Not very often do I find myself sarcastically making a comment and then being asked to do my first phone interview because of said comment, but it couldn’t have come at a better time or happened with a nicer couple than it did. Luke and Angela Marino are from the band the Hootz. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you’re going to want to get to know them. I personally find myself listening to all music. I am not partial to one genre over another anymore (as I had been in the past). It really depends on my mood and what’s happening, but I can and do love listening to anything and everything. With that, I really do hate labeling music as having to belong in one genre. A song is a song and a lyric is a lyric. How it sounds could define what genre it belongs to, but I digress. This group though, The Hootz, takes the genre out of music and gives you a taste of anything and everything at their shows and with their style. You can be assured that no matter what kind of music you like you’d leave one of their shows having had a great time. I had the pleasure of getting to chat with them about their music, touring, the band, and other fun odds and ends here and there. Enjoy and welcome yourself to The Hootz!
This interview was conducted in the spring. Any references to time frames are correct even though they may now be in the past at the time of posting.
TC: Alright, you guys are transplants from New York, correct?
TC: Awesome, was that a recent move for you guys?
A: We moved in, not this last November but the year before. We were just kinda renting a room to feel it out. We sold our house in New York and just rented a room for a couple months until we found a house in the Nashville area.
TC: Okay, finding property down there is very interesting. I just found that out myself. My Dad just moved down there and trying to find something is intense.
A: It sure is everyone’s got cash and they just take the cash offers over you. It takes a while.
TC: They do, and it does take a while. So how’s that transition going so far?
A: So far so good, we love our house.
TC: … and you like Nashville and the whole area?
A: Yeah, we’re only about 20 miles away, so we can be a part of the madness if we choose to and we can also pull out and do the country living too, so we’ve got the best of both worlds.
TC: That’s perfect. Based on what I’ve seen so far, your guys’ band has a unique look and feel and vibe to it, something very different than the rest.
L: Yeah, that’s what we’re shooting for.
TC: Can you tell me more about that?
L: So, we are considered country music, but I’ve always been more into rock music. I was in punk rock bands growing up and I pretty much only did that type of music until I met Angela and then she had a country twang and got me playing country music. Plus the music made more money than what I was doing in my other bands. So we were a duo for a long time … and it’s kind of weird because everyone said, we’re kinda rocky, kinda country music. It wasn’t really country music so our manager thought we should embrace that and just do a four world collision of what we basically are. Our fiddle player is super country, so he’s the country guy of the band. Angela is this pop country princess person, that’s kinda her world. I’m the rock guy, and then our drummer brings the hip hop beats and that kind of stuff to the table. So it’s kinda like four different worlds bringing together one kinda unique sound.
TC: That’s awesome though because I’m one of those people that would like to do away with genres.
Both: I know. I feel like that’s who we are and it’s so hard to say but we love it all. It’s music.
TC: Yeah, it’s music. There’s not one… Like when people don’t talk to you because you listen to country. It doesn’t make sense to me but it’s whatever. Music is music. So yes, you guys are the epitome of that, and that’s awesome.
Both: Thank you very much.
TC: The name, where did you guys come up with that?
A: Well, about ten years ago, we became Luke and Ange, who were just a little duo. Then we got a manager and he said we should really come up with a band name so we went to the Hootananges because my name is Ange and instead of a Hootananney it was Hootananges, but we spelled it really weird. Nobody could say it right. They were always saying, Hootanagnes, Hootanangels.
TC: I remember that. Patti and Bill were fans of you guys then too and I would think, “I don’t know how to say that name but okay, I like their stuff.”
A: I know! That’s what people would say! Especially trying to pitch us in Nashville, our agent was like, “How am I supposed to call Texas and say, The Hootenanges or whatever that is? It’s just going to be The Hootz”. So we found that The Hootz with a Z was available and we took it, so it’s kind of a transition that we took and that was about three years ago.
TC: That’s awesome, it’s definitely unique so it’s different.
A: Thanks, we like it. Plus, we’re pretty high energy so you know it was fitting. We’re having a hoot you know?
TC: Yes, definitely! You guys have a newer concept than you did previously. How’s that going so far for you guys and is it being received well?
L: We haven’t really officially dropped. The whole stage show shouldn’t be done until July, that’s what we’re shooting for. So far just doing little costuming stuff on the stage and just testing that out has gone really cool. I think when we come in they [people] don’t know what the hell’s going to happen on stage. They’re like, what is this? Then when we play I think it kinda comes together and people realize [what’s happening]. Our fiddle player has this talk show host voice he does, so we have him make sure people understand what their watching, and he breaks it down for everybody so they’re not guessing, “what’s with these outfits?” He walks everybody through it [the audience] so they get it. We’ve only done about three shows with our costumes on and we played the Hard Rock a couple days ago and that went over pretty good. We’re just kinda building it. It should be ready in a couple months. The real show.
TC: I hope to catch you guys somewhere.
A: I know. Well we’re heading to Wisconsin I think when you’re coming here. I wish we were a little bit closer to you … Maybe one of these days.
TC: Yes, and I will keep watching the tour dates because I will come. You guys are on tour now then?
L: Yeah we’re always on the road every week. Sometimes we’ll have a week off or something but we’re pretty much always touring because in Nashville, it’s harder to make money here than everywhere else.
TC: Right. Are there any places not on your tour list that you’d like to get to soon?
A: Yeah, California baby!
L: Yeah, California, Vegas, west coast. We haven’t really played west coast much. We’ve done a lot of the south, Florida, east coast, have we played up north? Not much, but the west coast would be awesome.
TC: Summertime is here or it feel like it anyway. That’s music festival season. Do you guys play a lot of music festivals?
A: We have in the past. We’re playing Bratfest in Madison, WI. That’s with Aaron Lewis and we always pick up dates, and Brownsburg, Indiana we’re playing a festival.
L: We usually do more, but because we’re doing this new show, our agency that does the booking is trying to keep it more just doing enough stuff to get by and to pay the bills until we get this real show. We’re kinda taking the shows easy until we really do this thing right.
TC: That makes sense. You’ve done festivals. In the future, when you can do them again more freely, are there any ones that you hope to do that you haven’t done already or go back to if you’ve already been there?
L: We did a show out in Kentucky that was really fun. That was called The Chicken Fest. It was one of the funnest shows. It was like 20,000 people, we played with Brett Michaels, and that was one of the funnest shows we’ve played. Every time we do a festival though it’s always fun. That’s the game plan is to play pretty much out of the casino circuit and play more festival stuff.
TC: Okay well CMA Fest is coming up. Are you guys going to be there for that?
L: This is the first year in three years that we’re not. We’re out of town for CMA Fest.
A: Yeah we’re in Wisconsin.
L: Yeah I knew there was a reason we weren’t going to be there this year. We played the last couple of years and it was cool. But I want to be on the big stages during CMA Fest next time we do it.
TC: Totally understable.
A: Doesn’t everybody? (laughs)
L: We were at the stadium last year. We did the Nissan Stadium but we were kinda one of the side note bands in the stadium so you know, it’d be nice to be the highlighted thing.
A: Someday. You gotta dream big.
TC: Of course! Being you guys are such a unique group, I’m sure you run across some very unique things while you are out on the road. What is the most unique thing that you’ve run into? Whether it’s a fan thing, a venue.. Anything.
L: Man, we have stories. We have a lot of them. That’s the stuff that stands out to me, is wacky stuff. Like we almost got shot on our way to play in Texas one time. Our door got kicked in at the hotel. There’s just weird stuff like that, that happens to us.
A: But that can happen to anybody traveling.
L: Yeah I guess so. We had our new drummer that we have full time with us now and when we were getting ready for this Texas show, we had to practice out in the parking lot of the hotel and we had a gang creep up on us and start circling us. That was crazy.
TC: Yeah that would be a little…. Yeah.
L: I think honestly we were just really jamming out and I think they were just hanging out but for us it felt like I was going to get killed.
TC: Right. They probably didn’t think anything of you and you guys were like, “Okay we’re gonna die now”.
L: Yeah I mean I had my guitar as a weapon, I guess I could have used that. I was planning my escape route. I mean we just have silly stuff like that go down. Everyone’s always really cool, we always meet people that are awesome at our shows.
TC: What’s the most unique fan experience then, maybe narrow it down a little bit.
A: Oh we signed a baby one time!
L: Yeah we signed a baby.
A: The baby’s forehead (laughing) and I’m looking at the Mom like, “do you really want me to sign your baby’s forehead?” .. and she’s like, “yeah” and that was at a festival.
L: Yeah we’ve got these fans that saw us at this radio show that we did. This radio put a concert together and we played this thing and then we had to play about ten hours the opposite direction the next week. They drove the ten hours to the casino that we played at to see the show, without even having a room or anything like that. So we had a spare room that the casino gave us and we let them stay in our extra room.
TC: Wow, that’s awesome though.
L: Die hard fans.
TC: Yes, definitely! Being husband and wife out on the road together. How’s that go for you guys? Because for some people it works, some people it doesn’t.
L: I’m gonna let Ange answer it.
A: (laughs) It’s awesome, it really is! We do everything together anyway so it’s just funny. Working with your husband, living with your husband, and it really doesn’t bother us at all. We’re each other’s best friend and I’m not just saying that on the interview. It’s like we do everything together anyway. I will say when it comes to being on stage he is captain of The Hootz. He’ll totally shoot me with mind bullets for messing up a chord or doing something different but other than that. I’m kinda crazy when we’re driving (laughs). I’m always like, “be careful” and he’s always Speedy Gonzales getting speeding tickets (laughs), but honestly it’s really fun. We get to see the world together. Some days we’re just hanging out in Key West and yeah we have a show but life is good you know?
TC: Best of both worlds.
A: Yeah! I love it!
L: Yeah, she said it. That’s definitely it.
TC: We always ask a few questions to everyone that we interview, so I’m headed into those now. If you could have a bar in Nashville because that’s the thing now, it seems like every artist is getting a bar. There’s the Dierks Bentley one, Blake Shelton has one, John Rich has his opening up next week which I wish I could be there for. Everybody has one. So if you guys, or if The Hootz could have their own bar, what would the theme be?
Both: Hmm.. I like that!
A: I feel like owls will definitely be in the equation somewhere.
L: Yeah, Ange looks like a hoot owl so it’s like our symbol.
TC: Owls are awesome!
L: Yeah, they’re pretty sweet.
A: Luke and I always talk about opening up a restaurant because when it comes to really fine dining … It’s not even fine dining, maybe it’s just family restaurants, it seems like there’s a lot of chains. So we always talk about putting in a little extra effort on spaghetti sauce, you know?
L: She’s talking about a bar though.
TC: Well food works, you’ve got to eat too so if you guys want to throw food in there that works too.
L: Yeah if we had our own bar we’d definitely have food that wasn’t just throw in the microwave food. People would go for actually eating a meal there. I think it would probably have music videos and stuff playing around.
A: Oh yeah.
L: I”m gonna have to put some research into my bar.
TC: That’s okay.
A: Yeah we haven’t really thought about a bar we’ve only thought about a restaurant.
L: That’s right, the restaurant is all we’ve really talked about.
TC: What would the name of the restaurant and/or bar be?
A: We’ve always talked about opening Marino’s Restaurant. But that’s a tough one. If it was a bar/restaurant in downtown Nashville we would have to call it “HOOTZ” and leave it. That way people question what it is! (laughing)
TC: Alright. So I don’t know if you guys can answer the next question then, maybe we’ll just have to change it for food, but, if you had a bar you would have a signature drink. So what would be in it and what would it be called?
A: Well it would be called a Capangella. (laughs) It’s a Capri and Angella. It’s just Malibu, Cranberry, and Orange Juice but it’s the only thing I ever drink when I go anywhere.
TC: That sounds delicious.
A: Yeah it’s awesome. Everyone always tries to put pineapple juice in it. It’s like, no no no, just orange juice and cranberry.
TC: That does sound delicious..
L: With the Malibu
TC: Of course!
A: Maybe we’ll have our own Hootz liquor by then.
TC: That’s true! You could do that too.
L: We were sponsored by Cold Cock Whiskey, did you ever hear of them?
TC: Yeah I think I have.
L: Yeah that was a little thing we had going on for a little bit, so we had to push that on our festival dates and stuff, but it just dissolved. We just stopped talking to them or something.
A: Now we should get ahold of Malibu though. (laughing)
TC: If you did have your own restaurant then what would the food be? Since you guys have thought about that more it sounds like.
A: Oh yeah okay. I guess I just got bored and I tried to make an apple pie, and turns out I’m actually amazing at the crust! Luke is really good at doing chicken pot pie filling, so together we do an awesome chicken pot pie! From scratch.
TC: That sounds amazing.
L: Yeah and then probably a lot of Italian food.
A: Yeah, spaghetti.
L: Ange and I are both Guido Italian people.
TC: Yes, definitely. Yes. Just yes. To all of that. (laughs)
L: You gotta come over to this restaurant we’re putting together on the phone.
TC: Yeah, I really do. Or do these interviews after I’ve eaten because this is not working. (laughing)
A: Yeah I’m hungry now.
L: Yeah now I’m going to have to get a blueprint going. I’m really inspired.
TC: There you go. You never know. Because in Nashville, you never know, with everything.
L: Yeah, it’s crazy. We just went over and checked out our friend’s band. They played at that new joint Ole Reds on Broadway that Blake Shelton put together. Did you hear about it?
TC: I did. I saw it when they were still working on it, and it’s opened since then.. Obviously..
L: Yeah it’s open. It’s actually really nice. It’s supposed to be one of the bigger ones. I think our agent said he was talking to a lady and they were going to get us in there. I don’t know when though.
TC: That looks like a fun one. They all look fun.
L: Yeah, Broadway’s just nonstop.
TC: Always. Rainy days. Wednesdays. Doesn’t matter what day.
L: I know, and they’re always packed in.
TC: Yes. Okay, so the last one that we always ask. Since we are Think Country, what makes you guys think country?
L: I’d say Ange’s voice and our fiddle player.
A: I think an old dirt path and singing on the wrap around porch with your banjo (laughs). I think family.
L: Yeah, I think of the twang. Especially nowadays. There’s so many songs that are pretty much a rock song but if it’s got a little twang in it, it’s going to be considered country and that’s what country is I think at this point.
TC: Absolutely. Right.
L: Yeah. Thanks for the questions.
TC: Of course! Patti mentioned you had this new thing going and we wanted to get on it. So we got on it!
L: I love it. So how’d you guys start this Think Country up?
A : Yeah now we’re just going to ask you some questions. (laughs)
TC: That’s okay! I’m still kinda fairly new to the group, but Annette Gibbons, I don’t know if you are familiar with her name on social media.. Patti and Bill met her through, probably Facebook and everything they do… She has Think Country. It’s her baby. She lives in the UK and she just works her butt off for this, constantly. Well, they met, and they’re work horses and Bill takes fantastic photos.
A: Yes he does.
TC: He’s just amazing, and he’s self taught. They all just kind of came together and Patti writes for them, and he takes photos. He still does his 90 East Photography stuff too. They kinda cover it all together and they have various contributors and I’m just one of the contributors.
TC: I haven’t done a phone interview yet, so you guys are my first phone interview. I hope I didn’t screw it up too bad. (laughs)
A: I think it went great.
L: I think it’d be the band on the other line screwing it up.
TC: No you guys are good, you’re fine.
L: Yeah that’s funny because Patti’s always talking about how she writes for an online magazine type of thing but I didn’t realize this was it. It’s an all online magazine type of a thing right?
TC: Yeah, it’s all online. We tweet stuff and share stuff. Just getting the word out and spreading it. So hopefully this gets you guys out there a little bit because they have international followers. She’s in the UK so…
L: Brilliant. I love it.
TC: Maybe someday you guys will have to go over there and play now.
A: I guess.
L: Well, we want to. That’s the other thing you can throw in there. Our agent’s got a lot of stuff he does in the UK like booking, so we’re hoping someday he’ll get us over there.
TC: Well thank you guys very much guys, I appreciate it!
Both: Yes, thank you!
TC: See you guys around hopefully. I’ll keep watching the dates.
A: Yeah maybe in Michigan… or Minnesota! (laughs)
TC: Yeah, Minnesota (laughs) Thanks again!
Both: Thank you!