An Interview with William Hooker

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Free jazz drummer/composer/poet, William Hooker photographed by Yusef Jones

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with legendary Jazz drummer, William Hooker. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his early career in NYC, breaking into the NYC Jazz scene, some of his proudest moments, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

If you would like to learn more about William Hooker, and his music, you can head over to his website, and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with William. Cheers.

Andrew:
William, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

William:
I have a new recording; just finished my feature film — looking for airing; playing gigs on the east coast, and recording more music to be used in the near future.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

William:
It was in my genes and my family loved it.

Andrew:
As a drummer, who were some of your early influences?

William:
Elvin Jones and Art Blakey were my favorites.

Andrew:
Going back now. You were an important part of the NYC loft scene, playing with sax greats such as David Murray, and David S. Ware. Take me through those early years.

William:
We played together and got gigs together in the middle of the NYC scene.

Andrew:
I believe your first official recording as a leader was in 1976. Having played a supporting role up until that time, what was it like taking center stage?

William:
Very normal…I always felt like a leader…I came up under a tradition with standards, and organ groups that fostered that feeling, and knowledge.

Andrew:
Take me through your interesting work with Elliot Sharp, and Thurston Moore. How did you come into contact with them?

William:
I called them after we met in various circumstances in NYC.

Andrew:
Your music often times does not feature a bassist. What has led to that decision?

William:
I am a very loud drummer or was thought to be. Hearing is very important in these decisions.

Andrew:
As an artist and drummer, you’ve crossed over many genres such as Jazz, Noise Rock, Electronic, Classical, Experimental, and more. What do you like most about eschewing genre constraints?

William:
I am allowed the freedom to play with many talented folks…no matter what genre they are put in.

Andrew:
I believe most would consider you a “Jazz Drummer.” This said, as a musician, how do you view yourself?

William:
A Jazz drummer and artist is OK.

Andrew:
You’ve been a part of a great many records over the years. This said, looking back, what are some of your favorite musical moments?

William:
Is Eternal Life is a major achievement in my life. Please listen to it.

Andrew:
Easy one’s now. What are a few of your favorite albums?

William:
Unity by Larry Young. A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. Universal Consciousness by Alice Coltrane.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

William:
Just hanging out to relax, and be motivated.

Andrew:
What sort of equipment do you use in the studio, and the live setting?

William:
I use a traditional drumset..no bells and whistles. I practice with one as well.

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? CDs? Cassettes? Or are you all digital now? If you do collect physical media, why is that important to you? Why do you feel keeping physical media alive is important in this day and age?

William:
I do it for myself. I never know what moods are going to take me where. Just options!

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world?

William:
Making more music and touring. Going to Europe — if possible. All the places that want to support my work would be nice.

Interested in learning more about the work of William Hooker? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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