A Q&A with The Howlers
Hungry, hotly-tipped trio from London, here’s Adam from The Howlers…
How did you get the title of your upcoming album, Badlands, and what does it mean to you?
The title came about as a metaphor for the world we live in. Avoiding commentary on the political landscape completely the UK is so fractured in every sense of the word, from how we identify ourselves to our social responsibilities to each other as people. The events of 2020 and prior have only brought out the worst in people and so to describe the UK as a ‘baron terrain void of life’ seems pretty accurate for the most part. As a band we try our best to avoid politics in music, there is enough of faux angry performers out there with the same message. We think people deserve an escape from all that once in a while.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
Badlands was the end of that chapter as a band. It was an old recording we have recorded sections of in an attempt to salvage something to use in a time where we had no money to speak of. I guess in some ways the hardest part was dealing with the pandemic. During the pre campaign Covid-19 started kicking off in Cchina and the world was going into lockdown and, as it turned out, 48-hours before its release the world just shut down, everything stopped. I got the call from our publisher and plugger and PR that effectively everything was off the table, so overnight two-thirds of our release was gone. That was heartbreaking to see if fail for the most part. Upon reflection we look at it now as the first step in growing to who we are now as a band, more comfortable with our music and above all else closer as ‘family’ than ever before.
What do enjoy most about producing your own material?
All our records up to this point we produced ourselves alongside Austen Kilburn (Black Sabbath, Ocean Colour Scene, UB40) who is a veteran of the music industry and has taught and shown us so much, allowing us to really experiment with sounds. But to be honest self-producing isn’t everyone’s bag and it’s definitely not ours. Any musician will tell you sometimes that a little idea from a producer or engineer or just anybody in the room can really push a song in the right direction.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
We have a tradition in this band that with anybody we work with, we order a curry for everyone, send someone to the off license to get a few beers in, and then all sit down round the table for a meal together. That’s the feeling we want to portray in our music, a togetherness if you will, that desire to express that no matter what happens in our lives, in our careers or whatever it may be, that we’re all in it together and that sentiment is shared with listeners to our records, or anyone who’s seen us live. You leave everything at the door and you escape for that time we’re all together.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
It used to be that I would wheel the skeleton into the room and we would then flesh it out together. Now we do everything together from the ground up, and we’ve been known to pour over tracks for a long time – perfect 3 or 4 seconds of the music just to get it right. I guess we’ve grown to empower each other across all aspects of writing. For example, Cam writes poetry and I wanted him to feel comfortable enough to express that in our music not just a note pad, and that’s what happened. Some of our best tracks are where me and him jotted our thoughts in this little notebook and turned them into songs. I’ve got both dyslexia and very slight autism which can be a very lonely existence, but together as a band we’ve enabled me to not feel so isolated in terms of writing.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
We all have varied and differing musical preferences but we all connect with each other around different things; Afro beat, West Coast psych music and some of the more timeless seventies records we take a lot of inspiration from. The free flowing and fluid nature of a track is something we adore as a band. I can’t really state any specific artists as we try not to emulate something or someone, we rather mould our own take on things, listening to records together and being inspired by how the composition is or how the lyrics trip off each word.
When the world is back to normal where would you like to tour, and why?
We have a UK tour planned/being postponed and we are lucky enough to be on the ball to keep things moving in that respect but we would love to get back to the EU again. I think I can speak for all listeners, fans and musicians out there that we would all be thankful just to grace a stage again. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as everyone is having a good time.
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?
‘County Lines’ – it was a B-Side to ‘Badlands’ and like our other B-Sides recorded in one take and is more expressive of who we are. We can all write a three-minute rock track, but there’s something intimate about putting a song to record that is more open and stripped back.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
To be lucky enough to have just that, a career that means something to somebody. We are lucky enough to have that opportunity and of course we all have a list of venues and cities we would love to perform in. So I guess, to answer your question, is just to keep going after all this pandemic confusion is over, at the risk of repeating myself, just to perform again.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
“F*** me I’m unfit.”
The Howlers release ‘Badlands’ in April and play Oporto, Leeds on 6th April
For more info visit facebook.com/thehowlersuk
images: Rob Blackham