2014 Artist Survey: Hookworms

JW and MB on Time Travel, When They Were Sell Outs, the Artist That Most Got On Their Nerves in 2014, and Being in love with Scarlett Johansson

Feb 16, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from JW and MB of Hookworms.

[A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.]

Top 10 Albums of 2014

MB:

1. Virginia Wing: Measures of Joy

2. Ultimate Painting: Ultimate Painting

3. Kogumaza: Kолокол

4. Mazes: Wooden Aquarium

5. Protomartyr: Under Color of Official Right

6. Eagulls: Eagulls

7. Broken Arm: Life Is Short

8. Good Throb: Fuck Off

9. Monotony: Monotony

10. Sex Hands: Pleh

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

JW: I think Off Festival in Katowice, Poland was probably my highlight of the year. I never really had the opportunity to leave the U.K. very often as a child so I'm very grateful when I get to travel. Off Festival had an amazing line-up. I managed to watch Neutral Milk Hotel from the side of the stage and the teenager inside me was doing back flips and squealing. I also met Michael Rother of Neu!/Harmonia whilst wearing a Neu! shirt. He found it dead funny and his "official photographer" took a picture of us together. It was a real "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" moment.

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

MB: Me and my girlfriend looked after a guinea pig for most of the 2014 while his owner moved house. The day they took him back was utter heartbreak. Have you ever cried over a rodent? 

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

JW: As a band? Write a new album and hopefully get over to the U.S. again. On a personal level, I'd just like to buy more guitar amplifiers and possibly a bigger cage for my pet rats. Maybe I'll finally learn how to make my own gyoza.

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

MB: I'd say it was a huge invasion of privacy, but it's been well worth it to see how quickly they've backtracked on the idea. Every interview they've done since has been extremely sheepish and apologetic. I think everyone on the planet should hear at least one song written by Jack Cooper of Mazes and Ultimate Painting. That guy is this generation's songbird.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

JW: I didn't take part in the ice bucket challenge. I've spent a lot of time working directly with charities as well as donating regularly, I don't need to dump a bucket of ice on my head and post it on the Internet. Shout out to Grimes, animals are friends.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

MB: Sadly, I very much doubt it. We remember the political action back in the '60s and '70s around the Kent State police shootings and the race riots that followed the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (among others), and 50 years later we're still having to talk about it as an issue. We certainly have our problems in the U.K., but I can't imagine what it must be like living with the gun laws and underlying race issues in modern day America. It does also feel like the world is becoming more and more politically passive as time moves on.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

JW: I'm sure David Icke can offer a better insight than I can. I hope the families and friends of missing people are coping and are receiving the support they need.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

MB: Don't get me wrong, I love the music of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, but Mark Kozelek is bitter and miserable, and this public bullying should neither be applauded nor accepted, especially when you consider that it is pretty widely known that the guy from The War on Drugs suffers with major anxieties and depression. Journalists need to stop giving the guy a platform to take his insecurities out on the world, total playground stuff. I'm sure he couldn't care less what I think, but he needs to grow up.

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

JW: "I Have Some Business Out West," a walkthrough guide to finding all the hidden treasure in "Red Dead Redemption."

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

MB: I read something the other day that said "Loop did it better," which I have to admit I struggle to disagree with.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

JW: Someone once told our other guitarist that his guitar solo gave her an orgasm.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

MB: No one ever asks us about video games or our musical gear, which are two things we totally nerd out on. I wish journalists would stop asking us about: "psych," the incorrect use of "DIY" as a term, and why we go by our initials. Boring. Do some research.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

JW: Nobody from my youth particularly, as I'm not fussed about their opinion. They don't mean much to me. I'd like Drake to know about my band. Drake, if you're reading this, can we collaborate?

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

MB: Lost In Translation came out when I was about 13 or 14. I can't decide whether I was in love with Scarlett Johansson, the character she played in the film, or just the whole idea of the story, but I was definitely crushing hard for a little while there.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

JW: I'm pretty sure I hit the perfect balance between having a good time as a teenager and being competent, but not outstanding, in school. I'm glad that my personal and social life took priority. Friends make you happy; school bypasses your need for emotional and social development in favor of utility and functionality.

What was your first concert experience like (who did you see and who did you go with)?

MB: I think this was maybe Ozzfest at Donnington when I was about 12, accompanied by my dad and uncle. Really showing my age here, but I saw System of a Down, Drowning Pool (RIP), Slayer, Tool, Mushroomhead, American Head Charge, and Ozzy Osbourne, among others. My friend and I also managed to convince a guy selling vodka jelly shots that we were 18. Later we unknowingly bought hash brownies out of a tin off some old hippy and had a pretty heavy drive home.

Both Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman died in 2014. Did either death deeply affect you and do you find it strange to grieve for a stranger? Which celebrity's death in your lifetime has most affected you?

JW: I am glad that it brought the issue of mental health, depression, and suicide into the public realm and, albeit for a short period of time, opened up dialogue and discussion of these issues on a large scale. It is upsetting that it takes the deaths of well-known people for this to happen, but I hope it had some impact on educating more people about these issues. Lou Reed's death really hit home. The Velvet Underground are a band that means a lot to me and a band that genuinely changed my life.

Which well-known filmmaker would you most like to direct one of your music videos?

MB: It'll have to be something really obvious, like David Lynch or Martin Scorsese. If we're being a bit more realistic, I've loved the visuals in the last couple of films that Peter Strickland has done.

In 2024, as part of the Mars One program, four people might be sent to Mars with no hope of ever returning to Earth. Are they completely crazy or brave? Would you ever consider such a thing?

JW: Have you ever seen Mars Attacks? I know what happens in space, it's not good.

If you could travel through time, which historical event would you most like to alter the outcome of and why?

MB: I've watched Bill & Ted and Back to the Future way too many times to think that this is a good idea. You've got to consider the knock-on effects in a situation like this. Be responsible.

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

JW: I was heavily into MySpace in 2004, so I'll let you figure that one out.  

In which instance did you most sell out and compromise your music?

MB: We played a show in New York that involved us having to take a photo in front of a branded sign; probably the most uncomfortable I've ever been in this band. We really try our best to not associate ourselves with any kind of branding. We hadn't realized this was going to be the deal before we arrived, but when you've flown all the way out there from Leeds it's probably not the best idea to turn around and tell them to fuck themselves.

What has most surprised you about getting to know your parents as an adult?

JW: That marriage is pointless and everything dies.

What quirky piece of band merchandise would you most like to produce for sale to your fans?

MB: We actually had a special blend of espresso beans done for our recent tour. We're all big, big coffee drinkers, so when a local roaster suggested the idea, we jumped at the chance. Turned out amazing. JN's old band Tigers! used to sell tiger-print underwear, how's that?

Do you ever long for the days before the Internet and cell phones? If so, what do you think has been the worst side effect of those technologies?

JW: Technology is amazing and I love it. I'm particularly fond of the Good Beer Guide app as I can find a pub with good beer wherever I am in the country. It significantly lowers my chances of walking into a place where I'm likely to get glassed. People's need to feel constantly connected is worrying, though, and I feel that the ease of access to information is hindering imagination.

Which 2014 song most got on your nerves?

MB: I couldn't tell you what any of their songs are called, but the guy from The 1975's weird warbling, slurred, non-language approach to singing would be my most irritating sound of 2014.

Given the choice, would you like to be immortal?

JW: Only if I could be a basset hound.

www.facebook.com/Hookworms

www.parasiticnematode.blogspot.com

 

 



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