It’s renaissance time for blues band The Hoax.
Formed in 1991, The Hoax were courted by major labels, whisked across the world on tour and recorded albums with some of rock and roll’s most prestigious producers.
But while, as the 1990s progressed, the band seemed to have it all, they’d actually had enough.
And in 1999 the band went their different ways, as guitarist Jon Amor explains.
“We all became disillusioned and I think when you do something like play in a band it wears you out. We never stopped touring and we were under a lot of pressure. The record company wanted us to make a certain type of music and look a certain kind of way and soon you start to lose sight of the fun and you stop enjoying it.”
But now – more than 20 years later – the band have rediscovered fun.
“We’ve got together again to record an album and it’s been great. We’ve all been so relaxed and we’re not trying to be clever or cerebral, we’re just playing what we really enjoy playing and what we want to play.”
The album, which is the band’s first in 15 years, was funded by pledges from fans amounting to around £15,000 ($20,000). Known as Big City Blues, it was recorded in Southern California and scored a Number One in the British Blues charts last year.
This success is a welcome return to a star-studded career in blues rock.
In the 1990s, after being signed by producer Mike Vernon (whose repertoire includes Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall and The Blues Breakers) to Atlantic / Warner Records, the band’s debut album, Sound Like This, was hailed as one of the definitive albums of the time.
But it was a musical anomaly for its time.
“There weren’t as many bands in the early ’90s as there are now,” says Amor. “The dance scene was very big around then so we were doing something quite different.”
But Amor wouldn’t have it any other way. Even as a teenager – when British teenagers were delving into punk – he was exploring the work of BB King and Howlin’ Wolf.
“I think I was attracted to the rawness of blues,” he says. “As I kid I was just instinctively drawn to it. I got into Dire Straits, then Mark Knopfler, and it was when I started digging into what his influences were – such as JJ Cale and Eric Clapton – that I discovered this world of blues.
“In a way I was introduced to blues via very middle class white men – a million miles from the backbreaking, cotton-picking world of artists such as BB King,”
But there’s more to it than historic discovery.
“I like the way blues doesn’t hide behind production. There is a real honesty to it,” says Amor.
And these influences have spilled into Big City Blues.
“It’s inevitable that inspiration will come from other artists and feed into what you do. And on this album we’ve been a lot more spontaneous and it’s felt more instinctive.”
Big City Blues is out now and The Hoax play at the Academy, Arundel Gate on April 13.