Hinds: “A big reason for girls not starting bands is that they’re made to feel stupid”
“I live downtown and it’s usually like Oxford Circus or something,” one of Hinds’ frontwomen, Carlotta Cosials, explains. She’s pointing her computer camera out of the window in her living room, showing NME how empty the usually bustling Madrid street she lives on is.
“I’m getting used to the silence,” she adds, before asking fellow band member Ana García Perrote, “Are you getting used to it?”
“I’m sorry, but I Iove it,” Perrote answers. “The thing I hate the most about my house is the noise [outside]. The only good thing about this is that I can sleep properly and I’m resting.”
The women are Skyping me from their respective homes in Madrid, where they’ve been in lockdown due to Covid-19 for just under three weeks. The Spanish indie quartet (which also consists of drummer Amber Grimbergen and bassist Ade Martin) were meant to be dropping their third album, ‘The Prettiest Curse’, on April 3, but the pandemic caused them to push the release back to June.
The follow-up to their 2016 debut ‘Leave Me Alone’ and 2018’s ‘I Don’t Run’ sees the band’s raucous garage rock infused with effervescent hooks and mega choruses. Blending growling riffs worthy of The Strokes with soaring melodies and a generous dash of the band’s no-fucks-given attitude, it’s a break-neck 30 minutes of glorious chaos. Basically it’s the perfect soundtrack for dancing in the sun, drink in hand at a festival – if only we weren’t restricted to our own homes.
Despite Hinds being locked down, the band have been keeping busy. “We’re not living in the kind of quarantine where it’s like, ‘Oh, how do I kill the time?!’” Cosials tells us. “We assumed in the very beginning that our job in this quarantine world is to be entertainers, as it was the best thing we could offer, so we’re focussing on that.”
Their role has led them create tutorials of their songs for fans to play, chatting fans on Instagram and meticulously creating live sessions – which involves each band member recording their own parts and Cosials “spending like 100 hours trying to edit it all together”, as they did for a special version of ‘Good Bad Times’ that they created especially for NME (see below).
It was a new challenge for the band to do surgery on their own songs and break them down for the tutorials. At first they had doubts over whether they should open up the bonnet on their less musically complex songs. “I was like, ’This is so easy – maybe I shouldn’t even be explaining it’” Perrote says. ”I thought, ‘How is this going to look?’. But I just remembered how we felt when we were kids learning our instruments, especially being young girls. I want to say stuff super-slow, so nobody feels stupid.”
This is an issue close to Perrote’s heart: “I think a big reason for girls not starting [to learn] instruments or starting bands is that they feel stupid. It’s like, ‘Ooh – I’m too far behind. I’m not going to start now because all my friends are the fucking best already.’ I think it’s really cool that we explained the easier stuff as well as the harder stuff. I think it would be useful if I was watching it when I was 13.”
The tutorials have been well-received, with fans – including lots of young women – posting videos of their newfound skills and sharing them with the band. However, whilst the band keep busy with tutorials and sessions, they’ve also been working behind the scenes on the change in their album schedule; with ‘The Prettiest Curse’ being pushed back to June. Cosials and Perrote are understandably disappointed; but remain adamant that they made the right choice.
“We’d been afraid of pop music for years” – Carlotta Cosials
As their home country went into lockdown, they found the release date edging closer and closer, and yet they didn’t feel comfortable plugging the album on social media. As Perrote puts it: ‘It wasn’t the right moment to be talking about that and promoting something that’s supposed to be cheerful”.
With the band busy worrying about friends and family members – bassist Ade Martin’s parents were infected with the virus (they’ve both now recovered) and Perrote’s doctor parents were called to work in a hospital – they decided to push the record’s release back.
Now ‘The Prettiest Curse’ is due out on June 5 – although Hinds don’t know if they might push it back again if the saga continues . “Right now you just have to have a plan, and then if it changes… Go with the flow,” Perrote says.
Recorded in Brooklyn, Hinds’ third album sees them having more fun than ever before. For the first time they felt like they didn’t have to rush through recording in brief sessions sandwiched between tours. “I think it’s just knowing more stuff [about being in the studio] and being more used to it, it let us fucking enjoy it more,” Perrote explains.
It’s a new sound for Hinds. With 2018’s ‘I Don’t Run’ they created an album using only their core instrumentation (guitars, bass, vocals and drums), but here they expanded their sonic palette. They brought keyboards and fuller production into the mix and embraced the pop melodies they’d previously run from.
Says Cosials: “We’d been afraid of pop music for a lot of years, but we’ve always done super great pop melodies. When Ana and I got together to do melodies, we’d be like, ‘This is cool but it’s too pop.’ We were avoiding it.”
This time they worked with a top producer Jenn Decilevo (who’s added a bit of polish to the likes of Bat for Lashes and Porridge Radio) and drew on their years of recording experience. The other major difference is the album sees the band embracing their Spanish culture, both musically and lyrically. Take ‘Come Back and Love Me <3’, a wistful ballad filled with plucked Spanish guitars and lyrics that switches between their native language and English.
“Sonically, the sound was an accident,” Perrote says with a laugh. We suddenly wrote ‘Come Back and Love Me <3’ and were like, ‘Fuck, we just wrote a Spanish ballad romance song!’.”
The move to singing in Spanish, though, was more deliberate. After starting their career writing in English, the band became aware they weren’t using their native tongue, and wanted to change that. “We had a fucking whole way of writing songs that were English,” Perrote explains. “We’d meet, have a coffee or a beer, talk in Spanish, and then when we actually started writing [a song] it’s in English. We never wrote in Spanish and then translated.”
It hadn’t been a conscious decision to write in English; Hinds were just influenced by the English-speaking bands they’d listened to and loved – there’s a strong Libertines influence in their earlier work – when they first started playing together. “When you start you’re trying to imitate someone that you adore, and the thing that sounded closest was English,” Perrote explains.
The longer they went without writing in Spanish, the more they wanted to do it. When they did, they found it gave them a stronger sense of identity. “Now that we’re obviously more conscious and have more people listening to our songs,” says Perrote, “we were like. ‘Fuck no – we can do this. We can be ourselves and we can find our writer personalities in Spanish’.”
“Right now you have a plan, and then if it changes…go with the flow” – Ana Perrote
She’s not wrong: ‘The Prettiest Curse’ could be the band’s strongest album yet. Brimming with kinetic energy and stuffed full of indie rock bangers, it’s an album meant to be played loud in jam-packed, sweaty venues. The band are raring to take it on the road once it’s safe to do so; but for now are glad they have their rescheduled tour dates this Autumn to look forward to.
We can’t yet mosh along, pint in hand, but when ‘The Prettiest Curse’ arrives in June, we can at least blast it in our headphones and pretend.