Interview: Hurts – Dignified GentlemenPosted May 12th, 2011 At 1:15 pm By MTV ASIA
Text and interview: Felina Tan
Decked in immaculate crisp shirts and pants, British synth-pop duo Hurts was impossible to miss when they walked into the room. The band had just flown in from Bali the previous afternoon and it was their virgin trip to the shores of the little red dot known as Singapore. Yet, within one night, they had completely fallen in love with our garden city and everything about it (including, the infinity pool atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel).
Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson hail from Manchester, United Kingdom and their barely two-year-old band has risen to phenomenal fame with their debut album Happiness topping the iTunes chart in six countries. Their success has scored them a seemingly endless string of gigs including the fairly recent and widely popular Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2011. Additionally, they have played alongside well-known alternative band Scissor Sisters as well as critically acclaimed Australian singer/songwriter Kylie Minogue.
At age 24 and 26 respectively, Theo and Adam are certainly taking the world by storm with their good looks, gentlemanly ways and of course, brilliantly crafted music. Here’s an up-close and personal encounter with the lads themselves at a cosy corner tucked in Fuse Bar, Marina Bay Sands.
Welcome to Singapore! How do you like it here?
Theo: It’s perfect. We really like it here. We arrived from Bali yesterday.
Adam: It’s like paradise.
Theo: Unbelievable place. We came from Bali which was beautiful but here is just like nowhere else. We never did expect that we’d have the chance to come here.
And how was the infinity pool?
(Both Theo and Adam simultaneously smile and heave a sigh of calmness)
Theo: It was incredible! We walked to the rooftop (where the pool was) and we were just speechless and stayed there for two hours. Thereafter, we went for some food in town and it was great. Such a beautiful place with really great people too.
That’s heartwarming to hear. So tell us, why the name change from Daggers to Hurts?
Adam: Ah yes, why the name change? I guess it’s because our music changed too. I mean, we didn’t want to continue with the sound of our last band. And so we wanted a fresh start. It’s kind of very easy with regards to how we decided on the name Hurts. It suited our lives really because we were hurting a little bit. So, it seemed perfect. And overnight, we finished one project and we started another one.
Theo: Yeah, we did. Plus, we met a long time ago, about five or six years ago. Hurts is only two years old. But, in those two years, it has been the craziest time.
You said you guys were “hurting a little bit.” In what sense would that be? Emotionally or physically?
Theo: We were miserable, really. We weren’t employed for four years. And it was very difficult. It got extremely tough and it was such a struggle. We almost gave up towards the end of that bad time. Then, we started to use music to kind of express ourselves in a way. That was where it all came from and we began progressing. Thereafter, things changed.
And I reckon most of your music are based on those tough times and experiences?
Theo: For example, the song “Wonderful Life,” it couldn’t be written under any other circumstances except the painful times that we went through. I think music for us, is mostly based on what goes in our lives. Many bands out there are just like that too I’m sure. And actually, I’m quite thankful that we had to go through those bad times because we got these songs out.
Hurts – “Wonderful Life”
In your biography written by English writer Joe Stretch, you guys mentioned how Manchester isn’t “a lairy or macho place but it’s more hopeful and bleak.” Do you feel that these two words -“hopeful” and “bleak”- could be used as a collective to describe the music of Hurts?
Theo: I agree that Manchester has indeed formed our music the way it is. We wouldn’t have been able to write the album anywhere else, really. It’s a very different place now though. One thing about bands in Manchester is that they always capture what the place was like at that point in time like how Joy Division did and Oasis as well. Now, it’s a whole lot different in Manchester, so much more modern and exciting. But, it still rains all the time. Really, all the time! The only way you can tell between summer and winter, is that in winter, the sky is dark grey and in summer, the sky is a lighter shade of grey. The sky is never blue in Manchester, it’s always grey but in different shades.
Adam: I think all the bands in Manchester demonstrate varied characters from one another though. For example, the band Elbow who’s from Manchester too, demonstrates something completely different than we do. I think that’s what makes all the bands really special. In all the major cities, you’d get instances like that. Just like in London, I suppose, which is an amazing place to learn to make music too.
What is your favorite track off your debut album for the both of you?
Theo: The song is about a nurse. I was in hospital and Evelyn was the name of the nurse. Her name rhymed with medicine and I thought that was very funny (Laughs). She was really nice, she looked after me well. My favorite song though is “Unspoken.” It’s the first ever song we wrote for the record and that was the song we referenced to every other song on the album. The song “Unspoken” effectively created the whole sound of our album.
How does it feel being this huge and having the privilege to play at Coachella and alongside Scissor Sisters too?
Theo: It’s been crazy and happening so quick! We could have never, never dreamed of this. Every day, we just take it as it comes and we enjoy it. Every day, we get up and it feels like the best day of our lives. Yes, it is crazy but you just have to enjoy it. We really never thought it would happen. It’s brilliant.
What about the band’s image? Is it intentional and do you guys actually dress like this on normal days when there are no concerts/interviews?
Theo: I think so. I think it has always been about trying to be dignified because remember that time when our lives were quite off? We felt that during those times, our lives were lacking in dignity and difficult definitely. So we had this thought whereby, if we were to dress a certain way, we might feel better about ourselves and build a greater sense of confidence for ourselves too. So when Hurts started out, we just continued dressing in this manner. We dress simple and take pride in what we look like and try to walk with dignity too.
Adam: And now we don’t have any other clothes! (Laughs)
Theo: So when we have a day off, we just wear this as well.
Theo: (Laughs) Yes! I was just on the sun roof where the infinity pool was, practically dressed like this.
But it’s so warm out there. Singapore is scorching hot!
Theo: Yeah, it is hot!
Adam: So hot!
Theo: But we dress this way still! (Laughs)
Who are you guys currently listening to?
Theo: A lot really. Our favorite band in the last couple of years has always been The Drums, a band that we love so much. We actually became friends. They made such an incredible record that everybody should listen to.
They’re actually coming here next week to perform!
Theo: Wow! Are they? That is so great! They’re so, so good and they’re brilliant live. There’s actually a lot of other good stuff out there too.
Adam: I like Glasvegas. I listen to them quite a lot. They’re a band from Scotland.
Theo: There’s also a girl called Saint Saviour from England. You should listen to her! She sounds a little bit like Kate Bush. She’s really cool. There’s actually a lot of great music at the moment, very different too. I think it’s such a healthy thing for music. It’s not all just one genre, one particular type neither is it a movement. Music’s all varied.
Hurts – “Better Than Love”
On the topic of music, did any bands/singers influence the music you guys make?
Adam: I think probably Depeche Mode, the biggest influence behind our music. I think the way they sounded at a specific time in their career was highly inspirational for us. Also, Tears For Fears, an English band, influenced our sound a lot.
Theo: And Oasis too. Not many people would think that but they were a band that really made us want to make music and a band like The Strokes made us believe that we could do it as well. I think that’s just as important as direct influence too; people who give you ambition. That’s what got us where we are today. And Prince!
Collaboration-wise, what was it like working with the gorgeous Kylie Minogue?
Theo: It was amazing! It was everything you could imagine. She’s so talented, so beautiful and it was kind of this strange moment (in a good way) actually and till today too, whenever we think about it. It was perfect. It was the final thing we did on the record before it was completely ready.
What about future collaborations?
Adam: Hmmm, I would say Kate Bush or Prince!
Theo: That would be really impossible, yeah? Collaborating with Prince. He’d probably say no. But then again, maybe if we asked him now, he would. (Laughs)
You could spam him some emails!
Theo: (Laughs) Yeah! Email about eight times or something!
What can fans expect from Hurts? Say, in the next few months?
Theo: Well, we’ll be on tour till November this year. We’ll be performing at the festivals in Europe throughout which is so exciting and then a big tour in October. Probably around Christmas time, we’ll start to write the next album which again, is exciting.
Wow, that’s quick!
Theo: Yeah, we’ve been touring for one and a half years. We’ve been all over the world – Europe, America and now Asia. We’ve learnt so much by doing all of this and hopefully when we start the next record, (the learning experiences) will all come out.
Do you have any well-wishes for the people in Japan affected by the recent quake and tsunami?
Theo: Oh yes, we do. In fact, Japan was one of the most amazing places we’ve been to. One of the biggest things we took away from our trip there was the people. They’re one of the friendliest, humble and beautiful people you’ll meet. To see people like that suffer, is really a very difficult thing. We would like to go back towards the end of the year so we’re looking forward to that.
Hurts – “Stay”
That’s nice. And do you have anything to say to your fans in Singapore?
Adam: Yes! You’ve got a great city. I actually wished we live here.
It’s too hot though, isn’t it?
Theo: (Laughs) Yes it is.
Adam: We’ll be able to cope with it!
Theo: We can learn to, we can. But we never thought we’d ever get the chance to come to Singapore. It’s only because of the fans who have given us this opportunity to come here for an amazing few days, which is just perfect. And we like the food too. We had some great food last night!
Have you guys tried durian?
Theo: Oh no, not yet! We are going to try it though, in Kuala Lumpur soon.
Adam: Ah yes, the one with that smell.
Theo: Yeah, that one.
Are you looking forward to having it though?
Are you guys slightly apprehensive about it?
(Theo and Adam laughs)
Theo: Umm, yeah. We had stingray last night!
And how was it?
Theo: It was nice!
(Adam does a little hand prayer in remembrance of Steve Irwin)
Theo: Yeah we did it in memory of Steve Irwin. But actually, we’re excited to have durian. We don’t know when is the best time to have it and where too though.
Not in an air-conditioned space for sure!
Adam: Oh yeah, it’ll smell real bad yes?
Theo: So I guess we’ll go out into a field in the middle of nowhere…
And have a durian picnic?
Theo: (Laughs) Yeah! Sounds good!