Think of bicoastal indie rock outfit Hideout as the Intergalactic Postal Service. Like Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello before them, Gabe Rodriguez and Cory Stier pieced together their debut album in separate states. But unlike the earthbound romances of the Postal Service, Hideout relish in stories about alien abductions, and worship at the altars of Ziggy Stardust and Explosions in the Sky.
Brought together in their youth and through a slew of nascent musical projects around San Diego, Rodriguez and Stier charged forth with Hideout’s Rookie (Thrill Me) while both were on tour as backing instrumentalists for Cults.
As Rodriguez huffs and puffs his way down a chilly Canal Street near his Chinatown, New York apartment, he says: “Being in a band, it’s like having another girlfriend or something. You’re always on tour; you’re practicing, arguing about what you should do. Where this is a very— our relationship is great because when we see each other, we’re usually happy just to hang out, and then getting to create something we’re both passionate about. So it works well.”
Rodriguez (guitar and vocals) notes that the Internet has made such an exchange of ideas much easier and less pressurized. He and Stier (drums) work on material when they feel like it, and that easygoing attitude has birthed about three albums’ worth of songs. The 11 tracks on Rookie jut between M. Ward sunshine (“It Ends”) and cascading epics (“Stubborn Child”). Every tune has Hideout’s stamp of exploration and intrigue.
This zeal for the revelatory is best embodied in “New Music,” a crisp ditty – written while on the road with Cults – that would make Conor Oberst envious.
“Sometimes when you go on tour, you get in the routine of just playing the same thing over and over again. It becomes more of a muscle memory versus an expression,” Rodriguez says. “It was just the mid-tour blues. I think a lot of people get it. … I wanted that feeling of new music, something that I was excited about that I hadn’t had in a little bit.”
And it had been awhile since the musical community heard a good song about beings from other planets. (Katy Perry’s “E.T.” notwithstanding.) The trilogy of “Skylights,” “Battle Lights” and “Stronger” tells of a boy’s abduction, extraterrestrial proselytizing and wrecking of his family unit. Rodriguez praises the sci-fi masters for inspiring him and having the intuition to see beyond our galaxy.
“I have, since I was a little kid, fully loved sci-fi books, even fantasy. All of it!” he exclaims. “Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne and all these people have predicted things that people at the time were saying, oh, that’s crazy! And they actually happened. So, I don’t know. I love that.” And yes, for the record, Rodriguez believes in aliens.
He’s also a big believer in creating. He speaks with an awestruck tone when talking about his favorite hideout – his apartment, and specifically his desk – where he hunkers down to make art. In addition to being a musician, he dabbles in woodworking and has ambitions to pick up welding. It isn’t farfetched— Rodriguez’s dexterity when it comes to song structure could easily translate to the manipulation of metals. Think of him as a pop alchemist.
Or a pyromaniac.
“I think wearing the big mask and having the blowtorch sounds great,” he says with a laugh.