Even though the band has never played abroad, two of their songs are taking the internet by storm. Founded in 2007, Hook and the Twin is a duo hailing from Bristol. Using loops, Tom Havelock and Marcus Efstratiou have built their pyramidal songs, layer upon layer. The result is quite convincing – an electro-rock, reminicent of the songs of East German bands, such as Can. And, to those of you going to Transmusicales in Rennes this December, this interview is your opportunity to meet Tom, singer of the band, before seing him on stage.
Read below for a conversation filled with a hodge-podge of Damo Suzuki, Fritz Lang’s cinema, their new single, a weird white liquid, David Bowie and an evil Wonder Woman.
“Olivier : Could you please describe your band in a few words?
Tom : We are called Hook and the Twin and we are two pieces : me and Marcus, who plays the drums. We live in London now but we lived in Bristol when we first started a couple years ago. In fact, we have known each other for years and years, since we were about ten. We grew up playing in various bands. I used to sing and play bass and Marcus used to play drums. Then we just decided to get together, just the two of us, and form this outfit that was going to play much more rhythmic music that what we used to play.
Olivier : Which kind of music did you use to play?
Tom : Sort of a much more psychedelic music, a bit more rural. We used to live in the middle of the country, so the music was a little more gentle.
Olivier : So, how would you describe your music now?
Tom : It’s rhythmic. Rhythm is really important to us. Marcus plays the drums very loud, it is how he plays naturally, and he likes to play this forceful beat. I like to jump around the stage, recording with live loops, which can be quite frantic and energetic.
“We take Krautrock music as an influence rather than a blueprint.”
Olivier : The word that comes up most of the time to describe you is “Krautrock“. Do you think you fit in this category? Are German bands such as Neu!, Can or Faust among your influences?
Tom : We have really been into Can and Neu! for quite a long time. I used to go and see Damo Suzuki [member of Can, Editor's note] on his extraordinary tour when he played around the world. We really loved those shows. When we started the band we were listening to a lot of Neu!, Harmornia, Cluster, and things like that. With the live looping that we do, and the fact that we have to use it to make as much sound as we want to because it is just the two of us, we find ourselves in early rehearsals flipping into this kraut groove that just goes on for hours. It’s got that thing when you can really get stuck in a loop and enjoy that. And that works really well for us. So, I think the reason why we play this type is music was partly a timing of what we had listened to, when we started the band, but also what suited our setup.
Olivier : Do you think that there is a general trend right now, some kind of Krautrock revival, if I can put it this way? I think of bands such as Tortoise, from Chicago, or Fujiya and Miyagi, for instance.
Tom : Yeah. I think people have been talking about Krautrock, and Can especially, for quite a long time. Like Radiohead, for instance. And now, when you listen to a lot of bands, the same kind of beat is asbolutely there. It is quite a sort of direct homage being paid, I think. But we take it as an influence rather than a blueprint.
Olivier : And what do you guys listen to right now? Which bands do you like in particular?
Tom : Well I have always been listening to David Bowie. I really love him. We also really like a band called Post War Years, who are from London. We have also been listening to quite a lot of Harmonia lately. We keep coming back to that. And also Matthew Dear, which Marcus especially likes… god loads of stuff actually. Is that enough?
Olivier : Yes [laughs]. So, you chose the name Hook and the Twin. What does it mean and where does it come from?
Tom : It’s the name of a painting a friend of ours did that we liked. It is quite a strange painting. We also like the fact that it sounds like two people and the fact that there is some kind of restlessness to it somehow that we liked.
Olivier : Do you guys have your own studio? I heard that you have one in the middle of the woods, with some kind of a Blair Witch Project spirit.
Tom : [Laughs] Yeah, but that was a couple years ago though. It was in an abandoned World War Two airbase, in the woods, kind of in a middle of nowhere actually. I think some hippies had moved there in the 60s and taken over these houses that I guess the pilots used to live in. Anyway, we knew someone, who knew someone, who had set up some kind of a workshop in one of them. And we ended up in the hospital of the airbase, and it was an amazing place to play. But it’s over now. We had to move out.
Olivier : You also played live music on Fritz Lang’s movie Metropolis. How did this idea come into your mind and how did it go?
Tom : We were commissioned by Arnolfini, which is a gallery in Bristol. They really liked our music and thought that the Kraut aspect of it, the automatic beat coupled with this quite big synth sound, has got some kind of a touch of Giorgio Moroder [who also played music on Metropolis, Editor's note] and would work really well for the film. And I think they were right. It was an amazing project to work on. We came up with the music really quickly. It is such a rhythmic film that it was kind of easy to write music for.
Olivier : You did not improvise?
Tom : It was half improvised. We had a framework and we worked most of it before, but they were passages that were improvised.
Olivier : And will you do something of that kind again?
Tom : I would like to. I really enjoyed the process of working for a film and this one particularly fitted our music. I think we could do this more often. The first plan is to tour Metropolis, to play that this track a few more times. Because it was a lot of work, you know, so if we could play that again, that would be great. We are talking to a few film festivals in a couple of places in London.
Olivier : Let’s talk about your video clips. What are the stories behind them? Because they are rather… surprising. Race For The Bone, for example. Why did you choose this white thing called “oobleck” [ a mix of water and corn flour, Editor's note]?
Tom : Well the guy who directed that, William Hall, had seen a footage with people blasting oobleck with noise. And it looks like an animation: it starts to rear up, dance and rise… and the song for which we made the video, Race For The Bone, is quite repetitive. We liked the idea of having a video with this one simple idea – the oobleck dancing – and then we added some stuff and changed the lighting. Essentially, it’s images of oobleck running all the way through the video.
Olivier : And what about the video clip of Bang Bang Cherry?
Tom : We were really less involved in this one. It is Nasheed Faruqi who made it. She cut together all this strange footage that she found on the Internet and that are all from the 1960s (educational movies and stuff like that) and made them tell a story about kind this kind of evil Wonder Woman figure. It’s her interpretation of the song.
Olivier : Is there another video on the way for another song?
Tom : We are just finishing a new song, which we think is going to be the next single.
Olivier : What is the name of the new song?
Tom : We Are So Light.
Olivier : And do you know the song’s release date yet?
Tom : We have no idea. We have not finished recording yet, but we are trying to get that finished within the next few weeks.
Olivier : Can you tell KUB3 what’s next for you. What are some upcoming projects? Do you have your first album on the way?
Tom : Yeah, well, we are basically trying to record the album and do as much as we can, at home and in studios around the place. I hope that will be done in the first couple of months of next year. We are also playing a lot of gigs, mainly in London, but we are also coming soon to the Transmusicales in Rennes. We are also talking to some people in Japan about maybe doing an EP there, going out there to play, which would be a very fun thing to do. And talking about Metropolis as well, we would like to put together some more performances early next year.
Olivier : You talked about the Transmusicales in Rennes. Is it the first time you will play in France?
Tom : Yeah, it is even the first time we play outside England.
Olivier : How do you feel about that?
Tom : Really excited! Like really, really excited [laughs]! You know we were hoping for a long time before that we might get off to do it. And it was some of the best news we had this year.”