England - Full Moon 33 - 06/28/99
a chat with Chris Adams
... make you cry with happiness!
The Cycle Of Days And Seasons is the latest album from
hard to describe
experimentalists-in-sound Hood. After a quiet one and a half years
following the release
of their excellent Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys album on the
Chris Adams and crew are back - well sort of. Cause even though they
get rave reviews
everywhere they go, the group still doesn't seem to be very convinced
that anything they
are doing is any good. Despite the fact that their friend and producer
Matt Elliott (aka
The Third Eye Foundation) told us late last year: "One of the tracks I
recorded with Hood
just now is the finest thing I've ever been involved with. It almost makes
me cry with
happiness that I was involved with it. It's such a beautiful thing!"
Anyway, here is a quick
chat I had with Chris from Hood a while ago.
Carsten: Even though The Cycle Of Days And
Seasons is your fifth album
already, I'm sure there are still a lot of people out there who are not really
familiar with your band. Could you please give us a short rundown of the
band's history so far?
Chris: We formed about nine years ago, but for the first five
years we just put records out without having a clue what we were doing.
Now we're a five-piece, sometimes a six-piece, generally experimenting
with sounds in the studio and making songs. That's what we are
Carsten: I guess you're aware that people are paying lots
of money for
your early stuff now...
Chris: Yeah, and I'm completely shocked! We had hundreds of
those singles when they came out and we couldn't get rid of them. And
some people said: 'They might be worth something one day', but we were
sorta anti-capitalist and we never thought of keeping them and now
people are paying a lot of money for them. Somebody came up to me me
at a gig in London once and asked me: 'Don't you have any, ANY spare
copies of them?'. And I told him: 'Seriously, we just sold them!' It's very
strange. Very strange. We tried to counteract that by putting that
Structured Disasters compilation
album out. But if people really want the singles stuff, we probably can
tape them for 'em... haha.
Carsten: The Cycle Of Days And Seasons is your second
album on the Domino label. On your webpage it says, that it is a long
story... So how did that deal come about?
Chris: What seemed to happen there is, that we recorded the last
LP [which was released in December of 1997] in the summer of '96 to
come out on Planet initially and for one reason or another that took a
long time. Then Rick, who used to run Planet, started to work at Domino
and he kinda
played a tape of the record in the office and one night he phoned us up
and said that Domino would want to do it instead. We never ever sent
out demos to people and we never really tried in that capacity. We just
wanted to make music and put it out by whatever means and it kinda
snowballed since then. But we were a bit shocked that this deal worked
out. We thought it would either come out on Planet or disappear forever
Carsten: So that means all the bad bad luck with your
previous releases - records pressed at the wrong speed and that kinda
stuff - is a thing of the past now?
Chris: That just happens. We've been cursed with distaster for a
very long time. Every time we played a gig something would go
completely wrong. But that was due to the fact that we were completely
inexperienced and had no idea what we were doing rather than being
hexed. On that single the track we're talking about just seems to run
faster than the track we sent. And there's a number of reasons why that
Carsten: I guess you don't have to expect mistakes like
that on Domino. But what do you really expect in terms of success and
Chris: Domino is very different from any label we've ever been
on. They all were part-time concerns of the people who ran them. They
just put the records out and left them. Since we're spending a lot more
time now on the music it is nice to know that we don't have to dedicate
even more time on distributing and selling the records. I just like people
to hear our music and if Domino can do that
without ramming it down people's throats, that's great.
Carsten: How serious do you take the whole music biz?
You said that all the people who put out your previous records did it on
a part-time basis, how about yourself?
Chris: We all got jobs and stuff and we never though of
ourselves as musicians in any sort of capacity. We're rooted in
experimental music and don't think we'll ever produce anything that will
be commercial enough to be a full-time concern. I mean, we take it
seriously, we don't think it's
a total joke, but at the same time I wouldn't say we're a part of the great
scheme that is the music business. When we go down to London you
always see people desperate to succeed and making it big. We have
nothing to do with that sorta things. We're quite normal. We want to
make good music, but on our own terms. It's not a full time job, it's for
fun, it's a pleasure thing.
Carsten: Is there a musical line you wouldn't wanna
Chris: Oh! I don't think so. You get so many influences from all
over the place! Even if I hear something that I absolutely hate, I probably
could pick out something there that's interesting. The only musical line I
wouldn't cross is sorta sell out and try to do something we really don't
like. We wouldn't drop everything we stand for and go the opposite way.
But you should experiment in all sorts of fields and that's what we tend
Carsten: Would it be completely wrong to say that your
music has its roots in 60s folk music, like Nick Drake, Tim Buckley or
even Bob Dylan?
Chris: Yeah, it's quite strange. I wouldn't say that Nick Drake is
someone I've really listened to. Recently I heard some of his stuff, but
the spirit of it is there.
Carsten: Is making music a very natural process for
Chris: Yeah. It's the product of listening to lots and lots of
records all the time and recording and fusing together what feels right.
And when it's not natural, we can feel that it's wrong.
Carsten: Do you have a broader taste in music
Chris: Yeah. We basically listen to everything from free jazz to
chart music, you know? As I said before, you can enjoy anything and
find interesting things in it. We certainly listen to a wider range of music
now than we ever have, but that's happening on a larger scale with lots
of other people as well. You can see all these mail-order catalogs
branching out into whole different fields of music and people seem to be
embracing the techno side of things a lot more actively now in the rock
circles. And that's good.
Carsten: Who's listening to your music now? Still only
the "indie kids"? Do you care about who's your audience at all?
Chris: The letters we get are predominatly from indie kids. But
we're still not saying: 'Hey, he liked Silent '88, let's write it again'.
We could do that quite easily, but we don't want to.Until recently we
didn't even acknowlege the fact that anybody is listening to our records,
were so isolated, we really didn't know. Recently we found out that
people do buy our records and come to see us play haha. But that still
doesn't change us. It's like, if we play a new song live and it goes down
very badly, we're still gonna put it on an LP. As long as we like it, we don't
Carsten: How do you write your songs? Do you write a
'normal song' and then go on to deconstruct it?
Chris: Yeah, we're doing that more now. We're writing songs and
then experiment within the song's structure, doing weird things with
technology. But the main thing still is, that there's a melody we like.
Carsten: The members of the band all seem to be
involved in side projects as well. Downpour for example.
Chris: That was me. That was just a few years ago when I got into
breakbeat stuff. I just made a 12", which is pretty difficult going. I was just
interested in doing these abstract breakbeats. I have stopped that now,
though cause I wasn't really pleased with the way that was going.
There's also Famous Boyfriend, which is three members of Hood. That's
just sort of minimalist techno, but also quite song orientated. Richard has
played with Micheal Nichols who used to be in Crapstick. And there's
John Clyde-Evans, our clarinet and violin player, he's doing a kind of
minimalist acoustic drone. Really nice stuff actually.
Carsten: Thanks for being so talkative and good luck
with the new record!
Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld