Frances Quinlan doesn’t really do social media. A cursory search returns official pages for her band, Hop Along, on most major social media platforms. Even then, it’s mostly promotions for shows and other standard fare — rarely ever musings, jokes, tirades. She is nothing if not deliberate.
“I don’t know how young musicians these days manage to make music and be on Twitter all day,” Quinlan says. “For the most part it doesn’t seem like they’re even trying that hard. They’re just good at it.”
For Quinlan, the process is different. To be constantly updating her social media with stream-of-consciousness regularity would be to waste perfectly good thoughts. She spends time with each thought and treats them with great care.
“I can’t just send things in my head out into the void without thinking about them.” she explains. “At least with my songs, I can be very careful with what I’m saying. When you put a thought out there, it pretty much isn’t yours anymore. People will take it and make their own meaning out of it. This is true of the songs, too, but at least I can have full control over what I’m saying.”
This sense of dutifulness pervades every aspect of Quinlan’s music. The world of Hop Along’s 2015 breakout record, Painted Shut, is rich with characters acting in detailed vignettes brought to life by her personal experiences. This year’s Bark Your Head Off Dog brings down walls but contains no fewer soul-baring themes so familiar to fans of the outfit.
“We actually had two extra weeks in the studio for this record," she says. "This was the first album we really worked on ourselves, with our friend Kyle [Pulley, who co-owns their studio], where we got to really flesh out the string parts and all the things the last record didn’t have.”
Quinlan says the process for the two records was similar.
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“I don’t think there’s any less honesty when it comes to how I was writing my songs then versus the way I did it this time around," she says. "It’s just as personal as when I was speaking through characters. Songs come together in different ways, but it doesn’t change how much time I spend with them.”
Quinlan makes it clear that however the truth manifests itself, it is still the truth. Any changes, any process, any experimentation is the natural result of truth, both personal and universal.
“Like any band, our music is going to change — we’re going to play with different sounds," Quinlan says. "We never want to be disingenuous, and the reality of the way people interact with our music is still setting in for us. We’re processing it as we go, the same as anyone else. We just hope that people continue to find as much solace in it as we do. We’re grateful for that.”
Hop Along plays at 8 p.m. Monday at Club Dada. Tickets start at $15.