The Hookworms make reluctant heroes of the latest psychedelic scene, refusing to give up their day jobs despite sold-out concerts and the call of coin. When they aren’t inventing epitaphs for a Wonderland interview, they pack a space-echoey punch with howling minimalist lyrics influenced by Bukowski and Carver.
Your latest album seems headed in a new direction, more punk. Would you agree?
We’ve all played in cult bands. There was a crossover for three members between Hookworms and the band we used to be in. It was more edgy and hardcore – like Rites of Spring or Black Flag.
Yet you guys have been labelled as part of a new psychedelic movement, and often compared to Toy. Is that annoying?
Yeah [laughs]. The critics got our influences wrong. In terms of psychies, we like Tame Impala much more than any current revivalist stuff. They take musical cues from the same place we do.
So how is Hookworms distinct from Toy?
I don’t want to say something I’ll regret. They sound revivalist-Kraut, and we sound more aggressive. Our band follows the post hard-core tradition. We’re not very interested in fame. I think that’s the main difference.
So you don’t consider yourselves a psychedelic band?
Why do you only use Hookworm members’ initials?
We know other people who play in popular bands and the trouble they’ve gotten into. We’ve got relationships and families – we don’t want our hobby to affect our private lives. It’s overwhelming what’s happened in the last six months. We just came back from a tour that was completely sold out and weren’t expecting to sell out in pre-orders.
If Hookworms becomes too big, would you consider giving up your day jobs?
We’d still carry on doing them. I work as a record producer, so I see it from the other side. I don’t want Hookworms to turn into a record-making machine. The band members are my friends first and foremost: we just want to continue making music together.
Your lyrics are often personal, existential — even dealing with depression. What’s your song writing process?
I write the lyrics, but we create the music together. We’re lucky because I have a recording studio. We record everything we practice in sections, and then I treat it almost like dance music, putting lots of different song pieces together. We talk about what we’re doing a lot. We think about structure.
Has it become harder to deny yourself the spoils of success? Fame is one thing, but more money is another…
I’m not bothered. I get a lot of recording out of people who want to work with me just because I’m in Hookworms. That’s better than any silly amount of money.
Any bands we should look out for?
There’s a little-known band called Joanna Gruesome from Wales who are great. Their record is coming out later this year and I think it’ll do well – I really, really dig it.
Any non-musical influences that might surprise people?
Mid-century minimalist and dirty realist writers like Bukowski. And Raymond Carver: his stories are all about human relationships and don’t have an arc in the way you expect. At the end you’re left hanging.
So you’re storytelling?
Yeah, but no one can tell what I’m saying, so…
I’ll admit I sometimes had problems understanding the lyrics.
The vocal lines have become more naked. It was a comfort blanket to have loads of delay on my voice before.
If Hookworms died tomorrow, what would its epitaph be?
Probably the same word—over and over again.
Maybe DON’T. Or STOP. Yeah: the word STOP. Infinitely.
Hookworms play with Pissed Jeans at The Electric Ballroom on 5th July. Their debut LP ‘Pearl Mystic’ is out now on Gringo Records.
Words: Christine Jun (Follow Christine on Twitter at @christinecocoj)