Dead Slow Hoot
THANKS to the guys of Dead Slow Hoot...
for talking with me about their latest single, An Island Keen to Float (its video arrives next week), and what inspired it; what comes next for them and how the band found one another – they reveal some albums and rising artists important to them.
I ask whether there is more material coming down the track and, as the band are from Sheffield, whether they think Yorkshire gets overlooked in terms of musical quality and promise – the guys each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hugo: Good, thanks! The week’s been hectic but productive; so I guess it’s been good? Basically, I’m very tired.
Luke: Me too…
Dominic: Just been to my brother’s stag so, yeah, I’m knackered.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
H: Hey. We’re Dead Slow Hoot: purveyors of sad jams and sticky hooks. I’m Hugo and I do the vocals and half of the guitars.
L: I'm Luke. I do 100% of the bass guitar.
S: I’m Sam. I hit the drums and cymbals. Or ‘the boomers and tingers’, as Luke likes to call them.
D: I’m Dom and I play guitar and synth…but, like, a funny way of saying that.
An Island Keen to Float is your latest single. Is there a story behind it?
H: Like a lot of our songs, it’s kind of an amalgamation of a lot of different ideas. We try to be socially conscious and, with this song, I really wanted to capture something about the mentality behind the Brexit vote; but to do that I felt like I needed to describe it from a more personal perspective, and so every line has a double meaning where the broad idea can be reflected on an individual level. For example, the line “Blame some foreign force instead’ can be understood as blaming immigrants, but when I perform that song, it has more to do with a tendency to externalise my own frustrations and shy away from responsibility.
It’s weird dissecting it because it sounds like the whole thing was very deliberate, which it wasn’t really, but I personally feel very proud of it specifically because of this duality and I hope that, in listening to it, people can relate to those emotions from an internal and external perspective.
What was it like filming the video for the song?
H: Honestly, it was probably one of the most surreal days of my life! I went down to Lewes with our friend, Sam Nicoresti, who directed this video and had a lovely day wandering around small independent shops and cafes. But, by the evening, every window was boarded up and people were walking around with flaming torches. Basically, it was the purge and I’m thankful that we got out of there alive...10/10 would recommend to a friend.
L: Sam directed our first-ever music video for a track from our last E.P. called I Hope You Never Say a Word, so it was a total joy to work with him again. Sam's very good at making movies of weird and strange events, so it was very natural to shoot a video down in Lewes where the weirdness just presents itself to you.
Is there going to be more material coming from you down the line?
H: We are writing new material at the moment and we’re hoping to get some of it released in the New Year. Watch this space!
How did Dead Slow Hoot all get together? Did a shared love of music gel you?
Hugo: I was playing in a gospel choir band with Luke and Sam, our drummer, and playing my own songs as a solo artist - which is a grandiose way to say I was playing the same open mic week after week. I asked Luke and Sam if they wanted to try out some original music and it just worked really well. Dom joined after we recorded our first E.P. and got carried away with the arrangements. He’s the only musical polymath we knew and he was a band member from the first rehearsal we did together. Musically, we’re all steeped in the classic noughties Indie music but we all diverge in slightly different ways, which makes for a good group dynamic as we all bring distinct ideas to the table.
L: The first time I met Hugo he was singing Sweet Caroline at a karaoke and stage-dived out of the venue. The first time I met Sam he was talking about pop-up polytunnels and the first time I met Dom he was living with my ex. This doesn’t have that much to do with how we formed the band but anecdotes are fun…
You hail from Sheffield. How important is the city’s history and present to your own sound and work ethos?
H: Sheffield is the best city that no-one’s heard of! We’re all dyed in the ethos of Sheffield; it’s full of independent people who plug away at their work without feeling self-conscious of how it looks to the outside, which makes for something that everyone’s proud of and feels unique.
S: Also….it’s highly affordable. In fact, the most affordable city in the U.K. according to recent statistics. So, we get a lot of quality rehearsal space for a very reasonable amount. D.M. us for details (winks).
Do you think areas like Yorkshire get overlooked when it comes to great artists?
S: Definitely. I think, if BBC Radio 6 Music could move their studios to Sheffield that would help redress the balance…
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
H: Our album launch this year felt really special. We’ve been on the scene a long time but we haven’t always been the most present band in town. We weren’t expecting so many people to show up, but there was so much love in the room and it was probably our best gig ever!
L: I totally agree. It was very hot and sweaty in that room and we were overwhelmed by the audience. Our friend, Charles, even fainted during the final chorus of the final song - he's fine now but at the time it felt pretty Rock and Roll.
S: Luckily, all of us are first aid-trained in case of such an emergency.
D: We’re fortunate that we have a very chantable name. Any gig when people are going “Dead Slow Hoot! Dead Slow Hoot!” is a great one. I feel like (the band) …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead really missed a trick.
Which albums from all of music mean the most to the band (and why)?
H: I keep coming back to The End of History by Fionn Regan. The songcraft is just perfect and it’s got beautiful lyrics. It makes me cry whenever I listen to it, which is pretty much at least once every week.
L: I've been a big fan of Car Seat Headrest for a while now, but their reworking of Twin Fantasy that was released last year is a real magnus opus for the band. Will Toledo is such a creative songwriter and his lyrics really raise the bar for sad indie bands.
S: I have no idea who Hugo or Luke are talking about. I’ll go much more mainstream with AM by Arctic Monkeys. There was a lot more groove on their songs in this album which I loved. The opening bass and drums for tracks like Arabella are just magic. In my opinion.
D: I’m gonna cheat and say Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A. They’re the perfect combination of emotional songwriting and sonic experimentation that we’ve tried to emulate. The National Anthem, in particular, was a big influence on our album.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
H: We played with Big Thief on their first U.K. tour and it was such an amazing night. They were so genuinely friendly and the music is just so good; so I’d probably say them (again). For the rider, I’d like to have a pint of your local bitter with a second pint of tap water, please.
L: Yeah. I remember hearing that British Sea Power would ask for local beer and postcards of the local scenery on their rider along with lots of foliage. I also thought that must be a nice way to tour the country and really get to know the places you're visiting. Saying that, I would love to support British Sea Power…call us.
D: Before I joined Dead Slow Hoot, they actually supported my old band on our E.P. launch. Luke asked for a porcelain owl or something weird like that. As for supporting, I dunno; maybe Portishead? I feel like they’d have a very polite audience. I don’t just listen to bands with ‘head’ in the name, by the way.
S: U2. Then I could make great jokes all day about being too close to The Edge etc...
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
H: We’re playing a small tour this June in Leeds (12th June); Sheffield (14th June); London (15th June) and Manchester (19th June).
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
H: Stay together and don’t worry about getting quick success. We have the best time together when we’re creating something new and that’s what keeps us coming back. All the rest is nice but it needs to be secondary to making good music.
S: Make sure you all get on well - rehearsing, gigging and recording involve large amounts of time spent together. And establish a favourite pre-gig food outlet early on - we’ve always stuck with Streetfood Chef in Sheffield. They do probably the best burritos in South Yorkshire.
D: Turn up to the venue on time
PHOTO CREDIT: Campbell Sibthorpe
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
H: Lou Terry is a super-talented songwriter based in Sheffield who’s playing a few shows with us in this tour. Campbell Sibthorpe is another singer songwriter who we played with in London this year whose songs I love.
L: Both great recommendations. I'd add Before Breakfast. They're from where we're from and have recently been making big strides in the national music scene. Their new E.P. is really worth checking out.
D: We played with a band from Leeds called Van Houten. They’re worth checking out for their snare drum sound alone. Also, inFictions. They don’t play live but they’ve made two immaculate Post-Rock albums that’ll give you goosebumps.
IN THIS PHOTO: Before Breakfast/PHOTO CREDIT: Ellie Grace Photography
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
H: Lately, I’ve become a big fan of gardening, so I spend a lot of time watching my crops…
L: I take a walk around the block to say ‘hello’ to all the local cats.
S: Also a gardening fan. This year, I’m growing courgettes, potatoes and runner beans.
D: I’m watching the tenth series of Doctor Who on Netflix. It’s a bit disappointing.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
H: Campbell Sibthorpe - Father Carpenter
L: Body - Before Breakfast
S: At the River - Groove Armada
D: Oo, nice choice, Sam. I’ll go for Red Wine by Common
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