The Hoax are a well known, talented blues band, based in England.
They are, in no particular order;
Jon Amor; Guitar, Mark Barrett; Drums, Hugh Coltman; Vocal and Harmonica, Jesse Davey; Guitar, Robin Davey; Bass Guitar.
TiTT recently had Drummer Mark Barrett answer some questions and we tried to get some usable answers. He did OK!
We asked Barrett to answer in one short paragraph, “who are The Hoax?” without using the words Blues or Rock.
His answer although not particularly short, was an honest one!
“In familial terms, my Brother asks me if I’m still ‘playing with my tin pot band.’ My Dad asks me if ‘I’m still jigging’, and my Mum just wants me to be happy. Outside of that, one fan described us as being ‘the best band in the world.’”
Before joining the best band in the world, Barrett was affiliated with rock drumming in the 80’s and early 90’s (we asked that he correct us if we are wrong here). How did he make the personal transition, or was it a case of getting himself heard, so he, like many others before him would take what you he get?
Barrett confirms what we thought was so. “At that time I was only interested in playing with as many bands as possible and those bands happened to be playing rock music, which was rife in my local area at the time. It didn’t matter to me whether the bands were rock, roll, soul, blues, or anything else. I think it’s important for any drummer to start playing with other musicians as soon as is possible, whatever they bring to the table. It is, in my opinion, the best way to learn how to communicate with music. Further on down the road, I was asked to play in a local blues band who had a bit of a reputation in the wider area and it was that band who really got my playing to where it is today.”
A bit more choosy and a lot more talented in 2014, he must have some influences. Musician or not! We asked him who or what they are?
Barrett is obviously in need of a more orderly sleep pattern at this point… as his reply suggests;
“The family hamster Hamlyn is my biggest influence. The way he goes about his business is enviable. He only really comes out at night time (which everybody knows is the right time), he keeps himself to himself and runs around his wheel tirelessly without complaint. Not only that, the area where he sleeps looks like the most comfortable place on earth. As well as Hamlyn, the biggest influence I have is my immediate family. You travel the world trying to find what you’re looking for and return home to find it.”
Travelling took The Hoax to Los Angeles, California, during the summer of 2013. At this time they were making new music. We wondered what they learned out there, individually and/or as a band? Did they even like the LA lifestyle?
Barrett seemed pretty impressed with west coast living, as he told TiTT “It was my first time in America and the visit challenged my previous views on America. The most influential thing I learned was that we could work as a band again. As for the LA lifestyle, in the two weeks I was there I’ve never felt so healthy, so the lifestyle must have agreed with me in some form or another. Good food, good company, and a good work ethic. To be honest, I didn’t really see much of the LA lifestyle as I was contained within the four walls of a recording studio, but the bits I did see were very enjoyable. To drive West down Sunset to the sea was something I’d always wanted to do. The only shame was that I didn’t have any jungle music on hand to turn down.”
So would he leave the UK for North America permanently if the deal was good enough?
The answer is simple “I’d leave the UK for any country if the deal was good enough.”
As we allow him to ponder his rental options in Venice, Ca, we ponder song writing and asked if, when The Hoax are writing a song, does each member hole up alone, or is there generally a group session?
As Barrett shakes the sand from his pants he shares that “For the Big City Blues record, we got together in a studio in California with only partially finished song! The rest of the songs for that album were written by the five of us on the day. We knew we had to have an album recorded in twelve days, so that forced us to come out with a finished song every day.”
As we are all well aware, with many modern and current blues bands, there is often a ZZ Top influence. The Hoax has a definite ZZ Top vibe in their music. We asked Barret if he was particularly influenced by ZZ Top and would he, or any other member of The Hoax consider growing a ridiculous beard for infamy?
The now fairly clean shaven drummer replied “I’ve gotta lotta respect for Frank Beard. I remember being asked to learn ZZ Top’s La Grange by a band in my home town and the first time I heard it I had real difficulty in understanding the part. Frank Beard’s shuffle was a beat I’d never heard before and learning that track was a labour of love for me. To me, it sounded like an engine turning over. As for beards, The Hoax have a history of outrageous facial hair. I myself sported a fantastic moustache for a tour a couple of years back, unfortunately it wasn’t suitable for picking up my daughter from school on a day to day basis, so it had to go. Needless to say, the band have never forgiven me.”
Hairy or smooth, The Hoax appear to have a solid following in Europe. TiTT wondered if the less stubbly one thinks that their sound translates well there and why? European music is so very different than what The Hoax present.
In his best regional dialect Barret replied “I wouldn’t call the music we play European at all, aside from the fact there are five English boys playing the music. But yes, Europe seems to like what we do, at least the countries we’ve played anyway. I think Europe is enjoying a renaissance in music. A music that has traditionally had its home in Africa and the USA.”
With any band it is always interesting to know hich members of the band took music lessons when they were younger and who is self taught? In such an accomplished band, you would probably expect the answer to be way different than the one we recieved!
Barrett tells it like it is; “As far as I know, I’m the only one who took formal lessons. My Mum and Dad insisted on it. I had a drum tutor come around to the house every week. He taught me how to read music and how to not over-tighten cymbals. He smelled heavily of garlic all the time, but claimed he’d never had a common cold in his life due to his penchant for garlic; which by the way I didn’t believe. Trying to prove my disbelief was difficult and after several weeks of drum tuition my chance came when out of nowhere I caught a cold. My plan was to sneeze into a jar, then immediately seal the jar thus preserving the cold virus. The next lesson came around and I got the infected jar out and left it open next to where he sat. The following week he arrived with a runny nose, a cough and a sneeze. I asked him if he was alright and he replied by saying “I’m fine thanks, Mark, just struggling with a bit of hayfever.” Of course, some might say it would have been easier just to sneeze directly on him but my method seemed more fun.”
Sneezing in jars! Voodoo? No, not even close, but it did make us wonder, is there a Hoax pre-show ritual? If so how did that come about. If not, what could you see yourself doing to make sure a show has the correct karma?
Again with a less than mainstream answer, Barrett tells; “I’ve long thought the best way to prepare for a show is for the band to have a huge falling out; a massive argument pre-show. That way the band takes to the stage with fire. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way as I’ve found out to my misfortune with other bands… Aside from that, individually wrapped peanuts and chocolate filled carrots seem to do the job for The Hoax.”
We figured for a bonus question we would talk clothes, as Barrett is somewhat of a fashionista in his own right.. So we got down to the real brief and asked “Do you wear lucky underwear? Ha, do you wear underwear at all?”
“I do not. In truth, luck plays no part.” Barrett replied.
So there you have it ladies. Now you know!
The Hoax have a UK tour in April 2014 and more European dates later in the year. For details click the links!
Tumblr page at http://thehoaxuk.tumblr.com for details.
Karen G March 28 2014
Photos by Darlo Dave