After more than a decade spent quietly experimenting with an admirably broad range of influences, Yorkshire lads Hood found widespread critical acclaim in 2001. Cold House, their sixth full-length release, consolidated their various skills and sensibilities into something intriguing and sublimely beautiful, and presented a more convincing marriage of indie and electronica than its infamous distant relative Kid A. Their early independent releases are set for reissue this year, and a US tour, including several dates with avant-garde hip-hoppers Clouddead, is scheduled for March.
Nathan Midgley interviewed Richard Adams via email in February 2002.
Nathan Midgley: Cold House got a ton of glowing reviews. Are you nervous about following it up?
Richard Adams: Well at the moment we're not thinking too much about it. At the end of the day we know whether we've made a good or bad record and that's all that matters to us. Once we get a bit of time we'll sit down and start experimenting with new songs and if we come up with some we like we'll think about putting something else out, then we'll get nervous and wait for everyone to say that it's not as good as the last LP.
NM: Wire Magazine put Hood on a cover CD a few years ago. They have a demanding readership - the letters page spat vitriol when they dared to review Amnesiac. Is it a satisfying feeling to get coverage in specialist magazines like that as well as the likes of Q, NME and the broadsheets?
RA: To be honest I don't give two hoots about the Wire. I'm not into blinkered viewpoints or creating barriers. I think music should be for everyone to listen to, whether it's Merzbow or Hearsay. I hate it when people try to restrict it or over intellectualise it. On the other hand NME is too far the other way and is overly dumb. There doesn't seem to be too much middle ground with the music press these days and certainly no enthusiasm emanating from any of the writers.
NM: You've been grafting away for some time - your first release was in 1992, if I've done my research properly. What with all the critical acclaim, does Cold House feel like a well-earned breakthrough?
RA: I think we had to prove ourselves a bit. We put out a lot of records which to us were really satisfying but maybe people couldn't get into or needed to be thrust in people's faces a bit more. We're a bit too happy to make a record and hope people get into it. It's certainly nice, though, to get good reviews, we definitely feel vindicated. It's terrible when you put a year of your life and your heart and soul into a record and it doesn't receive the attention you think it maybe deserves.
NM: No doubt you're sick of hearing this, but all sorts of comparisons have been drawn between your record and Kid A. Does that bother you?
RA: Well we'd be stupid if we didn't expect it. I can see where there are similarities. I worried when Kid A came out and I read the reviews because I thought, 'oh shit I bet our record sounds just like it.' But when I heard it I thought they weren't really too alike. I suppose there's worse people to be compared to.
NM: You seem to write very intimate and emotive songs, but you also draw on electronic music normally associated with impassive Germans and enigmatic Cornish men. Do you ever feel like you're trying to combine two opposites?
RA: Not really, because that's the music we listen to. It just all goes in to a big trough and when we make music it kind of all gets mixed up. I suppose they are different but how come music by someone like Appendix Out seems to tug at the same heartstrings as Boards Of Canada? Even though sonically they are opposite there's the same kind of feeling in both. NM: On earlier albums you do a few songs as a lo-fi guitar band, then throw in a tune with bleeps and beats - one of
Silent 88's tracks sees you unexpectedly turn into Bogdan Raczynski. Cold House seems to combine the two elements more consistently and more effectively. Do you think the role of electronic music has grown in what you do, and has that been a natural process?
RA: I think so. As I said before our influences are in both camps, so when we made records previously we wanted to do a loud indie rock song followed by an electronic thing followed by an acoustic type thing etc etc. We've tried to become more adept at making everything really diverse, but also sound like it's made by the same band on the same LP.
NM: Seems like you listen to a lot of Warp stuff. Did you buy (Aphex Twin's) Drukqs? Were you disappointed? RA: My brother bought it in that massive LP set thing. I don't think he's too pleased with it. I think the problem is more with Warp's marketing technique rather than the music on view. They build it up and build it up so that everyone is really excited and shells out their £23 or whatever, then is disappointed when it's not a world beating masterpiece. If they'd just snuck it out and said, 'here's the new Aphex Twin' then I think people wouldn't have this big letdown when they hear it.
I think Warp are really playing a dangerous game with pricing records too highly, limiting them and making them collectable. It certainly doesn't help the artists. I hear that they are about to do the same with the next Boards of Canada record. Twenty odd quid for a vinyl LP. It's just milking the fans a little bit too much to my mind.
As far as the music goes Aphex Twin is a millionaire or whatever these days, and he can do what he likes. So I'd say that no I don't really like the latest LP but I'm pleased that there's mavericks out there like him that don't play the game and fuck things up a bit.
NM: According to the website Stephen's been listening to Clouddead. Was it his idea to collaborate with Why and Dose, and what was it like to work with them? Can we expect more hip-hop on coming releases?
RA: We've all been listening to Clouddead recently. The collaboration came after Clouddead sent us a pile of 10"s through the post. I think that having heard them we felt that there was a chance that their voices could work on a few songs that we were wanting more voices on but not Chris's voice. It was all done through the mail so we never met them. We're definitely thinking about making a full on commercial hip hop LP maybe under a different name but as far as Hood is concerned we don't want to labour the point too much.
NM: Quite a lot's been made in both reviews and band biographies of you coming from the Yorkshire countryside your album artwork seems to draw on it quite heavily. Does Wetherby find a way into the music you make?
RA: Well the funny thing is that we haven't lived in Wetherby for quite a few years now, but it always seems to get mentioned. That's fine though. We want to try and make the point that people don't have to be from London or Glasgow or wherever. We're proud of where we come from and Wetherby and the Yorkshire dales are so photogenic they always seem to end up on the records. We're definitely influenced by Yorkshire. The place is unbelievable. Like everywhere it has its good and bad bits but when it's good it's very very good!
NM: You occasionally DJ at a pub in Leeds. Give us a sample set list.
RA: All over the place really - recent favourites that empty the dancefloor include Prefuse 73, Kate Bush, Fat John and the Ample Soul Physician, Havergal, Lom, Mice Parade, His Name Is Alive, The Strokes, Sonic Youth, russian folk music, 96 drum and bass, Arovane, Empress, Jehsta, Roots Manuva, Marie and the Atom, Young Marble Giants etc etc etc. You get the picture. It's just really cheap to get in - £1 or £2 - and people seem to enjoy it.
NM: You also do a bit of remixing, don't you? Are the whole band involved in that, and what's the most interesting one you've done?
RA: Usually Chris (Adams, vocals) does it and we all help out a bit. It's good when you get good sound sources. There's a few we had to turn down because they were just a joke, the kind of thing people were expecting us to work with. We did one for Aube which consisted of the sound of someone turning the pages of a bible. So what the fuck are you meant to do with that! Some people are a bit cheeky in expecting the remixer to do all the work but I guess in a lot of cases that's the point, and the Aube one was certainly fun to do.
NM: Finally, what can we expect from Hood in 2002?
RA: Well there's a new single out in April, which is a track off the album with three new tracks, and there's a video on there as well. We're doing plenty of touring in USA, UK, Europe and maybe Australia which will probably knacker us out completely. After that we're going to put our feet up.