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flag 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 Domino label, 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 really.

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 haha.

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 could've happened.

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 media-exposure?
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 cross?
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 to do.

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 you?
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 nowadays?
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, we 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 care.

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!
Chris: Thanks!

Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Hood article/review: Outside Closer.

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