With Lead Singer Dan Jalil
JOE: Hey Dan thanks for talking to me. Where did the name Pygmy Hippo come from?
DAN: Well its it's my favorite animal and I just wanted to use it to express my love for music.
JOE: So how long have you guys been playing together now?
DAN: We've been together for 2 years. We've been friends hanging out together. Me and Brian were playing in Weekday Warriors together. So we had a little prior experience playing together.
JOE: What are your prior musical experiences?
DAN: Well me and Brian, like I said were, in Weekday warriors together. Me and Neil had a jam and me and Mike had a jam before the band got together.
JOE: What kind of musical background does the group have? Anything you share that you can bring together as a band?
DAN: For myself I stayed playing with some friends like 8 years ago with some different bands and Neil has played since he was in school and playing much longer than I have. Mike and Brian have been playing since they were younger in their teens. Where I didn't get started playing until in my 20s.
JOE: Any influences you guys have?
DAN: Well yeah I would say speaking for myself Tame Impala and some other band members were influenced by MGMT and Phish.
JOE: I could really see the MGMT.
DAN: Yeah MGMT is a big part of our sound. I really like the way Tame Impala records their music. We like the Grateful Dead, Lotus, Disco Biscuits. So I would say bands like that really influenced us. We’re really into Daft Punk. Things like that. We really try to keep our minds open and different sounds.
JOE: I was checking out your music on SoundCloud and the song “Docking In Jupiter” and it’s such a relaxing song with a slow build and you don’t hear any other instruments for like 3 minutes and then it just kicks it up another notch. Then some of the other songs had a clear space theme. Were you guys going for a space them with the record?
DAN: Yeah definitely. It was supposed to be a concept album. It was to be about a band that leaves their music on Earth and then someone takes it onto a spaceship and it gets left there. A long, long time later it gets discovered. We never released it on hard copy but, there is an image on SoundCloud of a hippo in an astronaut uniform. One day we may end up doing a hard copy of it.
JOE: Do you have a new album coming out?
DAN: The next album we record will be released on streaming services like Spotify and we will release a physical copy. It will be called “Best In Show”. It’ll be released September 15th and at an album release show at 1984 in Wilmington.
JOE: So until that release, where is the best place to find your music and merchandise?
DAN: Best place for music would be SoundCloud and you can find us on YouTube. We have our own YouTube channel. We’re starting to build up our content on there. If you just do a search on there for Pygmy Hippo music you’ll find stuff from our shows that others have recorded. We’ve had a lot of different people film stuff and put it up. It’s just not on our channel because it’s not our content. Some of them man, have real nice equipment. I don’t know if they do it professionally or what but, some of the videos I’ve seen that are sent to me are like really nice to watch.
I gotta shout out 3 people real quick for all the work they’ve done putting together things for bands and taking pics. Charlie Gibb is one, he’s a photographer who we really love. He’s taken so many pictures for so many bands. William Scarbrough and Marcus Moore as well. The photographers are actually an essential part of the music scene. I don’t think they get enough credit and they create an awareness.
They’re so good at what they do, I really wish people would give them more credit and seek them out. There’s more that I’m probably not remembering but, definitely those three and Jerry Gray. Jerry has taken so many videos. If you wanna find out what’s going on in Delaware you could search Jerry Gray on YouTube and find all these different bands that he’s done videos for.
JOE: Any good stories you can share from shows or being on the road?
DAN: Hmm. I gotta think of something that’s appropriate.
JOE: It can be inappropriate. We don’t mind. Unless you’re looking to keep it PG 13.
DAN: This is a good one. We played at a certain venue on Main St. but, we didn’t realize we booked a show that night as we booked a bar crawl for our friend Melissa during the day. Her birthday was the same day and some other friends we were celebrating their birthday too. We had a bar crawl that day on Main St. and all the members of the band and all of us are friends together and basically we ended the bar crawl at the venue where we were playing. We just went and started setting up and we played a long time. We played for like an hour and a half. Yeah, that was an interesting show.
JOE: One more song I want to ask about is “Rob The Poor”. What message were you trying to convey?
DAN: I think just the concept of sharing and trying to help your fellow man. When the album was put together we tried to throw a little social commentary. At a point in the song i ask “what you gonna do with a billion dollars?” I think people would want to be billionaires but, what will they do with that money? A lot of people win the lottery and then go broke. They ruin their lives for money. Don’t think that that’s going to save you. It’s not going to save you.
JOE: I did notice when I got to catch you playing live...you were playing barefoot. Do you do it all the time and why do you play barefoot?
DAN: That’s something I get asked all the time actually. I play barefoot because it helps me control my pedals. It also helps me feel the vibrations of the room. In the winter time I’ll play with shoes on when it gets too cold. It doesn’t really effect the knob turning as much as it will just affect how much I feel the bass and the bass drum. Just the vibrations make me feel the music. It puts me in touch with the situation that’s going on. It makes me more present. Like one time we were playing in a warehouse in January in Baltimore at a place called The Graffiti Warehouse. Our friend booked us there and there was an art gallery going at the same time and there was a great vibe going on. It was cold and I had my shoes on and I was like, “man that was weird”. I felt a big difference.
JOE: Alright, I’m gonna wrap it up with one final wildcard question. If you had to pick the Mt Rushmore of musicians, who would they be?
DAN: I gotta put Jimi Hendrix up here. Definitely gotta put James Brown. I’d have to say maybe John Lennon. I’m gonna put a modern day person on there too. Gotta think of a good one. I would say this one person but, after the way he’s been doing lately I can’t even do it.
JOE: Well now I gotta know who would have been? Were you gonna say Kanye?
DAN: ….and my last person is Jay Z.
JOE: Now was it going to be Kanye? The way you said it made me think, “well he has been kind of off the wall”.
DAN: I guess we’ll never know man but, I’ll tell you one thing. Your journalistic intuition is very strong. I won’t confirm or deny it but, your intuition is very strong..