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Hookworms: Leeds Five-Piece Come to Outlines Festival

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Photo by Steve Gullick

The second annual Outlines Festival is fast approaching and the line-up this year is looking very strong indeed. Eyes are turning towards bands from all over the country, who'll be making a healthy racket at Sheffield's favourite winter festival, which will for the first time take place over two days on 3- 4 March. In amongst a very long list of bands you need to see, including Jagwar Ma, The Selecter and The Crookes, lies Leeds-based psych-drone band Hookworms, who'll be headlining at Queens Social Club.

Hookworms have been making their mark on West Yorkshire and beyond since 2010, with two studio albums under their belt and having toured with some of the best psych bands on the scene over the last seven years. Their latest album, The Hum, released at the end of 2014, was an acclaimed delight, so talk of a new studio album will definitely whet the appetite of fans across the country.

We caught up with bassist MB to talk live shows, the new record and Hookworm's cocktail history of Sheffield.

Let's start off with our most pressing question - are you looking forward to playing Outlines?

Yeah, it should be a fun day. I've never been before, but we did Tramlines about five or six years ago and drank too much Long Island Ice Tea.

You've always made it quite evident that Leeds has been an important location to the band. Does that roll out to the rest of Yorkshire?

I don't think we've played anywhere else in Yorkshire much. We've only played Sheffield a few times in six or seven years as a band. There have been a couple of shows in Hebden Bridge. That's about it outside of Leeds but within Yorkshire.

Do you have any good memories of playing Sheffield in the past?

Actually, I think that the worst show we've ever played as a band was at the Queens Social Club! Probably not the answer you were looking for. Maybe that doesn't bode well, but I'm confident nothing can be as bad as that particular occasion, so the only way is up. I've played shows there in other bands that have been great though. The last time we played Sheffield was fun, at The Harley on our album tour in 2014 with Kogumaza.

Is there anywhere that you'd avoid playing?

Queens Social Cl... No, I think all our other experiences in Sheffield have been good - just the one blip. I seem to remember the sound engineer at the Redhouse once insisted on us setting our drum kit up in a really peculiar position so that none of us could see each other. He refused to do the sound or let us use the PA unless we adhered to his request. He was an interesting dude. We met a man called Cosmic Andy at that show as well. The cosmos was strong that evening.

How do you decide where to perform or which festivals to play at? You must get a lot of offers.

We're mostly working on the new album at the moment, so we're trying not to play out too much. Having shows means our time is taken up rehearsing old songs, instead of writing new ones. We've done a few Leeds shows to try new material out, and Sheffield is only 45 minutes down the M1, so easy enough to get to. We like Kate who was booking the Outlines show too, and we tend to stick with promoters who are nice and look after us.

less psych, more exercise rock

Have you played alongside any bands you really idolise or have had an impact on the band?

We did a pretty nuts show in Paris a few years ago supporting the recently reformed Slowdive and Loop. They were two bands I idolised as a 16-17 year old, so that was wild to do. We've played with Spectrum a couple of times, Pissed Jeans, and we've got two shows coming up with The Fall next week. They're all bands we love. We've been very lucky in that respect, especially considering a lot of our idols are dead.

Who would be the dream line-up to play with?

If we can time travel to when these bands were all in their peak I'd go for: Can, The MC5, Suicide, Liquid Liquid, The Walker Brothers, John Coltrane (with Pharoah [Sanders], Alice [Coltrane] and Rashied [Ali] in his band), Kraftwerk, The Necks and Harmonia.

Do you have any plans lined up for this year's festival season?

We currently have nothing else booked after Outlines. I'm sure that will change though.

And how about in the studio? What can we expect?

We're working on the new album at the moment. With any luck we'll finish it in the first half of 2017 and it'll be out before the end of the year, but then again luck isn't something we have much of as a band, so who knows. It's taking a while. A few things got in the way: life, death, floods...

Do you think it's important to progress musically or are you more focused on establishing a recognisable sound for the band?

I do, and hopefully we will have progressed noticeably with this record considering it's now been three years since we finished working on the last one. Saying that, whenever I play new stuff to my girlfriend or friends they just say, "Sounds like Hookworms", so we must subconsciously be doing the latter.

Which sort of direction do you feel like you're heading?

Our stomachs grow outwards, whilst our hairlines slowly recede.

Anything else you can tell us about the new record to give us an idea of what to expect?

It's a concept album about climate change featuring more synthesizers than the average Hookworms fan is likely to enjoy. It is more in line with the kind of music that most of us listen to: less psych, more exercise rock. You can run to it.

And will we get to hear any of the new stuff at Outlines?

I think there are three new songs in the set at the moment, and potentially even more by the time March rolls round!

Tasha Franek

Catch Hookworms alongside Azusena, Babe Punch, Cowtown and more at Queen Social Club, starting at 5pm, Friday 3 March. Tickets for the weekend are still available at

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