Live Review and Interview: Her's

Live Review and Interview: Her's

Spring has sprung, and we are all in need of a sprightly earworm to accompany the caressing sunshine. Look no further than two-piece Her’s, consisting of Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading. Formed in Liverpool in 2016, the pair offer an inspired sound that represents a refreshingly contemporary revision of the ‘80s jangle-pop exploration, pioneered by the likes of the Smiths and the Beach Boys. On stage with their trusty drum machine and loyal talisman – a 7ft cut-out of Pierce Brosnan – the endearing duo radiated an inimitably light-hearted air. By combining a proficient execution of their collection with off-kilter humour and a clear affection for one another, Her’s filled the sold out show with brazen cackles and a wave of gleeful bobbing heads.

Stepping onto the intimate stage of the Louisiana, they began proceedings with a typically energetic performance of ‘Dorothy’, that set the pace for the evening. The familiar tracks ‘Marcel’ and ‘Cool With You’ followed, sandwiched between teasing soundbites of songs from their upcoming album. Lacing familiarity with the unknown kept the crowd on their toes, with Laading’s relentless energy compelling everybody to bust a groove. As they progressed through more of their older tunes, Fitzpatrick delivered a faultless vocal performance and won the hearts of the masses with his cheeky grin and intervening quips.

Both members emanated a carefree and relatable aura – pulling faces and jigging in sync – stimulating a connection with the audience unlike most. The irresistibly funky baseline of ‘Cop Theme’ preceded a captivating performance of ‘You Don’t Know This Guy’, a stylish score doused in melancholy. Time appeared to stand still through this down-beat track; Fitzpatrick’s guttural vocals urging the crowd to momentarily revert from the two-step to a rhythmic sway. Such a seamless break from the otherwise exuberant show reveals another dimension of this band’s arsenal, perhaps aided by the intimacy of the venue.

Everyone’s favourite 007 watched on with paternal pride, as the order of the day resumed through an animated rendition of ‘Speed Racer’. Bouncing off one another in-between tracks, their gaiety plagued the room and purged it of all the worries outside. The newly released ‘Love on the Line’, a song resembling the soundtrack of Brian Wilson’s dreams, was followed by the self-proclaimed “hit”, ‘What Once Was’. Everybody present enthusiastically sung along to the chorus, the pair’s evident togetherness diffusing through the crowd. They even paid tribute to the undisputed king of ‘90s pop, offering a sardonic yet equally lovely version of Robbie Williams’ ‘She’s The One’. Ending with crowd-pleaser ‘I’ll Try’, the duo was greeted with a raucous reception.

While their lyrics tangle with anguish, Her’s convey no sense of sobriety in their music. Often labelled as dream-pop, their infectious sound transports the listener to an idealized past; denoting elements of cynicism, nostalgia and romance. Don’t allow their lack of a full band put you off. The drum machine adds texture to their sound, complementing tight harmonies to make you feel like you’re in a limbo state between wakefulness and slumber. With plenty of upcoming gigs and a new album on the horizon, this surely won’t be the last you hear of Her’s.

You’ve been playing quite a few gigs recently – how’s it all been going?

Stephen: Really good – we’ve done a lot of gigs mainly in the UK, but we also recently went to Bangkok to support a band called ‘Beach Fossils’, which was crazy. They flew us out just for one show so we were only there for two days, but it was incredible. We were surprised when we were playing there that people knew who we were, and there’s definitely been a growing wave of support since that gig.

How’s Pierce enjoying himself?

Stephen: We forgot to get him out last night in Cardiff – everyone was pissed!

Audun: His ego’s starting to grow a bit.. He’s beginning to take the lead in the band.

What’s the most bizarre thing that’s happened at a Her’s gig?

Audun: At one gig we kept getting stage invaded. But it was just one person at a time, four or five people in a row. They would just jump up and scream a bit.. It was really badly coordinated.

Stephen: Good question, there was that time at Green Man Festival, when we were playing and suddenly the loudest sound you’ve ever heard starting pounding out the bass amp. It all worked out, but it was super weird – it wasn’t your regular technical difficulty, it was a weird sound, spaceship kinda thing

Audun: Oh yeah that was wild, sounded like an aircraft – the crowd was loving it!

Did you go to Liverpool with the intention of finding people to collaborate with, or was it something that just happened naturally?

Audun: Coming from Norway, I’d always felt like I needed to change up the scene a bit. All my mates at home were just playing metal, so I was definitely searching for people who are interested in the same kind of music.

How has playing together influenced your own individual playing?

Audun: I think being in this particular band has definitely evolved my own technique in a direction that I’m very happy about, because since there’s just the two of us it allows more space for me to unfold myself a bit more than other bass players.

I love the new single, ‘Love On The Line’, can we expect similar vibes on the album?

Stephen: There are bits and pieces from that song in the new album, but it’s also very contrasting at the same time.

Audun: It’s hard to explain. On the new album the sound is more developed and it’s got more consistency between the tracks. On the last release each track had more different vibes – like between ‘Marcel’ and ‘Medieval’. Though the songs on the album still have their own character, I think the consistency between them is stronger. Similarly to the last release every track has its own character, but it’s different because on the last album each track had more different vibes. We were definitely more confident setting out to write this collection.

Stephen: It’s a more collected order of songs.

How would you describe your music?

Stephen: I was actually talking to someone about this last night in a taxi. I think for the every-day person who’s maybe not that interested in music, the easiest comparison would be a kind of 80s-inspired duo that sounds little bit like the Smiths or the Cure – that kind of ball park. We’ve been placed in a few different genres – the lady in the taxi described it as ‘snowcore’, whatever that is.

Audun: In France we were described as ‘hot new wave’, but usually it’s referred to as dream pop. Obviously Arial Pink is a big reference point for us – they’re one of the acts that we listened to most together.

Do you have many musical differences?

Stephen: It overlaps a lot as a result of the band I think – the stuff we like now, a lot of it we discovered together. Before the band there was more contrast.

Audun: Yeah I was more into electronica back in Norway, but since picking up the bass obviously got a lot more into guitar music. Mac Demarco and that kinda stuff we’d each listened to separately.

Are there any recent tracks that tickle your eardrums?

Stephen: Yeah at the moment we’re both really into ‘Little Dark Age’, the new MGMT album. It’s quite recent and very Arial Pink-esque, it’s a big departure from their previous stuff. They’re not focused on writing dead weird songs as much as they were on their second and third albums – it’s more grounded.

In your video for ‘Speed Racer’ I clocked you doing a crazy flip Stephen, where did that come from?!

Stephen: Haha. It’s just something I was doing as a kid, and I’ve just tried to keep doing it regularly. It’s basically just a sugar-coated cart-wheel. But when we were filming that I had to do it about 15 or 20 times.

Audun: We had to do it so many times his hands were like mashed potatoes.

Have you got any more videos in the pipeline?

Audun: Yeah we’re trying! We’re quite picky though so we’re not making it very easy for ourselves.

What’s next? Any shows over the summer that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Stephen: Yeah, the Moth Club show in London’s going to be a good one.

Audun: Yeah we’ve got that sold out show at the Moth Club, and a gig in Leeds coming up too which will be pretty sick. And obviously over the summer we’ll be working towards the album, which will be out some point this year.

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Oli Parker