And now we bring you All The Questions Fit to Print with Nick Hudson, the man behind the prolific, Brighton-based The Academy of Sun, wherein we talk about inspiring new wave aunties, being proudly stateless, homemade stock, (terrifying) emotional support spiders, and our favourite topic, music that is anything but ordinary.
DISARM: What are you listening to right now?
The Academy of Sun: A live Naked City concert from 1992, John Zorn’s cut-up jazz-core fusion band with Yamatsuka Eye from Boredoms on vocals. And Mr. Bungle demos. I just saw them in NYC so I’m a little obsessed right now. (Again).
What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?
Mr Bungle’s Disco Volante when I was 14. My parents were horrified. My monomania prescribed it played on loop for an entire year. Now they’re both huge Mike Patton fans, either through Stockholm Syndrome or Epiphany. As for cassette, it was far less cool. It was Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet, which was at number one for FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. And is appalling.
Vinyl or CD/Digital?
Both! Vinyl as a fetishizable tangible artifact and a wider canvas for the artwork and digital for the high-res clarity, albeit via Bandcamp – not Spotify – in the interest and advocacy of artist fairness.
What are your favourite bands?
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Kayo Dot, Spleen, Cleric, Mr. Bungle, The Walker Brothers, Oingo Boingo, REM, These New Puritans, Coil, Talk Talk, Crime And The City Solution, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, The B52’s, Massive Attack, Goblin, K.U.K.L., Cocteau Twins, Kino, Crass, Love, Tomahawk.
Why do you live where you do?
..It’s the last bastion of progressive and socially liberal attitudes and policies in the UK (not counting Manchester, Bristol etc), and despite Steve Coogan’s assertion that “Brighton is where young people go to retire”, I’m able to live and work here with my idiosyncrasies intact and largely unchallenged and unhindered, i.e. I’m currently working from home, answering these (excellent) questions whilst blasting out Naked City and cooking a fresh batch of homemade stock with which to augment my meals this coming week.
Brighton also has a grungy, seedy aspect that can be quite beguiling from a writer’s point of view. Plus it’s conveniently close to London and various airports, as regards escaping when Brexit anxiety gets too much. We’re all getting gradually priced out of it, sadly, as it becomes one gargantuan artisanal coffee shop full of commuting Londoners. But I intend to secure a bureaucratic footing on the European mainland before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st anyway, otherwise touring Europe is gonna become an absolute hellmare. Plus, I consider myself proudly stateless and defiantly un-nationalistic. (with a passionate love for Europe and its culture.) Oh and the food is shit in the UK and is only going to get worse.
What is your favourite journey?
As a compulsive and insatiable traveler I have to list a handful:
– Crossing the bridge to The Isle Of Skye from the Highlander castle.
– Flying over Greenland en route to The States.
– the four-hour journey from Longyearbyen on the archipelago of Svalbard (as close to the north pole as a civilian can access) to the Russian enclave of Barentsburg via the Esmark glacier.
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Brunch with my chosen family in Williamsburg, NYC before catching the ferry across the East River to Manhattan to catch a gig or a movie, all subtly amplified with a cocktail that’s probably green and may or may not have wasabi in it.
What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?
Headphones, a book, coconut water, phone charger, emotional support camel spider.
What is your dream vacation if money was no object?
Trans-Siberian Railway with multiple extended stops across Siberia, with a few weeks stationed around both Lake Baikal and Kamchatka.
What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?
Find some good street food and a dimly-lit dive bar full of Lynchian off-cuts.
What inspired you to take up music?
My auntie gave my a keyboard when I was four. She was in a new wave/post-punk band called Room 101 whose single “Tokyo Nights” was much beloved of John Peel and Billy Bragg. She used to wear a thrift-shop wedding dress and smeared goth make-up onstage (long before Courtney) and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. (Still do, to be honest). I took to the keyboard pretty well, graduated to piano at six, and the vista opened wide-up from there. She died in 1989, far too young, and I’ve recorded my own version of “Tokyo Nights”, in tribute, for a solo record I’ll put out later this year.
What was your most memorable day job?
Cheffing. And I’m shocked I remember ANY of it given how hedonistic it was. Someone lent me Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and we used it as a life manual for a few years. Oops.
What advice should you have taken but didn’t?
Don’t adopt Anthony Bourdain as a life coach.
Listen to The Parts That Need Replacing by The Academy of Sun
What should everyone shut up about?
That it’s wrong to punch fascists.
Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?
Elisabeth Bathory. Probably ox heart. Liver. Longpig at a stretch. I’d aim to stop short at adding myself to the menu. I gather she’s notoriously hard to sate… we actually wrote a song about her on The Quiet Earth, which is to be released as a single on March 13th.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Hunter S. Thompson’s Samoan attorney. William Burroughs’ Dr. Benway. Kafka’s Gregor Samsa.
What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or as an artist)?
Kate Bush, Before The Dawn, 2014.
What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?
The Byline Times, The Siberian Times, The Quietus, Sight and Sound, Carole Cadwalladr’s Twitter feed.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.
The accumulated output of German artist Anselm Kiefer. Especially his compound in Barjac, southern France. David Bowie’s career. Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia.
Watch The Academy of Sun’s The House, live at Brighton Dome, supporting Mogwai
What does the next six months look like for you?
Hectic and exciting! The Academy Of Sun are putting out a single on March 13th, with the album – The Quiet Earth – to follow on April 24th, which we’re devilishly excited about. We’ll be doing a tonne of shows in support of that, with further singles to follow. I have my first exhibition of visual work in a joint show with my excellent painter friend Mark Walter, with the private view scheduled for April 16th in Brighton.
I have a short UK solo tour in early April alongside my friend and collaborator Toby Driver from Kayo Dot. I’m doing a three week tour of the west-coast of the USA also with Toby in June, where I’ll be playing in his solo band, and also in Asva, the band I’m in which is based out of Seattle, and which has a double album out early next year. I’ll also be performing with Kianna Blue from The Academy Of Sun on this tour, doing material from both The Quiet Earth and my solo output. This month I’m completing a film score for a feature by director Bradley Tuck before I begin another short score for a sci-fi film. I’m tracking the strings for the solo record later this week with genius violinist Lizzy Carey, so that record should be done fairly soon. I made a collaborative improv record with Toby Driver while in NYC last week, engineered by Marc Urselli (Lou Reed, John Zorn), which we’ll release soon.
I’ve written a short film script that I’ll be filming in May, cast and crew are established for that. At some point within all of this I plan to take a short sojourn in a cute little green shack I found on AirBnB which is a few metres outside of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. I like a solo break from time to time, so I’ll take a few days there to sit and write.
Which musician-based rule do you agree with: “Always meet your heroes” or “Never meet your heroes”?
I tend to disagree with most rules. Caravaggio was a murderer but I’ll still salivate in thrall to his exquisite chiaroscuro. As they say. I met Diamanda Galas in Paris once and she was the most gracious, charismatic and buoyant – and lovely human being. Thank you for asking such awesome questions!
Thank you for your thoughtful and entertaining answers, Nick! We can’t wait for the new album and please keep us in the loop about news of your other diverse projects when/as…
After this interview, we’re announcing the DISARM Interview Hall of Fame (in honour of our fifth year) and The Academy of Sun is the first inductee. Your portrait now lines an impressive (imaginary) hall inside our (brilliantly dreamed up) shrine to music and lively storytelling. Tell us where to send your award: Brighton or Williamsburg (or Barentsburg…?).
The Academy of Sun’s new album, The Parts That Need Replacing, is out March 13th, 2020.