For the last hundred-plus years, New Orleans has served up a tastier musical gumbo than any other American city. Just when you thought that every possible combination of styles had been exhausted, however, five Loyola University students calling themselves Stoop Kids bubbled up from the streets of The Big Easy. Their gimmick? A totally non-gimmicky, surprisingly polished mix of doo-wop, hip-hop, soul, jazz and funk — what they proudly call "doo-hop."
Stoop Kids' 2013 debut album, "What a World," swings, bumps and grooves, chiseling its way into listeners' ears far more effectively than any dorm room-recorded project ever should. But like every band worth its Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning salt, Griffin Dean, Joe Tontillo, Thomas Eisenhood, Patrick DeHoyos and David Paternostro really bring it on stage. Eisenhood chatted with Folio Weekly about Stoop Kids' intramural history, New Orleans influence and the desire to make it big.
Folio Weekly: Give us the brief history of
Stoop Kids, Thomas.
Thomas Eisenhood: It started with [current frontman] Griffin Dean and this guy Beau Gordon, who put together a four-song EP, got excited, and said, "We need a band to play this." We all met through intramural softball around May 2012. Griffin saw me one day with my sax case and invited me to come jam with him, and our current bass player was with me at the time, so he got roped in, too.
F.W.: Did the band's blend of doo-wop, hip-hop, jazz and soul come about naturally?
T.E.: The first four songs that the original duo did tried for that "doo-hop" style. So it was in the framework of the band to begin with, but then we all got our hands on it. As a baritone sax player, I come from a jazz background, with Tower of Power being a big influence. Our bass player is into a lot of funk, too, so each individual has contributed to the blending of styles. New Orleans is a big part of it, too. Our keyboard player is from the city, and we've recently started incorporating The Meters' standard "Cissy Strut" into our show.
F.W.: Has Stoop Kids been able to build a solid following in the city?
T.E.: Since we all go to Loyola University, we developed a relatively strong following of students right away by playing house shows and college bars. But we've been playing further out in the city — trying specifically to get away from the Loyola crowd and work on a totally different, 21-and-up crowd.
F.W.: How much touring have you done outside of New Orleans?
T.E.: We just got a van a couple of months ago, so that's opened up a lot of opportunities in Texas: Austin, San Antonio, Houston. Before that, we stayed local to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. But we're definitely trying to expand and push it further as we get more resources. Our bass player is from Fort Lauderdale, so we want to get down there and make the whole Florida loop down to the tip. This Jacksonville show will be our first in Florida and a good start.
F.W.: What kind of bigger bands have Stoop Kids opened for?
T.E.: Our most recent show was with Slow Tribe, which is also from New Orleans. We have an upcoming show with another established New Orleans band, Naughty Professor, which should yield some booking connects for better venues within the city. And then we played with St. Paul & the Broken Bones recently in Mobile. They do heavy doo-wop stuff and have a great singer in Paul Janeway. We also opened one show for [Brooklyn indie-rock band] Hank & Cupcakes, which was awesome.
F.W.: So do you all view Stoop Kids as a fun college gig, or something you hope to pursue full time in the future?
T.E.: I think I can speak for everybody and say it's something we're really pushing for. We see a lot of potential for Stoop Kids, and the feedback we get after shows, especially out of town, is that people are digging our sound.
F.W.: Which is not hard to do, listening to your impressive debut full-length, "What a World." Was it recorded in a professional New Orleans studio?
T.E.: The vast majority of it was recorded by our frontman, Griffin, in his dorm room. Our former keys player, Joe Boston, produced, mixed and mastered the album and made it sound awesome. So it was very DIY, but it also came out very nice sounding.