Interview – The Hickey Underworld

October 8, 2009 by  

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From Antwerp, Belgium we introduce The Hickey Underworld. Forming from the closely-linked worlds of hardcore, punk and alternative rock, this is a band that a stagnant scene has been waiting for. Owing a small debt to the likes of Nirvana, Jesus Lizard and At the Drive In, the band fuse post-hardcore with indie sensibilities to create their own brand of shambolic indie rock. Before they release their debut album we thought we’d catch up with the band.

Your name Hickey Underworld comes from a Nation of Ulysses, how did you get into them and are they a big influence on the band?

The Nation were just one of the many great bands on the Dischord label we listened to compulsively when we were younger. We chose the name because it sounded kind of sexy & mysterious. The song itself is about a secret vampire colony: check it out, it’s on their 1992 album Plays Pretty For Baby.

Your debut album has been out In Holland and Belgium for a few months now, how has it been received?

Extremely well, much to our delight (and surprise). I can’t recall one single bad or even mediocre review. We still don’t get the Muse or U2 comparisons, though.

What would you say the main influences behind the album are?

Musically, our influences are all over the place: we like early American hardcore (Fugazi, The Jesus Lizard…), metal (Mastodon, The Sword, Black Cobra…), Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Wipers, YeahYeahYeahs, the Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Achmed… Visually, I guess we’re influenced by artists like Kenneth Anger, Henry Darger, José Mojica Marins… Colourful, psychedelic stuff.

You’ve played a couple of shows in England now, how have you found English audiences? How do they compare to gigs in Belgium?

‘Audience’ is a bit of an overstatement, I’m afraid; we’ve played in front of a few people in England, yes. Enthusiastic people who didn’t leave the room and applauded politely in between songs, so I guess that’s alright. We’re playing Britain again soon, and this time we have an album out, so hopefully there will be a bigger crowd.

Musically what’s going on in Antwerp at the moment, are there any other bands from Belgium we should be looking out for?

Drums Are For Parades is a pretty cool band from Ghent: they play tuned-down sludge, very heavy. They’re playing a few shows with the Masters of Reality soon, and Chris Goss is supposed to produce their next album. Also very good are Deadsets, from Antwerp: very dreamy, moody, melancholy music, with beautiful male/female harmonies.

Your new video has to be one of the most controversial ideas in years. How did you come up with the concept and whose idea was it? Are you going to try and surpass it with an even gorier video in the future?

It was Joe Vanhoutteghem, the director, who came up with the concept: we had very little to do with it, though we think the end result perfectly captures the mood of our music. Joe and Nicolas Karakatsanis, the cameraman, really did a fantastic job. We think the video is more poetic than gory, actually. Joe will also be directing our next video, which will be nothing like the first, but hopefully still weird and funny.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Mainly playing abroad: we have gigs lined up in Holland (opening for Das Pop, who also produced our album), Germany, France, England… Also, we hope to record our second album somewhere around February.

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