Interview: Hungry on “guitar music”, Cambridge, and BROCKHAMPTON
By Alex Cooper
“It’s the collective. You’re a unit, we’re a battalion, powering forward and creating sound”, Hungry frontman, Jacob Peck, asserts in the Night and Day Café green room, before their largest show in Manchester.
The Cambridge originated four-piece, now based in Manchester, scratch an itch for those seeking a powerhouse live show. They come to Night and Day Café with a headline Aatma show under their belts, and have played at many other Northern Quarter venues.
“The band generally works best when we just dedicate ourselves to the core beauty of music. It’s about the driving beat in the back, and a proper loud bassline. Everyone’s moving, something you can shout and move around to. That’s what it’s about”, Peck says.
Hungry are keen to shake off pretensions and concentrate on atmosphere, as well as ensuring that the crowd and themselves are having a good time. “There’s nothing better than just a driving beat. That’s all you need to do”, drummer Stan Rankin says passionately, embellishing his point with hand slapping and onomatopoeic drum noises. The band clearly have a focus and a doctrine.
That is not to say that the band are homogenous, and there is space between the members for different interests and styles to collide and coexist. Their last gig in Manchester, headlining Aatma, featured an impromptu encore. “That wasn’t planned, and these two are pretty ridiculous at jamming”, Peck says, looking at guitarist Kit Thomas and bassist Jas Malig.
“The reason I think we’re different or have a bit of variety is that you’ve got to mix the angry with the nice. You’ve got to mix it and find somewhere in the middle, you can’t just have one or the other because it’s boring”, Rankin adds.
On the Aatma gig, Hungry cite it as “ridiculous”. “At the risk of sounding like one of those kids that get interviewed after football matches, the energy was fantastic. We originally didn’t accept to headline because we thought we wouldn’t be able to make it sell”, Peck recounts.
“And then we sold it out on pre-release. It sounds cool”, Rankin chips in modestly, with a hint of pride. During gigs, Peck thinks consciously about his stage presence, enjoying the songs that he doesn’t play guitar on, so that he can maintain more energy.
Hungry have been going for a long time for a band made up of undergraduate students. The idea for the band was conceived by Peck out of a writing partnership in secondary school. He roped in some friends to try and form a band. Rankin was meant to be at an activities week in high school, but had a near-fatal injury which meant he was placed with students interested in music, and Hungry required a drummer.
Seven years later, and in a different city, fate has it as a happy outcome. Rankin played his first gig with the band one month after picking up the sticks.
Before moving up to Manchester in September 2022, the band took a gap year in Cambridge, and tightened up the band, rehearsing and recording their newer singles- which sound polished and professional.
“I was working in a studio so we had a basement to just record in”, Peck explains. The band invited people in to mix their singles but mixed ‘Love Is War’ themselves.
Further single, ‘Go Steady’, follows on from this more pronounced and confident sound, and perhaps is a sign of Hungry hitting their stride in the renewed context of moving up north.
When asking whether they prefer Cambridge or Manchester, the band do not hesitate, and say “Manchester” practically in unison.
Peck explains that “there’s more of a sense of community in Manchester, within the music scene. In Cambridge, there’s two or three venues that put on a fair few gigs, but not really that sense of musical community”.
Rankin adds that “[in Manchester] we practice at Habitat Studios and one of the guys that runs it is really nice. We were like, “we’re playing a gig at Night and Day Café”, and he said that he’ll try and make it down. And we said we’re playing with No Vacancies and he said that he knows them. He’s interested in the music”. It appears that Hungry are relishing in living and operating in a city that lives and breathes music.
Performing on Manchester’s scene comes with a lot of pressure, as there are so many venues and there’s always someone new watching. The Northern Quarter’s gig circuit relies somewhat comfortingly on word-of-mouth as well as the more modern social media avenues.
Peck has his methods of mitigating nerves. “To begin with actually [in the early days of the band], I was really shouty. I’m a bit shouty now but I was really shouty before because you’re nervous. You can’t recede into yourself because then it’s just shit, and you have to be a bit more jaggedy in ways.”
On pre-gig rituals, Hungry say that they sit together and their thoughts come together. It is a totally different tactic than what they used to do, which was listen to ‘STAR’ by BROCKHAMPTON. Their departed bassist was “obsessed with the song”, and they did it before their biggest show at Cambridge Junction. That ritual may be one that they’ve left behind in their original city.
Hungry are not too keen on labels. “We don’t want to say indie because it hurts your feelings when you tell yourself you’re an indie band”, Rankin jokes. They also are keen to shake off comparisons to Cambridge outfit, Sports Team. Peck suggests that the way he markets Hungry to people is “guitar music”, which gives them space to be considered without affixing preconceived ideas.
They’ve been carefully considered in their approach of not being too complex. When talking about new single, ‘The Jig’, they tell me they wrote it in “about five minutes”. While unclear whether this was literal or figurative, the principle still carries. “Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, build-up, chorus and then a second chorus with an added guitar part. That’s all you need.”
Complexity doesn’t always mean better quality, and Hungry have a good understanding of this. Now they’re in a city that suits them, and are climbing up the venues of Manchester’s, you can’t help but feel that Hungry’s second birth will see them reach some remarkable milestones.
Follow Hungry on Instagram and stream their music below: