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Sam Woods is the founder member of the band The Hyperjax, they were formed in 1996. They started touring the pub and club scene with covers of 50's favourites, deciding to devote time to their own work, they started touring internationally with great exultation. Their first album was entitled ‘Generation X-Rated’ released in 2002.

They are a full on, in your face, loud & rockin, pyschobilly, three piece band from the North West, in their 13th year, (lucky for some we hope) with various line ups over the years. The 2009 line up has, Sam on lead vocals and guitar, Liam Revenge , Double bass and vocals and Wolfman on Drums.

Amongst other things they’ve done, they’ve played at the 2003 Carling Reading Festival, and were featured on a compilation CD with’Uncut’ Magazine, featuring alongside Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer and Stiff Little Fingers. In 2004 they were touring constantly with a string of Californian dates. In 2005 they went onto support the Tiger Army for their Jan UK dates gaining more fans along the way. It seems they are constantly touring and enthralling crowds along the way. They have several albums to date which can be found on their website or iTunes. ‘The Wildest Card’ is there most recent album, which has received critical acclaim from the alternative sector and the psychobilly scene.

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 -  Liam & Sam

I first encountered The Hyperjax playing at Strummercamp this year, and was blown away by their performance as many other were judging by the swelling crowd in the small tent. The band possesses a real energetic thrust, Sam has such a star quality and stage prescence, enthralling to watch and photograph, the band certainly gave me a push to go out and buy their album’ The Wildest Card’ which has all the wildness of punk, rock n’ roll, injected with rockabilly madness. I defy you not to move to ‘Talkin New York City’! I managed to find myself web chatting to Sam Woods the original member and singer.

Mel - So, you’ve been together forever it seems and had a few different line up’s over the years, is this the final line up now? Can you talk us through the current band?

Sam - I would like to think so, we all click very well together musically and socially which is important in a band. We all got together a little over 2 years ago when the last line up of The Hyperjax crumbled.

Liam was fresh out of the Revenge of the Pyschotronic men, Neil I knew from the Preston scene and Keith who unfortunately can't be with us any more due to Tinnitus although he does joins us every now and again for acoustic gigs. I bumped into Keith at the right time which was Strummercamp 07 where he said he wasn't up to much band wise. Despite his handicap he is very proud to have put something down on record and his bass playing has been praised as one of the best in current Psychobilly. We'll definitely be working with him in the studio again for our next album. But right now we have a good thing going as a three piece and Liam’s doing a mighty fine job on bass and with Keith’s approval too.

Mel - What an original name for a band, you’ve probably been asked many times but why the name Hyperjax?

Sam - I took it from a interview with Poison Ivy of The Cramps and she was talking about how Rockabilly should be like 'hyper' and 'jacked up' The 'X' came by accident' and it stuck.

Mel - Oh cool The Cramps, very influential on the Pyschobilly scene, I should imagine. The Hyperjax started out in 1996 playing for the ‘rocking scene’ were you doing anything musical before this time?

Sam - I started out in a Blues band here in Preston called Crash the Ash, we didn’t last very long. The bass player was a loony called Trolly, he encouraged me to be daft on stage like him while the singer took himself to seriously. It was great experience for me playing this shit hole bar every Sunday full of drunks prostitutes and drug dealers, it was certainly an eye opener for me, I learnt back then that its far from glamorous is the music business, its earthy and rough. But Trolly made sure we had fun in the process.

Mel - So can you tell us how did your interest in Rockabilly music begin?

Sam - I'd be 12 years old, I was already well into the 50's Rock n Roll like Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry ect and my Dad would take me to this weekly running club in Preston where they'd have bands on once a month. I was just hooked from the word go, from there I would just dig deeper and spend my paper round money on the more rarer stuff of that era before discovering Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats who had brought the whole thing up to date in the early 80's. From then on I got into Pyschobilly and then Punk.

Mel - You’re a kind of punk/rockabilly sounding band, who are your influences apart from the old 50’s classics? How do you actually describe your sound?

Sam - Exactly how you did although I hate to pigeon hole myself. We weren't the first to do what we've done, but I would say we're unique. The usual influences come from the more Modern Rockabilly side of things like "The Stray Cats, The Quakes, Long Tall Texans and so on to the punk end of things like The Clash and The Ramones. All kinds of music and bands I like can inspire me one way or another.

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 - Liam & Sam

Mel - It certainly shows in your sound! The Rockabilly scene seems to be growing in popularity, with theme nights like The Pyscho Rock Fest & The Grease Monkey in Leeds also The Rock n’ Roll Hellcat nights in Manchester. Why do you think this is?

Sam - Well you've had American Psychobilly bands like Tiger Army, Horrorpops being put out on big punk labels and it’s caught on over here too. There’s this whole Burlesque thing going on too which has a 50's retro slant to it. I think fashion has a lot to do with it and unfortunately some folk jump on that and don't absorb the music. On the other hand it’s made kids want to dig deeper from being into Tiger Army to go buying a Guana Batz album or so. I like to remain optimistic.

Mel - The Hyperjax’s been going on for 13 years now, how much do you think you have changed over time?

Sam - Well I certainly think we've got better as times gone on you can't buy experience. We started out as a three piece with a couple of drummers before Wally came in and really set the blue print signature sound for us with his animal tub thumping. Five years later we tried it as a four piece with an extra guitar, Wally quits, a more versatile drummer comes in and at the time it felt good knowing we had progressed, we laid down "The Bottom Line" in a week mixed and all. It took a year for it to come out and I think in that time we really started to lose our sparkle we had years before, it was just frustrating. Some bloke said to me around the same time "When I first saw you, you we're a psycho/rockabilly band now your just an ordinary band. I tried to tell him "Well mate we're more than what we we're" but he was right, we'd lost what was so unique about us. The album had a luke warm response and by then it had all gone tits up for us as a band anyway. Enter the new chaps the same year we really bust our arses to make it. Now we're back to being a trio again, at first I was nervous thinking we're going backwards not forwards, but the magic's there, even more so is the raw charm and I've been forced to push myself more as a guitarist. We really want to raise the bar even higher now on what we can do. I've had to balance the perimeter of progressing and sticking to what we know.

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 - Neil 'Wolfman' on drums

Mel - I saw you play at Strummercamp, this year and you gave an absolutely storming performance, the tent was packed out. What was this experience like for you?

Sam - It was great, my little girl came with me and stood at the side of the stage and all she could say afterwards when I went over to her was “Can we put the tent up now Daddy?” :-) I got to spend quality time with 2 important things in my life, my daughter and my band.

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 Liam on double bass

Mel - Yes I saw your little girl with you. I wondered as you played Strummercamp and they like to have bands with some connection to Joe in some form, are you a keen Clash/Joe Strummer fan?

Sam - Me and Liam are for sure.

Mel – Which are your favourite Clash tracks?

Sam – ‘Complete Control’ because of its fast intensity and gets you going for work in the morning. ‘White  in Hammersmith Palais’, brings a tear to your eye because that the first song I heard when I heard Joe died. Right now I like ‘Up in Heaven (not only here)’.

Mel – You’re probably too young but did you ever see The Clash or Joe live?

Sam - I was too young to have seen The Clash but I can hold claim to say I was born the year they formed '76'. I did see Joe in a year before he died and he was amazing. I remember him walking of the stage at the end and then stopping and shouting down one of the mic's, fist in the air “From here to the end!” The guy was a legend!

Mel - Whose music are you currently listening to?

Sam - I'm listing to Wigan band The Adjusters. I Like The Gaslight Anthem's album ‘59 sound’, some early Springsteen stuff. Psychobilly wise 'The Termites' 'The Graveyard Johnny's' and 'Spellbound'

Mel - Great my last interview was with Ash from The Adjusters, a superb band. Do you write all the lyrics? What inspires you, and what do you write about?

Sam - Well I've covered personal experiences to social commentary I think reading a lot is very inspiring. Sam Cook once said “The more you read, the better writer you become”or something like that, I kind of took that on board.

Mel - Can you explain what some of your tracks off ‘The Wildest Card’ album are about - ‘Blacklisted’, ‘One Crack Of the Whip’, and ‘Madame Butterfly’ ?.

Sam - 'Blacklisted' is a pop at the scenester's who think they rule the roost. I don't want to be part of a scene which casts out folk coming in wanting to give it a try. I always knew it as a friendly scene and I'll do my bit to keep it that way. 'One Crack Of The Whip' again is on a similar note. I know I'm starting to sound like a hippy, but we only get one go. No actually it’s about S&M ;-) 'Madame Butterfly' is about a screwed up girl can never settle in one place and her time is very brief before she's no more.

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 - Sam holds court

Mel – You seem fond of tattoos and have amazed a great collection, who does them?

Sam - Martin from Exile Tattoo's in Kendal, not quite sure when or what I'll have done next. I don't want to go for the overkill though.

Mel - Do they have any meanings?

Sam - I like having dragons, guitars and a girl on my arm for good. That means a lot. Oh and flowers and Carpes too!

Mel - You’ve travelled through some parts of Europe, like Holland, Belgium and Germany and even the USA. What were the most memorable times?

Sam - America was stressful, due to that cocked up festival a few years back. We turned up to find it had been cancelled, but the salvage shows we had were great fun. Belgium was the first time this line up went abroad. Me and Neil found a new love in their local brew ‘Duvel’.

Mel - Life on the road eh….We’d love one of your wild tales!

SamWell, we we're in Holland last September and after the gig in Eindhoven this girl gave me this toffee. Liam said “I wouldn’t its got drugs in”.  I said “shut the fuck up” and chewed it up unknowingly. Next thing you know my legs were like jelly and felt like I was about to float or something. Turns out this was a 'hashish sweet’ and I’d been spiked. But Liam who doesn’t drink but can't drive, Neil and my mate Pete are hammered on these free 'after shocks' so I was the designated driver that night so I stayed sober before hand only now I'm stoned!

We had a place to stay ten miles out with the singer of the support band who also pissed, finds a car full of Turks at the side of us while I'm driving. He then decides it’s a good idea to throw his empty bottles at them. Liam begins to wrestle with him in order to stop and I'm just laughing my tits off. Back at the house he woke his Mum up and started acting the goat making me laugh even more (at him not with him) and his girl friend kept telling me stop because I was encouraging him. They end up arguing and they split up that night. This band has a habit of wrecking relationships in the past. We decided to then dress Neil up as a 'Ted' when he passed out. He's still not forgiven us.

Mel - It sounds like one to remember and I’m sure there’s more you’d love to tell us lol. You even named one of your tours after the famous Marilyn Monroe movie 'Seven year itch tour' in 2003, taking in the length and breadth of the UK in a week. This must have been a really gruelling mission?

Sam - Yeah it was, Wally our drummer at the time didn’t shower all that time and I had to go in the back of the van with him on the last date from London to Manchester. Top guy though was Wally.

Mel - Rather you than me hahaha. You seem to have had some disillusionment, and up’s and downs with the band over the years but you came back with a bang in 2007, all refreshed, with the current line up. Where do you see your future?

Sam - Being optimistic, foreign festivals supports slots for bigger bands, a bigger fan base and audience count for our own headline gigs. I don't hold my breath I just want to get out there and play.

Mel - And we’d love to see you again. What next for The Hyperjax?

Sam - We have a break now for summer and then a busy autumn ahead of us. We have three new stellar songs in the working 2 of them going in the live set. If I can put pen to paper during this break we'll be on our way to the working of album number 4.

Mel - Can you name one guilty pleasure?

Sam - Bog standard New wave of British heavy metal bands of the late 70's, Liam bought a compilation for the van, I have a thing for 80's Glam rock and Neil likes WASP.

Mel - Final question just for fun who would you love to give a big ‘Mudkiss’ to?

Sam - That would have to be my girlfriend Susi who I've not seen since the middle of June, she lives in Austria.

Mel - Thanks for your time Sam, hope you and Susi get together soon for that Mudkiss, and I hope you get the success you deserve.

Catch The Hyperjax touring at a venue near you, I assure you, it’ll leave you feeling hyper!

Photo: Strummercamp 2009 - Sam end of show victory!

Sept:12th - Cockpit, Leeds

18th – Bedlam Breakout Pyschbilly Festival, Northampton
18th - The Westcoast Rock Cafe Blackpool
20th - The Retro Bar Manchester

Oct:10th Oct - The Redhouse, Sheffield

15th Oct - Bootleggers Kendal

Nov: 5th Nov - The Tavern (supporting Anti Nowhere League) Wigan

Dec: 4th Dec - Dickie Doodles Kendal, Cumbria, Northwest


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Interview & photos from Strummercamp by Mel 29/07/09


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