HUNGRY WIVES: Creepy-Crawly Exchanges

Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb

3 January 2003 -- Hungry Wives (US) are Joe Corcoran, Derek De Koff, Andy Salzer and Jen Schneider from New York City.

My first contact with the Wives was their tasteful Website, which displayed the members of the band covered with splattered blood, which just slowly appeared all over them. Then Andy sent me their excellent debut release, with tracks 'There's Something Wrong With Tim', 'Spiders', 'The Splits', 'It's Over, a.k.a. I'm Legendary You're Not' and 'Stack Your Body'.

Music reminiscing sometimes Vince Clarke productions with early Depeche Mode and Erasure, but certainly with an original, modern technoesque touch and tough-ish lyrics somewhere on the verge of being totally twisted, sarky digs on faddish club culture and tales of complete wasters -- making it clearly distinct from all yesteryear's Scandinavian-Teutonic (how many cheesy Depeche Mode "tribute albums" from Sweden and Germany there are already in existence?) and hair-today-gone-tomorrow electroclash copycats. Something that would be just at home on Ersatz Audio label of Detroit. Expect to hear a lot from Hungry Wives in the future.

- Tell me something about the background of Hungry Wives: how did you start making music together?

Jen: We all met each other in Seattle back in the early mid-Nineties.

Joe: At the time, we all went out a lot. Some of us still do.

Derek: The idea to work on music together came about one morning when Joe and I were out really late at a club. We were feeling.inspired.

Joe: At first, it was just me and Derek in the band. We collaborated with Jen on a couple of songs and we also did a song with Andy. At the time of our first show, last December, we asked the two of them if they wanted to join us on stage to perform the songs they'd worked on. The show was a total disaster, but they decided to become full-time members of the band, anyway.

- How would you describe your style of music?

Joe: I'm not really sure that our music necessarily falls so easily under any one sub-genre heading. At least, that's what people always tell us. The point for us is to try to write really solid songs that each have strong lyrical concepts behind them. And, of course, we prefer unrepentingly technology-based methods for generating sound. There are samples of a few songs on our website, under the "music" link.

- Your lyrics are quite interesting; a sort of pretty twisted, sleazy and hardboiled approach, like "I need your stash but I'm out of cash, so can I pay you in spiders?" What the heck are those about? Not the usual synthpop clichés, which is very nice, I'd say... And what about the part about "2-Step Garage... the scene is dead"... a dig at your local scene, I suppose?

Andy: Less a dig at the local scene than at a particular brand of local scenester -- the fucked-up party weirdo that's still at your house at 6 am rambling on and on about how great 'the scene' used to be.

Derek: 'Spiders' is about a down-and-out addict who's in withdrawal -- thus the spiders and centipedes crawling all over him - begging his dealer to exchange drugs for a handful of creepy-crawlies at six in the morning. It's a recession special! The idea just came up from joking around with friends really late at night.

- The obligatory geek question: what kind of equipment do you create your music with?

Joe: Logic Audio, Nord Lead 2, Novation K Station, Proteus 2000, Helicon Voice Prism, other assorted keyboards, sound modules, software synths, plug-ins, etc. My favorite thing right now is the software version of the FM7 -- it's totally unpredictable and sometimes just freaks out on it's own, making these unbelievably hideous noises until you shut down the computer. Fun stuff.

- Are there any role models or influential artists for you?

Joe: We love Coil -- Derek is especially obsessed.

Derek: I was stalking them on the internet for awhile, but I think I've managed to scare them away. Coil and Sparks are the two bands I'm really into right now.

Joe: Both are very inspirational from the standpoint of just doing whatever they want to do -- and both have been doing exactly that for decades. They're also incredibly intelligent bands, which is rare enough.

- And what current artists are you most into?

Derek: Sparks' brand new album, Lil' Beethoven, is the best thing I've heard in a long time. Unfortunately, it's really hard to find and should be more readily available.

Andy: Right now, I'm really into Anthony Rother.

Joe: My favorite is Acrosome - very dark, industrial-inspired stuff, but more current sounding.

- How is the New York scene at the moment, by the way? Most we hear in Europe are bands like The Strokes, but it seems many electronic acts taking interest in early-80s synthpop and electro sounds are now prevailing there too...?

Derek: It's definitely the most interesting time for music that New York has seen in awhile, but I think a lot of magazines are jumping the gun a bit. They're too eager to brand something that still needs time to grow. In fact, some journalists are already stating that the scene is over. They're writing backlash pieces against a "movement" they hyped only a couple of months ago.

- What is your take on 'electroclash'? Do you feel you're part of any 'movement'?

Andy: The electroclash 'movement' generally seems to focus more on fashion than music. As far as we're concerned, the songs come first.

- Sorry if you are bored to hell with this subject, but as an ignorant European who follows these things only on the news, I can't help but to ask this question too: how have the 11th September terrorist strikes affected your lives and work in New York?

Derek: It seems as though it's making people prioritize what's important in life, be it in their personal or creative pursuits. I was in total shock when it happened, and might say that I still am, and my way of counteracting that was to throw myself more into projects like Hungry Wives and to cut out personal relationships that seemed destructive. I don't think it's a coincidence that we took the risk of doing our first show two months after September 11.

Jen: There's a general climate of expectancy, which we're taking as a renewed interest in ideas and a temporary hold on sentimentality. It seems like, in terms of music, people are hungry for change and something new.

- Your own future plans now?

Jen: We're putting together shows outside of NYC, like a mini-tour on the West Coast in late winter, and recording new songs. We just want to start releasing lots of music so that more people in other cities can actually hear us.

- Your collective Top Ten for the moment/all-time?

Joe: There's no way we would ever be able to agree on a list. Here are some songs I've been listening to a lot lately:

PERSPECTS - They Keep Dancing [Nuvo Mix]
THE ALL SEEING I - 1st Man In Space
FAD GADGET - Innocent Bystander
THE HORRORIST - The Virus [Northern Lights Mix]
HEAVEN 17 - Temptation
GOBLIN - Suspiria Soundtrack

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