Fish Hook chat to us ahead of their EP launch

Published: 9 May 2013 07:300 comments

An upbeat, friendly six-piece with a 'family-style' dynamic that seems mostly to be predicated on ripping the piss out of each other, punk-tinged country rock'n'roll band Fish Hook are gaining fans in Reading and beyond.

Photo: Richard McKenzie

Photo: Richard McKenzie

Formed in Reading less than two years ago, Fish Hook were named after a bottle of wine and started out jamming on pop-punk tunes, but swiftly saw the light and, after a few member changes around the songwriting core of couple Rachael and Jim, the current line-up features guitarist Ross, drummer James, part-time member Simon, and newest member, Rob.

The bassist joked: "I'm not quite sure how I ended up in the band, because one of the side of effects of chloroform is a mild form on amnesia, so I sort of came to and before I knew it I was a member of Fish Hook…"

The band - who play in a slick uniform of black suit and red tie - release their debut EP, We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat this month, and have been winning over fans (who call themselves 'Hookers') with their catchy, good-times sounds, inspired by rock'n'roll greats like Elvis, the country stylings of Johnny Cash, and traditional punk.

Rachael: "We try and write rock and roll songs but I really, really like folk punk so I'm always going, 'it's got to be faster, it's got to be faster', and then I take it to James, and he makes it even faster, so what you end up with is whatever the hell genre we've created!"

Rob: "Jim and Rachael have just written a song which features the word 'dawg' in the title, spelt with an 'aw'…"

Jim added that the idea for the band's uniform came from Halloween fancy dress: "The uniform came from a Halloween gig, where we all dressed up as sugarskulls, and the pictures that came out just looked really nice. And because we've got the rock and roll thing going on as well, with '50s rock'n'roll scene influence, all the bands had a uniform, and once I saw us all in the uniform I said, I think we should do black suit, red tie, all the time. It gives people something to recognise."

Rob: "In the nicest way, we're not the youngest or best-looking band and if you've given some kind of consideration to how you look onstage, that looks better."

Rachael: "People see the red suit and black tie and say: 'Fish Hook' - and that's what we wanted."

With a rollicking, punky pace, catchy stop-start dynamics, and lyrics about life, love and rock'n'roll, held together by Rachael's full-bodied vocals, the band's six-track EP is damn good fun.

Single, Childhood Rock, is a mission statement of sorts, and when mum-of-two Rachael sings that 'you can't stop rocking just cause you got kids', the evidence is right there before you - this band, in their late 20s and older, rock harder than many of the floppy-fringed musician sorts who have just finished their A-levels (although, as Rob points out: "We're playing Rebellion festival, the biggest punk festival in the UK, but we're driving up the night before so we will not be tired and we are staying in a B&B...!")

The EP launches with a party at the College Arms, on Saturday, May 18, and Jim said: "The EP is kind of like the culmination of the last year. It's got all of the songs that we think are the best and the strongest out of the set."

Rachael: "The first four songs we wrote at the beginning, but since Rob and James have joined the band they've changed, everything has sped up, the way we play them has changed. When we listen to our demo, we say, 'we don't sound like that', even when it's the same songs we're playing now."

The band added that the music scene in Reading, such as it is, seems to have more life in it than a few years ago.

Jim: "The scene in Reading is getting better but you've got to give it a helping hand now and again, so we put on a lot of our own shows, so that we can play around. There's lot of promoters around, Jon Hubbard at the College Arms, and Loz, who's come over from Basingstoke and is doing a night at the Turtle, so it's picking up again."

Rachael: "There was a massive dip, when we first started it was difficult to get to know any promoters and it was so hard to get gigs in Reading, we were always playing in Basingstoke because it's got a great music scene there."

Rob: "There are several bands from Reading who are doing really well or have done really well in the lat few years: Sylosis, Exit Ten, Attenntion thieves, Malefice. These are all bands based in and rehearsing around Reading, but the recognition they have got is all based on their London gigs, tours and festivals. It's odd that given how many good bands come from Reading, that there's not more of a hub, like there used to be around the Fez club. I think Sub89 has gone some way to readdressing the balance in terms of there being a good venue in the town."

Ross: "Sub89, if you're reading, we want a gig!"

Rachael: "At the moment I 'm happy that some people know who we are and we've got our own little following, and it's just really cool that people know the words to our songs."

Ross: "It's like BBC Introducing at the Oakford: I remember being like 'wouldn't it be cool if some day we could play that?', and we're set to do that for the third time now!"

Fish Hook launch their EP at the College Arms, Wokingham Road, on Saturday, May 18, with support from Burnt Tomorrow, Box Factory and Ash Victim, from 7pm.

Find the band's Get Hooked demo online at and find them on Facebook, and Twitter @fishhookuk

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