In case you hadn’t noticed, the seemingly essential marriage of rock ‘n’ roll and pyrotechnics is on the rocks these days.
But thanks to four guys called Troubled Hubble, who normally saturate themselves with thoughts about animal safety, college and canoeing, fireworks are creeping back onto the scene. Oh yeah, these dudes play rock music, too.
“Surprisingly, we haven’t been in a lot of trouble for the amount of fireworks we’ve shot out of our van on the way down here,” unofficial group spokesman Nate Lanthrum said.
“I definitely think we’re starting a pyrotechnics department within our band, since we’ve become amateur fireworks experts. It’s pretty tight nowadays as far as bringing fireworks into clubs, but hopefully we’ll work up to that one day.”
These Roman candle connoisseurs — Chris Otepka (lead vocals/ guitar), Nate and Andrew Lanthrum (drums and bass, respectively) and Josh Miller (guitar/ backing vocals) — make up Troubled Hubble, one of the most original indie rock bands today.
The band — who will stop in for a show at New World Brewery in Ybor tonight — bares a slight resemblance to Ben Folds melodies and has song structures similar to Modest Mouse, but that’s only scratching Hubble’s surface.
Hubble’s poppy tuneage is comprised of driving guitars and lyrical subject matter so seemingly monotonous that it’s infectious.
“It’s not something that I consciously set out to do,” Otepka, the band’s main songwriter, said. “I just write to express the things on my brain. It definitely makes us tough to categorize, though.”
Over the course of Hubble’s five albums, Otepka has taken the band and its fans on journeys about love lost via canoeing, an animal’s perspective on driving procedures, flying airplanes through the neighborhood and even what to do in emergencies.
There is a simple reason these kinds of songs work — they’re happy. Otepka and his mates make it a priority to infuse each song with oodles of happy melodies, hopeful choruses and fun instrumentation.
“You only live once, and there’s no sense in being miserable,” Otepka said. “It really drives me insane when I hear a band that talks about how hard their life is. If you sit and dwell on that stuff, that’s how it will be. If there is negativity to address, we go about it in a stupid and fun way.”
The band has done more in its four-year existence than most do in a career.
The boys have recorded three LPs, including last year’s surprise indie hit Penturbia, and a couple of EPs, all while managing to grind through college in the Midwest and work odd jobs at home in Elburn, Ill.
This tour marks only the second time the band has ventured away from the Midwest, and is their first time they’ve landed in the Sunshine State.
They can’t stay for long, though; the guys have to get back for canoe racing season.
“We enter canoe races a few times a year. Not because we’re experienced canoers or anything — just to be stupid,” Otepka said. “It’s just that we have a hell of a lot of fun goofing around like crazy.”
Troubled Hubble plays New World Brewery in Ybor tonight. Tickets are $3 and the show kicks off at 10:30.