Two decades after Garbage was a seminal ’90s alt-rock band, they’re touring their sixth album, “Strange Little Birds,” and coming to Portland on Sept. 18. This month’s cover feature is a Q&A with drummer and producer Butch Vig on Garbage’s self-created record label, Shirley Manson speaking for the band and the evolution of alternative music.
Hinds is a band whose entire existence captures the idyllic west coast view of what it’s like to be young: hanging out with your best friends, chasing the sun, listening to rowdy music at even more rowdy parties. With their surfy, lo-fi guitar melodies to lyrics about getting trashed and sleeping around, you would never guess that Hinds started anywhere but sun-soaked southern California. Their laidback attitude and disregard for how music “should” sound–at least judging by their motto “Our shit, our rules”–is so at home on the west coast it’s a shock to learn they started thousands of miles away, in Madrid, Spain.
The rock ‘n roll scene in Madrid is decidedly small, with a handful of truly great garage-rock bands, many of which are Hinds’ closest friends, flying under the radar. It is this tight-knit community, and the support of bands like The Parrots and Los Nastys that have allowed Hinds to take the gritty global garage scene by storm.
After going away on holiday together, best friends Ana Perrote and Carlotta Cosials decided they wanted to start making music together. All their closest friends were in bands and they were obsessed with the music and the scene, so they thought to themselves, why not give it a shot? They each picked up a guitar, wrote a few songs together, and with the help of their friends in The Parrots were able to record “Bamboo” and “Trippy Gum.” Eventually they released the songs online and found near instantaneous success.
No one had ever fathomed how quickly things would take off, but that’s part of the charm of people who are great at what they do: they often don’t realize how great they are as quickly as the rest of us. It’s this humility, this genuine excitement to be playing and making music that makes them so alluring. Their reverb-heavy, ultra-fuzzy lo-fi sound isn’t for everyone, but its their home-grown kindness, their infectious smiles, their rambunctious personalities, the warmth and sincerity you hear in the recordings that is hard for anyone to resist. With time they will become supremely proficient instrumentalists, but that will never be the first thing people will notice about them. It is their brightness as people and performers that people will always gravitate toward.
After releasing “Bamboo” and “Trippy Gum” on Bandcamp, Hinds began receiving acclaim from publications around the world, regularly being listed as a band to look out for. It is undoubtedly from this success that Ana and Carlotta decided to find a drummer and bassist to add to their permanent lineup. Friend Ade Martin was gifted a bass by the pair and quickly learned to play alongside Ana and Carlotta, who were both becoming steadily more confident on guitar. Not long after that they met Amber Grimbergen online, noticing she played drums in a profile picture and taking a chance, asking if she might be interested in playing with them. Finally, with a full-fledged band, they began touring the world together, playing both Burgerama last spring and the main stage of Glastonbury last summer, recording their first full-length, Leave Me Alone, in their free time between.
Leave Me Alone is out January 8 with an early release party happening in New York January 6, just days before they begin part one of their world tour, supported by Tall Juan, Sun Club and Public Access TV. Most recently Hinds toured North America with Public Access TV, stopping by Holocene in Portland, a raucous show and a venue well suited for their frenetic energy that causes even the primmest of Portlanders to dance and sing along to. While nothing has officially been announced yet we definitely have our fingers crossed for another Portland date, but until then you can check out their new album Leave Me Alone through Mom+Pop and Lucky Number.
Even as they are preparing to leave in just a few days for the first part of their world tour, singer and guitarist Carlotta Cosials took some time to chat with ELEVEN about how Hinds got its start and their incredibly quick rise to the top.
ELEVEN: You guys are kicking off the first part of your world tour in a couple weeks, starting in New York for an early album release and then all around Europe. Are there any really special venues or cities you guys are playing in this time around?
Carlotta Cosials: Actually all of them. Even if you don’t believe it, we are realizing that the world is huge and we can find the time to go everywhere we want to. We really want to go everywhere where people want us but it’s pretty difficult because there aren’t enough days in the year. So we really love every city we go because for them it is special, so it is special for us.
11: You’re touring with Public Access TV, Tall Juan, and Sun Club.
11: You just toured with Public Access TV very recently, have you played with the other two bands before?
CC: No, we met Public Access in London like a year or so ago and we get on very well so that’s why we proposed we do that American tour together, and it was the best decision we could ever make. We had a lot of fun. We learned so much about them. And doing that tour we did this KEXP thing, and in the entrance of the studio there was this band with super cool kids going out of there and it was Sun Club. And they were like, “Hey you’re Hinds!” And we said, “Yeah!” and they said, “Did you just do the KEXP?” And we hung out for like 15 minutes, enough time to like each other. Our drummer had listened to them before so we decided to listen to them and they are pretty, pretty cool; so let’s see what happens!
11: This tour is supporting your new album, Leave Me Alone, do you guys think that this album is different for you guys in any way? Do you think you guys tried some new things? How do you think you guys grew?
CC: I think it’s exactly what we have been this year. Actually right now I find it a little bit old. We recorded in April and it’s going to be released in January. I, right now, feel that we are better musicians and that we have a little bit different appreciation of music. You keep growing up every day. We are a baby band still and growing up is super fast. Right now we would do another album for sure, like another kind of album. But I think it’s the perfect representation of the whole year and it is super, super, super lo-fi. It’s cool that we’ve kept the vibe of the demos and the EP of before. So yeah, I think it’s a great first album.
11: I’m very excited to listen to it. Are you guys writing some new stuff then, in a different direction?
CC: Uh-huh. We have two songs now.
CC: Yeah, we are very, very slow at writing. We are perfectionists with the songs. We write music as if we are the listeners and if we don’t find the music perfect as listeners we don’t feel like the song is finished. We spend like two months or so with every song we write, so it’s really cool that we already have two!
11: Is the writing process collaborative for you guys?
CC: Ana and me, the two guitarists and singers, we write all the melodies and the structure of the song, and the lyrics. Pretty much everything. Ade and Amber do their parts: bass and drums. But we always have a conversation, like, “We were thinking about the drums like this.” Everyone has an opinion, which is cool. And so it’s collaborative; I mean the fact that we are two writers and two lyricists makes it very open. It’s not that I’m at home and I’m writing my shit because I feel like that and I tell my mates, “Let’s do this song,” and they don’t understand anything. It’s just the opposite–we only write when we are together, Ana and me. We don’t write separately, we maybe come up with some sentences, but not a whole song at all. I think it’s a sharing thing.
11: Do you find that collaborating brings you guys closer? Are you guys close friends?
CC: We were friends before having the band. We were best friends. Not like, “I know you.” She’s been my best friend since ever. We have gone everywhere for holiday together. Seriously, we have been very, very, very, very, very close friends. And then the band started.
11: Changing tracks a little bit, I had watched your “San Diego” video and I noticed that you guys speak predominately in Spanish to one another but all your lyrics are in English and I wondered how you approach lyric-writing and what your perspective is on that?
CC: You know it’s a very good thing that we have. It makes us make an extra effort to write a song. We talk about what we feel and about the images and what we want to talk about in Spanish. I don’t talk to Ana in English at all. But then the trip of finding how we are going to say it in English is a very poetic thing. Trying to find the correct word and all this stuff, because sometimes it’s not that easy to translate feelings because there are just some expressions that don’t exist in the other language. It’s cool because we are fighting to find the correct translation to a feeling we’ve had in Spanish. But sometimes it’s the opposite and the way we say it in English is prettier than in Spanish. Sometimes it’s even more right, the way we say it in English than in Spanish. Like the lyrics of “Chillitown,” where suddenly it’s impossible to think of the lyrics in Spanish.
11: Your sound fits very well in the west coast garage scene, I wondered what music culture was like in Spain, how you guys feel like you fit in and what it was like to grow up with the music scene there.
CC: Actually we have listened to music a lot from your part of the world. What we have in common with the west coast is the sun. I think that really, really, really makes a huge difference. For example, with English music, they are obsessed with the sun. Looking for the sun. There are a lot of metaphors about the sun and happiness. And I think we do music having the sun and having a blue sky over our heads and I think you really can tell in our songs that we haven’t written in weather under 20 degrees. I think it’s pretty cool. Plus all the friends we have here, all the music we have been growing with during these years, they are the same of course. This is the scene we know, the garage scene. We started to listen to this music around 2009 and we started listening to Los Nastys and after that we started listening to The Parrots. I don’t know, it was cool because it’s a very small scene so everyone knows each other. Like the other day Los Nastys came to our rehearsal and every time The Parrots are about to release a song they show it to us first. Everyone helps each other and if someone is playing in town everyone is going to go if they’re in town. It’s cool. It’s like having your friends and they also have bands. So instead of going to the square and having a beer you go to a gig and see them play.
11: Amber joined the band in 2014. Is that how you met her or did you know her previously and she just joined later?
CC: Actually we met her because she shared, when it was only Ana and me, she shared a post of Deers in the Facebook comments. She shared a poster or a photo or something, and we had so few fans that we saw everything on the Facebook page, and she had a profile picture playing drums and we were like, “Ohhhhh!!!” And so Ana added her on Facebook and asked her if she had a band and she said, “No,” so we asked her, “Do you want to be in a band?” and she said, “Yeah, maybe.” So we had like a blank slate and we really, really fit and it was perfect.
11: That’s awesome. It’s like a cute little rom-com love story; that’s very adorable. You just mentioned when your band used to be called Deers, was it hard to dissociate yourself from that name and come up with a new name?
CC: Yes. It was horrible. We are starting to forget it, of course. It was seriously the worst thing you can do to someone. Okay, imagine your name is Sarah and suddenly you have a lawyer telling you, you have to change your name because my name is “Saradon” and it sounds so similar. You really have to do it. And you go, “No, no no.” And they go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah because I have a lawyer and blah blah blah,” and you don’t have the money or the time, I mean you don’t want to fight, so you just have to change your name. The worst time was choosing a new name. That was the worst time. Like it’s not choosing a new name like you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life. When you start a band you choose a name and you really don’t care, you don’t know where it’s going to be. But when we chose a name it was like, “Shit, this name is probably going to be in the lineup of Glastonbury. We really have to choose a good name.” It was pretty tough.
11: What was your thinking behind choosing Hinds? How did you land on that?
CC: We wanted one word for sure. We’ve always liked that. And we didn’t like “The Something” and it was cool because it means the same thing, but in feminine. It’s a female deer. It was a good idea for us because we are girls and stuff. I don’t know, we just had to do it, and we had to do it fast. So we just did it.
11: That makes a lot of sense. You guys are doing the first part of your tour, and I assume at some point soon you will announce the second part. Is that going to include some North American dates?
CC: Of course! We love America! »
– Sarah Eaton