Plus, we talked about the New York vs. Philly music scenes and why you have to bite people in the park sometimes.
Izzy Almeida and Derek Watson are tough to miss in a crowd. Derek’s tightly wound chunks of hair spike out in every direction while Izzy’s hair is the brightest shade of pink on the Pantone chart. It’s especially easy to spot them when they’re together, which they usually are.
The couple represent half of Hunters, a fuzz-punk band currently based in Philadelphia and when they team up, they make a lot of noise. Watson’s crunchy guitar riffs test the limits of his amp and on the mic, Almeida knows how to control a room, using every available inch of stage possible. She can usually be found writhing around on the ground or swinging a microphone above her head.
Hunters are preparing to release their self-titled debut album (from which, we recently premiered a song) and we caught up with the duo on the band's brief stop in New York.
Noisey: So you guys were living in Brooklyn but moved to Philly?
Derek Watson: Yeah, we’d been touring so much that it was a pain to sublet our apartment and we were getting people who we weren’t sure who they were sometimes and then a record would go missing and you’re trying to figure out what was going on. Plus, we had pets and it was hard to have people watch them. I was working in a moving job so basically my friend and I were driving a moving truck around in the city and having to go to Secaucus and come back and forth and the hours were wild. We were working 13 or 14 hour days like, every single day.
How has living in Philly affected your daily lives as musicians?
Izzy Almeida: In New York, it’s a hustle to be a musician. You have to find time just to live and do your thing. In Philly, the biggest difference is that our rent is so much cheaper so we don’t have to work as much. So we have way more time to work on music or jam or write songs. And when we tour, we don’t have to worry about people subletting. Way less stressful.
What is the biggest difference as far as the music scenes in Philly and in New York go?
D: For me, there are more house shows in Philly and I feel like there’s a lot more of a feeling of camaraderie where people are actually stoked for you. People are more involved. There are more zines and kids are doing DIY stuff in Philly which kind of makes sense because there’s more free time to do stuff.
There’s a lot of stuff going on in New York, which is great. But at the same time, there’s so much happening that things get lost in the mix.
I: I read Patti Smith saying something about how she loves New York for her own reasons but if she was an artist now, she would move. It’s hard. I love New York, I have tons of friends here, we come visit all the time, but for us right now, it makes way more sense to be in Philly. After we moved, we got way less stressed out. And we have each other too which makes it easier.
Yeah, you guys are dating, right?
How does the dynamic of being in a couple in a band work? Do you guys collaborate well together?
D: I write a lot of music and I’ll show her things and we’ll write melodies together and then she’ll show me things. We have a very similar way of writing music.
I: I never thought I’d be capable of writing music with someone else because it’s just so weird and personal but I think it’s just easy for us because we’re in a relationship and because we have so much in common.
Have you guys been dating for longer than you’ve been in a band or how did that work?
D: We had known each other for a little while before that. We played music for a while.
I: Three or four years.
D: No, not that long.
I: Well, we’ve been dating for two.
D: Oh, so I guess yeah, like three years.
So you were playing music together for a full year before you started dating?
D: There was a full year where we weren’t dating at all. We were just friends. But the band was kind of happening but we were just doing it for fun. We weren’t playing that many shows. We’re still doing it for fun, obviously. But then after that, we tried to play as many shows as we could.
I: After we started dating, it became easier to write songs and be in a band because we live together so it’s way easier than living in different places.
D: I’m kind of surprised that it works out so well because I can be really stubborn when it comes to interacting with other people or any sort of art in general. But it works out well somehow and I can’t believe that it does.
I: It was definitely like, wow, is this gonna be a mistake? Because we are best friends and we’re in a band together but it was actually the best thing. We were hanging out all the time anyway so it’s like we were dating. Everybody thought we were dating because we were together 24/7. It got to a point where we were basically dating but just not making out.
So why not start making out, right?
D: Right. At that point, you might as well.
Izzy, you were just featured in the New York Times Magazine’s Style section?
I: Yeah, yesterday.
I like how you said that with a cringe.
I: No, I don’t know. I get weirded out with fashion stuff sometimes.
I: I really don’t know. I just don’t feel that comfortable. I like to dress in my own clothes. That’s why sometimes, I hate doing photoshoots. Even though you bring your own clothes, there’s the hustle of what you’re going to wear and make up and all that. I just want to be me. I don’t mind doing fashion things every now and then but it’s just not something I’m interested in or care about that much. But I mean, I thought it was cool. It was a good article.
Do you think maybe some of your hesitation has to do with it has to do with the idea that fashion shifts the spotlight off the sound of your music and onto the look of it?
I: Yeah, I don’t mind doing something once and a while if it’s cool, but most of the time I want to just focus on the music since that’s what matters.
via The New York Times
How would you describe yourselves to someone who hasn’t heard you?
I: I hate that question so usually when people ask, I say, “I don’t know, rock?”
D: I guess just like, loud rock.
You guys don’t seem big on genres.
I: Yeah, because genres are weird. Everybody gets influenced by so many different things that to classify it as one genre is just weird.
D: I have influences from a lot of different things. I listen to a lot of rap music. A$AP Ferg’s record that came out recently is fucking awesome. I grew up listening to tons of metal. That was the first thing where I absolutely decided that I was into music was because of that. I’m still super into that stuff. EYEHATEGOD is probably my favorite ever.
I: Yeah, me too. One of the reasons we bonded was because of a metal show.
D: We went to see Pentagram together at that reunion thing they did.
Where did you guys grow up?
D: I grew up in Pennsylvania, in the suburbs. We lived in Philly for like, three years which was the best thing because I was getting in enough trouble.
Was it just suburban boredom?
D: Yeah, I was super hyper and I didn’t have a lot of friends. So when I’d get out of school, I’d try to put that energy somewhere else so I’d rage and get in trouble as my way to vent. Looking back at it now, anyway. I didn’t realize it then. Back then, I was just a mess.
I: I was a mess too because I was just biting people in the park.
I'm sorry, what?
I: I don’t know. For some reason, I thought I owned the slides so I’d bite people who went on the slides. Everyone was making fun of me. Also, my mom used to cut my hair in the worst haircut ever. It was this curly afro, almost. And I had a really low voice so the kids would make fun of me. So I’d just bite everyone.
And where did you grow up?
I: Brazil. I’m Brazillian.
So what’s on the schedule for today?
D: We’re moving out of our practice space. And we just got back from our tour.
I: It was fun. It’s always kind of sad when you come back from tour. There are moments on tour when you’re really stressed out. There are moments on tour when you’re really stoked and moments when you’re really tired but no matter what, when it’s over you’re always kind of bummed out. It just feels like summer camp is over and you have to go back to school or something.
Dan Ozzi has never bitten anyone on a slide but he did get his head stuck in a jungle gym once. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi