Those looking for a new addition to boost their rockabilly collection, then The Hurricanes would be a wise choice.
Chancing upon a new artist or band with serious potential whether by accident when sifting through a mountain of research for the next article one’s composing, or fleetingly hearing from an equally obsessive music companion over a few pints at one’s local hostelry, can sometimes work to be a blessing. The Hurricanes is one such band where serendipity played its hand after researching one band, which led to another, before arriving at the destination, unknown at the time, marked ‘Devil’s Choice!’, the moniker given to The Hurricanes’ debut album.
The reasons why an immediate bond developed with the long player ‘Devil’s Choice!’ are due to The Hurricanes knack for irresistible melodies, in addition to producing a thumping rockin’ beat, and for writing their own versions of events with a track list of mostly original material.
So, where exactly can The Hurricanes be found? It turns out to be Glasgow, Scotland, is their place of residence, and with closer examination revealing a three-piece band consisting of Stephen Clyde (Guitar/Vocals), D.J. Reid (Double Bass), and Derek (Del) Littlejohn (Drums).
After such a timely discovery, Famous Last Words (FLW) sent word via pigeon post expressing interest in The Hurricanes’ rockabilly wares, and to see if a discussion could be arranged with the band. A warm response soon arrived, and with band members Del Littlejohn and Stephen Clyde providing separate accounts from their locations in Glasgow, due to Covid restrictions, of their versions of events with all things associated with these rockin’ hepcats. So, without further ado, over to you Glasgow and the latest edition to the cannon of rockin’ goodness namely The Hurricanes:
Del Littlejohn: “The Hurricanes began from (Stephen) Clyde’s old band Hotrod Sinners. I joined on the drums, and then we started writing songs with no bass player around, so we asked Johnny Hatton from the Brian Setzer Orchestra if he would play bass on the first four recordings we’d done. These recordings were quickly picked up by our label, Missing Fink Records, in Georgia, USA.”
“It all began some time back!” comes the short reply from Stephen Clyde who is also laughing given that The Hurricanes began in earnest during the pandemic.
How would The Hurricanes describe its sound?
Del Littlejohn: “I would describe our music as neo-rockabilly with a twist of blues, country, folk and jazz.”
Stephen Clyde: “An exciting, tight band with fresh songs, and with a modern feel. It’s a mixed bag really, consisting of blues, jazz, country, and rockabilly.”
What about specific influences when it comes to song writing for The Hurricanes?
Del Littlejohn: “My Influences come from The Chop Tops, Rev. Horton Heat, Motorhead, Gene Krupa, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. I listen to a lot of the old outlaw country stuff as well as rockabilly music.”
“Clyde’s living room carpet!” replies Stephen curiously and once more laughing giving the impression that The Hurricanes’ vocalist is the joker in the pack.
What can you tell FLW about your album ‘Devil’s Choice!’?
Del Littlejohn: “’The Devil’s Choice!’ LP was recorded on my home recording studio set up during the Lockdown year. The recording process was done over about nine months as we were recording the songs as we wrote them, so a few songs were recorded here and there. The Recording process was really smooth. I would record Clyde’s guitar with a click track, then I would put down the drum parts afterwards, then the bass would be put down last. Most of the time was spent on the mixing and mastering of the album.”
Stephen Clyde: “The recording process didn’t take too much time. It was more the mixing.”
How did the band cope considering the pandemic in terms of writing and recording your debut album?
Del Littlejohn: “During the first year or so of the pandemic we wrote the LP. Then it was harder to meet up to write and share riffs. But we are now writing new material for an LP that will be released later in the year.”
Stephen Clyde: “The pandemic was positive from my point of view. I spent my time during lockdown writing songs. Also, I wrote to John Hatton from the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and he agreed to playing on a few of our tracks. The pandemic was a positive for us as a band.”
In hindsight, are you pleased with the overall outcome of ‘Devil’s Choice!’? If not, then are there any changes you would make if you had the chance to do so?
Del Littlejohn: “The LP turned out great, and I am really happy with it. In fact, it turned out better than we expected, due to recording during the pandemic. That said, it would have been better if we were able to rehearse the songs before recording them.”
Stephen Clyde: “Yes, we were pleased with the way the album turned out. However, we may try different sounds when it comes to our next album, with different guitars and amplifiers and so on. The only downside was that, unfortunately, our double bass player left, and we had to get a new one (Step forward D.J. Reid).”
Who is responsible for writing the lyrics for The Hurricanes, and is there a favourite track from ‘Devil’s Choice!’?
Del Littlejohn: “Clyde writes all the words for the Hurricane’s songs. When considering favourite songs, then I would say ’Long Distance Bass’. The track was written about the time we recorded four songs with Johnny Hatton over the internet. It was a strange way to record, with Johnny recording his bass parts in California, and then we recorded, and mixed the rest in Scotland.”
Stephen Clyde: “My favourite song on the album has to be ‘Rockabilly Hair’. It was the first song I wrote, and one of the songs John Hatton recorded with the band. As Del mentioned, I am responsible for the lyrics. Inspiration comes from a cool guitar riff, followed by a song that inspires me or that is close to my heart.”
Any words about The Hurricanes’ ‘The Oblong Box’?
Del Littlejohn: “‘The Oblong Box’ was written for a Vincent Price tribute LP on Missing Fink Records. We wrote that song specially for that LP release.”
Who produces the ideas for artwork and is responsible for all designs?
Del Littlejohn: “I do all the artwork and design stuff for the band. I usually get inspired by the music we produce or from song titles, and art I like from the good old days. I also get inspired by artists I like such as Stephen Blickenstaff because he is one of my favourites!”
What three items can The Hurricanes never be without?
Del Littlejohn: “My Drums, Jim Beam Bourbon and loud, good rocking music.”
Stephen Clyde: “Three items we can’t do without are the drums, a guitar and slap bass.”
Have there been any amusing or strange happenings for The Hurricanes since you have been together as a band writing and recording?
Stephen Clyde: “I would say strange happenings when we managed to get Johnny Hatton onboard to record a few tunes with us. It was a wonderful experience and sparked the idea for the new 45” single we have coming out this March on Missing Fink Records called ‘Long Distance Bass’.”
Where do you see rockabilly music in 2022, and is there much demand for it in Scotland?
Del Littlejohn: “I see rockabilly growing as a scene. It has been around for seventy or so years, and I’m sure it will be around for many more! The demand for rockabilly music live and on record is bigger than many people would think, it is growing bigger every year. In terms of the Rockabilly Scene in Scotland, then it is not excessively big. That said, there are lots of shows and they are always busy. When it comes to such bands in Scotland, there are about a dozen playing in the scene. For example, Cherry Red 53, The Buick 55’s, Numbskulls, Tennessee Hotshots, to name a few. In terms of The Hurricanes, we are incredibly lucky because we seem to be liked by rockabillies all over the world. For example, we have sold T-shirts, CD’s and Vinyl 45s in USA, Australia, Japan, Europe, and the UK. People usually have pleasant things to say about our songs and we appreciate everything that is said. We have the best fans!”
Stephen Clyde: “I believe there will always be a demand for rockabilly music. Most people can relate to this type of music. It is an upbeat, happy music that will always get the crowd going. Scotland has a number of rockabilly clubs in the scene. The events are always packed, and there are great nights to be had in Scotland. But also playing normal gigs, where the crowd is not predominantly rockabilly, people always get up and dance.”
What is next for The Hurricanes?
Del Littlejohn: “The Hurricanes has a new 45 rpm single ‘Long Distance Bass’ due out this March on Missing Fink Records. Also, there will be a full-length vinyl LP on Missing Fink Records later in the year. Moreover, we are playing around the UK and some European dates too this year. We can’t wait to get out on the road playing music again.”
Stephen Clyde: “The band are recording a second album this year, which shall be out on Missing Fink Records on vinyl. As for gigs, we are playing the Bedlam Breakout and Psychobilly Freakout festivals with Restless (Great company! FLW) as well as a host of other cool bands. In addition, we are also supporting Darrel Higham (Great again! FLW), The Jets (Ditto! FLW), as well as playing over in Sweden and maybe Germany this summer.”
Any final words of the day?
Del Littlejohn: “We would like to thank Famous Last Words for this interview. Also, Johnny and our record label Missing Fink Records, and people who have bought our merchandise, and all the radio shows that have played our music and the magazines that have written about us. Stay safe and keep rockin’!”
Stephen Clyde: “We, The Hurricanes, would like to thank Famous Last Words magazine for the interview, and encourage your readers to pop along and check us out and send a message. Thanks!”
(Photography courtesy of Iain S. Wallace)
You can find out more about The Hurricanes or buy their merch from:
The album ‘Devil’s Choice!’ is out now on Always a Hit Records
The pandemic was positive from my point of view. I spent my time during lockdown writing songs. Also, I wrote to John Hatton from the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and he agreed to playing on a few of our tracks. The pandemic was a positive for us as a band.”
Stephen Clyde, The Hurricanes
FLW - From the Tapes
In their own words, a summary of The Hurricanes:
“The Hurricanes is a 3-piece rockabilly band from Glasgow, Scotland. The band formed in 2019 from a collection of nitrous fuelled rockin’ nerds who met through a mutual love of good music, and who just couldn’t get enough of listening to rockin’ music like Rev. Horton Heat, Stray Cats, and The Chop Tops.
“Their unique brand of entertainment fuses wailing guitars, thumping double bass lines, and driving drums. The band play a version of rockabilly music that is thrilling to watch and with witty stage banter that will make you want to get up and dance.
“The Hurricanes has released two 45rpm vinyl records ‘Rockabilly Hair’ and ‘Liquor, Beer & Wine’ respectively, with a third due out March 2022 on the Missing Fink Label, as well as a full-length LP (‘Devil’s Choice!’) on Always a Hit Records.”