The Hitchers, Cooper
15 Nov 2018 (21:00)
Before officially splitting up in 2001 The Hitchers had over a dozen releases including two LPs Its All Fun & Games Til Someone Loses An Eye (1997) and For the Want of Some Better TV (1999) as well as a bagfull of EPs and Singles.
They also did nearly 300 shows a full third of the number that either Metallica, REM or U2 did in the same time period. Now a third might not sound very impressive but bare in mind that those three are very, very famous, successful bands.
The Limerick band, who could name such luminaries as the late great John Peel among their biggest fans (indeed John Peel was still playing The Hitchers on his BBC 1 show up until shortly before his untimely passing and his successors Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe are still playing the band up to the present day) and who were described by Sir Bob Geldof, in 1998, as the best new Irish band of the last two decades, were often commended for their sharp tongued lyrics, terrace chant chorus' and fiery live performances. Geldof was so impressed he covered The Hitchers 'You Can Only Love Someone So Much...' when he played in Limerick in 2002.
The band called it a day in 2001 -but for a dozen years previous they travelled the highways and byways of Ireland, the UK and even got further a field a few times. They played virtually anywhere that'd have them, made some records and drank their fill. It's been said that they specialize in delivering high octane, high speed, lo-fi, low brow, amps up to eleven, kit smackin', two and a half minute portions of hum-along heaven. But that's only half the story . . .
Uniquely un-fashionable and largely unloved outside their native Limerick in their earlier years -their fortunes changed for the better when the phone rang one day in 1997 -it was legendary BBC1 DJ John Peel, phoning from his home to tell The Hitchers he was at that moment listening to their debut UK release 'Killed It With My Bare Hands', was suitably impressed and wanted them to come to London to do a session for his show. The band recorded their Peel Session with producer Mike Engles at BBC Studios in Maida Vale 4 in July '97. They recorded four tracks -Human Skull, Wannabee, The Urge To Kill, and My Band.
Meanwhile their 1997 debut album 'It's all fun and games till someone loses an eye' got rave reviews. At the time the NME said of the record... "a work of lyrical genius...the result is 14 songs you can play whilst washing up and/or shagging without having to break off halfway thru to phone the Samaritans" and garnered The Hitchers a hardcore fanbase in the UK and Ireland.
The Hitcher's second single -the double A-side 'You can only love someone/Strachan' turned up in John Peels Festive 50 in 1997, Peel's annual rundown of the listeners' fifty favourite tracks of the year, 'The John Peel Festive 50' became a Christmas institution more loved than fairy lights and Christmas crackers since its inception in 1976. Listeners of John's BBC Radio 1 show picked the chart by voting for their three favourite tracks of the year before the end of November. The Hitchers featured at No 21 in the 1997 chart which had Cornershop's "Brimful of Asha" at Number one.
In July 2006 Irelands RTE 2fm featured their 1997 Dave Fanning Session in "Classic Sessions" on the Dan Hegarty Show.
Despite the inconvenience of being scattered across half of western Europe the boys have managed to dust down their guitars, polish up the cymbals and warm up the amps to once more do their filthy do every Christmas since -for one off re-unions in their home town.
The Hitchers 22 track 'Best Of...' entitled 'A Well Earned Break For The Firing Squads' is available now through their website.