NME Lifelines: Hooton Tennis Club Help Us Resurrect The Killer ’60s Q&A

Lifelines was NME’s way of introducing new bands to its audience back in the ‘60s. A maddeningly-simple yet oddly, in retrospect, compelling Q&A that was part dole queue inspection form and part Top Of The Pops cribsheet. It saw everyone from The Beatles (Paul McCartney’s favourite food? “Chicken Maryland”) to, er, Bert Weedon take part.

Even Pink Floyd – the crankiest band on earth at that point – gave it a go, as Syd Barrett biographer Mike Watkinson noted in his book Crazy Diamond:

“Although the Floyd considered themselves above the triviality of the pop scene, they relented on one occasion and agreed to appear in the NME Lifelines series, which quizzed popular artists about everything from their favourite colour and food to the pets they kept.”

Which brings us nicely back to 2015, and the resurrection of this fine franchise. We’re gonna keep the questions exactly the same as they were back in the day – omitting ‘Weight’ because that’s a bit weird, actually – and once again give the best new bands of the modern age a literal lifeline to talk to you, the readers of NME. The first Q&A runs below, and we’ll be publishing more as the weeks go on.

Kicking us off and therefore joining the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Rae, Billy Fury, Sam Cooke et al in this most special of musical canons?

It’s Hooton Tennis Club!

The Mersey band are set to play one of the final ever gigs – sob – at Liverpool live music institution The Kazimier next Tuesday (December 8), and we’ve also got the premiere of their new video for ‘Always Coming Back 2 You’ embedded after the Q&A stuff. It’s brilliant, features lots of fish-eye lens and was directed by that modern day legend Douglas Hart.

NMEFull name: Ryan Murphy
Role: Vocals/guitar
Birth date: 10th of November, 1989
Birthplace: King’s Regiment Army Barracks Hospital, Berlin
Height: 5ft 8
Eye colour: Hazel
Hair colour: Brown
Brothers, sisters: One sister: Georgia (George/Margo) Louise Murphy – 23
Instruments played: Guitar and a little bit of pia-pia-pia-no!
Educated: Highfield County Primary, then, Upton-by-Chester High School, then, West Cheshire College, and finally, Liverpool John Moores University
Age entered show business: Show business? My first performance as part of a band was in High School, aged 16. But, I was also a wise man, and then (costume change), Mark Owen (from Take That) in my secondary school nativity play
Former occupation: Paint mixer, barman, student, barman, concierge, estate agent, puppeteer
Hobbies: Photography, painting, and pizza base making!
Favourite singers: Bob Dylan, Jake Thackray, Brian Wilson, Lee Hazlewood, Tom Waits…
Favourite actors: Bill Murray, Gael García Bernal, Basil Rathbone, Dustin Hoffman…
Favourite actresses: Jean Seberg, Ida Lupino, Janel Moloney, Uma Thurman…
Favourite foods: Burritos, chorizo, pizza, pancakes, and popcorn
Favourite drinks: Apple juice, ‘Rum & Posh’, and tea (no sugar finally!)
Favourite clothes: Warm winter jumpers, ushanka hats, quality socks
Favourite band: The Beatles
Favourite musician: Noah Lennox A.K.A. Panda Bear (from Animal Collective)
Likes: Henry Miller, Herman Hesse, travelling, watching ‘The Shining’, cycling, swimming, making paper collage, Henri Matisse, The Young Ones, reading
Dislikes: Negative thinking
Tastes in music: Independent, lo-fi-bedroom-rock, garage, winter-y relaxing, classical, big-band, French singer-songwriter, bleeps and bloops, experimental, rock ‘n’ roll, and ‘good-times-dad-dancing’ music
Personal ambitions: To stop burning the rice at the bottom of the pan! Also, to put some weight on
Professional ambition: To write a novel, to edit a book, and to keep touring

NMEFull name: Callum McFadden
Role: Bass
Birth date: 15/08/1990
Birthplace: Countess of Chester Hospital
Height: 6″0
Eye colour: Blue
Hair colour: Brown
Brothers, sisters: Liam (22) and Erin (17)
Instruments played: I try to play the bass
Educated: Upton-by-Chester High School, Cardiff University
Age entered show business: N/A
Former occupation: Currently still a hydrographic surveyor. Used to work at Chester Zoo selling balloons. Bad bartender.
Hobbies: Reading, Scandinavian design, brutalist architecture, long walks on the beach.
Favourite singers: Bob Dylan
Favourite actors: John Candy, Christoph Waltz, Will Forte
Favourite actresses: Zooey Deschanel, Kristen Wiig, Kristen Schaal
Favourite foods: Roast dinner me mum does, lotus biscuits, smörgåsbord
Favourite drinks: Italian coffee, wheat beer, chocolate milk
Favourite clothes: suede shoes, band tees, jazzy socks
Favourite band: This past year it’s been Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen and The Beatles
Favourite musician: Currently, Mr Bill Ryder Jones
Likes: Bed. Simon Reeve
Dislikes: not bed. Wasps. UK beach scene, dude
Tastes in music: Mainly indie music, partial to a bit of punk and folk music. American garage. BIGGIE
Personal ambitions: to be happy
Professional ambitions: To do what we want to do

NMEFull name: Harry Norman James Chalmers
Role: Drums
Birth date: 30th March 1990
Birthplace: Countess of Chester Hospital
Height: 6ft 4
Eye colour: Greeny Brown Sludge
Hair colour: Brown
Brothers, sisters: George – 29 and Jack – 23
Instruments played: Power-chord guitar, rhythmless drums, and major chord piano
Educated: Upton-by-Chester High School, West Cheshire College, Liverpool John Moores University
Age entered show business: N/A
Former occupation: Network and telecoms engineer, dishwasher, shoe salesman, Tesco fruit and veg man, student
Hobbies: Live comedy, reading autobiographies of comedians and musicians, trying my best at cooking
Favourite singers: Gram Parsons, Martha Reeves, Levi Stubbs, Mary Weiss, Randy Newman…
Favourite actors: Christopher Guest, Bradley Whitford, The Actor Kevin Eldon…
Favourite actresses: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rebecca Front, Allison Janney, Julianne Moore…
Favourite foods: Homemade banana bread, Cherry Drops, Yorkshire puddings
Favourite drinks: Diet Coke, Brooklyn lager, Chocomel
Favourite clothes: Desert boots, quality socks, my new navy mac
Favourite band: The Funk Brothers
Favourite musician: Jonathan Richman
Likes: The West Wing, Kurt Vonnegut, Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown
Dislikes: Cajóns, reading in cars, raisins
Tastes in music: Trashy garage rock, Motown/Stax/Atlantic soul, rootsy country-and-western-rock-n-roll, 60s pop groups, delta blues, lo-fi rubbish, forlorn solo troubadours…
Personal ambitions: A knee injury and months of tour riders have turned me into a blubbery mess; I want to start running again
Professional ambition: I’d really like to get more involved with production and mixing. Pushing faders, over-using reverb, and putting things low in the mix etc.

NMEFull name: James Madden
Role: Vocals/guitar
Birth date: February 14th, 1990
Birthplace: Rossmore
Height: 6ft
Eye colour: Dark Blue
Hair colour: Black
Brothers, sisters: Cal
Instruments played: Guitar, drums, root note Bass guitar
Educated: Upton-by-Chester High School and Manchester School of Art
Age entered show business: N/A
Former occupation: Student, Network and telecoms engineer, Chef at Pizza Hut, Barman, Making bootleg live concert CD’s
Hobbies: Drawing, Film photography, Mixologist, Running, Books, the Library
Favourite singers: Martha Reeves, Lou Reed, Andre Benjamin, Sly Stone
Favourite actors: Harry Dean Stanton, Vincent Gallo
Favourite actresses: Sissy Spacek, Léa Seydoux
Favourite foods: Jaffa cakes, Nan’s homemade apple pie and Paprikás Krumpli
Favourite drinks: Redbush tea, Belgian/Dutch beer, Rum sour or Daiquiri, Ginger beer
Favourite clothes: Hand-me-downs
Favourite band: The Byrds
Favourite musician: Joshua Hayward [The Horrors] for his guitar weeping wizardry
Likes: Painting, Ernest Hemingway, fishing with John and Louis Theroux
Dislikes: Chocolate liqueurs, guilt, dirty or wet tissues
Tastes in music: Bad Musicianship, jangle pop, the ‘Dunedin’ sound, noise pop and Improvised nonsense
Personal ambitions: To live near the ocean, paint, drink and fish every day
Professional ambition: To star in a film

Here’s ‘Always Coming Back 2 You’:

Hooton Tennis Club portraits by Brian David Stevens, for the Heavenly 25 exhibition