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Derrick Santini

It Hugs Back

Indie Rock’s Golden Age Revisited

Jul 17, 2009 Winter 2009 - Anticipated Albums of 2009 Photography by Derrick Santini Bookmark and Share


Kent, England’s It Hugs Back make smart, positive indie rock that waves back to the major Matador Records and Merge Records acts of the early ’90s while moving forward in exciting new directions. After settling on their name with some advice from Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon (after a chance meeting at the Tate Modern in London), the band has slowly built up speed with an increasingly interesting series of releases that recall the intelligence, charm, and humor of acts like Teenage Fanclub and Pavement.

“I have recently picked up a couple of Pavement records…I like them, but they’re not a big favorite, yet,” says principal songwriter Matthew Simms via e-mail. “We’re big fans of Cat Power and M. Ward…I guess they fit more in the late-’90s Matador/Merge category! Other things that we all listen to a lot are Stereolab, Red House Painters, and Electrelane… this year I’ve enjoyed Deerhunter’s new album, too.”

The band, comprised of Simms (lead vocals, guitars), Jack Theedom (multi-instrumentalist), Dimitri Sudell (drums), and Paul Michael (bass), formed three years ago during a summer between high school and college, but all the band members have been making music since grade school. Their debut LP, Inside Your Guitar, will be released worldwide by 4AD in April. “We recorded and mixed the record ourselves in our tiny studio, The Record Room (named as it’s also home to our record collection), it’s just built in my garage” says Simms. “It’s small but it works, and I really like how it sounds…we mastered the record at Abbey Road, where we also transferred all the recordings to 2” tape, which added a very nice warmth to it all.”

As for his process, Simms writes acoustic demos with chords and words, then everyone plays the songs together in rehearsal. “We tend to record the final versions together live as a band to try and get the energy across into the recording, we then layer up the instruments and add tunes and textures with anything that works,” says Simms. And they’ve stayed busy, with a slew of shorter releases, including a lovely Christmas EP featuring an NRBQ cover. “Since finishing the album in September, we’ve recorded two new songs and have about seven or eight others that are to be recorded in the new year…I tend to write quite a bit as it’s definitely what I most enjoy to be up to, so when not on tour, there’s usually some recording or work on new songs happening.”

But touring seems to be the priority now. The band plans to get out and play “as much as possible,” says Simms. “It’s only been in the past few months that we’ve had a longer run of dates, and it was really fun and really good at making us better at playing together. We plan to come over to America for the first time just before the release of the album.” Until then, you can check out their earlier work, collected as The Record Room: First Four Singles, out now. (www.ithugsback.co.uk)



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MargaritaRoss20
July 14th 2010
12:37am

Do you know that it’s high time to get the mortgage loans, which will help you.

Nausicrate
January 10th 2011
4:44am

There’s that light-hearted feel to It Hugs Back, but also some doom and gloom in the background.  For those of you like myself who remember those glory days of listening to My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub, It Hugs Back play a similar vibe. “Rolex Submariner

RJ
September 16th 2013
11:23am

Doesn’t everything deserve a comment? Somebody actually worked on this thing. They may have actually been paid money for it. Does anybody get paid for anything? Where am I? I for one am going to illegally download this album on the strength of this review alone. I will pretty much listen to anything that isn’t compared to Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley. Man, do reviewers get hung up on those two.

Is this just going to be deleted? What about Paul Bollocks and Derreck “The Great” Santini? Will they ever know that their hard work resulted in someone stealing It Hugs Back’s album… if it can be found?