The likes of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Cocteau Twins have a new rival in the realms of merciless feedback, fab song structures whilst delving into the depths of glumcore. The Hermitts aka Matt Hicks has been devilishly busy in lockdown conjuring up 2 singles so far and with the promise of more of the same to come, fans of all the above mentioned bands should be quick to lap up this bevy of new music.
Weight Of The World is as infectiously loud as anything the aforementioned bands have put out, whilst scooping the listener into an affectionate fuzznuggets feast, you can’t help but be drawn into turning the volume up to 11, trying to make out the half blurred lyrics and playing an air guitar whilst there might be the odd accidental similarity to Wire, this could well be a log lost track of London quintet. Second single Tables Turned does indeed change the table cloth from the pop noise of Weight Of The World to a slightly quirky structure found in the likes of fuzz favourites Sonic Youth, Matt secures another peach of a number by developing a sound that is melodically complex with what sounds like guitar parts being played over and over again.
Hi Matt, you’ve released your first material as a solo artist under the guise of The Hermitts in 2021, but I wanted to ask you what your first musical memory is?
I guess that would be sat in my Dad’s car whilst he drummed on the steering wheel to the funky bass stylings of Level 42. Textbook Dad behaviour that has ingrained in me a strong love for hitching a ride on the funk bus.
What was the first music you got into? What was the first serious music you got into?
First non-parent influenced music I really got into would be the more acerbic end of Britpop. So stuff like Pulp and Suede; bands that had something to say beyond the usual trite love lyrics, and did so with great songs. I was also transfixed by the layers of dissonant but great-sounding noises that lofi (ish) bands from the early 90s made. Pretty broad spectrum but from bands like Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth through to Super Furry Animals and criminally underrated stuff like Urusei Yatsura.
When did you start to play music?
I first picked up a guitar around the age of 14. There are family myths about us being travelling gypsies and performers so I suppose it was inescapable that I would try my hand at some point.
Who influenced you to create your own music?
The bands I mentioned above really, that gear change when you’re young between chart music and discovering the wider world of music where there are so many hidden depths the further you delve is pretty awesome. And you can’t really help but be influenced by some of the greater older stuff too, especially from the 60s…the weirder parts of the Beatles’ back catalogue, Nick Drake, Love…
You were in the band Horowitz, how did you join them?
Me and Ian (Evans) grew up in the same street. When our other band split up we roped in Pete (Bowers) who we’d met gigging. It was pretty cool having an ex-Rosehip / punk aficionado in the band.
Did the band have much success?
Depends what you class as success I suppose. We started just around the time that indie pop was becoming a scene (in a good way) in places like Nottingham and Sheffield, so it was a buzz to be part of a group of people around the country all into the same stuff. And we played some great gigs, packing out the church stage at Indie tracks was a real highlight.
Were you in any other bands?
Yeah a few bits and bobs down the years…paying my dues, arguing with sound engineers and nicking beers off other people’s riders…
How did you start the process of writing your own material? Does writing your own music come naturally to you?
It came pretty naturally with learning an instrument – I’ve always found it much more interesting to make your own sounds, riffs etc… than just practice what someone else wrote. Probably to do with a short attention span. So I suppose it sprang from there.
Do you have your own studio?
I have a laptop and some gear that lets me hook instruments up to it. So by rock and roll standards, I have no studio 😀
The first single you released was Weight Of The World. What is the song about? Your latest single Tables Turned, what is this song about?
Weight of the World and the other songs that are coming out around it, like Tables Turned, are kind of a way to express the really weird times were living in. A lot of countries seem to have, or had, really opportunistic politicians in charge who are creating some really polarizing feelings amongst people, and that’s overlaid with bizarre, movie-level stuff like Covid and climate change. It’s probably the most disconcerting time I’ve lived through, so it felt right to try and document the unease/ ennui in some way. It might turn into some kind of concept album if I can stop it sounding wanky.
Your material have an edge of the sounds that My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive have created. Are they an influence?
I suppose that’s the noise angle, the fuzz etc. Shoegaze is more an accidental influence, I’ve never really listened to a lot of that stuff, but I love Isn’t Anything and Loveless, and the harder end of fuzzy stuff like Jesus and Mary Chain. The lofi (ish) stuff I mentioned above will have been an influence on that too, for sure.
Do you have plans for future releases, maybe an album?
Yeah there’s possibly an album in the works but I’ve not finished writing it yet. It might be that the songs form a group of EPs rather than an LP, but there will definitely be more of them in some form. Hopefully another single towards the end of the summer or autumn time. Keep everyone miserable as the nights draw in…
Are you planning to play live once venues start to open up?
Yeah that would be great, songs don’t really come to life until you’ve played them to people in the flesh. I hope the network of communities and small venues around the country revive themselves quickly.
Finally, what’s on your turntable at present?
SFA’s Mwng, deluxe edition. Specifically the live from ATP vinyl. Also been liking Squid a lot recently.
You can purchase both singles for The Hermitts bandcamp page