Hunting Helen are an acoustic rock band from Nottingham who have been making waves in the the local scene since their beginning. I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Ande where we talked about everything from the band’s history to the future to the band signing to LMC Records.
Do you want to introduce yourself and tell us how Hunting Helen came to be what it is today?
My name’s Ande Hunter and I sing/play guitar in the band. We started in 2011 originally as just a recording project with me and Pat that just evolved into a full band when Richard joined on bass. We skipped the whole gigging part and went straight to recording 14 tracks within 4 months at the beginning of 2012. We then started doing gigs around Nottingham, most notably Stealth and the acoustic night at Rescue Rooms. We released our first EP in October 2012 with a music video for the single Gave Me Your Hand. This got interest from LMC Records who signed us for two singles which we start recording next week.
That’s great. How have the video and the EP been received by local audiences?
Pretty good, we’re seeing a massive increase in Twitter followers at the moment and they’re starting to seep through to Facebook too. We’re selling quite a few physical copies at gigs too which is always great, still waiting on the full reports from online sales as they take ages to process. We’re hoping with a label behind us we’ll be able to reach a much bigger range of people with the two new singels but the first EP was brilliant to really establish our sound and let people know what we’re about.
Hunting Helen are acoustic rock, right? Knowing you personally I can tell readers that you listen to a wide range of music, everything from Biffy Clyro to Taylor Swift to Avenged Sevenfold. Do these heavier bands have any influence on the band’s sound or on you personally as a musician?
I try to keep an open mind to all music and everything I enjoy affects my writing in some way or another. I grew up listing to classic bands you know? I essentially learnt to shred by playing every G’n’R song I could find. As I’ve gotten older though my taste has spread to much poppier realms which I honestly think has to do with learning to sing. Everything I do is aimed at creating a catchy melody which is massively influenced by pop music. The acoustic rock tag is simply because most of the songs are acoustic tracks with a much more upbeat sound, a much bigger vibe than what you hear from most singer/songwriter kind of acts. For the next two singles we’re looking at bringing more electric guitar on board so expect to hear a solo or two on newer stuff!
So you’re adding more electric elements, is this for any particular reason? Can you see Hunting Helen ditching the signature acoustic aspect of the sound eventually?
Just because there’s only so many chord songs you can write. I can definitely see the sound developing over time. We don’t want to stay confined to one sound and rehash identical tune after tune. I don’t think we’ll ever abandon fully the acoustic sound though. And honestly, I miss playing and writing guitar solos!
What’s the scene like in Nottingham? Are you a fairly unique band or are their other acoustic acts you’re competing with?
I would say we are quite unique, we’re that middle ground between singer/songwriter and an indie rock act. The trouble is we’re far too soft for rock gigs but too heavy for the purely acoustic shows. We’ve really found the balance of learning how to adapt the songs to each gig. I wouldn’t really say we’re in competition with everyone, nottingham is such a vibrant music scene that all bands help each other, particular bands we love are Josh Kemp, Adam Peter Smith and Atticus Anthem are absolutely incredible. We’ve played gigs with nearly everyone on the scene.
You’ve got a music video out and an EP, what’s next for the band?
We’ve got this week in the studio to track two new singles and then there will be filming for both their music videos. The plan is to release them and start playing more shows again to support the release. We’re playing at Stealth on the 13th of July which we’re dead excited about.
You recorded the first EP yourself, will you be recording the new singles yourself too?
No, the first EP we did ourselves to discover our sound and work out how to transpose our message into recording. We’re spending a week living and working in a studio down in Staffordshire where the singles will be tracked and mixed before being mastered at Abbey Road studios. We’re at the point where self-recorded tracks just can’t meet the production quality we need.
Obviously recording music yourself has it’s own benefits and drawbacks. Did you enjoy the experience? Would you do anything different if you could redo the EP?
I did immensely, I spend half my life recording various projects and I am quite the perfectionist, the EP was actually to be part of a trio we recorded so the whole thing took nine months. The downside of recording something yourself is you lose all objectivity which I am looking forward to getting from a producer next week. I think the only thing I would have changed was to have a softer vocal tone, the one I went for is quite harsh in places.
You’ve mentioned one thing I’d like to pick up on – the trio. So if the first EP is part of a trio, are they all part of a wider concept?
It was really an album, we recorded fourteen songs and then had no idea how to release them. The idea came to split them up and release them in parts. The album was to be called Nocturnal and we were going to name each EP dusk, midnight and dawn. We’re not sure what’s going to happen to the other two EPs not released…
What was your reasoning behind using times of day as titles? Is the title reflected in the lyrics and the overall mood of the album?
It’s quite a sad album. Most of the songs are very personal to me, they describe my struggles like leaving Spain, growing up, break ups and religion. We recorded all the drums a week at night time which gave rise to the Nocturnal moniker, the working through times of day was really to start at a dark place and end up in the light again in dawn. The last song is called Grace and is one of the oldest and most hopeful songs I have written.
Nice. If you had to take 3 albums onto a desert island, which albums would you choose?
Haha that changes week to week. Definitely Appetite for Destruction, La Layenda De La Mancha by Mago De Oz. The third – maybe Songs About Jane?
Finally then – Any advice you’d give to kids in bands who want to be where you are today?
1) Learn scales. 2) Start writing songs as soon as possible. 3) Book shows. They’ll be shit and you’ll fucking love every minute of it. 4) Finally, there are very few people born with an excellent singing voice. I firmly believe anyone can learn to sing if they’re willing to put in the hours so just keep at it.
“Gave Me Your Hand”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2iDpwmZalI