Today in Hip Hop, artists are pushing boundaries more than ever and that much is evident with acts such as Chance The Rapper, Lil Yachty, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and more. While it may seem weird to have Lil Yachty in the same conversation as a Kendrick Lamar or a Chance The Rapper, it's oddballs like him who help take the genre to new heights, for better or worse I'll let you decide. Not to say these guys are a bunch of oddballs, but it's that element of their willingness to take a step in to the unknown and experiment, resulting in a sound that can't easily be replicated or necessarily be categorised in to a set genre.
Introducing GUMP (Give Us More Power), the 4-piece hip hop/post-rock band hailing from the suburbs of Washington DC. Band members include Uno Hype (Germany Hawley), Joey Pappas, Zeeshan Shad & Ali Badalov (left to right), who all contribute in their own unique way, not only to the overall sound of this group, but to the character of this machine, which seems to continue being an important trait for fans when backing an artist. We sat down with the guys to discuss their new debut EP 'Sleven', how the state of Maryland has helped shaped them as a group and what they have in store for the next 6-12 months.
Who's Jack: Hey guys. So you just released your debut EP Sleven, how has the reception been so far?
Ali: It’s been pretty good, gotten a lot of love from the homies and the blogosphere. It’s our first release so we aren’t expecting fanfare, but it has been consistently getting spins and people are slowly coming around which is what matters right now.
WJ: Talk me through the process, from the concept, to the sound and what you were trying to do with the EP?
Zee: I don't think we ever had a set concept in mind. The band was so new to all of us in the beginning that I don't think we knew what we wanted to tap into until we got a handle on each other's influences and musical styles.
Joey: I guess you could say that a strong aspect of our sound came out of playing live shows. When we first started playing together, we immediately started gigging and being billed as Uno Hype (Germ’s solo act) w/ GUMP. Playing Uno Hype’s songs live allowed us to feel out what works between us while we slowly started tinkering with our own stuff and incorporated it into our live set. Once we really started jamming and writing our own music, we already had a good comfort working with each other and knowing the certain sounds and vibes we wanted to shoot for.
WJ: There weren’t any visuals prior to the release, do you feel music videos are still important today? Will you guys be shooting anything in support of the singles?
Ali: I definitely feel music videos are still important - it’s another one of those products that really legitimises a band (or artist’s) vision and work ethic. We will most likely be putting out a video to support at least one of the songs on the EP.
Joey: Agreed. It's another form of artistic expression, so I think it will always hold an important place in the music world, even if they're not as commercially mainstream as they once were. I mean, look at the impact Kanye’s “Famous” video still had in the media.
WJ: Talk to me about Maryland. It’s not a state that’s had a huge platform to showcase its artists, as opposed to places such as New York, Florida, California etc. What is it about Maryland that’s made you the group you are?
Zee: Maryland is funny because there is an abundance of artists that come out of the state but a lot of them (us included) end up identifying more with the bigger cities around the area, like DC and Baltimore and MD gets left behind. We’re all from the suburbs outside of DC and we grew up in an area that was extremely diverse and I think that allowed us to be able to get into the various genres of music and subcultures that help shape us as people and in turn helped shape the style of the band. But in all seriousness, I think Sandy who works at the 7/11 in Travillah Square is most responsible for Maryland making us the group that we are. She always hooks it up with the fire taquitos, fam.
Ali: Diversity of people, diversity of sound.
WJ: How has the diversity within the group shaped you guys?
Ali: Everyone brings their own unique taste, perspective and background to each session, to each practice, to each show. We’re exposed to different cultures and different perceptions because of one another and I think it allows us to really feel free in making whatever kind of music we want and to be open to each other’s input.
WJ: There haven’t been many bands that have come through in Hip Hop, why the decision to blend other genres such as rock and jazz?
Ali: It comes back to the diversity we bring to the table. We’ve all got a lot of sounds we want to explore, and we’re going to touch on all of them.
Joey: Yeah I'd say it really just comes down to who we are and what we listen to. I know every artist says this but we want to make music that's unique and representative of us, so incorporating those different styles seems like the natural thing to do. Except, apparently, for Ali, who just plays post-rock licks by accident.
WJ: Who would you say are some of your influences?
Zee: Angel Du$t, Gold Panda, Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra.
Ali: Drake and John Mayer.
Joey: Anderson .Paak, Title Fight and Kid Cudi.
WJ: Standouts from the ‘Sleven’ would have to be “Acorn” and “Rainwater”, talk me through how these singles came together?
Ali: We walked ass-backwards into "Acorn" - I don’t even know if we were technically a “band” at that point. Joey just started playing this bass line, Zee and I followed, and Germ put his soul on that record. It came together before we even knew what we wanted to do. Rainwater was a lot more back and forth with a lot of deliberation and different recordings. It’s kind of a cinematic song. Our extended GUMP fam Tommy Eastman absolutely killed the guitar solo and when Germ brought vocalist Helen Adams on it, it was a wrap.
WJ: I hear you’re working on your second EP already, what can people expect from you next?
Ali: I’m not totally sure, but it’s only going to get weirder. Oh, and it won’t take 2 years.
Joey: Yep. We're just going to keep working on finding our sound. As to whether or not that means it'll be broader or more focused… Who knows?
WJ: What are your plans for the next 365?
Ali: Release some visuals, release another EP, and go on tour.
Zee: What Li said.
WJ: As you know, we are Who’s Jack London. Is there a special Jack in your life?
Zee: Jack Mehoff- The 19 year old Trump supporter from Ocean City, Maryland
Ali: Jack Donaghy
Joey: Jack Black and Jack White
Stay tuned for new music from GUMP and if you're on the east coast of the US, be sure to follow the guys on Facebook to stay updated on when the guys will be playing next.
Photography: Nicole Brunet