"Let me start this interview by asking you a couple of questions," said the Hood Internet's Steve Reidell when I called him on his cell phone.
"First of all, we've never been to Tucson, but we hear Club Congress is a really cool place to play—and what's all this about Club Crawl®?"
Some answers clearly were in order, seeing as Reidell, better known as STV SLV (pronounced Steve Sleeve), is half of the Chicago-based hip-hop/dance duo that's the headliner on Club Congress' indoor stage at Saturday night's Fall Club Crawl®.
Club Crawl®, presented by the Tucson Weekly, is a twice-yearly tradition in the Old Pueblo, during which dozens of local and touring bands of many different styles play on the same night at more than 25 venues and stages in the Fourth Avenue and downtown areas. Thousands buy wristbands to allow them the pleasure of migrating to and from nightclubs, theaters and outdoor stages to enjoy live music and—if we're being honest here—indulge in no small amount of lubricated revelry.
Reidell, thus informed, enthusiastically attested that he and his musical partner, ABX (aka Aaron Brink), indeed were down for playing Club Crawl®. The Hood Internet will top a bill that will include fellow Chicago artists Kid Static and Oscillator Bug, as well as the Brooklyn, N.Y., group Body Language.
The Hood Internet is on the road to promote their first official album, FEAT, which was released this week. Until now, Reidell and Brink have made their names as the purveyors of insanely catchy remixes and mashups, borrowing from and interpreting the work of a wide variety of other artists.
If you've ever wondered how tUnE-yArDs and Rihanna might sound in the same song, or were curious about the results of a melding of Passion Pit and Big K.R.I.T., or how TLC might mesh with Holy Ghost!, the Hood Internet have provided the answers on customized mixtapes.
FEAT is the duo's first album of wholly original productions, but they haven't given up combining disparate players in one song. In fact, the title is a play on words—not only is the album a feat, but every song on it highlights guest artists, a fact which traditionally is denoted on playlists and album credits with the notation "feat.," short for "featuring."
"We did a thing last year that had a few original productions, and we have always been heading in this direction, so now that we are sort of known for this sort of thing, it has been easier to get some of our favorite artists together for this record," Reidell said.
The album features the Hood Internet collaborating with folk-turned-electronic artist Class Actress and hip-hop MC Cadence Weapon on "Critical Captions," and bringing singer Annie Hart (of the indie band Au Revoir Simone) together with Chicago hip-hop crew BBU on "Won't Fuck Us Over." The standout cut is "One for the Record Books," which boasts a collaborative coup in A.C. Newman (singer-songwriter from pop-rock band the New Pornographers) and rapper Sims.
Tucson-based rapper Isaiah Toothtaker, by the way, also appears on the track "Nothing Should Be a Surprise" with the Chicago indie-rap collective Show You Suck.
Reidell said the Hood Internet wanted to take their music to the next level with FEAT. "We've been making mixtapes for a while now. We just wanted to take it a little further, seek out artists we love, and make a bunch of songs around them. We really wanted the best songs to sound like the stuff people already downloaded from our website."
If you visit that site (thehoodinternet.com), you'll be directed to others, such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, through which you can obtain free downloads of most of the Hood Internet's previous work.
Reidell said he and Brink are curious to see if their audience actually will pay for the new album. "I really don't know what's going to happen with it. People don't really like to pay for music anymore. I guess we will find out."
He said past collections were free because they so prominently featured the borrowed work of other artists. "We would really have had no business selling the mixtapes and mash-ups we made in the past. But when we worked with other people on the new material on this album, we certainly felt they should be compensated for the work they did on it. So that's one of the biggest reasons we are selling this one."
In a world that has more music than ever, the Hood Internet tries to make sense of it all.
Reidell said that he and Brink grew up listening to their parents' pop and rock albums, and they became enamored of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, punk, metal and indie rock, not to forget hip-hop and electronic. They played in bands together over the years.
Naturally, Danger Mouse's The Grey Album—a pioneering 2004 mashup that mixed unauthorized samples from the Beatles' "White Album" with raps from Jay-Z's The Black Album—was a significant milestone for the duo. But so was the soundtrack album from the 1993 movie Judgment Night, on which rappers collaborated with alternative rockers.
"The track with Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul from that record is still one of my favorite songs," Reidell said.
The current tour by the Hood Internet won't have many of the guest artists from FEAT. It's not as if the Rosebuds, Astronautalis or the Chain Gang of 1974 can go on the road with the duo to perform one song each. But Reidell was pleased to report that opening acts Kid Static (who also appears on FEAT) and Oscillator Bug will play with the Hood Internet to re-create some of the tunes from the album. Other special guests may pop up as well.
"There are going to be a lot of mashups that the audience will be familiar with, with some of the new album, and maybe something completely out of the blue," Reidell said. "But we'll keep them dancing."