Minnesota trio Baby Boys are anything but your typical boy band. Yes, they are a group of young dudes hanging in the studio. Yes, their songs make you want to dance and maybe even screech at them fangirl-style at one of their future live gigs. And yes, their faces could be plastering girls’ walls any day now. But if there is one thing that is so unconventional, so surprising, so new that it comes to the brink of almost making no sense at all, it is their music. Bending the genres like the Avatar does the four elements, the band is proof that sometimes you need to turn a little crazy to make things work. And maybe lose a toenail in the process.
“The name came about when Nathan and I were at this festival and had to do this acoustic show for Hippo Campus, just the two of us. And we were kind of drunk and kept joking around that we were called Baby Boys instead of Hippo Campus. And when we got back to Minnesota and were sat a bar one night, we just called Caleb and that’s when the band began,”, explains Jake Luppen, member one of three of the erratic group. Consisting of Luppen, known for his work as the frontman of alt-pop hit Hippo Campus and his maximalist solo-project Lupin, producer and artist Caleb Hinz and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Stocker, beloved guitarist of HC and one-man show brotherkenzie, Baby Boys have always had all the parts they needed to make for an enthralling musical rollercoaster.
It’s not a Baby Boys record unless something horrible happens to my body. – Caleb Hinz
Long founded before any of the members really knew it, it wasn’t until 2019 that the world first got to experience this melting pot of sounds and talents with its own eyes and ears. And while their debut single ‘Kinky Toe’ served as the kick-off of the boys’ insane journey, it also started a tradition for the band they have kept a hold on to ever since: “During one night when we were working on ‘Kinky Toe’, we decided to have a little break and go to the bar across the street for a few shots. We were having a good time, maybe took more shots than originally planned. On the way back to the studio, we walked past this mailbox and I was like “yo, do you think I can jump on top of that mailbox?” and Jake was like “no, don’t do it”. And I was like “alright, I’m gonna do it,”, remembers Hinz, telling the tale of a rather painful event the band now refers to as one of its fondest memories. “So I jumped on top of that mailbox, it leaned to one side and when I jumped down it fell back again, right on top of my toe. My first reaction was obviously to rip my foot out from underneath it. And I was like “ow”, but we just went back to the studio to continue working. Until I looked down and saw the puddles of blood all over the floor. I had ripped my toenail clean off, my toe was shattered. It was horrible. But we wrapped it up and went back to work and finished the song. It’s not a Baby Boys record unless something horrible happens to my body.”
Two years and a few more stitches down the road, Baby Boys have finally taken the great leap and released their electric debut album with its very fitting title ‘Threesome’, featuring all the trademark rollercoaster stories you could wish for. While the album cover features the three guys pushing their lips against one microphone, the very same one they used to record the whole album with, also referred to as a “phallic expression of their relationship” by guitarist Stocker, their variety of videos uploaded to this day see the band hang out with farm animals at night (‘Gone’) and dance around in an empty fridge, complete loss of clothes included (‘Maggot Water’). “The album is very much a reflection on the immense joys of making music together with your best friends, and as introspective as you can get in that sense. It’s about the enormous pleasure of saying yes to everything and being able to trust each other in that way and to just let loose. It’s a pretty shallow pool, but that being said, I could chill in that kiddie pool forever, that’s my fucking favourite spot,”, states Stocker with a proud grin on his face, before all three members jump into a frenzy of declaring their unconditional love for each other.
With this project, I have no anxiety whatsoever about showing it to people. – Jake Luppen
But it’s exactly this very unique kind of love that made the album possible in the first place. It’s what you need when you want to record and produce an album within nine short days, working from 2pm until 6am every day while being scared shitless by the studio’s fridge – which, coincidentally, inspired one of the album’s most fun songs ‘Maggot Water’. “The song is about the maggots in our producer’s refrigerator. The Hippo Campus producer BJ Burton let us use his studio while he was in LA and we pulled up in October. But he hadn’t been there since August,”, explains Luppen, while Stocker adds: “I had gone to clean out the fridge and thought I might as well clean out the freezer too. It was a nightmare, like looking into the seventh ring of hell. Maggots everywhere. Black water. It was like a horror movie. Like when you walk into the bathroom and the sink is full of black water and a hand is sticking out. So we just left it alone for like a week and a half.”
Next to their otherworldly inspirations, creating different soundscapes with each of the record’s ten diverse tracks is how Baby Boys prove that they are truly unlike anyone else. Inventive and mysterious with pop undercurrents, each member brings a wealth of songwriting, performing and production experience to this energetic and experimental mischief-pop ride. And while the band might be an offspring of already established projects, Baby Boys’ sound doesn’t conform to high indie expectations or include the pressure you get from having to please your label, your dedicated audience and the name you’ve already made for yourself. “With this project, I have no anxiety whatsoever about showing it to people. Whereas with Hippo Campus or my own project I’ve got a lot more pressure. But with Baby Boys, I’ve got none of that. I don’t really care how it measures up with anything else, because I just believe in it,”, exclaims singer Luppen, describing a rather rare reality many pressured bands would wish to be able to live in. Playing with the freedom the project lends to itself, the group has gone all out, reaching the limits not only when it comes to their music, but also their equipment: “We once played the ending of our song ‘Shorty’ so loud that we started an electrical fire in the speakers. We suddenly smelled the melting plastic in the room, the speakers were literally burning,”, shares Hinz, adding another story for the ages to the already lengthy list of the threesome’s insane lifetime experiences.
After all, it’s a rather chaotic aura that can be found throughout the band’s discography as a result of three talented musicians flexing their artistic muscles, who not just like to challenge expectations but to change and overthrow them overall. And while it is an aura that might not work well with everyone, it surely does with Baby Boys, earning them a spot in the ranks of some of the most captivating and norm-breaking bands out there right now. They love and cherish what they do from the very second they step into the studio to the last moment before the official release, never taking any parts of their incredible journey for granted, as Hinz concludes: “After having been through this process and knowing what freedom this project can bring, I really think about what it would be like if other people had that. Like, does Ariana Grande feel that? Probably not. It just makes me think about how this energy could hit other people and how that would influence them. It’s like, if you had four days to live and you had to make a record, you’d probably make it like how we made this one.”
Written by Laura Weingrill // photography by Graham Tolbert and Muriel Margaret