For Those About To Blog…We Salute You: TONY HILL

Tony Hill pens the excellent ‘Mumbling About’ blog that combines music and books and he has a wide taste in both. Well worth a visit.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging about music and books?

I’ve been blogging in one way or another for about ten years now. I gave up on the personal stuff some time ago – too much navel-gazing. Music has been a huge love for as long as I can remember and a lot of my blogging had been geared toward is anyway so deciding to focus purely on that was a no-brainer. It also gives me an outlet for the rants / thoughts I have and saves me chewing my wife’s ear off over, say, whether Vs. is a better album than Ten…

The books element was added when I saw a publisher on twitter offering review copies of a novel called See You Tomorrow by Tore Renburg. I’ve always loved reading, I studied literature at Uni and so it seemed like a natural extension of the blog – especially when the publisher, Karen, started her own publishing house (Orenda) and was kind enough to send me more books to review.

What do you think makes for a good read for a music/book review?

Honesty. I like to read honest opinions – it doesn’t matter if it’s well written or if I agree, I just like to see passion for the subject be it positive or negative. If I want a formulaic or predictable review I’ll go the press as it were. Blogs are a more personal / peer-to-peer community sort of thing and I want to see the person in the review. Often that person’s passion has proven the catalyst for my checking out both new bands and artists that I’d previously thought “nah, not for me”

What has been the most popular post on your blog to date?

Looking at the stats… it’s a really close call between an older book review for Paul E Hardisty’s The Abrupt Physics of Dying and a more recent post on Wrecking Ball, part of a Least to Most favourite series I did on Bruce Springsteen albums which seems an odd one but there you go.

What were your musical and reading highlights of 2016 and why?

Well the best thing I read last year was Gunnar Staalesen’s ‘Where Roses Never Die’ and I read it over a couple of quick afternoon sessions while we were on a mid-week break at CenterParcs, overlooking a lake and armed with a good cup of coffee with no distractions while everybody else was having a nap. A simple pleasure, really, but certainly a reading highlight.

2016, I’m pretty sure, was the first CD-free year for me – if I bought a new album it was on vinyl. I love the warmth and experience of the format and there were some great releases last year.. I did a ‘best of the year’ on my blog… Explosions In The Sky’s ‘The Wilderness’ was gorgeous both sonically and in terms of packaging. But I’m gonna say the highlight – because it’s all about the overall experience – was the reissue of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. My wife gave it to me for my birthday but as we were getting to move at the time everything was in boxes so it wasn’t until we moved into our new home (our first) that I could put my stereo back in place and I made sure it was the first thing I dropped the needle on.

You have a wide taste in music, however what band(s) or album(s) do you keep coming back to?

Thanks, I do try to listen to a fairly wide range. Well, I try…  but there are always bands I come back to and I seem to be ‘stuck’ in that alternative/rock and 90’s arena. I’m a huge Pearl Jam fan so there’s usually a couple of their albums in the car at any time along with other bands from the Seattle scene. Buffalo Tom are a big favourite as are Sonic Youth, Mogwai and, of course, Springsteen. In terms of individual albums… My Morning Jacket’s Z is probably among one of my most played and I think Jeff Buckley’s Grace is faultless.  

Who are you musical heroes and why?

I think I’m gonna be a bit obvious with this one and say Eddie Vedder. From a musical point of view he’s just getting better and live I don’t think I’ve seen anyone (Springsteen aside) that performs with such intensity and honesty who can captivate crowds both large and small. On a personal level he’s a very generous guy when it comes to charity and championing the causes he believes in and while a lot of the angst of the early years has mellowed with age the intensity is still there – he also seems to be a very doting dad and family man too.

You are doing a blog tour based on crime books. What exactly does this entail and how do you find the time to read so much?!

The blog tours are an interesting thing – it’s a way of focusing / generating a lot of reviews and discussion about a book around its launch date. I’ll get an email from Karen at Orenda (or a member of the team) asking if I’d like to take part and they let me have a date to post and share my review. In terms of finding the time… it’s the one thing nobody has enough of, isn’t it? I can usually average a book every week / week and a half and am always staggered when I see people in the online community clearing more than that. I squeeze mine in at night or at weekends when my young son takes his nap.

Heard any good music lately?

Earlier this year I found a really cool record shop that hadn’t long opened in Canterbury called Vinylstore Jr (gotta love that name) and the owner was spinning a record that I had to buy – it’s a post-rock band from South Korea called Jambinai and their album Differance is great; a real heady, powerful thing that mixes Korean folk elements with rock instruments. It has this dirty, fuzzy opening riff played on a geomungo (I had to look it up) and then everything kicks in and rattles the fillings from your teeth.

My wife and I have just been watching some anime films and we’ve been listening to the soundtrack for (the original) Ghost In The Shell but then there’s a new film called Your Name and the soundtrack to that is great too, though totally different – it’s by a Japanese rock band called Radwimps and the songs were written to sort of supplement the dialogue, it’s got this great energy.

Anything else to add…

Not really – just thanks for reading my blog and inviting me to be on yours – I always enjoy your posts. The community and discoveries that come from blogging is the best part of it.

Oh and one I always encourage; listen to  (they’ve got a Pledge Music thing going for their next album too which is something I always love as it makes the whole fan-band thing so much more personal).

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Author: The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

A keen reader and lover of music plus of course my lifelong support of the mighty Potters, Stoke City! Enjoy running and the odd bit of fundraising.

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