HOCKEY The best thing to happen to hockey since the Charlestown Chiefs.
Angela Boatwright

A FEW SHORT MONTHS after their biodiesel van died during a disastrous tour of empty venues, Hockey was on national television sharing a stage with Cat Stevens (as part of BBC's Later... with Jools Holland program). Or, only a couple years after their sweltering dance pop was a Portland basement show staple, the band was traversing the UK supporting Pink, playing to crowds north of 50,000 in any given night. Hence the dichotomy of Hockey—part global pop sensation, part restless local band still not too big to pay their dues at PDX Pop Now!

"We were on tour over here on that ridiculous vegetable oil tour, playing to about eight people a night and just scraping by," says drummer Anthony Stassi, describing the days before Hockey's meteoric ascent. "We were broken down in Denver when we got this totally random call from a booking agent in the UK that was just like, 'I want to book you a tour over here,' and that was the first thing that set it in motion." From there the band was embraced by UK fans and inked a deal with Virgin/Capitol/EMI overseas, and Capitol domestically. The labels slapped their respective logos on the back of the formerly self-released Mind Chaos, a handful of hits were culled from the record, stylish videos ensued, and now the band stands at the forefront of the alt-pop stratosphere.

Other bands might gnash their teeth over Hockey's rapid climb, but it didn't come without a price. The blurry-eyed band has been on the road for nearly two years straight, putting personal lives on hold and only now returning as strangers to their hometown. With the exception of a few scattered festival dates, the band is intent on staying still for the summer and writing their sophomore album, a recording that hints of a new direction.

"The style is going to change a little bit," says frontman Benjamin Grubin. "A little slower and more melodic. but sometimes you never know. You just start recording and something happens. But it's not going to be boring."