with Strawberry Runners and Montoneros.
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Katie Moulton is a former Westword music editor. She's written about culture for alt-weeklies since 2009 and has also worked as a venue manager, radio DJ/producer and festival organizer. Her go-to karaoke jams are "Flagpole Sitta," by Harvey Danger, or "Ride Wit Me," by Nelly, which tells you a lot.
Contact: Katie Moulton