Who are Hookers for Jesus?
Graeme – I don’t know yet, we’re still cooking …
Andy – Who are Hookers for Jesus? On a basic level we are Andy Wood and Graeme Rose plus anyone else who wishes to join in and can add something to the sound or performance.
Can you give a brief history of the band, please?
Andy – Since you ask so nicely, of course. We played for a good few years as part of a five piece band, The Candy Store Prophets, playing regularly and releasing a solitary vinyl single, Songs For Angels, gaining and losing drummers at a rate that made Spinal Tap seem restrained. It got quite difficult corralling five people together for rehearsals and shows and although we had a follow-up single ready to go we disintegrated for the all the usual reasons that bands do.
We’d carried on writing songs off and on and vaguely planned to do something at an undefined or vague point in the future but never really got around to doing anything concrete. Mark Wildhouse initially asked me to do a spoken word interlude at an all-day gig he was organising and I asked Graeme to provide some sonic effects as a backdrop. Then Mark asked us to step in and play a set. We were brutally ramshackle but had a lot of fun doing it. That, as they say, is the prelude, the rest is all an ongoing story.
Graeme – Born out of being asked to provide stuff between bands then promoted to a ‘proper slot’ due to another band pulling out of a festival. Kinda went from there with random gigs.
How long has it taken you to get the EP recorded and out?
Graeme – Too long – was recorded in a couple of weeks in July 2012 but shelved. The extra time allowed more mixing & mastering which led to the closing track (‘We Are All Broken People Now’) being added as the result of a rehearsal in September 2012. Then it was postponed again until now.
Andy – Like everything in the world of Hookers for Jesus, a long time and no time at all. With The Candy Store Prophets we didn’t really record a lot of material, which I personally now wish we had so it seemed a good idea to capture versions of some of the songs and the E.P. evolved out of that. We didn’t start out with a concrete plan or map it out, it just happened.
How did you record the EP?
Graeme – It was recorded in my home studio, which I nicknamed Chou-Kitsune Studios. That’s the simple, non-technical answer which you probably seek. The other answer is far too long!
Andy – With love and attention to detail. As keen lovers of music and sound we were well aware that a recorded and live performance of a song are two entirely different things. While not wanting to record something that lost the spontaneity of the live songs we did work quite hard to put out something that we could be proud of and perhaps bring ourselves to listen to again in the future.
We recorded it at our leisure using Graeme’s home studio and the initial recording came together quite quickly. The last song on the E.P. ‘We Are All Broken People Now’ was written and recorded pretty much in a day after we had recorded the other four songs so it was fun to do something so quickly and off the cuff. Then we took an eternity to get around to doing something with it all.
How did you pick what went on the EP?
Andy – I honestly don’t entirely know, the songs seemed to pick themselves. With the exception of ‘Promised Me Dots’ and ‘We Are All Broken People’ the other three were songs we had played live and were quite comfortable with and had an idea of how we wanted them to sound.
Graeme – I think they picked themselves. Music has a wonderful way of acting like a sentient entity and making its own choices.
The songs on the EP are a varied bunch – what inspires you to cover such a lot of ground musically?
Graeme – Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!
I wouldn’t count them as being that varied or covering a wide musical ground. So, uh, I’ll let Andy answer this one.
Andy – Personally I like to challenge myself and also I like the idea of contrasts within a defined sound. The songs are all obviously Hookers for Jesus but you are right, there is a lot of contrast on the E.P. which was possibly deliberate. I still have a strong attachment to the idea of a record as a complete thing, that you take a journey when you listen to it and that there may be some twists and turns, some that you might instantly get, others that surprise you, maybe at a later date. I might be wrong but I think we do that live as well, there are gentle moments, brutal moments, light and darkness and that appeals to me.
What are you plans to promote the EP?
Andy – This is definitely our Achilles heel though others may argue that it is the least of our problems as a band. We’re not particularly great self-publicists and banner wavers. We’re very proud of what we do, there is no other reason to do music or any other creative endeavour than love or passion but we are quite shy as well which is probably a bit odd given the name attracts a reasonable amount of attention.
We have our launch show on Saturday and one in Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh with our friends and kindred spirits Edinburgh School for the Deaf on May 4th. We hope the E.P. gives us a few more openings in terms of gigs and more people coming to see us. The E.P. will be cast out into the world with its worldly belongings wrapped in a handkerchief to make its own way in the world like the lead character of a 19th century picaresque novel. It may make a mark somewhere or it may sink into obscurity. I personally hope there are more adventures for it and for Hookers for Jesus.
Graeme – The usual ways, I suppose. Gigs, interviews, any sort of airplay, social networks.
You’ve played a couple of times with an expanded line-up – why did you do this and what plans do you have to repeat this?
Graeme – For fun, to fill out the sound and … yes, we do have plans to repeat it.
Andy – Like most things, it was more an accident than a plan though we had discussed it a few times. Peter MacKenzie of the rather wonderful Vladimir had seen us a few times and asked if he could play on a song. William Allen was the bass player in The Candy Store Prophets. He hadn’t played much since but expressed an interest in doing something. As we liked both Peter and William as people and admired their playing we thought, why not. There was a bit of nervousness as to whether or not it would dilute rather than expand things or make us sound just like an ordinary band but I enjoyed the experiment immensely, particularly the Christmas gig which tipped over into madness. It was really exciting to play and, ironically, with some of the focus taken off of us it was a chance to really open up and change things. Joanne and Rowan from Blood Indians also joined us on stage for a song.
I would like to do similar things in the future. At the heart of Hookers for Jesus it will always be the two of us but certainly William will join us on Saturday for some songs and we may expand the line-up from time to time.
What sort of things do you do to keep gigs interesting?
Andy – I’m not sure. In all honesty, there isn’t a pre-ordained set of rules. We don’t go on stage thinking we’ll do this or do that. The songs shift around a bit, we do mess about with the line-up or by wearing face paint or masks but these are usually pretty spontaneous things, reacting to the circumstances or to the room. We don’t rehearse or play live a lot so each gig is something different with room for unexpected things to happen. We do try and be as choosy as we can about when and where we play without restricting ourselves to only playing certain types of nights or venues. Approach every gig like it’s the last one is a good way to go, we are an apocalyptic band. The end may always really be nigh.
Graeme – For us? For the audience? Sometime the audience is more amusing to watch – especially when someone comes up half-way through the set to ask for something her friends can get their dancing shoes onto – ” like R.E.M”.
What’s the weirdest gig you played – as Hookers or ever?
Andy – Uhm, we find it quite weird when we don’t clear the room. The first gig was funny. We thought we would send everyone back out the basement of Drouthy’s into the sunshine and were quite surprised that they stuck it out.
The most awkward gig was Boxing Day in Arbroath. It was a fairly soul-destroying show. The venue was dotted with large screen TV’s showing football, a pool table, and poker table and the majority of the audience had came to see their friends sub-Oasis band. They pointedly ignored us, we tried to ignore them, and there was no real reaction or interaction or energy. One guy made a half-hearted attempt to heckle us but his girlfriend hushed him – which was a shame as at least he was responding. We snuck off halfway through the Oasis band into the wintry night our tales firmly between our legs and snuck back home to lick our wounds. There was a dartboard behind my head on stage so I should possibly be happy that no-one threw darts during our set.
If you can pick any bands to play the eventual Hookers for Jesus LP launch who would it be and why?
Andy – Our fantasy line-up? Do we have a time machine? Hell, why wouldn’t we have a time machine. Actually, now I’ve been asked this question myself I’m kind of stumped for an answer. Maybe we’d have a old fashioned circus freak show, a Carney barker compering and an array of dancing girls directed by David Lynch and we’d play our set from behind a screen showing bizarre film clips or in a stage constructed high above the room so we could watch the audience and the carnage.
Graeme – Yukari – as I’m sure UK audiences would love her music. Also the only South Korean cd I’ve had on that Andy has admitted to liking. She’s quite a hidden secret.
Nana Kitade, whether with The Teenage Kissers or any other band/solo. No idea what The Teenage Kissers sound like as no-one’s put any of the songs online.
Mark Francis (ex-Saint Judes Infirmary) – need to get this guy singing in a band or solo again. This would be a good excuse.
Jason Webley, I’d have playing too. The man knows how to work a crowd.
A live performance of ‘We Are All Broken People’, filmed by Daisy Dundee:
Hookers for Jesus launch their debut EP ‘Hymns for Beautiful Losers’ on Saturday at the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee. Admission is £4, doors at 8.00. ALso on the bill are Playground Tactics, Behold The Old Bear, Et Tu Brute??? and The Alleys.