Interview: Undercover Hippy 

by Danni Gillespie and Chris Thumwood

So way back in May OTB attended Under the Hill festival. Danni and Chris did a little dancing, saw some great bands and managed to catch up with the Bristol legend The Undercover Hippy after their performance. Crafting real songs with real world motivation, meaning and merit, Undercover Hippy has built up an incredible reputation in Bristol for his live gigs. As usual, they were an absolute delight on stage, but encountered some severe sound issues. We spoke about festival gigs verses playing in clubs, politics and Alexa Echoes.

Looking forward to festival season?

UH: Yeah, it’s our first one of the year today and the first festival-in-a-field type we’re playing.

OTB: How do you feel it went?

UH: Uhhhhh...

OTB: Minor technical difficulties?

UH: Minor... yeah. I just hope it was good out front and that everyone enjoyed it.

OTB: We enjoyed it. You definitely kept your cool.  

UH: Yeah, we’re professionals, it’s what we do... just one little moan on stage, but we kept it to a minimum.

OTB: So when we talked to you after you gig at the Jamjar a few weeks ago, you said that your favourite bit about performing is the audience participation. How different is that at a festival?

UH: It does depend on the venue. Club gigs can be quite intimate so it’s quite easy to get everyone involved. Festivals can be a bit harder.

OTB: Well it seemed to go well! They split quite nicely down the middle when you asked; and really enjoyed listening to you, which is good.

OTB: What do you think about Under the Hill festival? 

UH: It’s great yeah: nice, little, small. It’s a nice setting.

OTB: We think it looks quite well organised from the front, from what we’ve seen. How is it from your side?

UH: For this kind of festival it’s alright, for a little small festival run by a bunch of mates they’re doing pretty well!

OTB: Do you play many other festivals like this?

UH: Yeah, quite a few, they come and go.

OTB: Have you had a chance to see any of the other bands?

UH: We saw King Punch, a bit of Ska. *laughing* They played System of a Down. They controlled the crowd really well, they were really good. But then that’s the kind of music that comes with it. They were playing Ska punk; they’re rowdy and shouty. But still at the beginning, everyone was kind of ignoring them and they really worked it, they sucked them in and with every song they worked it harder until they had everyone going.

OTB: How did you feel with that really young audience at the front of the crowd, some of your songs have swearing and then you’ve also got ‘Mate Like That’…

UH: I love it, you know that line “next thing you know she’s next to me, asking if I wanna do some ecstasy?” and they’re all like “WHEYYYYYYY”. That was hilarious. You know I didn’t teach them that, they knew that before they got here. I’m not their parents, but I did feel a little bit awkward doing the, umm, orgasm noise today *laughs*.

OTB: A lot of your songs are quite political. Does this ever get you into any trouble? 

UH: Trouble? No, we need to get in more trouble. We played in Dartmouth the other day, which is a Tory stronghold. We literally split the crowd, left sides going for it, right side at the front is going for it and then at the back you can just hear this grumble and people clearly not wanting to join in at all which was quite funny. But in terms of getting into trouble we don’t.... well, obviously, the government probably has at least 200 undercover officers watching me at any time, but they are very sly about it and I haven’t noticed any of them yet. I’m sure they tap all of my phone calls because let’s face it, I am quite a serious threat. I just bought myself an Alexa echo so they can listen to everything I do all the time because I feel that they aren’t listening enough.

OTB: Is that a little marketing plug?

UH: *laughs* Okay, let’s say I just bought myself a generic voice activated home speaker.

OTB: Last question. What’s next for you guys?

UH: We’re going to ‘How The Light Gets In Festival’ on Monday.


Make sure you catch Undercover Hippy live. Click here for tour dates. 

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