WORDS BY WILL RICHARDS
Meet Hunter-Gatherer, a 3 piece alt-rock band hailing from Pickering, North Yorkshire. Being self-described ‘local lads’, Hunter-Gatherer have recently started gaining traction from the likes of BBC Introducing York and North Yorkshire. We caught up with Sam Womack (vocals, guitar), Kris Ward (Bass, backing vocals) and Bron Bury (drums) on a sunny Friday and talked about the recording process of their new single ‘Killjoy’, got nerdy about guitar pedals and exposed the band member with the worst saved song in their library.
So what’s the backstory of Hunter-Gatherer?
Sam: So we met around four to five years ago and I think it all just began with us jamming together.
Kris: Yeah, me and Bron have only ever really been in bands together and we always said we wanted to ‘steal’ Sam from the other bands he was involved in. We eventually got our guy.
Sam: In early 2018 we hadn’t really played together for three years. I kept thinking at work that I might have missed out on the opportunity to play music and I had the itch. I called up Kris and wondered if he and Bron would be interested in having a Jam and it all started from there.
Bron: I think you’re wrong mate. I’m pretty sure there’s some picture of me sitting on your knee when I was born so I like to think that’s where it all really started.
Who has the worst song saved on their phone?
Kris: I’m actually surprised at how much shit I didn’t have on my phone. I had a little look for a standout song. I have a lot of Cardi B on there if that can be classed as shit? She has great music for when you’re driving and makes you feel really in control. I think I’ve really got all the moves down for it too.
Sam : Generally my taste is alright, I don’t really save that much shit. There’s some weird old Sid Barrett (Pink Floyd) druggy thing on there which is just a bit weird but I wouldn’t say it’s shit.
Bron: I’ve got a lot of RapCaviar in my library which has a lot of lame upcoming trap and hip hop stuff. I’m pretty sure I’ve got Megan Thee Stallion’s song ‘Savage’ which is definitely a contender.
Sam: Oh! I’ve got my answers now. Puddle of Mudd doing a Nirvana cover is the worst song in Youtube history. We did wonder what Puddle of Mudd were doing nowadays but turns out they’re just absolutely destroying songs.
Bron: There’s this crazy video where the front guy from Puddle of Mudd just suddenly stops singing during a song. Someone from the crowd shouts something and the front guy has an argument with the guy from the crowd. I’m pretty sure the argument is because the guy shouting bought his house from the singer or something really weird like that.
So I know that you guys just released your latest single, ‘Killjoy’ and have some other tracks in the pipeline. How was the recording/writing process for these records?
Sam: We recorded the demo with Bron’s gear at his house so we could finalise and organise everything before we hit the studio. The studio itself is called Young Thugs in York and the songs were produced by Jonny Hooker. We wanted to go in totally prepared and to stick to our rituals. Usually Bron does his take whilst I play quietly. We’ll then lay the bass on top and do the vocals at the end.
Kris: It was a really good learning curve just to see how Johnny goes about it. Our recording process usually just starts with someone having written a riff for a basis and then everything just spirals from there.
Sam: Lyrics are something that I’ve typically struggled more with. Sometimes I just like to have a two-week break from everything and come back to it all completely fresh. We’ve been sending each other a lot of voice notes during lockdown so there’s definitely some songs being stockpiled.
You had some gigs booked for April/May which sadly had to be cancelled. Is there any news on any shows in the future?
Sam: We had a tour booked over April/May 2020 but yeah that had to be rescheduled. Luckily though we’ve managed to re-book every gig for October this year but even now October is uncertain. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed for them because we had a load of places booked like in Malvern, Leeds, York, Nottingham, Manchester and London.
Bron: I think the main thing right now is supporting the venues. We’ve just got to unite to really help them out. I think I read somewhere that some venues are needing something silly like 15 grand just to cover the staff. Places like the Fiddler’s Arm have a lot of fundraising to do but at the same time they’re really supported venues. At the moment we’re just trying to see what we can do to help.
How have you guys maintained your sanity throughout lockdown then?
Kris: I’ve been doing loads of different things. If I’m honest I’ve struggled to find the time to chill. I’ve obviously just been practicing bass constantly, writing little things to remember and placing them all around the house. Honestly, we’re surrounded by them, I think my girlfriend is finding it a bit sad. She said the other day that she’s going to lose it if she has to hear about the chords of major scale one more time.
Bron: I’ve been working on some acoustic stuff, I’m just trying to find different creative outlets. I’m not sure where I’m going with them yet, even if there’s no vocals on them down the line. I’ve been inspired by these two to get into running a bit and shaving off some Christmas weight from 10 years ago.
Sam: There’s this one tune that I’ve come up with which could be a new possible song. The lyrics for this one came straight away! There are some ideas and a few songs that have no lyrics yet but I’m sure a lyrics session will happen at some point. I’ve actually just bought a new skateboard for myself too and I’ve been running a lot and releasing those endorphins.
If you guys could go on tour with any band, who would it be?
(A tense silence falls over the chat as they each anticipate each others answers..)
Bron: Yeah if I had to say a big band right now it’d have to be IDLES. Their gig in the Bataclan was wild and they have such a positive vibe for a sound that’s so punky and full on.
Sam: If we’re picking an up and coming band it’d have to be Hot Milk. They’re a proper two fingers up punk with a hint of pop. They have really catchy choruses too and it’d be great to be a part of something that is really growing! If I had to pick a big band it’d have to be Issues, they’re a total vibe.
You guys are obviously really involved in the underground scene. What unsigned bands do you think people should go listen to/see?
Sam: I’d say a band called The Fruit. We did two or three gigs with them and every time you look at the audience you can tell they’re just absolutely hooked, they put on such a good show. We have to mention Freek, they’re great and very Royal Blood-esque. Dead Wax are also great and have this almost Rage (Against The Machine) vibe about them.
Kris: I’m gonna go with Dead Naked Hippies. They’re a Leeds based band. Who else? Off the top of my head Naked 6, they’re a great three piece.
Bron: Avalanche Party are the best thing since sliced bread. I’m also gonna go with Rocket Smith.
I think that’s the great thing about the area, it’s rural but within Leeds and York there’s a lot of bands doing a lot of travelling and there’s a lot of gigging around here. Live music in general up here is great. I think people from the North are really open to the idea of pub gigs. There’s cheap pints and a space for bands to play and thrash it out in the early stages and I think people are eager to earn their keep doing the pub circuits to start with.
So, I wanted to get a little guitar nerdy with you guys. Kris and Sam what pedals are you guys using at the moment?
Kris: I think the key for me was just trying multiple different things and looking for the right pedals. Some are more irritating to the band than others… (Bron’s eyes casually look to the side at this comment). I heard that Flea and Thundercat have this weird filter pedal so I decided I’ll get a cheap one and try it out. I did it and messed around with it and Bron’s face during rehearsals said it all. It sounded like a dying duck.
There is this one pedal at the moment that I’m amazed with called the ‘source audio aftershock bass distortion.’ All of the things that I tried before weren’t good but this pedal does so much but I truthfully don’t use it for anything other than its basic function. I’m also using a Bass Wah-Wah and a Compressor pedal to tighten everything up a little bit. I feel like I’ve got my sound now just from playing around.
Sam: My pedal rig is very simple purely because I’ve always been bad with technical things. I’ve got this Fender Machete amp which is a beast with a clean & dirty channel reverb. I also use a little bit of reverb from time to time.
I wanted to ask you guys some quick-fire questions to finish up. All you have to do is pick one of the two artists.
Mick Jagger or John Lennon?
HG: John Lennon
Robert Plant or Dave Grohl?
HG: Dave Grohl
Kurt Cobain or Freddie Mercury?
HG: Freddie Mercury
Jimi Hendrix or Chuck Berry?
Liam or Noel Gallagher?
Caleb Followill or Alex Turner?
HG: Caleb Followill
Ozzy Osbourne or Chris Cornell?
HG: Ozzy Osbourne
Jim Morrison or Stevie Nicks?
HG: Stevie Nicks
Steve Tyler or Axl Rose?
HG: Steve Tyler
Bowie or Springsteen?
Lemmy or Johnny Rotten?
Hunter Gatherer’s new single Turn Me Down is out now on all streaming platforms.