Robby Hunter is a guy who has been banging around the Miami music scene for a while, virtually under the radar. He used to be a regular at The Barracuda Bar in Coconut Grove for years with his one-man show.
Robby would blow the minds of patrons barely old enough to drink with his slickly rearranged hip hop covers, complete with loop tracks that he would lay down on the spot.
But Robby needed more. He didn’t want to die alone on that domestic lager soaked, wooden floor.
Enter the dynamic Pat Howard on drums and the humble multi-talented John Coghlin on keys, bass and sometimes guitar. They became The Robby Hunter Band, which is now Magic City Hippies (try to keep score at home).
As a trio, they killed. However, now they have merged with The Flying Bellesario Brothers and made themselves a five-piece group that's good to go for any size room.
I sat down with Robby at a Turkish Bathhouse/Doughnut Bar just outside Stockholm, Sweden. Or, what some may refer to as "over email."
New Times: What's your favorite place to play in Miami?
Robby Hunter: I think the most packed shows we’ve ever had were either at The Stage, or Vagabond, both of which don’t exist anymore. The Barracuda Bar is where it all began, so it’s always a blast to get back there for a gig, but I’ve got to say Railroad Blues has the best vibe/sound as well as the coolest airstream post-gig hangout spot.
What other local bands do you like and what other local band do you either not like or just don't really get what they are trying to do?
The Politix, Electric Kif, Chantil and the Dukes of Art, Wynwood Walls, Raffa & Rainer just to name a few — oh, and Suenalo, Spam Allstars, and of course Juke. We love all of these bands.
As for any group that we aren’t into, we haven’t really come across any bands in Miami that we don’t like. We started off as a bar cover band, and now we feel like we’re making really interesting original music, so we’re down with everybody. Respect to everyone out there making a living playing music.
Do you miss not playing as much with your solo/loop set up?
Sometimes. The possibilities with that machine are endless, and you don’t have to worry if someone shows up late or forgets their bass. These days I devote every ounce of my energy to the band. Our sound together as a five-piece is so much more thick and voluptuous. There is nothing like blasting dance music to a packed club when the people know your lyrics, and you have four of your best men at your back. It’s like riding into battle.
Beatles, Stones or Zeppelin?
I’m gonna say Zeppelin. Pat would probably agree with me, and John would most likely say Beatles. All of the above are all-star teams, but nobody rocks like Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones.
Your little brother is a very talented and original artist who kind of came up with his own visual medium. Which one of you two are better at what they do? And don't be nice.
This is an excellent, and a tough question. Cory is actually the only one out of the two of us that has created something truly new. Nobody is doing what he is doing. A lot of people are doing what I am doing. I think he wins.
How many two-month-old kittens do you think it would take to kill you if you were locked in a large room with them?
Doing some quick math in my head, I’d say easily five to six hundred kittens. I know I’m gonna have to take a lot of them out at first, which is gonna wear on my soul. So then of course, the queen kitten — the alpha — will take this time to plot my demise, and smother me with love and cuteness to the point where I just can’t anymore, and I die.
Why the band name change? Less narcissistic?
Ha, Ass. Yes. It’s a sensitive subject (not really). Honestly, we were affectionately dubbed Robby Hunter Band from playing the Cuda so many nights, and never having a real band name. We would always change our name to something the bouncer Charlie made up on the spot, or something we had been brewing up on the car ride over there. Magic City Hippies also came from an affectionate monicker: “Hippie Castle,” which is the name of the band's official residence — and naturally — the denizens of this lair are named “The Hippies."
What's the strangest thing you've written a song about?
“Bust” is clearly about “busting a load” and not “giving a fuck” about your current relationship, honesty, trust, yada yada. It’s a visceral take on my human experiences, which is kind of told through the girls' eyes. It was inspired by some goods friends of mine, which I had the displeasure of witnessing their love fall apart. C'est La Vie.
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What do you drink?
If you were dropped off forever on a desert island and were given a solar powered record player and a choice of only three records, what would they be?
It’s gotta be Abbey Road, Zeppelin II, and maybe the 1961 Joao Gilberto self titled album. I listen to that a lot.
Eric Garcia (AKA Uncle SCotchy) is a Miami musician, songwriter, and talent buyer from the band, JUke and one-man band, Uncle SCotchy. He's booked hundreds of local, regional and national acts in Miami over the last 20 years. You can follow him on Twitter at @JUKEbluesband or Facebook at Facebook.com/unclescotchy.