SXSW Interview: Hooton Tennis Club
One of the bands that I’m really excited to catch, for my first time, is Hooton Tennis Club. The band released Highest Point in Cliff Town on Heavenly Recordings last year; it barely left my stereo for a few long weeks. They’re making their way to SXSW, and we were fortunate enough to get them a few questions on the road…check below.ATH: For a lot of bands, this is their first time coming to SXSW, Austin, or even the United States. What are you anticipating for your arrival into our town? Anything youre really hoping to do while youre here?
HTC: We want to eat loads of barbecued food, wait to see the bats flying about at dusk, and drink margaritas. It’d be cool to visit the Spider House Cafe, check out some record shops… We really want to go and see loads of stuff when we get over. We have a few days off, too. If anyone has any suggestions – local curiosities, monuments, feats of nature, etc. – then let us know!Callum is determined to go to some batting cages to practice two-handed rounders. Also, renting a car and driving out somewhere to shoot some guns in the desert would be fun.
Documenting our SXSW experience is important, too. There’s a great album byChristian Calon & Chantal Dumascalled ‘Radio Roadmoives’, which starts in a different Austin: Austin, Manitoba, in Canada. It’s basically a load of field recordings, similar to the KLF’s ‘Chillout’ album.It’d be cool to make something like that out there. Perhaps take a load ofDictaphones with us, or even some cameras and get a load of material to work with when we get home.
At CMJ last year we didn’t get as much time as we’d have liked to go and walk around and get lost in the city. Obviously there’s a lot to see and do, and in such a short space of time. One time we ended up in a place called McSorley’s. We were being talked at by some Alaskan miners. They were shooting the shit over a few beers.
ATH: For most SXSW sets, you get 30 minutes to leave a lasting impression. What’s your plan of attack? You have a set list mapped out yet?
HTC: We never plan a set listtoofar in advance, in fact, we’re usually scrambling aroundfor scraps of paper just before our set… But we roughly know the formation of our show. Maybe one or two new songs will make the ‘A-team’ for SXSW. We’re all quite into live shows that have the danger of falling apart at any minute. Bands like The Fall, Animal Collective (though not recently), Pavement, The Ramones, and countless garage rock groups and ‘jam bands’ are more interesting to watch/hear live because at any moment the music could shift or completely fall apart. It’s not pretending anything; it’s unsure of itself – it’s live and exciting.
ATH: The festival caters to music fans, but food and booze are an important aspect of the fans and the bands. What’s your band’s food and beverage of choice?
HTC: We all love chocolate milkshake. We’ve made a few visits to the Netherlands recently, andChocomel(give us free stuff) has been our beverage of choice every time. As for food though, that’s tough. Collectively, we all enjoy pies and poutine. No of us will really turn our noses up at a burrito, or pizza, or burgers… We’re not fussy. We’ve been told to expect and appreciate tacos.
Describe the music community where you come from?Does everyone work together? Is there lots of competition?
HTC: The music scene in Liverpool is really quite excellent at the minute. There are loads of great bands and artists in Liverpool, but we don’t all have dinner together and swap gig stories. There’s competition everywhere, which is a good thing because it pushes bands on; everyone wants to make the next best thing for their mates to enjoy. We’ve worked with Bill Ryder-Jones, but I’m sure he’d contest that he is from the Wirral. Ryan lives next door to Becky from Stealing Sheep, and just down the road is Rich fromAll We Are. When you’re walking down Bold St. in Liverpool you might catch the odd glimpse of Dave McCabe, the lads fromStrange Collective, or even Macca… (probably not Macca).
ATH: What are a few bands we might not know about, being in the States, that should be on everyones musical radar?
HTC: In terms of bands from Liverpool, everyone should listen toStrange Collective. They’re a loud, scuzzy, tight garage rock machine.We played withThe Oriellesrecently, they were really great, Cal and Harry bothbought their 7″ fromProbe Recordsrecently, which is great too.Bill Ryder Jones, writes beautiful music. His newest album,West Kirby County Primary– which is a slight deviation from his usual style – sounds incredible.Stealing Sheepare our label mates and they’re over for SXSW at the same time as us.
ATH: Let’s say your band has been booked an official showcase at a pop up venue somewhere in the middle of6th street(where a lot of shows are set up). The lineup features thrash metal, hip-hop, spoken word, and you. The sound is horrible, the lineup is not your style, and the crowd seems angry at the world. How would your band deal with such a situation?
HTC: Carry on. If Bob Dylan can play with a semi naked Michael Portnoy writhing around with ‘Soy Bomb’ written on his chest, then we can too. We’d all like to play the perfect show, but that’s unlikely to ever happen. We like to think that people give you extra points for struggling through in the face of adversity. Also, if thereisa thrash metal/hip-hop/spoken word stage, please let us know, it sounds interesting.
ATH: What’s your favorite album to come out in the last year? What’s playing in the tour bus/van?
Callum – Billy Ryder Jones’ new album ‘West Kirby County Primary’
Harry – The Best of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Tapes – Bobby Dylan
Ryan – Pandy Bear’s latest effort, ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’
James – B’lieve I’m Going Down – Kurty Vile
We burned a lot of playlists to CD. There was a hip-hop playlists jammed in the CD player for a while. There was also a no nonsense, country classics mix CD, too. We also worked our way chronologically through The Beatles’ discography a few times.
ATH: The digital age is upon us, like it or not. What are your band’s thoughts on streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, etc.? Blow ’em all up? Or embrace the future?
HTC: Is it a shame that future generations of music consumers may never experience the joy that comes with collecting vinyl, tapes, CDs, etc.?Looking at the artwork and devouring the liner notes; the concentration, ordedicationof time required to listen to a whole album, everylastmillimeterof it…Times change, but vintage/retro styles will always have a place. Making your own decision on what you want to listen to and not just listening to a weekly Spotify playlist (“…and now! Here’s some more content…”) is very important.It’s the metadata that the majority of people become blindto, but that’s notnecessarilya bad thing if youfindenjoyment in simply firingon your favourite singles. It’s happening with everything; films, photography, art. It’s just a mash of stuff now, and we’re at liberty to be selective and enjoy it.
Furthermore, having lots of CDs and records to peruse at home will always be nice, but they generally have to stay at home. It’s brilliant to be able to access more or lessany and every piece of music ever recorded really easily. It would be very nice if someone could work out a way for musicians and artists to actually get paid for this though.Loads of effort generallygoes into making music, it’s a shame for musiciansthat it is generallyseen as an inherent right that people won’t pay for.
That’s why it’s good to support independent labels and bands as much as you can, otherwise, as good as these streaming services are, there’ll be nothing on them except the big corporate machines and their ‘polished puppets’. Not to get Orwellian, but if people don’t support the local we’ll soon be living in little glass iHouses, man.
We all like collecting vinyl, tapes, and CDs, but also being able to findanything-in-the-world-everonline is great – try before you buy. This of course ups the competition. Though that sort of argument seems quite out-dated in 2016: the internet allows for wider dissemination of media, but also saturates the industries – it’s harder to stand out now.
There’s pros and cons, people much cleverer than us can find a way!
ATH: Clearly coming over to the States to play shows is something a lot of bands are excited about, but what are some other life or musical highlights for you this year? Wed like to get to know you.
HTC: Going to the States is very exciting for us – it’s just like the movies. In New York City we heard a manuse the phrase ‘wise guy’ with utter sincerity. It truly is a different world; a long way to go to play a show, but its worth it. We’re experiencing the structure of ‘Midnight Cowboy’ in reverse. Going to Glastonbury was amazing, as was the whole ‘festival circuit’ last year. We’ve playing in the Netherlands quite a few times now and we’re all really fond of going there, particularly Utrecht. There’s a load of other stuff that happened last year. We recorded and released our debut album – an incredible experience andachievement. Anyone who has done that will know that accomplished feeling of having something they’ve worked hard for in their hands. We had a meal with our friends and families to celebrate.
ATH: This is important to us, although a lot of music people scoff at sports. Do you have a pick for the winner of this years up-coming Euro Cup? Also, is it rude for us to assume that everyone loves soccer/football outside of the US?
HTC: Belgium, just because someone as lovely as Romelu Lukaku deserves to win it.
It’s different in America because you seem to have a few different teamsports that are all really big and have huge followings; moving netball, easy rounders, future rugby, etc. However, football (soccer) is probably the only sport that has a huge following throughout the whole of Europe. Watch some videos of Dennis Bergkamp or Daryl Clare on YouTube, I’m sure you’ll catch on. But no, it’s not rude to assumeeveryoneloves the sport. It’s not a naive view either, you could argue that it football is bigger than God, or religion. It’s certainly more important fora lotof people. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a massive part of our culture. Once you score a diving header in the rain then you’ll never look back.