How many bands can say they’ve toured all over the country, played in the UK and performed on “Conan” all without releasing an album? Not many–but Hippo Campus are the exception.

The four-piece alternative pop-rock group, hailing from Woodbury, Minn., have done all three, with just two EPs released, 2015’s “South” and “Bashful Creatures.” However, they’ve got a debut album in the works, much to the delight of their fans and music bloggers alike.

In the meantime before the album’s release, Hippo Campus, comprised of Jake Luppen (vocals), Nathan Stocker (guitar/vocals), Zach Sutton (bass) and Whistler Allen (drums), have joined indie pop-band Saint Motel on their fall tour, which stopped in D.C. Oct. 20 at the famed 9:30 Club.

The Writer’s Bloc caught up with Luppen before the show and heard the 21-year-old frontman’s thoughts about the tour, the upcoming record and life before Hippo Campus.

Bassist of Hippo Campus, Zach Sutton, as they open for Saint Motel at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Bassist of Hippo Campus, Zach Sutton, as they open for Saint Motel at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Setota: So on your Facebook page, the band members’ names are listed as “Beans, Espo, Stitches, and Turntan.” Can you explain the backstory behind those names?

Jake: Yeah, essentially they’re just nicknames that we came up with at the beginning of the band. Very initially, they were used as sort of a means of hiding our individual identities, because we wanted to make it more about the band and less about us as individuals. But over time it just became kind of an inside joke with us.

Cassie: You guys were going to University of Minnesota, right? Are you still attending?

Jake: No, we dropped out when we left for our first Mowgli’s tour. We decided when we started touring it’d be impossible to balance those two things.

C: Any plans of ever finishing that up?

Jake: I don’t know, maybe someday. As of now, no. [laughs]

S: Your leg of the Saint Motel tour just kicked off–how do you like it so far?

Jake: It’s awesome, it’s great. A lot of talented bands–Saint Motel is amazing, Weathers is great.

S: Were you fans of the bands before the tour?

Jake: Saint Motel, yeah, we’ve been a fan of for a while before. Zach and I listened to them when we were probably like 16, 17-years-old, so we’ve known of them for a while.

S: What’s been your favorite band to play with so far?

Jake: We toured with this band called Little Comets in the UK. They’re one of our biggest influences, so it’s pretty crazy to, like, tour with them and hang with them.

S: That’s so great.

Jake: That was our favorite tour, I think, so far.

S: This isn’t your first time playing D.C., is it? You’ve played The Black Cat and other venues.

Jake: We’ve played The Black Cat and then we played … I don’t remember the name of the other venues–

C: It was Rock & Roll Hotel, I was there taking pictures–

Jake: Yeah, totally. I don’t think there’s ever been a bad show in D.C., all of them have been awesome.

S: Have you ever had a chance to go sightseeing, or do you mainly stay around the venue?

Jake: Last time we did go to the Smithsonian, looked at some art for a while, it was really cool. We’ve never had time to go to the White House. I was saying we should go and say bye to Obama today, but being in a band you don’t have time.

S: Would you say your music is influenced by the artists that you guys listen to?

Jake: Yeah, I think the older stuff–the two EPs that are out right now–are very influenced, for sure. We just recorded a full-length album that we finished about a week ago that’ll be out soon, and I think that record is more of us settling into a sound that’s our own, as opposed to being more influenced.

We’ve just kinda grown into a sound that seems very Hippo Campus as opposed to, you know, Bombay Bicycle Club, or Little Comets, or Vampire Weekend.

S: The new single that you’ve released, “Boyish”, would you say that’s indicative of how the rest of the album is going to sound?

Jake: I think that’s probably the least indicative of how the rest of the album is going to sound. I think “Boyish” is probably the closest to older Hippo Campus stuff, but every song on the record is different, uses different instruments, so I think a lot of people will be surprised.

S: Who’s your current favorite artist?

Jake: Anderson .Paak is probably my favorite artist right now. Justin Vernon, too, Bon Iver.

S: I haven’t listened to their new record, is it good?

Jake: So good, it’s amazing. The dude that produced that record produced our record too, BJ Burton. He’s really incredible.

S: What would you say is your band “bucket list?” What are some goals that you have?

Jake: I think headlining Red Rocks is definitely a goal for any band. We played there with Walk the Moon and we were just opening, which is very cool, but I think headlining Red Rocks would be an amazing experience.

S: What is it?

Jake: Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, it’s this big amphitheater that’s built into this mountain. It seats about 10,000 people, and it’s what a lot of bands kinda strive for, it’s like this crazy show.

C: What would you be doing if you were still going for your degree?

Jake: I was majoring in speech pathology before I left. It’s something that interests me, because you make a difference and you help people, and I can still use my voice and I can learn a lot more about my instrument. I can see myself doing that, but there’s just something about art that I can’t escape from. I think I tried when I was in college, I tried to say I didn’t need to be doing it, but I just couldn’t escape it. It was just something I need to do.

Catch Hippo Campus on tour with Saint Motel Oct. 16 – 28.

Featured Photo Credit: Jake Luppen, lead singer of Hippo Campus, charms fans during their performance opening for Saint Motel at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at

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