The Hypsys
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The Hypsys

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | SELF

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | SELF
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The Hypsys @ The Brick Deli & Tavern

Decatur, Alabama, USA

Decatur, Alabama, USA

The Hypsys @ Green Bar

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

The Hypsys @ The Getdown Music Festival

Mebane, None, USA

Mebane, None, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



(published on March 3, 2011)

Writing their first song, “The Future of Eternity,” in their first practice, Bo Hembree, David Ray and Paul Oliver felt the chemistry. After experiencing the break-ups of three bands, the musicians united in 2007 to form The Hypsys.

The band is now their life. The band members and roommates rely on gigs to buy food, purchase gas and pay their bills. For the three graduates of the University of Alabama’s School of Music, The Hypsys is a full-time job.

With 30-year-old Hembree of Hartselle on guitar, 25-year-old Ray of Florence on bass guitar and 27-year-old Oliver of Tuscaloosa on drums, the band creates what they refer to as a “progressive-jazz-rock-fusion-soul-funk” band.

The band will perform at The Brick Deli & Tavern on Saturday night, and Hembree usually plays a solo acoustic gig at The Brick once a month.

Here is an edited version of Ray and Hembree’s answers to The Daily’s questions.

How did the band get its start?

Bo and David met at a jazz gig in Tuscaloosa in the summer of 2006. Noticing a similar taste in music, they began performing together in a project called the Cosmophonics. At the same time, David and Paul were in a band together, and Bo was performing in another band as well. At the dissolution of their respective bands, the three began writing and performing together.

How did you come up with the band name?

Drawing inspiration from the classic power trio Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys, as well as our love for jazz and its common use of the word “hip,” we combined the two to create The Hypsys.

How did the band evolve?

Through our studies as music majors at the University of Alabama, we took the music we loved and our musical roots of Alabama, and infused it with the knowledge of studying classical and jazz, as well as the techniques learned in our training. This led us to create a unique sound that is constantly evolving.

What have been the highlights of the band’s career so far?

Playing festivals, particularly the 2010 Wakarusa Music Festival in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Also sharing the stage with such bands as Col. Bruce Hampton, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Moon Taxi, Lubriphonic and Grant Green Jr. We are also looking forward to our show with Chicago-based Cornmeal at WorkPlay Theatre in Birmingham on March 23.

How often does the band perform?

We average about 10-12 shows per month throughout the Southeast, primarily Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Athens, Ga., and the Carolinas.

What do you want to convey to the audience when performing?

We want it to be like the happy place from “Happy Gilmore,” where there is a land of beautiful flowing rivers, and your girlfriend holding pitchers of beer, and your dead friends are reunited with their hands and they play piano and your grandmother wins at slots. Pretty much the same thing all bands strive for.

Who are your major musical influences?

They vary individually, but some important names include Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and The Beatles.

Do you perform covers or original music?

Both, but with a focus on originals. The covers we choose tend to be the lesser known songs from the catalogs of popular artists.

Why did you start writing your own songs? To create rather than imitate.

What are your most requested songs or which ones do you play the most?

Everyone has their favorite originals, but some include “Jazz Butter,” “Pursuit of the Urge,” “Cosmik Prince,” and “Jacks of the Round Table.”

What are your top 5 recent favorites on your iPod?

Dr. Dog, The Civil Wars, Black Keys, Ludwig van Beethoven and Stevie Wonder.

If the band sang karaoke, what song would it choose?

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

Where do you hope your music goes?

We hope that our music reaches the ears and hearts of all those poor, lost Justin Beiber fans, and that they can see the error of their ways.

What’s next for the band?

We are currently writing new material, and performing it across the Southeast in preparation for our second album. Our spring and summer are filling up quickly, as we continue to spread our music as far as we can. - Decatur Daily

Mary-Kate Roan - Connect Statesboro - Tuscaloosa News

Local jazz-influenced band play at Mugshots Bar and Grill tonight

By: Drew Taylor
Contributing Writer
Posted: 2/22/08

There are many bands to see and experience around town tonight, and at least one is by no means a typical band. That band isThe Hypsys, who will be playing at Mugshots Bar and Grill, and bring their mix of jazz and other genres into what they play.

The Hypsys are three students from the UA School of Music, whose influences and studies center on jazz and classical music.

What makes tonight special for The Hypsys is that it marks their one-year anniversary as a band. It was one year ago today that The Hypsys played their first gig at The Library. Bassist David Ray said, though the band had only a handful of cover songs and a couple of originals, the gig went well - just not as well as he wanted it to.

"We only had two originals, and we repeated them a couple of times that night," Ray said.

The early days of the band started when Ray and drummer Paul Oliver were playing in the band Jackson Jones, a Tuscaloosa favorite, in 2005. After the band parted ways in late 2006, Ray and Oliver stayed in contact and tried to find another band to play in. It wasn't until Ray sat in with a band called the Cosmophonics, which featured Bo Hembree on guitar, that the two found what they needed to start a new band. After discovering their natural chemistry, Hembree began playing with the two. What started as a side project for the three soon became a fully invested venture for the them.

Growing up in Hartselle, Hembree, a senior majoring in jazz studies, listened to The Allman Brothers Band and various blues musicians. He was later influenced by artists as varied as Frank Zappa and John Scofield. After playing around Tuscaloosa after high school, Hembree tried out at Shelton State for a music scholarship, but ended up coming to the University and joining the jazz studies program.

Ray, a senior majoring in jazz studies, said he was influenced by the funk stylings of Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, but, like Hembree, also found joy in playing and listening to jazz, Jaco Pastorius of Weather Report and many other bass players. After taking a few business classes at the University, Ray said he realized what he really wanted to do and decided to pursue a musical education.

Tuscaloosa native Paul Oliver, a senior majoring in general music, said he just concentrated on percussion for a time, playing in various classical and theatrical productions at the University. Though Oliver has studied different styles of drumming, he said he considers himself to be a rock drummer, with influences from Carter Beauford of The Dave Matthews Band and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin.

In Bonham's music, Oliver said that he finds a lot of interesting things.

"He really brought some funk into rock, even though people think he was heavier than that," Oliver said.

Having studied music with many different teachers, including UA faculty members Tom Wolfe and Christopher Kozak, the three all agreed that they have been influenced a good deal by their teaching and their experiences in music.

"They are some of our biggest critics," Hembree said.

Ray said at the level of musicianship they are in now, they are not concerned anymore with impressing their teachers or their friends, but with how they themselves perceive the music.

"When you're starting out, you have an ego about [playing]," Ray said. "Now, you think, 'How much can I add before it takes away?'"

Though they have learned a good deal from their teachers, Ray said he gets the most inspiration from his band mates.

"All three of us have influenced each other," Ray said.

Hembree described the sound of the trio as very energetic, with songs from many different genres.

"There aren't too many slow, quiet songs in our set," Hembree said.

With a sea of cover bands and relatively few original bands, Hembree said the uniqueness of the band is not a way for them to just show off, but it adds something different to the music scene.

"The music scene has become stagnant lately," Hembree said. "We're just trying to mix it up a little bit."

Though their main studies are focused on jazz, that is not the only music The Hypsys play. Along with their original music, they also play songs from artists ranging from Phish, The Beatles, Steely Dan and Frank Zappa. Ray said the various songs the band plays reflect the mission of the band.

"We want to keep pushing boundaries," Ray said. "We try to set standards of performance."

Though these three have been playing and writing music for years, it was still hard in the beginning to write songs, Hembree said, and the songs they do now are many times better than the first few that they wrote together.

"If you hear the song chronology, you can tell a difference," Hembree said.

Though not all of their music is jazz-related, the band's concept is that the music they play is a form of verbal communication with one another and with the crowd. It is in jazz that musicians trade ideas with one another determined by the way that they play and the energy of the crowd watching, Hembree said.

"It's all about communication," he said.

Hembree said tonight should be a lot of fun, and he hopes the band can offer something to music lovers.

"If you're tired of the scene, this is an alternative," he said.

The Hypsys will be playing at Mugshots Bar & Grill tonight at 10:30. Cover is $5 and patrons must be at least 19 years old to get in.
© Copyright 2008 Crimson White - The Crimson White


The Hypsys (2008)
Live at Wakarusa (2010)



Ever since their inception in 2007, The Hypsys have been hard at work crafting a dynamic and unique identity in a music scene that all too often falls prey to stagnation. Their singular style that they describe as “progressive-jazz-rock-fusion-soul-funk” is the result of a synthesis of intensive education rooted in classical composition and jazz studies (all three graduated from the University of Alabama's School of Music) coupled with a diverse array of influences running the gamut of the musical spectrum. Characterized by intricate time changes, stunning displays of technical virtuosity, and raunchy breakdowns, all executed with impeccable communication, their music is ever-evolving and never lets you go. Formed in Tuscaloosa and now based in Birmingham, The Hypsys have been relentlessly touring the Southeast, honing their innovative and exhilarating live sound for a loyal and ever-expanding fan base. They have performed with many respected national touring acts such as Col. Bruce Hampton and the Quark Alliance, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Mantras, Moon Taxi, Lubriphonic, and many more. They made their first major festival appearance at the 2010 Wakarusa Music Festival and have played at numerous regional festivals.