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Hookworms are one of the year’s biggest stories. Jonathan Wright hears strange tales of self-reliance, reinvention and touring – but only in the evenings, at the weekend or during the holidays…


Don’t give up the day job. It used to be a jibe thrown at musicians and bands who, to put it politely, weren’t quite up to snuff. These days, though, as demonstrated by the remarkable year in which Leeds electronic-psychedelic quintet Hookworms’ Microshift LP crashed the Top 20, it may be time to amend that barbed comment, to make it into a question: why give up the day job?

“It’s impossible to do [Hookworms] full-time”, says frontman Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson, as he reflects on the economics of the contemporary music biz. “Look at Wild Beasts”, he adds, who announced their split in 2017, citing financial stress as one of the key reasons for calling it a day: “One of them said he was still living in a shared house sharing a bedroom with his girlfriend, and it’s like, ‘What’s the point in doing this?’ I’m 33, I don’t want to have to live like that, and I think we all have jobs that we enjoy, and we have social lives, and playing music for us is just a hobby – and I think it’s nice like that because I don’t think the band would still be together if we’d tried to do it full-time.”

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