Sweet Houdini – interview

UK fuzzed-up alternative rockers SWEET HOUDINI have thrown down their new single and video, Dominatrix. Watch the video, here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihmthHCGItQ . The Brit noise makers have big plans for 2024. For now, we asked the guys to fill us in with a bit of background detail:

What’s the full band line-up, who sings and who plays which instrument?

Tom’s on vocals and guitar, Wayne on Drums and Gary on Bass.

How and when did the band form?

We have played in bands together on and off for a little while, but Sweet Houdini formed after our band BigKarma collapsed. It started with this single, Dominatrix, the minute I sent it over it felt right and everyone was on board to start over.

Wayne and Gary are from Bexley, and I’m from Grays in Thurrock, so it was only the Thames that separated us. I’m not sure why, but it always feels like it’s grey and raining in our towns, the constant sound of the boats on the Thames, the Docks and industry is a persistent reminder that we are stuck here. It’s a blessing and a curse because it’s a big part of our sound and influence. The struggle is a big part of why we play.

Growing up in Grays, there wasn’t much to do except hang out in the chalk pits, get intoxicated, and steal a parent’s car for a joyride every now and then. That’s why starting a band made sense and gave us a little more purpose. I think Bexley had a similar atmosphere, except there was a bigger skate scene. Wayne and Gary would hang out at skateparks, doing much of the same stuff as me and I think that’s why we are on a level with one another.

When and how did the band really start gelling and solidifying?

Things really clicked in BigKarma, there was a dark groove to the music that definitely remains in Sweet Houdini. When you are all on the same page and the music is almost throbbing and expanding into that euphoric headspace, it’s the best feeling and it’s rare if it is not clicking for us.

Who are your musical influences?

Like most bands, our influences come from many different places, from the obscure and funk but also the Seattle sound which shaped the 90s. I think our broad taste gives us an edge. I think there are elements of the obvious, like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins on our single Dominatrix, as we release more music you’ll hear our love for St Vincent, Bowie, Talking Heads, Fugazi, The Clash, Q.O.T.S.A, The Stooges, Soundgarden, The Melvin’s and Screaming Trees, to name a few. As alternative music is gaining momentum again, there are so many great artists that have come out more recently, we really admire Wolf Alice, Phoebe Bridgers, Momma, Thundercat and October Drift. But I think Viagra Boys are the most exciting band to come out in the last few years, genuinely the real deal.

Where did the name of the band come from

There has always been a sense of mystery with my (Tom’s) projects, and I thought that Sweet Houdini fit well with that, it’s how I escape the confines of reality; that’s what music is for me and that is what the band name represents.

By sheer coincidence two of my favourite albums are Houdini by The Melvin’s and Sweet Oblivion by the Screaming Trees.

How far back does your history with each other (the band members) extend?

 I (Tom) met Wayne at a previous Job. We got on from the minute we met. We would constantly talk about music and hang out in the stock room listening to Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins, like a modern-day Beavis and Butthead. Sadly, that all ended when Wayne left. After some time, I noticed Wayne had posted on social media regarding treatment he was receiving for an illness, and I reached out immediately. Inevitably, we began playing together and started a project ‘Witchingseason’ for a while and then formed ‘BigKarma’ during Covid-19 with Wayne’s Brother, Gary. Gary and Wayne had played in bands together, so it was a good fit. Gary had been a fan of what we were writing, and he brought something of his own that I think really made the music exciting for us.

Where have you played or toured?

We have all played in some great venues over the years, The 100 Club, Chinnerys, Indigo O2, The Joiners but Islington academy was the biggest crowd, I think it’s a massive venue and we played a showcase festival event there. Our favourite has probably the times we have played at Camden Rocks. The first year we played was busy, but the second year it was even more crowded, and people had to stand outside to listen, they were amazing and playing on the same bill as Public Image was a special moment for me, but when Covid-19 hit the ascendency of our first band Witchingseason unfortunately fizzled out.

In your opinion, how is your band different from all the other bands out there?

This is always a difficult question; I understand what we are and I think this single demonstrates that fact. We are confident and we love what we do. The key for us is writing songs we would like ourselves. I know deep down to my core that we are authentic, and this is life or death for us, I don’t feel that way when I listen to most new bands. I like the music other bands put out, but I don’t feel like they have the depth we do. The industry has killed the rock star, the reason grime and rap are so successful is because they are saying what the majority is thinking and rock doesn’t anymore, it’s ‘too safe’ and full of ‘posers’, we are here to fuck that up whether we are successful or not. I started with nothing and if it ends that way, so be it. I have my integrity and I am not afraid to voice my opinion, I will voice that regardless of who is listening. I think that’s what separates us from the pack, our sound is different because we come from a place rock music once came from, which is why it has a familiarity to it even though it has a modern edge. It doesn’t come from university dorms or music colleges; it comes directly from us and our lives.  I think that’s what I miss most about the genre, it’s the punk part of alternative rock that’s been missing for a long time.  

If a deaf person were to ask you to describe the sound of your music, how would you describe it?

I believe our music embodies the essence of decadence; it is the fusion of opposing elements, where oil clashes with water. However, it has taken on a life of its own, an uncontrollable surge of emotion, a blend of sorrow and rage. It is the moment when you rise above self-pity and unleash your frustrations onto the world.

Where can we find your social media sites? Please include the URL for your Spotify artist page.

We use Insta, TiK Tok and Facebook. We use Insta the most – https://www.instagram.com/sweethoudiniband/

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