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The Mother Hips have been making music for more than 23 years. The San Francsico-based band, which released its new album "Behind Beyond" a few days ago, will play Newpark Plaza on Thursday. (Photo by Rodrigo Pena)
The Mother Hips core members — songwriter and lead vocalist Tim Bluhm and guitarist/vocalist Greg Loiacono — have been making music together for more than 23 years.

The two met in 1990 while attending California State University, Chico, and by 1993, the two, along with bassist Isaac Parsons and drummer Mike Wofchuck, recorded and released its debut album "Back to the Grotto."

Now, after 20 years, six studio albums, a plethora of compilation and live releases and a couple of lineup changes, the band is still taking its San Francisco-based rock music to fans.

The Mother Hips will bring its music to the Newpark Center stage in front of the Swaner EcoCenter on Thursday, July 18, at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Reflecting back on the past 23 years, Loiacono, who spoke by telephone with The Park Record from his home in Novato, Calif., said he and Bluhm always imagined they would grow old together.

"Once we found each other, not only as friends, but as musical compadres in our early 20s, it was clear to us," Loiacono said . We even pictured ourselves as old guys on the porch still singing and playing."

The band — which now features drummer John Hofer and bassist Scott Thunes — released its new album, "Behind Beyond," the follow-up to 2009's "Pacific Dust," a few days ago.

When the band members went into the studio, they already knew their approach would be different.

"We wanted to bring a little more of what our live experience was like," Loiacono said.


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"If you notice, the songs are quite long on 'Behind Beyond' as compared to 'Pacific Dust.' And part of our idea was that we didn't want to worry about having time limits for the songs."

While there has always been at least one song that ranged between five and seven minutes on each of the band's prior albums, "Behind Beyond" is filled with songs that clock in longer than five minutes.

"We wanted to take our time with these arrangements and let them unfold and not feel any pressure about doing that." Loiacono said. "As we were writing the songs, we did stretch some of the songs out because it felt right."

That is the result of the band having total creative control of its music.

"What is beautiful about what we do is that we record our own records and support ourselves on the road," Loiacono said. "Everything we do is creatively, financially and structurally our own. There is no outside pressure on us. We feel it from inside of us to make a record we really want to present."

The Mother Hips still kept "Behind Beyond" at a digestible length, nearly 50 minutes.

"To do this, we didn't include all the songs that we recorded for it," Loiacono said. "We chose 10 that fit nicely together. The other two songs just felt different and we couldn't find where they would fit in the tracklist."

There is a deluxe version of the album that is available on iTunes, which contains the two extra tracks, he said.

"At the end of the month, a double-disc vinyl version of the album will be released," Loiacono said. "It will be set up to feature three tracks per side, which will make it a better sounding record."

The band recruited David Simon-Baker to produce and engineer the album.

Simon-Baker also served as producer and engineer on "Pacific Dust."

"He is a fantastic human being and amazing recording artist," Loiacono said.

Still, being in total control of the band does prove challenging.

"When we were on a major label in the 1990s, we were able to go on tour and not worry about things," Loiacono said. "We didn't have to worry whether or not every show was going to make money, because we were getting tour support from the label.

"When you go on tour on your own, there is much more financial risk, so you have to be a lot smarter about how you spend your money and how you invest it," he said. "It takes a lot of time and effort."

The perks, on the other hand, allow the band to make its own decisions about the songwriting, the recordings, the shows and the production of those shows.

"There are people who love the music and want us to still play for them," Loiacono said. "We're going to continue to play music, record and tour. And we're going to continue to enjoy music as a release and as a way to earn a living and connect with people.

"Live music cannot exist without an audience and there are really incredible moments that can happen in a live setting," he said. "We can't wait to get out to Park City to play."

The Mother Hips will perform at the Newpark Center Stage in front of the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, on Thursday, July 18, at 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.mountaintownmusic.org and www.motherhips.com.