A conversation with indie Christian country-punkers Pope Pipe

The four laddies pose for an official band photo.

The four laddies pose for an official band photo.

Written by: Ellie Harris, Opinion Editor

Photo by: Alex Mohr

Pope Pipe is the elusive, self-classified “psychedelic Christian jangle pop” band taking central Indiana, Burkina Faso and the French Alps by storm. Their cryptic social media presence takes influence from The 1975, but the band’s visual aesthetic and musical textures are something far from replication.

The band consists of vocalist, head ukuleleist, and guitarist Jared Reed; vocalist, bassist, guitarist, and backup ukuleleist Jacob Knoop; vocalist and lead percussionist Alex Mohr; and producer and synthesist Ethan Stacey.

I had a chance to sit down with three of the band members in person: Jacob Knoop, Alex Mohr, and Jared Reed. Producer and band member Ethan Stacey and manager Kyler Harrison gave me their answers separately.

 

Why did you guys want to start Pope Pipe?

JR: Alex wanted a chance to exploit his graphic design in a meaningful way.

A: I’ve been exploiting it as of late, but that wasn’t the original reason why.

JK: I joined the band because I wanted to be in a band that wasn’t a rap thing, which is what all my friends wanted to do. Which is cool and everything, but I wanted to be in a real band.

A: I don’t know, I thought Jared is very musically talented and so are Knoopy and Ethan; and, flat drums don’t take much skill, so I thought: we have talent, we should do something.

JK: We’re pretty solid, except for the drums: they suck.

KH: Straight from the slums of Shaolin, the pipe rises and defies.

E: I have been working on musical projects for a while and wanted to collaborate with other people so that way I could learn more about music.

 

Do you feel like you’re filling void in the music industry? Is that a goal of yours? How do you feel you’re doing so/ how do you want to?

JK: We aren’t really filling a void yet, but right now we’re vibing, we’re getting a flow. But I feel like over the next few years we will fill a void. There’s a void between, like, totally indie and totally pop-sellouts. I think we’re filling that void right there.

A: I think right now, we’re not really in the music industry, but just by being indie-christian-country-punk — no one has done that before — by being that we are filling that very small void.

JK: Do you like Christian music? “Yeah, I love God.” Do you like country music? “Yes.” Do you feel depressed sometimes? “Yes.” Perfect combo.

A: We’re too cool for record labels.

E: My goal is to make music we like. Everyone else’s entertainment is optional.

 

What is your band aesthetic?

JK: Psychedelic music for Christians. Getting high on the Most High.

A: Jared would say our aesthetic is whatever I choose it to be.

JR: I think our aesthetic is the key thing of the band, almost taking president over the music, which I actually kind of like.

E: magic alien music with acoustic sounds

 

I like the weird feel.

JR: It’s a good balance between out of the normal, but also visually pleasing which I like. It’s a very small area that is definitely needed.

JK: I like the cover for the “Youth” single which isn’t released yet. Hopefully it will be out soon. But it’s got a guy holding a pineapple.

A: It’s a cursed image. We’re a cursed band.

E: People like weird stuff. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’ll never be noticed or feel satisfied because someone else is doing it better than you.

 

Is this a long-term thing, or just something you’re doing for fun right now?

A: I want to see it extend until we go off to college.

J: I just want to keep it going until we’re not having fun anymore.

A: That’s fair.
E: My music is whatever I’m making at the time, so for me this has always been long term.

 

Where do you want Pope Pipe do be in a year. I.e. aesthetically, musically, professionally)

A: I want the band to have an occult following.

E: I worry college could split us up. But improve as much as possible always.

 

What is Pope Pipe’s goal?

JK: I don’t want to make it big, but I want to make it a household name sort of. For those hipster people.

A: Household hipster name.

E: a s c e n d

 

So hipsters like me can be like “Have you listened to Pope Pipe? Probably not.”

A: But, like, they do know about it.

JK: You don’t talk about it, but if someone brings it up, you’re like “Oh! I know those guys!”

A: And then you become friends because of it.

JK: “They’ve got that really good song and that good album.”

 

Are you interested in doing original music?

A: Yeah, we are. Although, I think to gain momentum we will probably cover songs people already know.

 

Who are your musical influences?

JK:I love Mac DeMarco. He’s got great guitar riffs, he’s always changing. I like Jack Johnson, Logic, Childish Gambino, Chris Tomlin

JR: I don’t have a lot of musical inspiration. I guess wanting to learn how to play music came from listening to John Mellencamp and Jimmy Buffett. I would hear a song on the radio, or wherever and I would want to learn how to play it on my own and it just kept going from there.

A: So obviously our band isn’t taking influence from one individual or group. We aren’t trying to mimic anybody’s sound, but individually we are inspired. Personally, I’m inspired by Glass Animals and Twin Peaks. Aesthetically, the 1975 are a huge influence.

E: Animal collective, Autechre, aphex twin, oneohtrix point never, death grips, gs sultan… anything that sounds like it came from aliens. I love the feeling of abnormality in music, like its a puzzle or another world. It gets me more excited than anything else.

What’s inspiring you right now?

A: Fame

JK: I want to be successful. I want to be able to pay for my house and my kids. Pope Pipe would be an outlet, but I want to have an influence on other people. People have had an influence on me, but I want to have an influence on others.

JR: Just the ability to extend my knowledge musically. Before Pope Pipe I kind of plateaued. When Knoopy or Alex wants me to play a song and it looks really challenging we either have to work around that or figure it out and that’s a learning experience so that’s inspiring me.

About editor