Thursday 21 January 2016

No Laughing Matter - An Interview with Rob Hoey from LIMB

Today's guest is lead singer of one of the UK's best upcoming Sludge/Stoner Metal Bands – LIMB. They've released two albums (Self Titled Debut and last year's Terminal) both to critical acclaim from fans and critics alike.

I wanted to catch up with this dude for a seriously long time as he's also a hugely talented comedian as well. So it's my pleasure to be chatting to Rob Hoey.

Hi Rob. How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this interview.

Hi! Thanks for having me. I like what you've done with the place.

So why did you choose the name LIMB for your band. Any specific meaning.

We went through a few names. For comedy sake we were going to call ourselves 'Queem' and dress like Queen. Then we thought of 'Connect4' but of course these were utter nonsense. We genuinely toyed with 'Broken Thrones' for a tiny while but we had friends in Throne so that was quickly thrown out. Speaking of Throne, check out Julia's newest project 'Casual Nun' they are bloomin' excellent!! So Limb, not really! We just liked it. This long answer didn't have a great pay off but I do like to think of the name as meaning we're not part of the main tree or even a branch, we're attached but flapping about in the wind on the outskirts.

How did the band get together. Did you all know each other before forming the band.

Sam, Pat & Jodie knew each other so started jamming and put an ad out for a singer... I bet they couldn't believe their luck when I walked in. I bet they thought I was some sort of chubby Adonis.

How would you describe your music.

Glam + Doom = Gloom. It's a tricky one that isn't it

Your new album – Terminal – was released last year. It's received some great reviews. Did that surprise you the responses the album has received and LIMB's music in general.

When we were listening back to the initial mixes of Terminal in the studio we were all really pleased to have put a record together we knew we would be proud of regardless of the feedback. Any kind words said about it are always met with total pleasure (such as your good selves) and surprise. It's more surprising to me when you get reviews (good or bad) that are totally factually incorrect and lazy. Why would you bother doing something if you're not interested in nailing the basics? Anyhoo. Yes, we're really pleased that reviewers and listeners are enjoying it! Complete bonus.

Was Terminal a hard album to write and record for as it contains a different sound compared to your debut S/T album.

The writing process was actually pretty similar in terms of the process to the first album. The label gave us a deadline and we hammered it out until we had something (mostly) solid. The sound is definitely different to our first album because we changed drummers and they are very different players. Jodie was more a hard hitting trve kvlt doom smasher (check out her new band Gloomweaver) and Tom is a straight up badass rock drummer. I think what we were listening to together as a band changed too, we went from listening to lots of Weedeater and Goatsnake (and still do) to listening to The Sweet, Slade, Funkadelic, The Bar-Kays... Anything with sequins. The glam stomp stuck in a little and thus came the groove.

I was surprised you released an album so soon after your S/T album. About 18 months in total. Is that how quick LIMB always work. Get something out as quickly as you can.

Ha! Well that's just kind of circumstance. Jodie left just around the time we released our first album so we got Tom on board and up to speed and then only really managed to get one short promo tour with Black Moth in before it was obvious our sound had evolved. The label were keen to get that sound on record so we disappeared straight back into the studio to get our sound locked down. The rest as they say is Terminal (don't they?)

Looking back would you change anything about debut album.

No, not at all! It's all a learning curve and I still have a lot of love for that album. It also sums up completely where we were at that point. If you're going back and editing your diary entries, stop keeping a diary! We were just a little different at that point but the soul remains the same.

How hard is it being a band in today's world. What are the most difficult aspects in being in a band.

I think it’s all subjective isn’t it? I’m sure many will tell you that today it’s really hard in the biz and all that but I don’t see it, I don’t think it’s got any easier or harder to drive the length of the country for beer money! But that’s ok, we’re not doing it to be Justin Bieber are we. It’s not owning the roller-coaster that makes you happy, it’s the thrill of the ride!

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

It tends to start with Sam and Pat bringing riffs to the room and then we play around ideas all throwing in thoughts. It’s actually fairly organic. Lyrics wise, I’ll do a majority of the words and then bring them to Sam who is a lover of words and an actual doctor of English for thoughts and grammatical scrutiny! Sam Cooper B.A M.A PhD!

What's your verdict on the UK Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal Scene. It seems bands from the UK Underground that I've interviewed recently have mixed feelings. Some say its' thriving and others saying the opposite. What's your own personal views on this. And if it is in decline how can we improve it.

Well, this is a biggie isn’t it. I’m not sure it’s in decline in any way but in the same way that ‘Grunge’ became a huge umbrella in the nineties that’s what we have with ‘doom’. Sadly, I personally feel like that weakens things slightly. Even though I don’t think it should matter so much about defining what kind of genre you slip in to, it seems to become trendy to say you’re part of something you perceive to be ‘in’ and

that leads to Creed, Puddle Of Mudd & Hoobastank calling themselves Post Grunge or whatever… I really hope that doesn’t become the case but there is definitely some poppy ‘doom’ starting to happen.

When I was younger Sludge and Doom were pretty different beasts, Sludge with it’s scooped guitar tones and compressed drum sounds (Crowbar, Fudge Tunnel, 3d House Of Beef & Acid Bath) and doom was slow and sprawling with blended JCM 800 stacks cranked to breaking and flappy drum sounds blasting out 2bpm 34 minute songs. Maybe I’m just a bit older now! Maybe it’s just all relative to where the genre is at in your time that sticks with you? Who knows.

I’m pretty sure Sabbath fans who were 16 when their first album came out would say the same about what I think. I don’t think it needs to be TRVE KVLT this and purest form that but there are definitely bands trying to fly the doom flag when it seems a little tenuous. How can you save it? God knows! I’m not in a position to really call us a doom band or a sludge band (although we have elements). I suppose this just happens with any wave of music, it peaks and troughs and just keeps flowing. As long as people are listening then it will keep being made I guess, that can only be a good thing.

What most people don't know about you is that you’re a stand-up comedian as well. And you've performed on TV, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and other comedy festivals with your bizarre and insane creations. How did you get involved with comedy.

Yeah, I’ve been performing for a long long time. The first time I was in Edinburgh was in 1999 or thereabouts! I do a fair amount of stand up, I have dates coming up at Glasgow Comedy Festival next across March 2016. Last year was fairly slow for my comedy as we were deep into album territory. Between the sketches, stand up and general online nonsense I’m always up to something. I got into comedy through going to drama school in my 20’s but I never really loved the theatre side of things. Instead it lead me down the path of utter nonsense and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since! My first job was in 1998 when I was on CITV’s ‘Chatterhappy Ponies’ so er… yeah.

Do you still perform comedy gigs. What inspires you when you're performing your shows and stand up routines.

Yeah! As I say, I have some shows coming up shortly and the agent I’m working with will be looking to book me a tour at some point across this year. I play out my comedy like the music we make, it’s pretty uncompromising in the sense that I just want to make something which will challenge you. It might be utter nonsense but I always try to get a sense of ‘why would this guy be doing this?’ as a rule.

How hard is it combining your stand-up comedy along with LIMB. It must be a very hard balancing act at times.

Only really in terms of finding time to do both. In terms of how they go side by side creatively they’re pretty easy to keep separate although my band mates may dispute that. It’s good to have an outlet for the anger and one for the nonsense, I’m really lucky in that sense.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

I’m not sure I / Limb have ‘fans’ just friends and friends we haven’t met yet! Keep listening to all the music out there (without exception) so we have loads to talk about when we see you at the bar!!

Well Rob, thanks for doing this. All the best with your awesome work.
Same to you! This has been a pleasure.

Words by Steve Howe and Rob Hoey