Friday Mixtape: A running mix of "exercise rock" from Hookworms

2 February 2018

This week’s Friday Mixtape is from Hookworms, a band with a longstanding relationship with It’s Nice That. We’ve written about their music videos, album artwork, their own illustration endeavours, they’ve even done us a mixtape before and today they’re back! On the day they release their third studio album, Microshift, Hookworms member JW also known as illustrator Idiot Pasture, has made us a running mix of the best kind. Over to him to tell us about the new record, childhood records and working with Leeds Illustration student Louis Byrne to create the album artwork.

Why have you picked these songs, what do they remind you of or make you feel?

I’ve selected these songs with the intention of people listening to them while running. We have semi-jokingly referred to as the genre of our new album as ‘exercise rock’ and I hope people enjoy running or cycling of squatting to it.

I made this a playlist of songs I like to exercise to. My preferred form of exercise is running, particularly on a stretch of the Rochdale Canal between Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge. There’s a bit in Kraftwerk: Publikation by David Buckley in which he’s discussing what tied all of the Dusseldorf krautrock bands together and he uses a quote from Michael Rother explaining that all krautrock music is about moving fast – I’d like to think Microshift makes people want to move fast, and the songs in this playlist want to make me move fast. A perfect running song for me has to be repetitive. Repetitive percussion and bass is key.

What song or album did you listen to as a teenager and why? What kind of posters did you have on your bedroom walls?

There are a few albums that I discovered as a teenager that drastically shaped what music I’m interested in today. I became obsessed with the album New Plagues by The Locust when I was about 15 because it sounded so completely alien to me, I’d never heard anything that aggressive and hyperactive before – I went to see them at Joseph’s Well in Leeds with Hookworms bassist MB at around the age of 15, I listened to that record recently and couldn’t believe that was my go-to album when I was walking my dog on a Sunday morning. Gang of Four’s Entertainment! was a really big album for me and was my first foray into post-punk, all my buddies and I got into it after a friend who was at another school was given a CD-R from his geography teacher which had the album on it. The Sonics Here Are The Sonics is what got me interested in garage rock and subsequently psychedelic rock and hardcore punk – my first band covered The Witch and Do You Love Me? on occasion. In my late teens I spent a lot of time listening to Sister by Sonic Youth, Damaged by Black Flag and Wonderful Rainbow by Lightning Bolt.

Most of my posters were stolen from venues (sorry), I particularly liked Drew Millward’s posters and I distinctively remember stealing his posters for The Thermals and Deerhoof for their shows at Brudenell Social Club.

Can you tell us a little about your new record and the artwork too?

The new record has been recorded over various periods in the last three years, it has more synthesizer and more pop melodies. It’s felt like a very natural transition for us but I understand that it might take a few people by surprise – apologies. There was supposed to be an EP that came out in between The Hum and Microshift but that got forgotten about when MJ’s studio got flooded.

The artwork is done by Louis Byrne who is a third year illustration student at Leeds Arts University. Working with Louis was amazing, we met multiple times over cups of tea on my lunch break. We discussed the physical environment in which some of the sounds on the album could have come from, as we were talking he would sketch and thumbnail ideas and he came up with something very similar to what the artwork is now in a matter of seconds, it was incredible to witness in person, it was so spontaneous. I’ve been watching his work and his progress for years and I’m very grateful that we got the opportunity to collaborate.

If a feature film about Hookworms was to be made, what song would be on the trailer and why?

Do you mean one of our songs? If so I reckon Away/Towards because I think to other people that track feels quintessentially Hookworms. My two favourite tracks on the record are Each Time We Pass (which features Alice Merida Richards from Virginia Wing) and Boxing Day. The track that I’d like to be on it is Negative Space in remembrance of a mutual friend we lost who was the first person to hear it and because I’d like to see some surly 4k slo-mo shots of us under the burping sound. If it’s someone else’s song I’d like us to re-appropriate John Williams’ Jurassic Park score.

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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