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High On The Hogs: Artists On The Genius Of The Groundhogs
Patrick Clarke , August 5th, 2021 09:59

Artists including Brix Smith Start, Luke Haines, Underworld's Karl Hyde, reflect on the overlooked genius of Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs, and pick their favourite albums and tracks


Brix Smith Start on ‘Split (Pt. 2)’ from Split (1971)

I wasn’t ever aware of The Groundhogs until I was living in Manchester and playing in The Fall. I certainly didn’t know about them growing up in America. They were a big influence for Mark E. Smith and I just remember them as a repeated soundtrack coming in and out of our lives.

One of the songs I’ve always liked is ‘Split (Pt. 2)’. I think there was a lot of subliminal influence from it in a lot of things that we did, and that’s what pops out as the one I want to listen to again and again. If I was DJing, that would definitely be taken from the bottom of the pile and put on the top. For me it’s a mixture of psychedelic blues with noise and repetition and a great groove. It’s the kind of music that, when you listen to it, you feel like you’ve smoked a spliff. You feel a contact high. The groove is so deep, and there’s something very organic about it. Organic and honest and stoner. And good.

With a song like ‘Split (Pt. 2)’ there’s a lot of interesting dynamics and strange mood changes within it, and there’s delicacy as well as a brutality, and repetition. I think that comes across in a lot of things I’ve done.

In the heyday of my time in The Fall, in between The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall and Bend Sinister, when we played live there was definitely a vibe going through us that was similar to the vibe that they had. There was a bit of ramshackle paying, brutality, delicacy, filth and groove. A tiny bit of blues, a tiny bit of psychedelia. All of those things that were the maelstrom that made up The Groundhogs were definitely elements of the maelstrom that made up The Fall. It came into us by osmosis, then it came out of our pores, without us even being conscious of the fact that was the influence. It dripped out of our DNA. It became part of our mesh.

The Groundhogs I think are really under the radar, unknown and kind of niche. I don’t think they ever really got the recognition they deserved. They absorbed into my life by osmosis. It wasn’t like somebody said ‘Oh my God, The Groundhogs are so cool, have a listen.’ It would come on and I would go ‘what’s that?’ I don’t know anything particular about them, they weren’t on the covers of magazines. I don’t even know their names, but they were really quietly influential to me. It was only after [tQ] asked if I was a fan that I realised how much they had created my psyche in a very subtle way.