Interview: The Horn The Hunt
Published on September 18th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
This week sees the release of “Black Fire”, the majestic new single from Leeds experimentalists The Horn The Hunt, so we caught up with constituent duo Clare Carter and Joseph Osborne to find out more about the forthcoming third album it’s taken from…
Have you been playing festivals this summer?
Clare: We did play a festival, and we’re playing one at the end of the month as well. We’ve just come back from Europe; we did a show in London then played at a festival in the mountains outside Barcelona, which was amazing.
At the end of this month we’re doing Recon Festival, which is an experimental music/art/film crossover festival.
Did you get the chance to enjoy the festival and see other acts?
Clare: Yeah. The one in Spain was all outside and had a natural amphitheatre from the mountains, so it was nice to go and enjoy the landscape as much as the music.
Are “Gold”, “Black Fire”, “The Wild Gaze” and “Lungs” all going to be on the new album? If so, are they indicative of what we can expect?
Clare: Yeah, definitely.
Joseph: I think the album as a whole has got a pretty wide range. There are quite aggressive, upbeat tracks like “Gold”, more laid-back and dreamy ones like “Lungs”, “Black Fire” and “The Wild Gaze”, some instrumental tracks and some quite heavy pop numbers.
It’s a bit of a journey, the album.
Making it a double album is a bold but noble decision in this day and age. Rocksucker applauds you! Did you take your lead from any great double albums of yore?
Clare: No, I don’t think so. When we started writing it, we had this very clear idea that it was going to be like a landscape album, that the songs would all be part of a bigger landscape.
We were writing the songs and we just realised that we’d got eighteen! That would probably be too much for one listen all the way through, so we made it very much so that each disc could be listened to on its own and be a whole separate experience.
If you listen to them both all the way through then that’s fine, but each disc has its own personality.
Joseph: Double albums like Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness were probably an influence in terms of giving the album such a wide scope, with different types of songs and styles.
That album was probably an influence as it shows that you can pull it off as long as you get the structure of it right.
Were all the tracks written in the time since the last album or do some of them date back further?
Joseph: Some of the songs on there date back to when we made our previous album. I would say it’s been a two-year process, so quite long really.
Clare: There’s only one song that was conceived earlier, but all the others were made in the last two years. That’s how long it took to make the album because we do it all ourselves rather than hire a studio.
Which program do you record with?
Joseph: We do everything in Logic.
The new songs have more of an organic sound. How much of the instrumentation did you handle yourselves?
Joseph: We’ve got a very young and talented drummer who was with us on the tour we did for our last album; he played on all the songs with drums. We would track them live in a basement, for example, then we would go back home and record all the other instruments.
There’s some brass on the album as well that we didn’t do, but all the guitars, bass, piano, synth, vocals and melodica we put together in our home studio.
Clare: There’s no programming on this album, it’s all played live. Because we’re not a band we’ve had to do it in bits, but we worked on the idea that it was Joe on the bass, our drummer Conor [Lawrence] and then me singing.
We’d record that nucleus to each song then dress it up with other instrumentation.
What spurred your decision to take this approach?
Clare: We started making music when we were travelling, with a laptop, a MIDI keyboard and a baby guitar, so we were quite restricted by
travelling and by the technology that we had.
Our music started out as kind of electronic, electro-y rock, but now we’ve been settled in Leeds for a few years we’ve found room to record in. We wanted to explore what our music would sound like played by human beings rather than a computer, no metronome or anything.
Joseph: Compared to our earlier material, the laptop’s gone from being the main thing that all the music’s being made on to just purely being the recording device. Everything else is played on instruments to a human pulse.
Presumably you’ll need a full band for live shows. Have you got one together?
Clare: Well, no. It’s interesting because we tried that last year and we didn’t think we’d got the dynamic right. Now the album’s finished we know we’d need about six people at least to play it live, and we’re just in the process of looking for those people now.
At the moment we are playing one-off shows as just the two of us, so we’ve stripped it down using electronic backing beats; very sparse ones, very minimal. Then we use guitar, vocals and synth and it actually sounds an inversion of the album.
Joseph: It’s still a big sound but we’ve had to reinterpret the songs a little as obviously it’s just the two of us. We’ve been getting a lot of praise for it, so it’s still quite a wide soundscape.
Clare: We’ve focused on the textures and the colours of the album rather than recreating the album live, but when the album’s out we will be touring as a full band.
Finally, which have been your favourite albums from 2013?
Clare: I really like Nick Cave’s Push the Sky Away, I think it’s one of his better later ones. Apart from that I’ve not been listening to much new music while we’ve been making our album, so I’ll have to catch up with everything I’ve missed over the next few months!
Joseph: When you’re in the studio making music all day, you have to build up a backlog. You make your own album and when you’ve finally got it released and out the way, then you’ll try to stock up on new ideas. We’re a bit behind schedule with 2013’s releases, basically!
The Horn The Hunt, thank you.