Hank & Cupcakes, the Brooklyn-based indietronic husband and wife duo from Tel Aviv, met exclusively with The Weekender, along with Hank's newfound tuba-scarf, on April 6 at The Bog (341 Adams Ave., Scranton) before their Saturday night show with Philadelphia's dramatically glam Sweatheart and locals Betty Harlot Band, who also played The Rattler during H&C's tour kickoff show in Pittston in February.
THE WEEKENDER: Northeastern Pennsylvania is happy to have Hank & Cupcakes back!
CUPCAKES: We're happy to be here.
HANK: Do you mind if I sit with the tuba?
W: Please do.
H: It's very comfortable for some weird reason… It's like wearing a scarf.
W: You guys are at the end of your tour. How was it?
C: So much fun, and I can't believe that it's over.
H: Yeah, hard to believe how time flies.
W: Your full-length album, “Naked,” was released at the top of the tour.
C: Not exactly. This album is in a state of limbo right now, so it hasn't actually even officially been released… We recorded it in Berlin last year, and just as we were about to release it – not this tour, but two tours ago – we got signed, and the record label asked us not to release it because they wanted to release it. We still made 1,000 copies and we've been selling them on the road.
WKDR: Yeah, I saw them at the Pittston show.
C: Yeah. So basically this album isn't online anywhere, but you can get it if you come to our show.
WKDR: Your EP is online, though.
C: Yes, the EP is three songs from the album that the label kind of remixed, reworked, for the CD. That's supposed to be a teaser for the album. So this album can only be purchased, for the moment, if you come to our show.
W: That's good motivation to come to a show! How do you find that the songs on the album differ from the studio to the stage?
C: In what way?
WKDR: In your performance, or in any energy, maybe, in different venues.
C: Almost all of the songs were ready for the stage. We're not one of those bands that first go into the studio… We prepare it live, we play it at shows, and then we record it and try to figure out how to make it sound awesome on a recording. So our process is the opposite. Only “Liquid Mercury,” and maybe one more song, was arranged in the studio. So all of our songs were arranged for a live show, and then we made some alterations for the studio.
W: You were talking about how some of your songs were remixed. You've had a remix contest running on “Ain't No Love” and you've revitalized the Joy Division favorite “She's Lost Control.” I'd like for you to talk a bit about the Hank & Cupcakes philosophy on existing content and different artists covering it, bouncing around some piece of art through different voices.
C: I like the fact that you said that we have a philosophy. Now we have to have one [laughs].
H: Are you talking about the remix or the covering?
W: Both the remix and your cover.
H: For me, the remix is like the best kick. I really enjoy listening to remixes, much more even than listening to the actual thing, which I obviously listened to so many times. I know it so well, and it's a real kick to listen to an interpretation.
W: To hear somebody else embody your work?
C: Let's say the philosophy is that we love collaborating with different artists and we do it as much as we can, whether it's with photographers or, you know, any art medium. So to have someone else remixing our song, or for us to interpret an existing song, is just an ever-ongoing collaboration. I wouldn't say the Joy Division (song) is a collaboration, obviously. It's more us loving Joy Division and giving it our own interpretation. But the mixing up of different artists and bringing it together is something we like.
H: That specific song was something that I pushed very hard for. I'm a big fan of Joy Division. But we didn't really cover any other songs—
H: (Far East Movement's) “Like a G6.”
[Photographer Jason Riedmiller laughs]
JASON RIEDMILLER: I'd like to hear that! Can you play that tonight?
H: We might
C: Yeah, maybe we will.
H: How would you describe that show?
C: It was this really cool, very New York evening where they invite artists to cover a song in the Top 40s.
H: It's called “Our Hit Parade.”
C: It's really cool… It's like a really kind of prestigious evening and we were invited to take part, so we couldn't say no and we wanted to cover (The Knack's) “My Sharona.” But she had said it had to be Top 40.
H: Because that was Top 40 in the '90s.
C: Yeah. It had to be Top 40 2012 or whenever we did it. (They performed “Like a G6” at Our Hit Parade in NoHo, NYC's Joe's Pub in 2011.)
They didn't end up playing “Like a G6” this time around, but NEPA may have more opportunities to get to know and love the music of Hank & Cupcakes. According to Cupcakes, the love is mutual: “We really like Northeastern Pennsylvania, man! We're really getting into it.”