Like their parasitic namesake, once Hookworms get into your system they’re hard to extract. The English five-piece released their sophomore album The Hum last month, and their heady mix of psychedelic space-punk and Krautrock instrumentals hasn’t let go of our attention since. After releasing a seizure-inducing video for “Radio Tokyo“, the Leeds-based group recently announced US tour dates for 2015, culminating in a two-night takeover of Brooklyn’s most buzzing venues. BULLETT chatted with the band’s bassist MB to get a sense of what we’ll be in for.
You guys named yourself after a parasite.
Because all the good band names were taken. I think we were trying to be a bit more sinister when we started. The name came up and it just stuck. Once you release a record it’s too late to go back and change it, so you’re stuck with a shit name. All three of us used to play in a garage band called Twisted. That’s a pretty bad name. I think it’s worse than Hookworms, possibly.
And what’s the deal with concealing your real names?
We all had jobs and stuff like that, and we’re all extremely paranoid and neurotic. We were just worried that if our full names went out and someone typed them into Google it would just come up with this stream of bullshit. It could be used against us in some way or another.
Vocalist MJ mentioned that creating your debut album helped him handle depression and performance anxiety. Does the band help deal with your problems in the regular world?
Yeah, definitely. It’s what I do with my weekends and holidays; it’s my hobby, so it’s definitely an escape from everything else. I wouldn’t say it helps with our lives because there’s a lot that happens in the band itself that’s stressful but we all get to spend time together and we get to see different places and make lots of friends. We’ve got to a point playing live as well where we’re more confident because we know we’re always going to be a loud band even if people don’t like it.
In the past you’ve spoken out about injustice and racism in America. Would you characterize Hookworms as a political band?
We’ve all got strong opinions and values but I don’t think we ever wanted to be a political band. Given the opportunity we speak our minds about stuff like that instead of just chatting shit about guitars and stuff like that. It’s important to talk about other stuff.
What’s your opinion on the Ferguson ruling?
It’s all ridiculous, really. Similar stuff was happening fifty, sixty years ago and nothing has changed at all. I don’t think there’s anything on the horizon that says it’s going to change. Police and government are completely bubblewrapped and free from the rules everyone else has. They’re never going to suffer the same consequences as normal people, and I think the race problem just amplifies it. Similar shootings like that were happening in the ‘50s and ‘60s and nothing’s new. At the same time we don’t live in America so we’re not surrounded by it. Although we have our problems here in England I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad.
Speaking of England, you guys recently toured the UK with Kogumaza and Sex Hands. Which underappreciated bands would you want your fans to be listening to?
There’s a whole world of amazing underground music in the UK at the moment but because a lot of these bands aren’t aspirational it’s going to stay under the radar. I think Brighton’s got a really great scene at the moment. One of our friends, Dan Reeves, who does the Faux Discx label, put out our first EP, and some of the stuff he puts out is amazing. He put out the Sex Hands record, Teardrop Factory, Virginia Wing, and his band Cold Pumas. Kogumaza are from the same scene as Gringo Records in Nottingham who put out Pearl Mystic. We’re basically all friends. If people discover us and haven’t heard of those bands it’d be cool for them to find out about them via us.
Your album got a lot of radio play in the UK. Do you think that radio still plays an important role for underground bands?
Yeah, I know a lot of people who listen to [BBC radio station] 6Music religiously. My girlfriend has it on all day at work. They’ve got a massive audience. I think it’s really kind that we get played so much on 6Music because it’s introduced a lot of people to our music who would never have heard us. I know a band that played in support of Real Estate a couple of years ago in London and they played the single that 6Music had played a lot, and it was like a football crowd chanting along the song after they came off stage. The single doing well on 6Music had opened them up to a new audience. A very weird thing to watch.
Finally, you guys brewed your own brand of Hookworms ale earlier this year. That’s a hard act to follow, but what would your dream merch item be?
We actually did some coffee as well, which was one of my dream merch items. Coffee roasters in Harrogate, which isn’t that far up from us, got in touch and asked if we wanted to do something, so we got a special blend of espresso beans done. I’ve kinda ticked both of mine off doing coffee and doing ale. They’re my two favorite things, but maybe we could do Hookworms pizza.