Interview: ‘Hogben and The Page’ Talk Blues, Brighton, and Band Break-ups
Joe Hogben and Andrew LePage are no strangers to the Brighton music scene. Performing at least twice a week at open mic nights all across town, they have already made a reputation for themselves. Sharing a love for music, especially the blues, they have perfected the art of wowing their audience by performing classic crowd pleasers to sharing their own compositions. Sure, Brighton is never short of talented musicians, but Hogben and The Page caught our attention not only with their talent, but their strong stage presence and musical chemistry, and so we kindly requested for a bit of their time.
Both fell in love with music at a young age and went through phases of exploring different genres, thanks to their parents. The only difference was that Andy began exploring music due to the limited taste of his parents whereas Joe’s parents were quite the opposite. Andy tells us that after his parent’s divorce, he was subjected to listening to Queen and only Queen, thanks to his father’s love for the band. “He didn’t really listen to anything else. My mother liked Don McLean, George Michael, Eva Cassidy, but she also listened to Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. During the divorce, I started listening to some heavy music and I think this was a big influence on my choice at the time.” As he grew older, he discovered a love for classic rock and the blues, but firmly states that “blues comes first on the list, above everything else”. On the other hand, Joe was introduced to various genres at a young age. “Not only did they love their music, but they would go to so many concerts that they turned it into a competition. Even when I was in the womb, my mother ‘took me’ to a Deep Purple concert,” but it wasn’t until Joe turned thirteen that he first picked up a guitar, after listening to his cousin play. Andy, on the other hand, has been singing for as long as he can remember, no matter the time or place.
Even though they have only known each other for three years, it seems like they’ve known each other for ages. The story of how they met starts off simple enough, but soon turns into a script for a television drama series. The occasion was Battle of the Bands in Jersey. “At the time, I was in a band called Turquoise,” Joe confesses to have been a bit of a “band slut”, having been through a number of bands before that, seven to be exact, which he lists with the help of Andy, who somehow seems to be quicker at naming the bands in order. While Joe had been with his band for a while, Andrew had formed a band for the sole purpose of joining the Battle of the Bands, partially as a favour to his friend’s sister whose dream was to be part of a band. “She was an amazing singer, had no idea how to play an instrument, but she was a hell of a singer,” says Andy, who picked up a guitar along with his friend to help her out. As they performed a cover of Ed Sheeran’s Gold Rush, for which Andy did vocals, Joe didn’t take long to realize that Andy had a captivating voice and style. “I wondered why he wasn’t singing all the songs,” Joe adds, accompanied by a mini-reenactment of the moment. This appears to be the moment that the seed had been planted in Joe’s head for a potential musical collaboration.
Little did Joe know that Andy had hit it off with the drummer of Turquoise and had started to date. As Andy began to show up at rehearsals and gradually got more involved with the band, Joe decided to pitch the idea that Andy should sing Tighten Up by The Black Keys, a song he had wanted to cover but had not found the right voice. Now that Andy was around and available, it made perfect sense to have him join the band.
Sadly, Andy’s addition to the band seemed to have caused some tension with a fellow band member. While Andy had hoped to broaden the kind of music the band played, the idea didn’t seem to go down well with certain band members. The tension eventually led to the band breaking up after only one gig. At this point, Joe is careful not to give out any names. In a most diplomatic demeanour, he announces that the breakup was due to “artistic differences”, while Andy rolls his eyes at him, knowing that-which-we-do-not about the incident. “Interestingly enough, the band was reformed soon after that, only without me,” Andy concludes as he passes on the story to Joe, with a sly smirk, as he knows how the story ends. “We ended up going to France for a gig at a small festival. There was still tension after all that had happened.” This time, it was the drummer’s turn to be kicked out of the band, whom Andy had still been dating at the time. “Like a dictator, minus the ‘-tator,’” says Andy without missing a beat, as he takes a sip of his coffee hiding his cheeky smile.
“So, the drummer and I moved on.” Joe is eager to move on the conversation to happier times.“ We formed a new band, only this time Andy was the bass player.” Upon saying this, Andy interjects by making it clear that the“bass player thing” didn’t last very long, and is happy that this was the case. “One day, our singer was late for a gig and so Andy jumped in. As expected, he did an amazing job. So, we decided to keep it this way, and that’s how we formed Local Tourists.”
As predicted, this too, did not last. If it had, we would be interviewing ‘Local Tourists’ instead of ‘Hogben and The Page’. Dreading, we ask for the reason behind the breaking up although we can guess. Our prediction is confirmed by Andy as he sighs and responds, “there’s one rule that is very true when you’re in a relationship with someone who is in the same band as you are: don’t shit where you eat.”
We move on the interview to a better time, to the present. The only time they are not making music or performing appears to be when they’re at university, as they are both full-time students, but we are mistaken. “Sometimes late at night I’ll be at the library and I’ll send Joe a message saying ‘Learn this song! We have to do this song!’ Even when we’re just hanging out, the guitar eventually comes out.” It would be an understatement to say that music is their life. The move from Jersey to Brighton also seems to have triggered their passion for performing and writing their own music. “Brighton is very different from Jersey,” Joe says raising his eyebrows, his eyes wide open. “I mean, there are lots of musicians, but not many places to play. We are very excited about being in a place where if you wanted to, you could play an open mic night every day of the week.” “And you get a different audience too,” Andy continues, “so we can mix up what we play depending on where we are playing. Most of the songs we play, we know by heart, it’s almost second nature, so we can just turn to each other and say ‘I don’t feel like doing that one. Let’s play so and so.’ We even debate what we’re going to play next when we’re on stage, which allows the audience to engage with us as well.”
It is clear that they take great pride in each and every performance and want each time to be the best it possibly can, but being perfectionists can sometimes slow them down when it comes to writing their own music. “We are quite critical of our own music. When we perform and you can see that the audience is enjoying themselves, it tells us that we’re going in the right direction, but when you’re still in the process of writing it, we tend to be very harsh on ourselves,” says Joe. The two are clearly on the same wavelength on the matter as Andy says, “Obviously, the reception of others is always important, but until we get to the stage of performing our songs to an audience, it can be a lengthy process. We look to each other to make sure we both agree with the direction in which the song is going.” Such has been the case with the new songs they have been working on as they are hoping to release an EP sometime soon. “When I started university and opened up a bank account, the bank gave me a voucher for Amazon. I think it was meant for buying books. I bought a mixer with which we recorded three songs, which are up on our SoundCloud, but we hope to do more soon. However, for the EP we will need better recording equipment,” Joe remarks, while Andy remembers the time they recorded songs for their SoundCloud, ‘slightly hung-over’ to the degree where Andy had to lie down on the bed and sing into the microphone resting on his chest.
They look at the giant clock hanging on the wall of the café, worried that they will be late to the open mic night at Medusa Bar. As they put on their coats, we walk and talk. It turns out, they are flying out to Jersey for the weekend to play as the opening act for Frankie Davies, an acoustic country musician and a star on the rise. After hearing them play at the Halkett Hoedown in Jersey, Davies’ manager extended the invitation to Hogben and The Page to perform, which they, of course, accepted . Joe has a photo of the tickets for the show on his phone and exclaims “We’re on the tickets!” We have no doubt that Hogben and The Page will have their name on their very own tickets very soon.