Everything you hear is true.
On first listen, Hooton Tennis Club's new single – their first, proper, single – 'Jasper' is a mesh of hazy guitars, sighing vocals and lyrical tangents that fascinate as well as beguile. As it turns out, though, the bitter-sweetly poetic song is rooted entirely in fact.
“It came all at once,” explains singer Ryan Murphy. “It sounds a bit depressing but my grandad had passed away a few weeks before I wrote that – and the first line came from there. It's hard to put my finger on it. I like the idea of each line being a mini-statement, almost. Without being too grandiose, trying to say something big each time, each line – but sometimes it doesn't really work.”
Accidentally falling into place seems to be the band's hallmark. Initially drawn together while at school, the various musicians went through numerous line ups and odd projects before finally settling on the current group.
“We've all known each other since high school,” he explains. “We were good friends when were like 15 and we made a load of different bands and played a load of different stuff. We had like, six guitarists at one point, a jumble sale of people who wanted to make music. In the end, it was just the four of us: we wouldn't let it go, I guess.”
The band's name, it seems, is rooted entirely in fact – there really is a Hooton Tennis Club. “Our drummer – Harry – he lives down the Wirral. A few roads down from his there's a sign that says Hooton Tennis Club, like a road sign. We saw this sign and thought it would be a good song title. It's one of those ones which just stuck around.”
Recording in each other's bedrooms, Hooton Tennis Club built up a sound which was both effective and endearingly ramshackle. Guitar solos are left unfinished, mistakes are not corrected and the odd bum note is adored simply as a continuing sign that they're able to do things their own way.
“I think, in part, it's influences but then at the same time it's limitations – not having the money to go to a studio. I haven't got my own guitar yet, I've borrowed one,” the singer smiles. “It's one of those things where we're very limited to what we've got and what we can use. Grabbing the time that we have to record at someone's house when their parents are away, or when there's a bit of free time where we can do loud drumming or something. It's a culmination of all that, I guess.”
It's a sound and an approach which seems to have accidentally stumbled onto something special. Running on instinct, Hooton Tennis Club simply feel right – right for each other and right for the times, for this DIY resurgence (however it is defined) stretching across these Isles.
“It's lucky, actually, that we all have a preference for lo-fi stuff,” he says. “We're into Daniel Johnston, Guided By Voices, we like that kind of thing: all that outsider, do-it-yourself, sellotape-it-together-and-hope-it-runs, sort of thing.”
WHERE: The Wirral, Merseyside
WHAT: Endearingly shambolic fuzz-pop
3 SONGS: 'Jasper', 'Fall In Luv', 'Long-Barrelled Saturday'
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