LISTEN: New It Hugs Back

Listen to a new track, in advance of It Hugs Back opening Wire's DRILL:LONDON festival tomorrow night - plus read an interview with the band

Tomorrow night at the London Lexington, It Hugs Back will open the DRILL:LONDON festival with a support slot for Malka Spigel and Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs. The band’s scuzzy indie rock origins are increasingly taking on new sounds and textures, and their forthcoming new album Recommended Record (why has no-one thought of that one before), is a heavier, odder creature than anything they’ve yet done. We dropped the band a line to find out about the new material, and to ask how guitarist Matthew Simms’ role as a member of Wire influences their new work.

You can pre-order Recommended Record via the It Hugs Back website. There you get a bonus EP with the LP, CD special super bundle – "LP, CD, and bonus CD EP, £15, cheap at twice the price?!" Listen to new track ‘Sometimes’ below:

Tell us about the new record…

Matthew Simms: Yes, album three! It’s called Recommend Record It’s ten songs, a breezy (by our standards) 35 minutes long, recorded summer 2012 by the four of us again in our little Record Room studio.. it’s out in the shops in May.

Is it my imagination, but this sounds a lot heavier than before… is that so? What’s inspired the rumble?

MS: Maybe! Heavier is an interesting perception, not many people outside of us have heard it yet but the few that have all suggested it’s a more ‘instant’ sounding… with more punch and clarity to the mixes than before… I’m pleased if so, the main reason is probably that we’re getting better at making the things! This is our third album, recorded in the same room with pretty much the same equipment, although unlike the last record which was recorded over a long stretch of time and made up of all sorts of bits and bobs of songs, jams, noises, loops, this album was a more concentrated band effort, and Will plays drums on every track, which really adds a lot.

Will Blackaby: Don’t forget Lilly’s scream on ‘Big Sighs’, which could be the heaviest part of the album…

Your rural studio set-up sounds really idyllic, tell us a bit about it?

MS: It’s great! Although we formed in London six years ago now, at the time we had student loans to keep us living the luxury, after graduating I decided to move somewhere affordable and somewhere I could make as much noise as possible. All the It Hugs Back records have been made in The Record Room. It’s tiny a room but it’s got its own magic…

WB: A tiny room that produces a lot of noise, contains around a billion CDs and a healthy number of ukeleles.

MS: …or unhealthy?! Depends on your preferences… Amazing they’ve never ended up on an IHB record… yet?

What are three non-musical influences?

WB: The Monster (RIP) and the new found COD Inspiration (Paul’s sweet new ride!)

MS: Aww the Monster! It still brings me a heavy heart to think about him not being around… Our trusty Previa, our first band van, bought for £1000 and driving for 85,000 miles and never let us down once (when we really needed him, anyway.) Cars probably count as a non musical influence…? We do have a couple songs about them anyway… OK, no. 2 – Coffee – Being on tour, you often find yourself with an hour or two to pass in somewhere new. Out of this has developed an obsession with finding the best coffee the city has offer… a healthy obsession, I reckon. One of the finest so far has been Manchester’s North Tea Power. And lastly our third influence can be New York City. Much of the initial writing for the past two albums was done while I was there, I love it there… America as a whole is inspiring, not always in good ways, but I enjoy spending time there more than anywhere. It feels as if it has a D.I.Y ethos where it feels positive, rather than the general sense of negativity that prevails in our own mostly lovely little island. NYC was/is home to many of IHB’s favourite bands also… I’m never totally convinced how much influence a city can have on any band, but give me The Ramones anyday.

With your iPhone music videos and this new LP, DIY is clearly very important to It Hugs Back. Will it always be this way?

MS: I don’t know, I do sometimes think we are D.I.Y to the point of absurdity. We dabbled in opening our arms to some external help around 2008/09, Too Pure were a great home before getting demolished but ended up getting bitten pretty bad… But it’s hard, the good thing with doing it yourself is that you get it done and how you want it to be. Eventually. It’s the time and effort that’s hard.

Jack Theedom: If you want something done properly, do it yourself.

MS: I guess so? … And touring with IHB is always fun but when I’m booking the hotels, planning the routes, confirming the shows and driving the van, and sometimes when lucky even playing guitar for an hour each day, it can feel like I’m less a musician, more an adminician, but I guess that’s the thing, it’s more about making it work… whatever it takes… it’s nearly always worth it.

Have you found your work with Wire has had an impact on how you play with It Hugs Back?

MS: Definitely – on all sorts of levels. Wire are D.I.Y on a level way, way beyond IHB, and it’s inspiring, as well as helpful, Colin works very on the business side and is always happy to share his knowledge and has been amazing. And seeing the pride and importance the band place in all that they do, I’m doing my best to install this in IHB as much as possible.

What can people expect at the Lexington tomorrow?

JT: Some new favorites, some old classics, some songs you might not have seen us do before and some you might not see again. Oh, and maybe a psychedelic light show fingers crossed

MS: Haha, nice, yeah – the lights… who knows, hopefully! But I’m looking forward it, and the event as a whole, it’s turned into something really special. I’m looking forward to Land Observations’ set at Oto on Friday and the Pink Flag Orchestra on Sunday will be memorable at the very least.

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