2013 may only be entering its final third, but it's already fair to say that one of the front runners for Drowned In Sound's coveted album of the year crown is Pearl Mystic by Hookworms. Awarded a richly deserved 10/10 on this site back in March, their reputation having grown considerably in the ensuing months since.
Having recently signed to Domino Records offshoot Weird World, they're already in the process of putting together the as-yet untitled follow-up to Pearl Mystic. In between times, they're also playing a handful of festival dates, including Festival No. 6, the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia and the final All Tomorrow's Parties weekender curated by Loop.
DiS caught up with frontman, synth wizard and producer extraordinaire MJ prior to Hookworms show at last month's Beacons Festival. Here's how the conversation went...
DiS: What are you up to at the moment?
MJ: We've just started recording our second album. We're pretty much doing that all the time now and then playing festivals in between. We've been writing little bits for a while now. It's the first time we've actually recorded in the same way as most other bands do, in that we've block booked a studio for about fourteen weeks. We're recording this record together whereas before it's been done quite sporadically with everything cut and pasted together. Before, we've just set up in the studio whenever we managed to find the time. Since we signed to Weird World, which is a Domino imprint, we've actually afforded to be able to record together for the first time which has been really nice.
DiS: When did you start writing songs for the second record? How far into the process are you?
MJ: We've recorded about half of it so far I guess. We're setting ourselves little goals and different times to get things done by. We've had one session of just recording everything we've got, which we'd never done before. Most of the songs were written over the past few months with the exception of one song - 'Radio Tokyo' which came out as a single a few months ago - so we've had time to practice them. We have re-recorded 'Radio Tokyo' for the album as well.
DiS: Will you be playing any of the new as-yet unreleased songs live in the foreseeable future?
MJ: We're definitely playing one of them live at Beacons Festival this coming weekend. That one's like half of a song, so I think we'll properly work out the second half over the next few weeks. We want to start playing these songs live as soon as possible because in the past, we've often found ourselves recording stuff as soon as it's been written only for it to change so much. We tend to improvise a lot, and I think the live versions we're playing now of the older songs are much better and more interesting than the way they were recorded.
DiS: Is 'Radio Tokyo' a good indicator as to what the next record may sound like?
MJ: Probably. I like the juxtaposition we've shown in the past between the heavier, rockier songs and droning, textured ones on Pearl Mystic, and that will still be there. But the new record is very much us as a band. The songs we tend to enjoy playing live are normally quite loud, and on the new record there's that element and also a couple that are much faster as well. So I guess 'Radio Tokyo' is a good example as to what a lot of the new album will be like. Then there's this one really long song at the central section of the record that sounds quite Stereolab.
DiS: Have you got titles for any of the songs or even the album itself yet?
MJ: No, except 'Radio Tokyo' of course. We don't have any titles for anything else yet, there's still loads more to work on. The lyrics and themes of the songs for starters. Half of the record musically is written and recorded.
DiS: You mentioned earlier that you'd recently signed to Weird World. What made you choose them? Was it an expectation from both yourselves and Gringo that you'd end up parting ways eventually?
MJ: I'd spoken to Matt from Gringo about this probably a year-and-a-half ago when we had big labels coming to see us. Until really recently we just told them all to go away. After Pearl Mystic, big labels shown interest and we just said we'd rather make the record on our own, and when it's done if someone still wants to put it out that would be cool. It got to the point where labels like Domino - and they were always our first choice by a long way - kept coming to see us and telling us how much they liked the band. When that happens you've got to at least entertain the idea. And we knew Jack (Shankly) who runs Weird World already from when Matt (Benn) from our band used to play with Spectrals. Matt's also toured with Ducktails and played with Real Estate, and Jack's worked with them as well so we've known him for a long time. And like him and always got on well together, plus everyone I've met so far at Domino has been so decent that I don't doubt for one second their intentions towards what they are doing. It's all very genuine. They genuinely like music and there's bands like Clinic - who we played with the other day - that have been on Domino for about fifteen years or whatever just churning out records, and I think that's really great. They're a label that allows bands to develop in their own way at their own pace without the weight of expectation in terms of financial success.
DiS: Is the deal for a specified number of albums?
MJ: We've signed a four album deal with them, and Pearl Mystic is the first of those as they'll be responsible for that record in the future. We've got a lot of creative freedom. We wouldn't have gone into this without having that. We spent a lot of time talking about it because it's so far out of all our comfort zones. When we started this band we never aspired to get to even half of where we are now. We were just doing it for fun, and we're not really the kind of people who've ever gone out of our way to be in a successful band. Artistically we want to be successful and make music that we can be proud of. Signing to a label like Domino was never a long term intention of this band.
DiS: I first heard about your band when I interviewed Eagulls a couple of years ago. In fact, you're one of the few bands in the current climate whose reputation seems to have solely built via word of mouth. Did you ever expect anyone outside of your closest circle of friends to take any kind of interest?
MJ: No, not at all. Actually, we recorded that first 'Teen Dreams' EP in our own time for fun. We'd playing together as a band for about a year in Jonny from the band's basement and I think at that point we'd played about two shows. And we had these songs that we thought we'd may as well record for posterity, which became that first EP. We'd all played in bands before and some of us still played in other bands or did other stuff. The only real difference or surprise element was that people seemed to be interested in what we were doing! I know it sounds cliched but I honestly wouldn't have minded if no one cared at all. We're friends who like to play music together. I honestly thought no one would hear 'Teen Dreams'. One of our friends Cameron had a label asked us if we wanted to put the four songs out as a cassette - bearing in mind it was only a demo - and so we just said yes straight away. That was probably the height of our expectations anyway that someone actually wanted to release our songs.
DiS: As well as playing in Hookworms, you also run the Suburban Home recording studios in Leeds. Would you say that is your main vocation rather than the band?
MJ: It is, definitely. Hookworms is a hobby and it will always stay a hobby. We've all got full time jobs. As well as me and my studio, two of the band work in schools, one works for a charity and the other in a record shop. We all enjoy and care about our jobs. I like to see the band as being an escape from the mundanity of everyday life. I make records for a living so people may argue that's not mundane but it's still an escape from that and cleaning my studio or doing the accounts and all the other shit I have to do that people don't realise happens. And it's the same for all the others. I don't think being in a band could ever be a full time occupation for any of us because that's not what it's all about. It's meant to be fun and I want it to stay fun. All of us do.
DiS: You've been working on one or two other bands' records recently, most notably the new Joanna Gruesome album.
MJ: That's such an amazing record! They're so good. It annoys me just how good they are. I love them.
DiS: Moving onto Pearl Mystic, which is already a front runner for album of the year on Drowned In Sound. It's had unanimously positive reviews all across the board. Do you pay much attention to what other people are saying about the band?
MJ: No I just ignore it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't read it. I just vanity search myself on Twitter, but I guess that's just kind of a natural human thing to do nowadays? I think if I was to listen to everything people said to me, not just regarding the band but also my recordings as well I'd be so full of myself. The last thing I want is to not be grounded. It's really nice and I'm having fun but I know that it could stop at any second.
DiS: You've been compared to several bands spanning the past five decades including Spacemen 3, Can, Pink Floyd, Loop and Hawkwind, yet you've always stated you're essentially a post-hardcore band. Are you fans of any of the aforementioned?
MJ: Spacemen 3 definitely. When we started Hookworms there were three bands we initially talked about, which were Pissed Jeans, Comets On Fire and Reigning Sound, who are a garage rock band we were all into at the time. With Pissed Jeans and Comets On Fire, the intensity has stayed in the music. It's great that we've been able to play with Pissed Jeans recently and then we'll get the chance to play with Comets On Fire at ATP in December, which is pretty surreal. They're our touchstone bands. Magic Lantern are another as well in terms of psychedelia. In terms of velocity for the music that we play Rites Of Spring are a more obvious reference point for me. Nation Of Ulysses and The Make Up too, and I think one of the songs on the next record is very Fugazi but with noisy guitar solos over the top. And then Stereolab and Spacemen 3, and a lot of Australian garage rock as well.
DiS: You've already mentioned former single 'Radio Tokyo' will be on the second LP, whereas with Pearl Mystic it was all essentially previously unreleased material. Was that a deliberate intention with the first record?
MJ: It was a case that we just thought we should record everything that we had. This is the first time ever where we'll probably record more than we're gonna release, just because we've got the luxury of being able to do that now. When we first signed to Domino we got a message from their American imprint asking for a gift for people that pre-order the album over there. They wanted to know what songs we had left over to maybe put on a seven-inch, and we had to email back along the lines of, "I don't think you quite understand how our band works!" Everything we've done has been released. We have nothing more. So they had to scrap that idea! Hopefully this time we'll have stuff left over. If it all comes off, we're recording a split seven-inch with Vision Fortune. We've been talking about this record for the past eighteen months. It's going to be the last in the CMYK series on Faux Discx.
DiS: Will that be a brand new track?
MJ: Yeah we'll record it specifically for that single.
DiS: Again, going back to what you said earlier about recording sporadically in fits and starts, it's interesting when listening to Pearl Mystic as that sounds like it could have been made in one take, like a live set even.
MJ: That was our intention. The flow of a record is really important to me. As is the hierarchy of a record as well. I think we recorded the basic tracks for that - vocals, bass and guitars - within about a month at the start of 2012. And then it went to be mastered in late August of last year, and I spent the rest of that time just messing with it. Putting pieces in then swapping them around and repeating different bits. Just changing the structure of everything, and making sure it all flowed exactly how it should. I don't know if we're going to do that this time. We need to just see how it goes. Things have moved so quickly with this record which is quite surprising considering how slowly we'd worked before. I'm really happy with how it's gone so far. It just needs all the gloss and all the bullshit laid on top of it now.
DiS: The three interlude parts on Pearl Mystic work well in terms of bridging tracks together or providing the odd minute's respite in between songs. Was that all structured from the outset or were they just pieces that came later?
MJ: A lot of them were parts I'd written myself. They were just drones I'd been making on my own. I distinctly remember recording through the night most of the time. I'd become quite nocturnal by that point, while all the others were recording in the studio during the day. It's all a bit of a blur now, but I do remember the last of three drones - the one after 'What We Talk About' - was done in two takes. That was just me with some keyboards and effects pedals in the live room sat on the floor with loads of stuff laid out in front of me. 'ii' was just me and Matt running around the corridors and car park recording loads of noises. We spent ages messing around with the reverb timer just sending bits down the line and recording it back again. The first song on the second side ('Since We Had Changed') was recorded running down the corridor. Initially we weren't going to put it on the record so we said why not try it running down the corridor so we did and it changed it!
DiS: A lot of the lyrics on the record are indecipherable due to a lot of echo-delayed vocal effects. Was that deliberate?
MJ: That was probably the only really annoying thing about Pearl Mystic for me because I spent so long writing them and no one knows what they are. The delay on the voice was originally just a comfort blanket, and then it became a part of the sound, so I bought a Space Echo which became an instrument in itself. To be fair, the vocals for Pearl Mystic are way more to the front of the mix than they were on the first twelve-inch single. And then they're even further to the front on 'Radio Tokyo'. A lot of it is to do with my confidence singing more than anything.
DiS: What are the songs on Pearl Mystic about?
MJ: That whole record was written about a time when things weren't going very well. It was early 2011 and things really sucked for me that year. I lost my old studio and I broke up with my long term girlfriend, and it was all within the same few weeks. First of all I had the ceiling collapse in the studio on top of a lot of my stuff and then I split up with my girlfriend. A few weeks later I lost the studio altogether because the landlord went bankrupt. He'd fallen into arrears with his mortgage so the building was repossessed. So I went from having a perfectly functioning normal life - I worked at the University of Leeds at the time - with a relationship and a nice studio to having virtually nothing really quickly. It was a really hard time for me that year. My whole life changed.
DiS: Do the majority of the songs relate to those experiences?
MJ: The whole thing's pretty much about that. Some of those songs are pretty old now I guess. We were writing them pretty much throughout 2011 and then started recording around Christmas time that year. The only one on there which we'd already recorded was 'Form And Function' for a split seven-inch with Kogumaza which came out earlier that year, but then we re-recorded that for the album as well.
DiS: You've also been quite outspoken about the effects of depression and mental illness. Is that something close to your heart?
MJ: Definitely. I think there is a lack of understanding among many people about depression and mental illness in general, and I think that flipped my opinion as to whether I should talk about it or not because there is some kind of guilt attached to it. It's a deterrent on society in the way society treats it. Things are obviously a lot better than they were twenty years ago. John Doran from The Quietus wrote an article on depression for the MIND website and then he interviewed us. He's a really nice guy and I talked to him about it, and realised from that point of view I'm just me. He said that me talking about it meant something to him and other people that might like our band and see me talking about it because they might be able to relate to what I'm saying. I was talking to someone earlier today about the hierarchy of the artist in the way we put musicians and performers on a pedestal. It just seems really weird to me. It's not the sort of thing I can get my head around. I find it very hard if people come and talk to me and see me as being better than them. I don't think that at all and it makes me really uncomfortable. The only positive side to that is to use it as a way of talking about things in a way that might benefit others, for example mental health. Another thing that's quite important to me is feminism. The way that women are treated in the music industry even now is quite surreal. And even if me speaking out about it changes the way just one person acts around women in the future, that's cool. At least I'll have made a little bit of a difference. I'd rather use that opportunity on Twitter or in interviews to speak up about these kind of things. I wouldn't do it from the perspective of the band or on stage, but at the same time I do think it's important to talk about things I care about. And it has to better than just talking about taking drugs and shagging girls.
DiS: Misogyny in the music industry is still pretty rife, which is a sad indictment considering the times we live in where equality in the workplace has become a standard expectation.
MJ: It blows my mind that people don't realise. I think a lot of the problems are societal. We were listening to (Steve) Lamacq's Roundtable show last week and they were reviewing the Joanna Gruesome record, and there was someone from The Stranglers on the show. He was reading through their press release and it basically states they're anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-discrimination of any sort, and he said something along the lines of, "Why does this need saying?" And it kind of blew my mind why he'd be so closed-minded in saying that at his age. He's been in a band long enough to know what goes on! I'm sure my neighbours might think they're not racist but I know they are. They probably don't realise they're being racist because that's how they were raised, and I think it's the same thing in the music industry sometimes. They don't realise they're being sexist. They don't realise how hard girls have got it. They don't realise girls have got this whole male gaze thing going on where they're objectifying women constantly. I remember when the Dum Dum Girls played the Brudenell a few years ago, and there were just lines and lines of men leering at their legs. It just makes me really uncomfortable and what makes me feel even more uncomfortable is when they try to use blame culture to justify themselves. Saying things like it's their fault for wearing tights or if they don't like people staring at them they shouldn't get on a stage. It amazes me. These are people that supposedly went to see them because they like their music yet still can't get over the sexual objectification of them.
DiS: As big a fan of their fan music as I am, The Stranglers of all people should know better, after all they were writing songs like 'Bring On The Nubiles' with choruses saying, "Let me, let me, fuck you, fuck you!" three-and-a-half decades ago.
MJ: It's wild that people think everything's cool now. They have no idea at all. It's almost a shame that men can't be women for a day just to see what it's like for them. I've played in enough bands with girls to know how bad it can be. They get treated so differently to how I get treated. I called one of my friends out about it the other day. He said he only goes and sees one of the other bands I play in - Menace Beach - because the girl in the band looks nice. And I told him that was really unacceptable and not cool. Liza (Violet) is in the band because she's a great singer and songwriter and Menace Beach wouldn't be the same without her. I really can't get my head around it. It's the same with Lan (McArdle) from Joanna Gruesome as well. She's really pretty, and it's obvious she's really pretty, yet at the same time still really sad that people only go and watch the band because of that. It's inevitable people are going to be physically attracted to other people. It's human nature, but I guess I'm in such a weird little bubble now where I go to work and I play and record music then come home and listen to and read about music. Sometimes I have to walk into Leeds city centre just to realise everyone's not in their mid to late twenties.
DiS: Another part of the industry you've been quite vocal about in the past are the roles of middlemen such as managers, agents, bookers, publicists and PRs. I remember one quote a few months back which went along the lines of, "Why would I pay someone to do a job I can do just as well or better myself?" Now you're working with Weird World and Domino, will any of that change?
MJ: No. We still don't have a booking agent. We book everything ourselves. I don't see the need in giving someone else a cut. I think if you flip that round - we're talking about going to America soon - I can't book a tour in the States. I don't know anyone over there, so that's where we would maybe look and see if someone can help us out booking shows. We'd be quite happy to pay for their help and knowledge of the American live scene. We don't have a manager. I don't understand what a manager does. I still haven't got my head around that. I work in the music industry and I see bands with managers all the time. They come to my studio, nod their head a little bit and then leave again after asking for directions to where the nearest restaurant is! And then I say to the band after the manager's left, "So what do they do for you?" And they usually say the manager gets them places, and know they're talking absolute bollocks. If you make decent music people will pay attention. I'm not saying the music industry is a meritocracy but I think with the internet and the amount of listeners it can generate, that in itself could be called a meritocracy. It might take a little longer than you want. Too many people are too keen for people to hear their music too fast. A lot of people - especially younger artists - will write a song and then struggle to understand why Pitchfork haven't picked it up straight away. And they only wrote it yesterday! With Twitter and blog culture being so fast now they have the same expectations for their music. I do believe that if you create something worthwhile, people will pick up on it in the end. There's something even more worthwhile about letting things grow rather than giving them a lifespan. I've seen some of my friends say things like, "If this doesn't take off within six months we'll split up," after sending one song to a blog and I can't quite understand why anyone would want that to happen? But yeah, we don't have a manager, we don't have a booking agent in the UK. I just don't see the point. I think a press agent is unfortunately a necessity. I can't do that and I'm really bad at bullshitting as well. So you kind of need someone to bullshit for you because I don't like doing that.
DiS: But at the same time, it's like what we were saying earlier about Hookworms genuinely being a word of mouth phenomenon.
MJ: It's nice though isn't it? It's like putting your money where your mouth is. It almost gives us the platform to say to other bands we did it and it didn't do us any harm, so I don't see why you can't either. It probably sounds like an odd thing to say for a record producer but I've got a really low opinion of the music I make. Not within my work. I'm fairly comfortable with regards to my recording abilities. I think in terms of the music that I make, I'm such a perfectionist with it and I often think it's crap. But if there's one thing I can say to younger people in bands that I work with it's that you have to wait for things to happen rather than rush them through. If we had jumped straight away I don't think we'd ever have made Pearl Mystic. Or if we had, Pearl Mystic wouldn't have sounded like it does. It needed nine months to develop otherwise it wouldn't be the record that it is, and that's really important.
DiS: Being a record producer yourself, would you ever allow another producer to work with Hookworms?
MJ: I think the recording process is so intriguing, the way songs are written, that it would be impossible for anyone else to work with us. We've talked to someone about doing something but it would have to be a collaboration. I couldn't be in a hierarchical situation in the studio where someone else is the producer or recording engineer because it would just drive me crazy. I'd probably end up trashing the place! I'm self taught in terms of recording. I've never done an internship for three years cleaning up shit out of the toilet like everyone else does. So I don't know whether I'm meant to be doing this stuff properly. I am just making it up as I go along. So I think if I had to sit there and watch someone else working I'd end up chopping my balls off! I wouldn't be able to cope with it at all. The others might have a different opinion on it. They might find it interesting to work with someone but from my point of view it would have to be a collaboration. We've talked about working with Richard Formby. I know Richard quite well. He did the last two Wild Beasts records, Ghostpoet's most recent album and also the final Spacemen 3 LP. He's got this great wall of modular synths. When we both get some spare time we'll definitely do something together, but it would have to be on those terms. He asked us, and we were like, "Really? Are you sure you want to lower yourself?!?"
DiS: You're doing several festivals throughout the rest of the year, including Festival No. 6, Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia and the final ATP weekender curated by Loop. Are there any you're particularly looking forward to?
MJ: Yeah, we're doing Leeds on the Thursday night as well. We're playing the Dance To The Radio stage. I'm actually playing twice as Menace Beach are playing as well. It's like a little teenage dream for me, even though I'm sure it will be quite awkward and excruciating! At first we were deliberating whether to do it, but then we just thought what the hell, why not!
DiS: The other festivals you're playing are quite selective in terms of their music policy; specialist even in the case of Liverpool Psych Fest. Is that something you were quite cautious about before committing to certain festivals?
MJ: I guess, in a way. I thought Latitude was really nice as well. I'd never been there before. We stayed in the guest camping area and mostly went to watch our friends bands. I didn't go anywhere near the main stage until Kraftwerk played on the Saturday night. I didn't even know it was there! I didn't realise just how big the site was. Then I went and saw where the normal camping areas were which seemed to stretch off all the way into France. I honestly couldn't believe just how big that place was yet it was still a really nice atmosphere. And when you play on that iArena stage like we did you get to take all your backline across a lake on a boat which was fun. That was one of the highlights for me.
DiS: Do you feel any kind of affinity with the other bands on the bill at Liverpool Psych Fest? You've already mentioned Clinic earlier for example.
MJ: I saw Ridley (Johnson) from Moon Duo at Latitude and said "Hi!" We've played with both Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips in the past - I really like those bands - so it's always nice to bump into him. I don't feel any affinity with Ty Segall because I've never met him and he'll probably never meet me, but I'm really looking forward to seeing him and Fuzz that weekend. Peaking Lights as well. We've played with them a few times and now we're both on the same label, which is cool. I definitely do feel an affinity towards the Faux Discx / Gringo bands on the bill; Cold Pumas, The Soft Walls, Sauna Youth. I feel very strongly towards them because I think they're people who've come from the same backgrounds as us. We don't entirely play the same music, but we're all people who've played in hardcore bands. We share the same DIY ethics and I think that's so important in the way you hold yourself. I don't think it's fair to name names but there's a lot of popular psych music at the moment that doesn't really resonate with me. I don't really know any of them as people so it's not fair for me to judge but I know they haven't come up through the hardcore or DIY scenes. I'm not saying they have a different agenda to us but I definitely think bands who've progressed through those scenes genuinely play music for the sake of playing music. There's no careerist agenda. A lot of those bands seem to be revivalist in a way that I'm not particularly comfortable with. I think we take most of our influences from hardcore. It would be a lie to say we don't take from krautrock and again, something that no one ever seems to pick up on, I think we're just ripping off the Velvet Underground.
DiS: I haven't noticed that to be honest.
MJ: If you take all of the effects pedals out we're just playing Velvets riffs. And it's the same with The Modern Lovers. The first song on Pearl Mystic 'Away/Towards' which is basically two songs, '...Towards' the second song to me is just basically The Modern Lovers. A lot of people haven't picked up on that.
DiS: Me included!
MJ: Well I guess I've just ruined it for you now! Sometimes people do end up at the same point just through sharing the same influences. But I think we've arrived at the same place as some of those other "psych" bands accidentally. It wasn't an intentional thing. We've been quietly making music like this for four years now. The funny thing is people were saying to us two, two-and-a-half years ago that psych's going to be really popular, and I was like, "Fuck off!" Who wants to listen to this? Who wants to listen to me crying into a space echo for ten minutes?!? So it's really surprised all of us just how popular this music's become at the same time.
DiS: The umbrella of what is considered psych rock seems to have branched out somewhat. A lot of shoegaze, post-rock and even glam rock influenced bands have all been classed as psych bands recently. Do you think that could have a negative impact on the scene, particularly as the inevitability is as it becomes more popular, bands will start to crop up purely on that basis who perhaps this time two years ago were influenced by Oasis or The Libertines?
MJ: Yeah, that is inevitable. I've had a few bands contact me about recording who say they're a new psych band from wherever, and then you listen to them and struggle to understand what's psychedelic about them at all. It's all very abstract anyway, this idea about what psychedelia is. It can be anything from Nuggets garage rock - which we take a lot of influence from - and kraut rock - which I think we sit between those two places anyway - to people like Tyrannosaurus Rex. If you listen to those early Marc Bolan records they're very folky in an Animal Collective kind of way. In fact, Animal Collective are very much a modern psychedelic band to me. Flaming Lips too, and yet weirdly those bands never get branched in with this new revivalism for psychedelia.
DiS: It's interesting you mention those two bands, because both use a lot of improvisation in their live shows which is a key element of psychedelic music, yet both also receive their fair share of criticism for doing so.
MJ: I really like that. I think it's far more dangerous and exciting for bands to do that rather than just repeat exactly note for note what's on the record. Bands that do that aren't moving anything forward. Slightly going off tangent, we did a Hives tribute set a couple of years ago at the Brudenell. It was a drunk joke that went too far! We were drinking one night with Nathan (Clark) who runs the venue and I said to him you've get to let us do a Hives tribute show as that would be amazing, thinking he'd forget about it the next morning. But he didn't, he called my bluff, so we had to do it, and people said to us afterwards they'd seen The Hives three or four times and it wasn't as good as watching us do it. And that was interesting to me as a musician. Not because I think we were good. We'd listened to the records obsessively and copied them note for note. It was a genuine tribute act. I have no doubt that they are probably better musicians and more exciting on stage, but at the same time to be in a band like that must also be frustrating because you're trying to think of new ways to make these two-minute garage punk songs seem interesting every night. We called ourselves The Chives! I would do it again, I thought it was great.
DiS: Would you ever consider doing something like that again in the future?
MJ: I don't know, although we have talked about maybe doing a set of Nuggets classics for a Christmas show at the Brudenell this year. It all depends whether we've got time. I think it would be really good fun, although maybe a bit self-obsessed too as I'm not sure how many people actually know those songs.
DiS: Moving onto the Loop ATP show in December, how did that come about?
MJ: We just got an email saying Loop have invited us to play ATP, do we want to do it? That was it. We've been told when to turn up, and that's about it. I'm really looking forward to going swimming! But seriously, the line-up looks amazing with Comets On Fire, Superchunk and Slint all playing as well. It's like being at a festival that I've curated myself! At first we thought it was ATP who'd put us on the bill because we've got an arrangement with them over headline shows in London, but it turns out we were actually invited by Loop, so I guess they really do like us!
DiS: Finally, are there any new bands you'd recommend Drowned In Sound and its readers check out?
MJ: Can I say Joanna Gruesome again? I love them so much! I just did a record for a band from Brighton called TRAAMS that's coming out soon on Fat Cat Records. It's very post-punk musically, quite similar to Television except Stuart the singer sings like the guy from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They're really great, they've got probably the most solid rhythm section I've ever recorded. They'll happily play the same thing in a row for seven minutes and not drop a single beat.
Hookworms play at Festival No. 6 on Saturday 13th September.
For more information on Hookworms, visit their official blog.