Interview Exclusive: Hidden Charms

Hidden Charms

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

hidden charms gaz jonesThere is so much excitement afoot in the British new music scene. I feel it in the pit of my stomach watching a number of bands nowadays that they are growing and improving constantly. Blossoms have pretty much made 2016 their own, but their success has surely opened the door for more acts to come forward to stake a claim on making 2017 and beyond their time. One of those bands is Hidden Charms. Hailing from London, but part of the Deltasonic stable, they are the kind of band that you don’t just want to watch, but you wish you were part of too.

 

Recently they have been on tour with The Vryll Society on a nationwide, co-headline adventure which has seen them play from London to Glasgow, Newcastle to Wrexham and plenty of places in between. It was after their gig in Manchester’s Gorilla that I was able to meet up with the band in my disguise as Popped Music writer rather than the Hidden Charms fan who had to be kept at bay. Listening back over the interview it struck me how much the emotional optimism that Hidden Charms are generating in me is reflected in the band’s collective thought.

 

To be honest, I usually hate listening to my interviews again, but I found that I was listening to Hidden Charms when I was not just sitting at the table able to make notes and do other studious, serious stuff like rewind to pick out the most pertinent moments. I was sticking on the interview when I was driving to work. It was not a case of trying to catch something that I had previously missed, I actually enjoyed the recording and the jump-up-and-punch-the-air feeling of hope that was present.

 

the hidden charms gaz jonesThe natural place to start our conversation was obviously the gig I had just seen them play and the tour that they are on. “It’s been great. Seeing everybody in here tonight was a real buzz (the venue was good as sold out). And generally the tour has been good for playing some bigger venues than we would usually play. We love going on tour. This morning we were given a copy of our first tour for 2017, and it is exciting to be going back to some of the smaller venues as we are on our own on that one. The problem with some of the larger venues is that there gets to be a little bit too much bureaucracy and you have to sign agreements beforehand that you won’t go and play in the crowd and that you are responsible for X,Y and Z. It makes everything a bit more controlled and safe. When we get to the smaller venues, there is the chance for that wildness.

 

“As a band we cannot imagine a world where we would go fully against those kind of venues. Even if we were playing The O2 Arena, there would be a gig the next night in a 100 capacity sweat pit”. That is the kind of attitude that radiates from Hidden Charms. You know that they love playing music and do not care about acting coolly disinterested. It makes them special, it unites them.

 

Having watched Hidden Charms throughout 2016, I have seen the band grow in terms of live performance that they are one of my reference points in discussions with people. I wanted to know if the band had any thoughts on that.

 

Whilst it started with the music technical, “none of us play bass really, so we have always had to take turns at playing bass on tracks and that is improving us, and we have started using a bass synth which helps the groove along”, it was when the topic turned to the aggression in their sound that further explanation was provided.

 

“We suffered a bereavement this year which affected all of the band. All of a sudden, we were heartbroken and had never experienced anything like that before. It came out in the music too as instantly we all found ourselves to have this chip on our shoulder that was never there before. We were angry at the way these things can just happen and when we went into the studio, it presented itself in an aggression in our performance.”

 

the hidden charms gaz jonesThis was the only time in my chat with Hidden Charms that their combined enthusiasm did not shine through. Instead it was replaced by a steely determination, an acceptance of responsibility, and an understanding that even though singer Vinnie is only 22 in November they are now grown up and having to deal with the sad darkness of life.

 

If you have not heard Hidden Charms, you are in for a treat. Go to Spotify or iTunes and check out their latest release, the four track EP Harder From Here. It is a stone cold killer of a release and represents the natural progression of the band to get to where they currently stand in a place in the sand which is closer than ever to where they see themselves.

 

“When we were coming through, we were taking on a lot of advice from people who were trying to push us in different ways and as a result we were being labeled as ‘retro’ which was not what we want. There is always going to be the influence of the traditional guitar sound, but for us we have not just grown up with The Beatles being the most influential sound. The likes of Prince and Dr Dre have been producing pieces of genius and it is impossible that this does not have an effect. We want to have a groove as well as the guitars. It feels natural to us. Our generation is the first that has grown up with electronic dance music as being all around us from birth and you see that even in the grooves that The Vryll Society put down. So we wanted to get that into our new record, but we didn’t want to move to an electronic sound. The EP was recorded in seven days at Toerag Studios in London where The White Stripes recorded Elephant in two weeks. Toerag is a great place to make music and does it all in the old fashioned way without computers, so that put the responsibility on us to make the record sound as we wanted rather than add anything in.

 

“This EP represents where we have been striving to reach so far in our sound, and thanks to Deltasonic and the help from all the managers we have had over our time, we’ve been able to get to this point.”

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