Ian Hooper (35) started his music career around ten years ago and celebrated success as the frontman of the indie band Mighty Oaks. Now the singer is pursuing his solo career alongside the band. In an interview with the news agency spot on news, he talks about the reasons for this, tells details about his singles “Here To Stay” and “Dry Your Tears” as a harbinger of his upcoming solo debut album and reveals why he is the supporting act for Johannes Oerding (41) appears on his “Plan A” tour. In addition, the musician reveals how he balances family life and career, why he could no longer live in his US homeland and how he found a home in Berlin.

Ian Hooper: If you’ve been in a band for ten years, you get pretty stuck in the range of sounds you play. With Mighty Oaks it’s folk, singer-songwriter and I love that too, that’s what comes naturally out of me when I sit down and make music. But I also wanted something new, something with more energy and towards pop. That was hard to bring in in the context of a band. I’m still trying and searching and finding the direction in which this sound will go. It’s all evolving. My latest single “Dry Your Tears” definitely sounds very different from anything I’ve done before.

Hooper: I’ve found over the last few decades that writing indie music is a lot of fun and more natural and much easier for me. But you reach fewer people and it’s harder to make a living with it. I love nothing more than jamming in the rehearsal room with my buddies or with the band, that’s honest music. But if you heard the recordings it wouldn’t necessarily be something you would want to release or happen on the radio. There are so many platforms to serve today, from radio to television to the live stage. I’m trying to be more diversified now. For me it is a supreme discipline to write good pop music that is accessible to a large, broad audience and at the same time has something to say.

Hooper: Definitely. I find Harry Styles doesn’t do mundane songs, even if they’re simple in their own way. But in the end it’s all a matter of taste and I’ve learned that you can’t say any kind of music is good or bad, especially when it fills arenas. In any case, more people think this music is good than mine, so why should I judge what’s good or bad. I generally like it when people make music. The world needs music.

Hooper: A lot of people. Definitely my fellow musicians from Mighty Oaks, Craig and Claudio, they always supported me and went along with my crazy ideas and wishes for the band. My father never put me off the dream of becoming a musician, although it’s actually a pretty stupid and unlikely dream. My wife has my back in so many areas of life to even be able to tour, travel around and do promoters. I have a very irregular and abnormal life and so is our everyday life. It’s all complicated with two small children, but somehow we manage it quite well. She handles it very well. If she was stressful, it would be much more difficult for me. I have her to thank most of all.

Hooper: We don’t really have a flow (laughs). That keeps everything very fresh because it’s always different. We appreciate when it’s good and when it’s difficult we know it’s a time to go through. It is simply a matter of taking a long-term view and not getting upset about the currently stressful things in the short term. Everything is unpredictable with children anyway, you can’t really plan much. If you make a plan, the kids will get sick or you will get sick. It’s extremely annoying at the moment, but it doesn’t matter in the long run. The brief stress has a reason and for me that is the long-term success of the music. This is how I put bread on the table for my family, this is how I earn my money and this is how I finance our lives. I would say that we have a very nice life. I’m also totally realistic and don’t live as wildly as I did as a young artist before we got married or had children. When I’m at home, I try to live a very structured life and try to give my wife as much free time as possible.

Hooper: I think it’s good to have absurd dreams. That’s what dreams are for, they’re meant to be hard to reach. I would support the boys if there was a certain talent. If one of them says he wants to be a footballer but plays really badly, I’ll advise him to study law or medicine (laughs). So I don’t mind if it’s reasonably realistic and they’re wholeheartedly and consciously in it. You can earn a lot through hard work and diligence.

Hooper: I think it was a bit confusing for them at first. They probably figured I would have pushed it right after “Sing mein Song” because that actually made more sense. But I didn’t explicitly do that at that moment because it wouldn’t have been good for the band. Mighty Oaks definitely benefited from me doing this TV show. We’ve played a lot in recent years and the show has given us a lot of opportunities, it was a very intense time. But I still needed some free space for my music and my creativity. You can totally understand that in a sense that I just want to make more music, that I want to release more.

Hooper: It’s not goodbye, it’s a reunion. I’ve already finished writing our next record for the band and we recorded it. So she’s in the starting blocks. But the music landscape is difficult right now in terms of live concerts, people buy 300 euro tickets for superstars like Harry Styles and then there is not much left for the little artists. So it’s perfect timing for Mighty Oaks to take a short break and take us out of the market. For me it’s probably the stupidest time to start a solo career (laughs) but I’m doing it anyway and I hope for good luck and support.

Hooper: We stayed in touch after Sing My Song, generally with the whole crew that we were filming with. I exchange voice messages with Johannes or we send each other stupid pictures (laughs). One day he called me and said that our managers had talked to each other. He said he wanted to ask me himself, but didn’t dare because he didn’t see me as a support act anymore. I quickly talked him out of it and made it clear to him that it would be an honor for me to be there for a few shows. That’s really cool for me because I can try out the new songs with the new live band without any pressure or expectations.

Hooper: Johannes is a normal, honest guy. He is incredibly successful in what he does and yet is very down to earth. I get along with him very well and we are on the same level when we meet privately. I always have a good time with him. I’m curious if his audience likes my music at all, we’re different. I do everything in English, he does everything in German… But this is a good way to find out now.

Hooper: I’m in the final stages of writing, I’m missing a few songs. It’s taking longer than I thought, so I’m going to push my tour into autumn in May. I take it on my own account that the record isn’t done yet. I underestimated how long it takes and how difficult it is to do everything alone, i.e. to write the songs and then record and produce them. And to find and create exactly this new sound. I made the first songs with friends of mine, producers and songwriters. It was so quick, but these are people who do nothing but write songs for big artists in the world. When I said I wanted to do the last four or five songs by myself, they thought I was crazy. But I am ambitious and want to do it, also for myself. Specifically, I’m now on eight songs, it should be twelve in the end. I can’t say how quickly the rest of the songs will be written and produced, I can’t force it. That’s the good thing, but also the difficult thing about art.

Hooper: I’m actually not a big fan of music videos. I find it difficult to keep the focus on myself all the time. Plus they cost a lot of money and I never really see why. But the industry just dictates that and so I had the idea to do it with my best buddy. If it doesn’t go well, at least we had a good time (laughs). I then had to sell the record company that I was flying to Los Angeles, meeting up with friends and they should just make the budget available. But there should also be exciting pictures that don’t look like Berlin in January. I’m American, so the story that I’m in a desert in the States isn’t so wrong. I’m a west coast kid, this is my world. I am totally satisfied with the result. My buddy and I know each other really well, we lived together at the university and I feel comfortable in front of the camera with him. This notes the video, nothing is tried or wanted. A good friend was also our stylist and we lived with another friend, it was like a small class reunion and everyone got money for it – except me (laughs).

Hooper: The landscape there is without a doubt incredible and incomparable. But no, I couldn’t live there. America has changed a lot since I grew up there. I notice how Germanized I am when I’m traveling in the States. Due to the infrastructure alone, you are very tied to the car, you have hardly any options as a pedestrian or cyclist and this everyday movement is not supported. You automatically lead a pretty unhealthy life and the life you live there is extremely thankless and expensive. Everyone works to survive. If you are rich, if you have a lot of money, then life there is incredibly good. Then all doors are open to you, which can be a liberating feeling. But most people can’t take advantage of that. With family and small children you are in so much better hands here than over there. You get zero support there, so I’m glad to be here. I just wish that people here were a little bit happier, more polite and friendly to each other in everyday life.

Hooper: I have a classic love-hate relationship with Berlin. If I had found a better alternative I would have gone by now. But I still haven’t found a place in the world that suits me better. We no longer live directly in Berlin in the city center. I found my little corner which has a lot more nature – there are definitely more trees than assholes there (laughs). I’m in the forest or by the river every day and enjoy the life of a 70-year-old German pensioner. What’s better?