A Q&A with Hymns
Theatrical guitars, social commentary – here’s Oliver from new London alt-rock outfit Hymns…
How did you get the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
Just before the EP was written I had become increasingly engaged with the big political and environmental affairs of the time. There was a lot of stuff going on that just seemed so wrong to me. It had become obvious that our (humanity’s) attitude towards living on our planet needed to change, quickly! Some of the lyrics in the songs really aren’t to be taken at anything but face value, particularly the opening line of the opening track. ‘Take a look outside, and see the world’s on fire!’ The planet is not in a good way, we need to ‘Reset’.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
We hadn’t really booked enough time in the studio. A lot is going on in some of the songs, particularly with multiple layers of backing vocals. We ended up running out of time so most of them (backing vocals) had to be recorded at home. We recorded it just before lockdown so we’re grateful we didn’t have all the issues that would have brought to contend with.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Ed the engineer knew the ins and outs of the studio we used (Press Play studio). He was remarkably patient and gave a lot of his time to the recording process. He also contributed some production ideas with regards to recording guitars and backing vocals. Overall I’d say the production was overseen by myself. I wanted it to sound organic and human. None of the songs is perfect but that’s ok because I think there’s plenty of character in there. I’d rather that than it sound over polished and packaged like a lot of new rock and indie out there nowadays. We’ve always self-produced. Ultimately self-production allows you the control you wouldn’t get with a producer who I imagine would often want to put their own stamp on the sound. If the budget allowed we’d definitely like to work with a big name producer. We’d go in big with Nigel Godrich, Flood or even Brian Eno!
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
Primarily I want them to enjoy it, of course. Whether it’s a hook in a lyrical line or motif in the music I want listeners to find their element to latch on to! Secondly I’d like them to listen to the lyrical content and have it provoke further thought and contemplation.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I tend to put together quite polished demos on my own at home. There will often be multiple versions as I explore various possibilities in the song arrangement. I’ll then email them all to the rest of the band (which I think can be confusing for them as they’re all the same but slightly different, ha). We then go into the rehearsal room and embellish and modify bits and pieces. For this EP the whole writing and recording process was intense. We had three days on the trot in a rehearsal studio finalising the arrangements and once we started recording we made further changes and added bits on the fly. We’ve never worked like this. There was a real sense of venturing into the unknown in terms of how the songs would come out.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
That’s a tricky question as I think different artists have influenced our music at different times. Ever present influences include Radiohead, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Portishead, The Cure and Leonard Cohen.
When the world is back to normal where would like to tour, and why?
Personally I’d love to go Mexico for the simple reason that a lot of our fans seem to live there. I like to think we’d be playing to full venues!
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Probably our track ‘Masquerade’ from our debut EP. So far it seems to be our most popular.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
In an ideal world we’d like to record an album and go on a world tour, slightly less ambitiously an album and European tour. But with things the way they are for musicians now, let’s just say ‘watch this space’ ; )
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Stick around and watch the next band and come back tomorrow. Live music needs all your support!
The new EP from Hymns, ‘Reset’ is out now
For more info visit: facebook.com/wearehymns