Photo: Zoe Davis

20 Questions: Andrew Hung

As one of the founding members of Fuck Buttons, Andrew Hung has specialized in beat-driven drone squalls. Now, with his solo album, he explores his voice, indie pop, and implores all to send him hats.
Andrew Hung

Andrew Hung has always had a way with forging his own path. After all, his main band is called Fuck Buttons, and if you can’t handle the name, you probably can’t handle the progressive, forward-thinking drone and beat-driven noise music contained within.

Yet while Hung and his musical partner in crime Benjamin John Power have been gradually building up a devoted following since their seminal 2008 album
Street Horrrsing, the guys also knew how to fulfill themselves outside of their band duties. Power toured with Sigur Ros and put out three solo albums, while Hung formed a new outfit called Dawn Hunger and ended up co-producing Beth Orton’s 2016 trippy comeback effort Kidsticks. He had hinted at solo material before with EPs and one-offs, but it took all the way up to 2017 for Hung to finally deliver on that promise, dropping Realisationship earlier this year.

What’s truly surprising about the set is how oddball-accessible it is, refraining from the Buttons’ usual stoner-ready squalls for something that at times hews close to indie-pop trends, Hung laying down vocals and putting his tender, untreated warble front and center. It will no doubt be divisive amongst the Fuck Buttons’ hardcore fans, but the effort Hung has put into this shows: it’s not a one-off or mere trifle: he’s serious about crafting songs of a more traditional ilk (although, being Hung, he can’t help but toss his own brand of weirdness into the mix, pitch-shifted backing vocals giving the record an air of the unusual).

To help celebrate the occasion, Hung sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing the effect that the movie
Wonder Woman had on him, what choice words he’d have for the U.K. Prime Minister, and implores fans of all walks of life to send him more hats.

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

I don’t cry mate, I’m a man. A big muscle man. Not really… oh fuck… I was going to say it was this time on a plane when I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s
The Power of Now and it said that the voice in my head isn’t me and I started crying thinking “Thank fuck, because that voice is a fucking idiot!”

But actually, there was an occasion when I cried fairly recently. In
Wonder Woman. The excuse is that I was feeling pretty sorry for myself that week anyway but yeah there’s an altruistic moment in that film that made me cry. Now I’m crying about crying to Wonder Woman .. I’m a man, OK?!

2. The fictional character most like you?

I like playing a game with people when I ask them to assign a person in a grouping, like a friend group or work colleagues or whatever, to characters from
The Inbetweeners. Now normally, when I do this to a group of people that includes me, I usually assign myself Will.

Slightly off-topic but if you want to know what someone’s like, get them to describe their dogs or someone; usually the aspect of the character that resonates with them is how they are themselves. Okay, that being said, what do I think of Will. Will thinks he’s superior to everyone, is a natural leader but thoroughly uncool. Well, there you go.

3. The greatest album, ever?

It would have to be Andrew Hung’s
Realisationship. I made that album; I bloody made it! With my own hands! Everything! Have I listened to an album more intently than that one, no!

But apart from that album, maybe Kate Bush’s
Hounds of Love? Like there’s a case for that being the greatest album amongst everyone, but personally, it stands as a beacon of inspiration for me. Like, she makes her own rules, and that’s all I or anyone should do.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek. I’ve tried so hard to get into Star Wars, but it’s never done anything for me. I should love it as well because I love fantasy and sci-fi so those two things together.

But yeah:
Star Trek. Love the new films and my favorite captain is Jean-Luc Picard! It’s kind of a lovable fantasy as to how human society could work. Space communism! Actually, there’s one episode where a bloke gets woken from hypersleep who’s super rich back in his day but then totally dumbfounded as to how money doesn’t exist and how he can’t exploit other people in a world without money. Well, meta mate.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Conversations and interactions with people normally inspire me. I really like listening because listening is learning. You can’t listen when you’re expressing. Historically, my friendship groups have revolved around other people talking and I tend to listen quite a bit. You glean useful tidbits when you’re listening.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I mean … I’m proud that I’m actually sticking to my guns and making a go of being a musician. After uni, I worked in call centers and pubs for a couple of years and thought that was my life, that’s it. A headset as bondage for the rest of my days. But yeah, fell into music, something creative that I loved and been at it since.

Whenever I step out of my comfort zone has been the most rewarding experiences. Writing the
Greasy Strangler score, writing with Beth Orton. And singing! Actually, singing has been something that I’m really looking forward to getting better at. When I was at primary school, there was a tryout for the choir and this prick behind me told me to get involved. I was new at school so I listened to him and in the end sabotaged my audition by singing the same flat note for every key the teacher played on the piano. How things might have been different …

7. You want to be remembered for?

I want my art to instill a feeling of you can do anything you want. I want to encourage people en masse, I want people to make their own rules and to find their own place. Because I’ve had that and it’s an experience that everyone should have.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Kate Bush for sure. It still is a difficult area for a woman to be taken seriously, but back then, I can’t even fathom how she did it.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I really find this question peculiar; I’ve been asked this a few times. Like … what do I wish I’d made? Seems so strange … or does it mean, what do I think is really good? I just don’t know. The Mona Lisa?

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

I actually have a plethora of useless skills: I’m pretty good at table football. I can yo-yo quite well. I can still kickflip on a skateboard and at one point had nollie heels and tre flips down. I’m okay at table tennis too. Um — what else…

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

A few people recently have said the same phrase to me: “There are no rules” or “Make your own rules.” It keeps cropping up and I don’t really believe in coincidences. Now I don’t think the world revolves around me, but I do think everything is connected. It feels like an important idea at the moment.

Oh also, when I was waiting in line for the cinema once, I wanted to have a slash and my friend said to me “The wise man goes when he can, the fool goes when he has to.” That’s a good one. That’s about positioning and timing.

“Eat well, shit well,” is a good tour mantra.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The things that spring to mind is hats. The first hat belonged to a friend at uni, and it was this really baggy blue beanie. I used to wear it loosely on my head like a smurf. The second hat was given to me by Ahmed from Sinkane. It was this old Wendy’s cap with a loud Hawaiian print on it. The third most recent cap I’ve enjoyed was a Herschel felt cap someone sent me. For some reason, wearing a cap or hat bestowed upon me has a kind of temporary feeling of honor attached to it. And when you wear a cap you kinda become someone else. Give me hats.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?

I’m in a weird transitional phase with clothes at the moment. I’m trying to look a bit more adult, so weaning myself off the graphic student t-shirts and trainers, but at the same time, they’re kinda practical things to wear and I like practical.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I’d love to talk to Russell Brand, I’ve been a fan of his for a long while, he seems to be coming into his own at the moment. Jenny Hval would be cool, I’d like to hear about where she comes from in terms of her music. I’d love to experience Eckhart Tolle in person. Oh, I’d love Bjork to be there. And Bowie when he was alive.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

It’s got to be the future right? I think it’ll be disappointing, but the future is where curiosity lies. I’d say, like 50 years in the future, so I could maybe see if I’m alive because that’s the most important thing in the world. Then yeah, bum around and see wagwhan.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Yeah, spa vacation or whatever is a treat to yourself. Gotta know how to treat yourself. We’re gonna get stressed at some point and we suffer all the time, so it’s good to remind ourselves how to be kind to ourselves. We’re only human innit.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

All the drugs, they’re essential. And all at the same time.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Well, I always thought I’d want to live in the country but I don’t think I have a preference. I think I’d be longing for the country if I was in the city and I’d be longing for the city when I’m in the country. I think I naturally oscillate between extremes (as we all do I guess) and the area I occupy most of the time is actually the in-between bit even though my gaze is upon those extremes of the spectrum. I think I’d like to have an environ which can change as much as my mood changes.

Failing that my environ of choice is Droitwich.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Theresa May… Christ… I mean obviously, I want her to be honest with her vision of where humanity should be heading, and I’d want her to convey that in the simplest terms possible.

But politics is a lot more complex than that. I don’t know what she’s been through or how she’s got to be the person she is. She’s either willfully ignorant of how precarious our collective conscious is feeling or doesn’t care. And everything in-between. If it’s more the latter, then I kind of admire that, but she just seems to be floundering.

To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have much to say to her because I just think her position and her kind are the last of a dying breed, i.e., the privileged. It’s of the old world, and they’re dinosaurs. If it weren’t her, it would be Boris, and if not him Gove; an endless cycle of “leaders”.

The strength of neo-liberalism is that there isn’t a central governing body; they’re cells. Like, if one organization went down or one leader was struck off, the structure of the ideology would still remain because all the components are integrated yet independent. Like an organism.

I think we’re in a state of transition at the moment which is where the collective angst is emanating from, and I think it kinda doesn’t matter what Theresa May does because change is coming.

You know what I’d say to her? Make sure she’s looking after her consciousness because change is coming.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Soundtracking a film. Making more music. Planning this album campaign. Touring. Navigating the inevitable change of the wind.

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