Under the radar of mainstream culture, unsuspecting genres have been quietly blending in the bedrooms of overactive imaginations. One such amalgam came in collaborative form when UK-based indie-rock band Hood brought Why? (Yoni Wolf) and doseone (Adam Drucker) from California-based avant hip-hop group cLOUDDEAD (which also includes David “odd nosdam” Madson) into the studio on their 2001 album Cold House (Aesthetics). Having been fans of each other’s work, the two groups were destined to work together — and tour together.
Where Hood’s sound jumps between “lo-fidelity avant-pop” and “pastoral, nearly instrumental songs,” cLOUDDEAD meanders through similar territory, but adds a skewed hip-hop vision to the mix. Though stunningly unique on their own, the two mesh well together, play well together, and their sounds blend into something like nothing else you’ve ever heard.
What follows is an email conversation between Yoni Wolf and Richard Adams from Hood. From the goings-on of their respective bands and their recent daily lives, to what kind of shoes they’re wearing and the origin of the name “Hood,” this conversation is much more interesting than my asking each of them questions would have been.
Richard Adams: Did you know you were mentioned by name in the lyrics to the new Hood single?
Yoni Wolf: In reference to your inquiry, I indeed did not know that I was mentioned by name in the new Hood single. Is this single out? What is it regarding? Is it a song like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” where you mention everyone you know in an all-enveloping look at the current state of music from an historical standpoint? Or is it like a shoutout list at the end: “Micky Mantle rock rock on, Yoni Wolf rock rock on . . . “? Whazzup?
RA: It’s not quite up there with the Billy Joel classic. In fact, I think you’re the only “celebrity” to get a name-check. It’s quite subtle, but I think you’re mentioned twice. It’s not quite that song by the Beloved, “Hello.” (Did you get that in the States?) That name-checks a few people as well. I’ll ensure you get a copy when we get some. One for the grandkids maybe.
YW: The Beloved? I don’t think we got that in the States, but you have to remember I’m about twenty-five years younger than you. So I guess it’s possible it came out back in the ’60s or something when you were in high school and I was a first tenner in a pimp’s pocket. (Whatever that means.)
What are you guys working on at the moment? A new record?
RA: A new record is done — EP out in November, full-length in January.
YW: Whaddub wid sum promo? Still with Domino? New shoes: You? Chris? Who is in the band now?
RA: Yes, and with Domino USA in the States. Yes, I’m still in the band . . . just. And Chris is pretty much Mr. Everything. Steve’s still behind the drum stool (or sat upon it). Gaz left last year but might return temporarily in the new year, and we have a new chap called Mark who is brimming with enthusiasm.
YW: I’m glad to hear about the new guy and Steve’s continued dedication and the possible return of Gaz (the only true vegan lover of the Hood lot), but my inquiry regarding footwear was completely ignored. What do you mutherfuckers got on your feets? Currently, as of yesterday, I’m sporting these old Converse that I dug out of my closet that I got in a thrift store in London back when we were there for the Mush (cLOUDDEAD/Reaching Quiet) tour in 2002. They are white with blue trimmings, and I added a red stripe on the toe with nail polish. Pretty sharp. Oh, I’m going to a Subtle (Adam and Jeff, et al.) show tonight. It should be really cool. It’s their first show (pretty much) since they finished their first full-length. Cool.
RA: Footwear. Sorry, Yoni. I missed that. I’m gonna get Chris in on this chat. They don’t call him the “Imelda Marcos of Pop” for nothing, you know. The shoes on my feet are probably the same ones I was wearing on our U.S. tour. I need them replaced. At my age I seem to find myself wearing slippers more than anything. Hope your Converses went down well at the Subtle show. We were hoping to play with Subtle in London town this October, but it clashed with the one and only show we’d had planned all year.
YW: Where does the name Hood come from? I always took it to be referring to the part of the female anatomy that covers the clitoris. I always thought that particular part of a woman’s private sector was pretty unnecessary. It makes it nearly impossible to discover the pleasure-inducing zone. Maybe that’s the fun of it: the challenge.
I know you’re a conservative, thrice-married, middle-aged barrister-turned-pop musician, so if this open talk of sexuality offends you, feel free to find your pinky finger on the delete key.
RA: I’m completely ignoring your sexually explicit theory on where the name of Hood comes from. Safe to say that we were probably thirteen or fourteen years of age when we thought of it, so such thoughts were exempt from our innocent minds.
Laurence from Domino wants us to do some shows together next year. I wonder who he’s been talking to. What’s in the pieline or even pipeline for you?
YW: Oh yeah!? Are you guys coming to the States? We are looking to set up a tour of America in May and then we will hopefully be doing festivals and knocking about the more civilized part of the world all summer. Let’s definitely hook up.
RA: That could work; we’re coming over next Spring. Should well be on the road for a chunk. Let’s hope I don’t go completely insane this time.
How is everything with you? The Hymie’s Basement thing (Lex, 2003) was great. The first track on there was maybe my favorite (or second favorite) song of last year. In fact, I kind of went on a pilgrimage to Hymie’s Basement last Christmas. I had a good scrat through their records. Funnily enough, the only thing I bought was a Donald Fagen album.
YW: I’ve been recording a new Why? record with the boys in the band (Josiah, Doug, and Matt — I don’t think you met Matt, who we now call “Miss Ohio’s”). So I guess it’s Why? & Miss Ohio’s. Anyway, we’ve been hard at work on that. It’s quite pop. I’ve been watching these DVDs that Rhino puts out called “Classic Albums” or something like that, where they do interviews with the band now about their best album and talk about how it was made and the circumstances surrounding it. So far, I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac Rumours and Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon. I’m a sucker for that kind of shit. My dream would be to see a movie of just live studio footage of some of my favorite records being made with no commentary or anything, just a good behind-the-scenes look — all the arguments and the epiphanies.
RA: Yeah, you should see the DVD for our last album: fights, walk outs, nervous breakdowns, singers being forced to sing at near gunpoint, songs being recorded three or four times, mixes rejected, a full set of masters rejected, tears, laughter, screaming fits, complete and utter despair, the whole thing nearly being scrapped before the mixing stage. Oh yeah, it’s up there. Hope your thing went more smoothly. Glad it’s pop stuff. I like the pop stuff. Our next thing is pop — it’s nearly into Britney territory.
YW: Oh, and my girlfriend of two years (I don’t think any of you guys met Anna) and I split up last week. That leaves me feeling quite strange and aimless, but maybe it’s for the best. We will still be close I’m sure.
RA: Oh, no. That is a shame. It’s never easy. Keep your pecker up. Hope you feel better soon.
[Door graffiti… photo stolen from Hood’s website.]
Here’s the video for Why?’s “Rubber Traits” (runtime: 3:48) from Elephant Eyelash:
And here’s Hood’s “The Lost You” (runtime: 4:44) from Outside Closer: