Rupert Pederson: Freak-out dancing is his profession; refinancing your mortgage at a low, low rate is his passion

Despite recently losing singer/guitarist Erik Appelwick to Tapes 'n Tapes, the Hopefuls are still a quintet. Sort of. Mortgage-broker-by-day and Hopeful-fanatic-by-night Rupert Matthew Pederson II can frequently be seen onstage with the band in a kind of go-go dancing role. He does the Sprinkler, plays air guitar, and lip-synchs into a mic-less stand, shedding his monkey suit in the process. I talked to Rupe about his Olympic-sized band crush.

CP: How and when did the Hopefuls enter your life?

Rupert Pederson: A co-worker accidentally left the CD on my desk so I gave it a whirl. I could not believe the energy and unforgettable melodies. A week later I attended my first Olympic Hopefuls show at First Avenue. The date was March 26, 2005, and they shared a bill with the Honeydogs. I had just come from a not-super-great meeting with a client that had run late. Still wearing the suit, I headed into a smoke-filled First Avenue. People were mocking my outfit a bit. One of my favorite songs came on, "Drain the Sea," and no one was moving. [They were] just [doing] the Minnesota-indie-head-bop-thing. I couldn't stand it, so I rushed the stage. It was quite surreal but the crowd reacted, perhaps a mixture of bewilderment and amusement. The band didn't stop playing so I hung my dancing soul out there for everyone to see.

CP: Is your presence strictly a local phenomenon?

Pederson: I do attend some of the out-of-town gigs but not every show. I surprised them in Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago. And let me tell you, the patrons and staff at the Double Door [in Chicago] had no idea what was going on—especially when I started dancing on the tables.

CP: You work the 9-to-5 grind. Are there some nights where you'd rather sleep than go out and shake your stuff?

Pederson: The thought does cross my mind, but I cherish Hopeful shows. And despite an endless list of dance-related injuries—tendonitis in my left knee, compartment syndrome in my leg, and even a herniated disc in my lower back—I still do everything I can to show up for a gig. It's a natural drug.

CP: How do you feel you stack up against other band dancers? (I'm thinking of Bez from Happy Mondays and that guy from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.)

Pederson: I think those guys are original and great but I have my own thing that is entirely different. Those guys are in the band. I am simply a huge fan. I do think, despite my injuries, I am in better shape than those cats 'cause I'll sometimes dance the entire set with no breaks—on or off the stage. For the record, it's a ridiculous workout.

CP: Who is your biggest influence when it comes to your moves?

Pederson: My sister, Jena. She was captain of the UW-Eau Claire dance squad when I was growing up and I remember learning a killer routine they did to the "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters. It was magical. But what 10-year-old could forget 25 college girls staying in his parents' basement before a hometown performance? I was inspired.

CP: I have to ask, are you the post-tracksuit gimmick?

Pederson: No, the tracksuit transition happened this past winter long after I had started showing up at performances. They had to drop the "Olympic" from their name and thought it was time to drop the tracksuits as well. Wait, am I a gimmick? My gimmick is to someday be in the band.

 

RUMOR HAS IT
With End Times—the experimental/noise festival formerly known as Destijl —going on this weekend, eager ticket-holders are buzzing about the identity of the "special secret unannounced guest." Except there's really only one name being thrown around—longtime Destijl supporter Thurston Moore. No one knows for sure whether he'll be there, but Sonic Youth do have a day off between a Dallas gig on the 24th and Lawrence, Kansas on the 26th. That's enough time to hop a flight to St. Paul, right? (If Thurston proves unavailable, may we recommend his daughter Mandy?)

 

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

A Whisper in the Noise
As the Bluebird Sings

A Whisper in the Noise had a rough spring. While on tour with Arab Strap in Seattle, they faced an attempted robbery at knifepoint, which left their tour manager sans front teeth. (The headliners also became victims of a crime when their own tour manager left a purse containing $6,000 in band funds at a Philadelphia restaurant. Needless to say, by the time she went back for it, the money was gone.)

On the bright side, the Whisperer's misfortune is fuel for the smoldering orchestral tunes that make up their latest album, the not-quite-sincerely-titled, As the Bluebird Sings. As usual, the group delves into the shadows with vigor, whether they're mapping a creepy carnival of whimpering violin lines and plucky toy piano or setting those strings quivering at the feet of an ominous guitar. On the album's title track, frontman West Thordson wails uncannily like Trent Reznor and follows the Nine Inch Nails mastermind's patented mood swings. The song slips from alluring fragility to aggressive misery as a choir of children (described in the liner notes as "anonymous 6- and 8-year-old girls") sing, "Do you care about this?"

But the track that'll garner the most attention (and rightly so) is the album's closer. Thordson's approach to "The Times They Are a-Changin'" is deliberate and vulnerable, and when the 6- and 8-year-old girls chime in on the chorus, you'll find yourself apologizing for all the world's wrongdoings.

 
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