As soon as Derek Watson‘s thunderous, crunchy, two-chord guitar chug starts, Isabel Almeida‘s arms go slack; she hunches over at the waist, stares at the floor, and begins a kind of fevered hop. The drums and bass kick in, and she becomes fully possessed, tossing her body on the floor, flopping over amps, and crawling on all fours atop the monitors downstage. At times, half her body seems to have failed her, and she looks like the world’s most rhythmic stroke victim.
Watson bends backward while furiously strumming, his torso nearly parallel to the floor. Eventually, he’s on the ground, too, joining Almeida in a writhing, sweaty, tangled pile of skinny limbs, broken instruments, and wires. There will be feedback. Occasionally, there will be blood.
Watson and Almeida head up the Brooklyn band Hunters (filled out on bass and drums by Thomas Martin and Gregg Giuffre, respectively), a fuzzed-out, Melvins-by-way-of-the-Vaselines rock outfit with a kiss of Sonic Youth and a punch from the Stooges. Live, they have no regard for their personal safety, which they put at risk for your entertainment. You can’t help but be touched by the gesture.
“They just lit something inside of me from the very first time I saw them,” says the band’s producer, James Iha, on a couch in the lobby of the Stratosphere Sound Recording Studio in Manhattan (he co-owns it with Fountains of Wayne‘s Adam Schlesinger and IVY’s Andy Chase). Iha is recording Hunters’ as-yet-unnamed new full-length, out early next year on a label they’re in talks with, but won’t discuss until the ink on the deal has dried.
Iha is, of course, the former guitarist of ’90s alt-rock stalwarts Smashing Pumpkins and current member in not one but a pair of super groups: A Perfect Circle and Tinted Windows. He says Hunters first “lit something inside” him at a New Year’s Eve party two years back, when they played a “too tiny, too crowded, vaguely depressing” Chinatown art gallery. “They went off like an explosion in the corner of the room,” he remembers.
During the show, Watson took a champagne bottle to the face, which left him bloody and swollen. “That’s how I knew it was a good show,” he jokes now. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The sound was shit. The band was wasted. There was no PA. But amid the chaos, aural and otherwise, says Iha, “I could hear they had songs. Real, fully realized, very good songs. He approached the battered and boozy band after the dust settled and expressed his interest in working with them.
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Brooklyn’s Hunters Will Curb Stomp You with a Smile
Village Voice | Music
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