INTERVIEW / HER'S
Not long after first listening to them, Her’s can quickly become one of your favourite bands. Their debut record Songs of Her’s is full of hooks that will stay with you for days, complemented by guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick’s crooning, often baritone voice, and groovy bass lines from Audun Matthias Laading. On stage they are infectiously fun, bringing a stripped-back sound, backed only by a drum machine, that somehow sounds room-filling big at the same time. Not drenched in reverb or swirling in hazy effects, they offer an energetic, bright sound that wants you to dance along. Last weekend they played at Call Lane’s Oporto Bar, an intimate gig suited to their personable style. Nathan Fogg shared a beer with the band before they took to the stage.
Delinquent: How’s the tour going so far? This is your second headline, right?
Stephen: Yeah, this is the second headline tour. The first night was opening for Gengahr and this is the second night of the headline. We were at Glasgow yesterday and that was super sick, we're excited for this one.
D: We hear Glasgow is pretty good.
Audun: Yeah yeah, it was off the rails.
Stephen: Yeah, we haven't really experienced much like yesterday, it was fucking weird.
Audun: People were queuing for the merch stand for the first time...if it can continue like that we're gonna be sold out which is an issue. We didn't plan for this.
Stephen: Not what we expected at all.
D: That must be nice to see the merch selling, isn’t it usually pretty difficult financially for a touring band?
Stephen: Yeah, it's not like...you're not gonna pay your rent for the next 6 months unless you're on tour the whole time.
Audun: It’s an investment though isn't it. Investment in growing your fanbase.
D: Do you get to refine your sound much on tour, or write new stuff?
Stephen: I feel like we do a lot of that, we kinda put tunes through a bit of a stage where we're happy with it, then we play it live for a while and we change stuff during set sometimes, which will end up being recorded. A lot of the lyrics as well like...I don't always have. I improv it and then sometimes something will come up and it's like 'alright yeah it's good, I'll use that'.
D: Let’s get some backstory, who put out your record, Songs of Her’s?
Stephen: Heist or Hit records, they're like a small Manchester based record label, they've been around for ten years-ish, a bit more I think now.
Audun: They came along to one of our gigs at Fallow Cafe with La Shark, it was like our 5th gig or something. It was a good show.
D: You're still with them now?
Stephen: Yeah basically, loosely...I mean no, not loosely haha, we are 100%... we're just always looking to multi-collaborate as well in different parts of the world. So, it'd be good to have a US label on board as well.
D: You played America earlier this year, right?
Audun: Yeah, we played SXSW earlier this year.
D: How was that?
Audun: That was amazing, it was very hectic but it was a super good experience, we just ran from show to show to show all day.
D: Do you feel like it's growing a lot, that you’re getting a buzz?
Stephen: Yeah…I mean, as of yesterday. As of yesterday, we're like 'OK, it's working out I guess'.
D: That must be pretty weird to have that sudden realisation.
Stephen: Yeah...we're by no means a big band, but at least it's catching on you know? People are recognising us which is sick.
Audun: Yeah, it's surreal starting to be recognised, like yesterday we were in a service station on the way to Glasgow…Tebay Services, there was a dude who'd seen us and was saying 'I saw you guys a year ago!' we were like '...alright?'. It's insane. There's like 50 people at this service station and somebody knows us.
Stephen: Also, Wild Beasts were there as well, it was so weird. They were just in the background whilst this guy was talking to us.
D: You could probably go to any service station and there's just a touring band in there somewhere.
Stephen: Yeah that's the thing, you do notice that.
Audun: They're like social watering holes aren't they, for bands.
D: Where are you heading after this?
Stephen: We're going back to Liverpool tonight, we've got a couple of days off and then we're playing in Manchester, then we're doing my home town which is Barrow, then we're going south for the rest of the tour basically.
D: How do you find touring, is it as glamorous as how it's usually portrayed?
Stephen: Erm...it's pretty rock and roll, I mean, in our own special rock and roll way. Our own unique little rock and roll way. But it's not like...we're not exactly getting fucked every night.
Audun: We're pretty sober people, we're mellow. Mellow and chill.
D: Do you still get the adrenaline when it’s time to play?
Stephen: We get pretty nervous yeah.
Audun: There was a period where before a gig I didn't get nervous, but it's definitely back now. It's such a responsibility to be headlining. It's like, 'I hope everybody has a good night!'
D: You guys definitely put on a bit of a show, is that the nervous energy coming out?
Audun: Definitely, I think it's good to keep you on your toes a bit, you can't be too comfortable.
D: This bar is pretty small and intimate, do you prefer playing venues like that?
Stephen: Yeah, I guess. It's funny I was thinking about it today, one of our first gigs was in Leeds. I think it was our second gig or something like that, back in February 2015. It was at The Fenton, supporting Trudy [and the Romance] who are our mates. That's a similar thing here I guess, vibe wise.
D: Definitely a DIY vibe at The Fenton
Stephen: Yeah yeah, that's such a cool place.
D: The rumour goes that the university tried to buy the land on that street to knock down for accommodation, but The Fenton is the one place refusing to sell.
Stephen: That's sick. Shout out to The Fenton.
Audun: Yeah...we also played the Brudenell the last couple of times we were here.
Stephen: And we did Headrow House last time as well.
D: Yeah, for This Must Be The Place, that was a great little festival
Stephen: Yeah it was fun, I liked that gig. It was a good line up. We saw Happyness, we didn't get to see Beach Fossils but we saw them in Bristol.
Audun: Yeah, the day after at the Thekla.
D: Do you get much chance to see the cities you go to on tour?
Stephen: Tonight is a bit in and out isn't it. Sometimes we get to proper have a nosey around. We kind of know Leeds alright to an extent so it's not too bad.
D: How did you get to know Leeds?
Stephen: Originally Leeds was through Trudy and The Romance because they were studying here. From then on it's just been like...Brudenell.
Audun: What's that place next to Brudenell called?
Stephen: Oh yeah that shop…
Audun: Abu Bakr, that's the stuff.
Stephen: I used to skate a lot back in Leeds at The Works, I think it's called. It's like a big indoor skatepark.
D: Do you get to choose the support act for your shows?
Stephen: Yeah, we did actually get a choice on this one [Snicklefritz].
Audun: Yeah, we checked over Soundcloud.
D: What do you look for from a support act?
Stephen: Something that's in some way appropriate, we just don't want to have to...not have to, that sounds bad… I don't know, it's just weird if you go on after a band that sounds like Biffy Clyro or something like that. It's just a different vibe going on in the room.
Audun: The tone should be kind of consistent throughout the night to a certain extent. We like it when there's no drum kits but that's obviously a big ask!
D: Yeah that must be difficult…
Audun: It's a bit difficult, we've got another band we're gonna play with called Honey Club, we're gonna play with in Barrow. It's cool cause they have the same sort of set-up and sound that we do, we're looking forward to that sort of situation.
D: Stephen can you walk through the streets of Barrow now?
Stephen: I haven't been in Barrow for a long time, like properly. I'm pretty sure...I mean most of the streets in Barrow are pretty empty, so I think I'll be fine.
Audun: They would have already known you anyway!
D: A lot of bands in your position get really involved with all the other things that come with a band – merch, art, videos and the like. Do you have that DIY attitude as well?
Stephen: We're not the most DIY band ever. He does all the artwork.
Audun: I did most of the singles and the album and some t-shirts. So, in that aspect I guess...
Stephen: That is DIY!
Audun: Yeah, I think we'd like having a bit of support as well cause we're kind of loose-minded people, I don't think we have the work ethic.
D: You'd rather just focus on the music?
Stephen: No, I think it's definitely just as important, but I think the reason why we get other people on board is because we're part of a genre where the DIY thing is a very current...very obvious in a way. Not to shit on it, we're just kind of trying to swerve away from VHS type stuff. We'd rather a video look dead sexy.
D: And your video for 'Speed Racer' video was definitely sexy…
Audun: And obviously we would not have been able to make that ourselves at all.
D: Changing direction, can we talk about politics?
Stephen: Yeah, we're so political...
D: It seems you stay away from that, unless that’s a terrible misinterpretation of your lyrics.
Stephen: Oh no, we don't get political at all.
D: You don’t feel any pressure to do that?
Audun: I mean, in our personal lives for sure.
Stephen: I just don't think it really goes hand in hand with the band.
Audun: It's just providing something else than a political message. We want to provide a light-hearted kind of a thing without being polarising. Obviously it's very important to discuss these things, but it's also important to have a break from it.
Stephen: Music should be the... time off…I think there's an underlying, mutual type of thing going on in this kind of setting. We all know we're kind of on the same page which is really nice. But we don't have to talk about it at the same time. I think that's pretty strong.
Audun: The band is very much a reflection of our friendship. The way we talk together, we don't specifically discuss politics very accurately. We will obviously discuss but...it's just an extension of our friendship, and it's not a focal point of our friendship.
D: Your friendship is what the music is really about then?
Stephen: Yeah definitely, it's a duo isn't it. It's that kind of mentality. Also, it'd be great to write like a really great political song but at the same time I'd be scared... you'd have to do it justice.
Audun: And…you'd play it like right after Marcel, or right before Marcel?
D: So, how did you guys meet?
Audun: We met in uni, I came over from Norway, him from Barrow. After a year or two playing in bands together…he was on drums and I was on bass…
D: You started on drums?
Stephen: Yeah, so I went to uni as a drummer.
D: What advice would you give for somebody learning an instrument, master one first or try everything?
Stephen: I would say focus on one, but dabble in others.
Audun: For sure.
Stephen: I think that's a healthy thing to do. The problem is I think there's so many kids that are like, in a drum lesson and they see a guitar in the corner and think 'I wanna do that now instead'. You can do that at the same time, just maybe try to excel in one.
Audun: I mean, you excel in all of them if you get better in one anyway. I mean you're pretty decent at drums.
D: Did you play any other instruments on the record?
Stephen: We played some synth, that was fairly basic stuff.
D: You have a pretty polished and well-rounded sound despite only being two of you, what's the trick?
Stephen: Live? We have a few little bits and pieces in the back there on the backing track, we try to keep that to the minimum, we don't want to be having a fucking orchestra behind us.
Audun: Backing tracks can be pretty awkward. You've got to keep it to an honest level, see where the honesty threshold lies you know?
D: So, Audun, is there much coming out of Norway we’re missing out on?
Audun: The thing is it's kind of...I probably shouldn't say it, but I was trying to escape it a little bit. It's never had like a strong indie guitar scene or anything like that. All my mates would just play black metal, which is fine, it's definitely what we're very strong at, but it just wasn't my role...I'd jam a bit of Metallica with them. But it seems like it's become really good since I left, there's a couple of really interesting bands. Norwegian Electronica or whatever it's called has become a thing hasn't it?
D: Where do you think that recent change come from?
Audun: I don't know. I mean, heavy metal has been going on for a while but I think that's forever going to go on isn't it. It's just like...always somebody's fucking drumming really fast.
D: In this postmodern world it can be really easy to get into anything and everything, because there’s so many different ways to listen to different music types, is that better or do you think we’re missing out on how it used to be, where genres and eras were more defined and there were more obvious ‘scenes’ in music?
Stephen: Yeah, it's interesting cause all the bands that we know, especially the bands from London, they're all different from us. We're not friends with bands that sound like us.
Audun: There's a big gap.
Stephen: Yeah, it's really weird, but we're kind of in the same boat-ish, to an extent.
Audun: It felt like it made sense when we were [touring] with Happyness. Even though the sounds are very different.
D: So, is it better for the kids now or are we all missing out?
Audun: I mean, education can never be a bad thing you know, that just allows you to refine your tastes doesn't it?
Stephen: There's less to identify with in a way...
Audun: But that allows for more self-expression in turn though I reckon.
Stephen: I feel like people that go on to create music have a broader spectrum of influences maybe.
D: Is that how it feels for Her’s?
Stephen: Definitely, we've kind of grown up with a huge spectrum of different things.
Audun: We had pretty different upbringings, but we were just at the right place at the right time and going forward we're just influencing each other a lot.
Stephen: We don't necessarily see Her's as a specific sound anyway, we try to add in a lot of different things whilst trying to lock it with kind of consistency.
D: So how do you feel about every intro to articles on you saying 'Meet Her's – they’re a so-and-so type of band'?
Stephen: Dreampop indie band?
D: Isn’t that just every band?
Stephen: Yeah yeah, they're Dreampop! Whatever.
Audun: And that's kind of the opposite of what we were trying to do with the first release, we were trying to present a series of different things we thought. Each song has got its own strong individuality, to us at least.
D: Were you worried about getting all those differences together in one album?
Stephen: We were a little bit at the time, it worked out though. We recorded it and produced it all with Saam Jafarzadeh, he's our tour manager, sound engineer, producer.
D: So, you're able to bring your own sound guy for shows?
Stephen: Just about, we can't drive, he can drive. And he knows exactly how we want to sound because he recorded the songs for the record.
Audun: He tells you what your guitar should sound like, and we just trust him.
D: OK, you guys need to get ready for your set. Thanks for taking the time