A rigorous touring schedule brings Hoots and Hellmouth back to Philadelphia to debut an ambitious new album
by Theodora Malison

As the saying goes, “the show must go on.” The members of the locally based band Hoots and Hellmouth can relate. Case in point: The band had its van burgled while on tour in St. Louis, resulting in the theft of several key items, yet they still performed later that night. Frustrations aside, members of the band were looking ahead to brighter spots on the horizon, knowing a homecoming of sorts was imminent. 

Hoots and Hellmouth will be returning to the Greater Philadelphia Area on Dec. 2, when they will play at Ardmore Music Hall (ardmoremusic.com) in support of their fourth album, “In the Trees.” The album, which was released last month, originated from the confines of a revitalized mill in the Philadelphia suburb of Clifton Heights, according to Sean Hoots, singer and guitarist of the band.

For the creation and production of this album, the band collaborated with engineer Nathan Sabatino, the producer behind the Loveland Recording label and the man responsible for cranking out albums from recording artists such as Dr. Dog, Birdie Busch and Floating Action. Together, they developed an album that does not stray too far from Hoots and Hellmouth’s roots but also pushes the band into ambitious new territory. Hoots says fans can expect a heavier emphasis on the electric guitar and drums, generating a sound he describes as “a little more rock ‘n’ roll.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
“This album is a little more electric based than our past albums,” he says. “We started out back in 2005 [as] pretty acoustic and bass centered, with raw vibes and sort of kept that throughout. … We’re proud of how [the new album] turned out. We love it.”

The band didn’t intend to make the album sound any different than the previous three, according to Hoots. Instead, it just “kind of happened.”

“We’re moving the ball forward,” he adds. “We didn’t have any intention of making our music sound any different than what we’ve sounded like before. We just made music and made it happen.”

The band self-released its first single, “Diction,” on its website in early October, allowing eager listeners a sneak peek prior to the full album release on Oct. 28. Hoots has a strong feeling that the single, in addition to another titled “Move Me,” will be well received among fans. Although the band has spent the past month touring, from the Midwest to the Mid-South to the Northeast, they’re looking forward to their early December homecoming. 

“We’ve been waiting for two years for this to happen,” he adds. “It’s pretty exciting. Anytime someone releases a new album it’s a big deal. I have a feeling our fans are really excited to hear what we’ve come up with, along with old favorites. We’re just as excited.”

Photograph by Melissa Madison Fuller