Sunday, September 15, 2013

Interview with PJ Sykes of Hoax Hunters

I was lucky enough to be able to go down to Raleigh, NC to not only catch Hopscotch Music Festival, but also help sponsor and play at a day party with Cherub Records and Negative Fun Records called Let Feedback Ring. I was playing as Architeuthis pretty much out of dumb luck since one of the bands had dropped out and so I went on-stage first. We had thirteen bands play a whirlwind of dynamite rock n' roll from the beerbuzz madness of Dripping Slits to the sludge-driven Hog. The band that played after me, however, really blew my mind. They were called Hoax Hunters, a band led by PJ Sykes who is most widely known for his photography.

To coin a cliche and make a really awful pun, Hoax Hunters truly let feedback ring. I mean, there was enough feedback to make all my 90s indie-rock dreams come true. I was grinning ear to ear throughout their set, a really fun mix of anthemic hooks with a recognition of several rock n' roll subgenres.

Afterwards, PJ and I talked a bunch throughout the other eleven sets before splitting. I asked if he'd be hip to an interview and he was kind enough to accept. Generally, at this point of when I write an interview, I'll talk about links and where to hear records, but PJ included these in the interview, so I don't really have to do that.
If you haven't gotten the point yet, though, Hoax Hunters totally rock. This is what PJ had to say when he was explaining them to me.

Jordan: Who all is in Hoax Hunters? Where did you guys start? How did you guys start? Did you know each other for a while?

PJ: Hoax Hunters got started after I took a three year break from playing live music. I was burned out and my photography started to take off so I focused my energy on that endeavor. After a few false starts I mentioned to my friend Tim Falen I needed a new rhythm section. He joined on bass and played the drums on our demo ep. Mutual friends kept telling me to try out James O'Neill on drums. Tim and I had never met so we set up a few "blind date" sessions and things went really well. Over the last year we have all gotten to be friends through playing music. 

J: What is a Hoax Hunter?

PJ: Someone who plays in the band Hoax Hunters. Also, Hoax Hunter(s) is when I play solo without Tim and James. 

J: How would you describe the music that you guys make? Do you have any particular influences that come to mind in terms of bands or sounds?

PJ: I usually just say we are rock band. I love so many different types of music. As I'm answering your questions I'm listening to live Johnny Cash bootlegs from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. For this project I would say, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Fugazi, Husker Du, Bob Mould, Superchunk, Foo Fighters, Bluetip, Dinosaur Jr, and The Minutemen. 

J: How does a song get written for you guys? How long does it take to make a song?

PJ: I write most of the songs at home on my acoustic guitar. We then rehearse them and the band puts the on final touches. We also like to try out stuff live before they are really complete. Sometimes I'll just have a really rough idea with some riffs and we will jam on it until something happens. Most songs come together pretty quickly. However one of the songs has been around in pretty much the same form since the late 90s. It never seemed to work until Hoax Hunters. 

J: What all have you guys released so far, both physically and digitally?

PJ: Hoax Hunters - s/t demo EP (digital / download card with buttons) 

PJ: Hoax Hunters / The Snowy Owls - Record Store Day split 7" (square lathe cut 7" limited to 40 copies / digital)

J: How often do you all play? Do you have any places that you play regularly?

PJ: We play live at least once a month mostly in Richmond, VA. We have played DC, Fredericksburg, VA and Raleigh, NC. Soon we will start playing regionally more often. 

J: Do you guys get to tour ever?
PJ: We plan to do some short 2 or 3 day "tours" but nothing extensive is planned. 

J: When you play a set do you try to get as close to a studio-recorded sound as you play or do you get to let loose a bit more?

PJ: To me they are two different things. I like to play loose live and record more true to the songs. 

J: What all is in the future for Hoax Hunters?

PJ: We are working on a full length album this fall. We plan on releasing a new digital single this year and drop the album early 2014.

J: Do you have any favorite bands or records that have really stuck out to you guys this year?

PJ: As a band we all really dig the band METZ.

J: Do you guys have any other projects that you're working on?

PJ: James plays in The Snowy Owls now. Tim plays in The Diamond Center and Hot Dolphin. I photograph bands and help run the series Live At Ipanema.

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

PJ: Thanks for the interview! 

Editor's Note: Face it, bad puns are the only puns worth making. Think about it.

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