Jonathan, Jim and Tony are featured in this month's Shrop Rocks Magazine. Want to know what the blooming heck Jonathan's singing about? Need more information on Jim's warm up routine (it's unusual) How about Tony's views on 'Later...With Jools'? It's all here - this month!!!
Jonathan Markwood’s Hoo-Hah Conspiracy Chat To Jannine Wing Perry at Shrop Rocks Magazine
What type of band are you?
Jonathan: A nice one...
Jim: ...original material trio...
Tony: ...playing story based songs and delivering them live with studio quality sound!
Tell us the brief history of your band
Jonathan: I originally started the band in London a fair time ago, but musically we were never able to get the songs sounding the way they were meant to. This incarnation is by far the best and I’m very lucky to have met and be playing with such brilliant and talented musicians as Tony Holt (drums) and Jim Streets (guitar). I’m really delighted by the way the songs sound and how we can present them to an audience.
What are your dreams and goals?
Tony: To get Mark Cooper to see sense...(Exec Producer ‘Later...With Jools Holland’)
Who writes the songs?
Jonathan: That’ll be me. They’re little vignettes or character studies and there’s definitely a lot of theatricality and humour about them. I suppose what might be initially confusing to uninitiated listeners is they’re often written in the ‘first person’. So, if you come to see us and I start wailing madly ‘The doctor he never liked me/Never Understood me’ you might not know where I’m coming from! (‘Home’ actually a song about a slightly unhinged character reaching an epiphany)
What are they about?
Jim: Jonathan writes story and character based songs following the lives, loves and outrageous fortunes of an eccentric coterie of characters. Including a lovelorn 'Chelsea Stacey', the unlovable ‘Minnesota’, a weapon wielding avenger in 'Catapult Kevin’ and a sort of ‘Midsommer Murders’ inspired superannuated serial killer called ‘Pamela’.
What is your main inspiration for their lyrics?
Tony: Jonathan’s a little unhinged you know!
Jonathan: Probably! Our JPF Award Winning album ‘Telling Tales’ (out now as a remaster on iTunes - at a special price folks) was inspired by being fortunate enough to see, many years ago (more than I care to remember) a performance of a show called 'Shock Headed Peter’. Itwas a genius piece of theatre which used the German book 'Struwwelpeter’ (1845) by Heinrich Hoffmann at its core, and featured a series of dark (and funny) so called ‘morality tales’ for children. The idea behind them being, as they’re ‘cautionary tales’ of how not to behave, the stories often had characters who do did dark things but who all got their just desserts in the end. In my own songs I used what was going on around me as inspiration. ’Barbarella!’ for example was written at a time when being a 'Big Brother' contestant, in the way it was presented by the media, seemed almost a respectable and aspirational career choice. The song focuses on a deluded individual who sees ‘them all on BB/Where you get anything you want for free/To get famous is to get respect/It doesn’t matter how you do it’. It’s really a dig at the celebration of ‘celebrity’ itself. It still permeates society today and I think the ’15 minutes of fame’ culture is very scary. Another of my songs 'Minnesota' follows a similar theme but is more specifically about hero worship and how we sometimes value the wrong kind of behaviour. The song features two characters, both of whom sing. Ratman is disciple to repugnant and morally corrupt ex-con Minnesota. After the vile, amoral and self aggrandising rap ‘Minnesota’ spouts (best check the recording for that, a little unprintable here!) Ratman opines ‘I want to live my life like Minnesota/I never dip my hand in shouldn’t oughta/ I want to be just like old Minnesota’. Another song we do ‘Catapult Kevin’ is about bullying. Kevin is a schoolboy who’s picked out and picked on because his ‘stories always won first prize’. He’s very unhappy but then one day happens to find a catapult lying around a port-a-cabin and endeavours to avenge his attackers one by one. I won’t tell you how it ends but it’s maybe not as you might expect!
Describe your gigs, visually and musically
Tony: A fully immersive experience, melody, stories, bass drum projector. Jonathan: Like Gerald Scarfe illustrations set to music.
Jim: You can’t shake a stick at the amount of fun you’ll have.
What do you think about downloading music online?
Tony: It was the future.
Jim: The ease and lack of cost of it is fantastic, but there’s nothing like holding a record or CD in the hand, opening the gatefold or inlay, admiring the art, perusing the words. The ubiquity and ease of access to music devalues it. When I were a lad...
What's your outlook on the record industry today?
Jonathan: The same as yesterday.
Jim: Same as it ever was. But more so.
Tony: There isn't one, it's all about working hard to eke out a profile.
What's your claim to fame?
Tony: Jonathan will be in ‘Corrie' in November!
Jonathan: This is surreal but true.
Jim: Max Rafferty from the Kooks was briefly in my band. I gave him some guitar lessons. One of my riffs is on their first record. But I don’t know which riff because after I played it to Max I got too drunk to remember it.
How do you promote your band and gigs?
Jim: Social media, flyer-ing, word of mouth, fervent prayer.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Tony: Playing a shit hot tight set and affecting an audience.
Jim: The desire for a life less ordinary...
Jonathan: The endless streams of money I earn (this is simply not true) What advice would you give to new upcoming bands in Shropshire?
Tony: Wait. This is our time...
What are some of your pet peeves?
Jim: Don’t get us started. At this age we’ve accumulated a few. Jonathan: I’ve nothing against pets.
How does music affect you and the world around you?
Jonathan: I couldn’t live without it. Experiencing people dancing to my songs and the way we’re playing them is wonderful.
Jim: Well, I’ve emptied a few rooms in my time. But I’ve made a few rooms dance too. Life without music is hard to imagine. It would be like never experiencing colour vision.
Tony: The same as any musician - it's the meaning of life!
How has your music changed over the years? How do your new songs differ from your older material?
Jonathan: It’s changed a lot. I think a lot of us find we’re not the same people as when we were younger. We’re older for one thing! There’s a mellowing that happens. My most recent album ‘Black Against The Sun’ (also out on iTunes!) I wouldn’t have been able to write a few years ago.
Tony: Time is the acid test. That and translation into other genres. Good songwriting is good songwriting.
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
Jonathan: Well, there’s quite a lot of songs and they’re pretty varied in style from album to album. I think when I started the The Hoo-Hah Conspiracy, I was very conscious that I wanted to write stories as a way of expressing how I felt about the world. But you know a lot of the stuff is also very ‘tongue in cheek’ and ,hopefully, funny. Which is why the set
up we have is so great. Now when I get to the ‘punchline’ in a song like ‘Catapult Kevin’ people can actually hear it!
Tony: We are also entering into an interesting time where we are looking to develop new material. Naturally the end product is a sum of the parts so our collective contributions may take things in an unexpected direction! Watch this space....
What's the best and worst thing about playing venues?
Jim: The best is people appreciating your work. The worst: being asked if we know any Oasis.
Tony: We stick to venues that support original music, so we generally get well looked after. There's nothing wrong with covers and tribute bands and commercial reality dictates. But the proliferation recreating name bands really stifles that essential creativity.
Tell us about your next gig and why we should be there.
Tony: Albert’s Shed Bar, Shrewsbury on Friday 24 November. You should come, we will buy you beers!
Jonathan: And biscuits!
Jim: A night of Hoo-Hah is better than 1000 self help books. We might just heal your life.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Jim: A diverse melange of styles from pop to rock via rhythm and blues, ska, funk, rockabilly and jazz.
Who are your major influences?
Jonathan: I try not to write under the influence but Beatles, Radiohead, Hendrix, Dylan, Bowie, Pixies.
Tony: Any music which evokes an emotional reaction through lyrics, melody or rhythm.
What do you feel is your strongest song to date?
Jim: 'Who Pushed Barry Off the Edge?’ is a marvellous offering of rich satire served on a broad smorgasbord of sophisticated music encompassing crazy rock riffs, quirky chords, perfect dissonance, baroque piano and dramatically crescendoing strings.
Jonathan: Very kind Jim - the cheque’s in the post.
Do you have any pre-gig or post-gig rituals that you partake in?
Jim: A certain number of kittens are dipped in honey and mead.
Looking forward to your gig tonight?
Tony: Always Jim: Always Jonathan: Always
What age group is your music aimed towards?
Jim: Any. The kids dance to it. More mature types listen to the words.
Have you had any strange experiences with fans? Or strange experiences in general with the music industry?
Tony: We were all asked to autograph a giant inflatable appendage by a hen party at a recent gig!
What are your rehearsals generally like?
Jonathan: Orderly, measured, spiritual.
Jim: It’s a bit like a musical version of ‘Top Gear’. Three middle aged geezers mucking around and crashing occasionally.
How did you come up with your band name?
Jonathan: Spookily! Years ago at an early band meeting in London we used the ‘cut up’ method as employed by Mr Bowie when he assembled lyrics. We all wrote down words on scraps of paper, shook them up in a bag and pulled out ‘Hoo-Hah’ and ‘Conspiracy’. What can I say?
Describe your band in three words?
Tony: The Real Deal.
Jonathan: In The Zeitgeist.
Jim: Darkly humorous pop-rock. Hyphenated words count as one, right?