It Takes Two: Her's interview
A year on from their debut single, stir-causing duo Her's tell us about their origins, their love of Pierce Brosnan and the advantages of drum machines
The humble apostrophe has a mixed legacy when it comes to pop music. For every Aphrodite's Child or Gorky's Zygotic Mynci there's a Hear'Say or Dumpy's Rusty Nuts. The less said about Ned's Atomic Dustbin the better.
Trying to address this balance somewhat are Liverpool-based duo Her's, whose jangle-pop could become the soundtrack to your summer – if indeed we make it that far and are not swept away by a tsunami of political spin and state-sponsored skullduggery.
Not that Her's would care, of course; their songs are the domain of beaches, romance and the heady abandon of youth. It's dreampop for dreamers and the giggling twosome know it.
"We found we had a similar philosophy in regards to music," says Barrow-born Stephen Fitzpatrick. "There was a common ground when it came to particular bands. We're almost like a product of the bands that we most agree on – we both like The Smiths and Ariel Pink, for example."
While the musical references are overt, less obvious is the importance of the pair's geographical background and the influence it's had on their sun-bleached sound – especially when you consider that Fitzpatrick comes from England's wettest county and bandmate Audun Laading from Norway.
"We both swapped coastal sleepiness for Liverpool," chuckles Laading. "We have similar kinds of minds, possibly because of where we come from – it's the waves, I think. We definitely recognised we were both from quite sheltered, closed-minded places and moving to Liverpool was a good shock for us – it was nice and rough around the edges and now we call it home."
With both arriving by the Mersey as students at Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, an instant bond was formed, as much about what they didn't want to be as what they did.
"We didn't want to be session musicians," says Fitzpatrick when we ask about LIPA's erstwhile reputation for churning out muso bores, arguably dispelled by the recent emergence of Dan Croll, Pink Kink et al. "People like to pigeonhole bands from here but we had a good time and we met Paul McCartney so I'm not embarrassed. We don't really feel like a product of LIPA – Her's was something we were doing outside of uni and was our 'freedom project' in many ways. We could do what we really wanted to."
Having clocked close to a million streams between the two tracks on their debut single, Dorothy and What Once Was, success seems to have come as something of a surprise to the dynamic duo.
"It happened gradually," says Fitzpatrick. "It was slow and steady and we weren't really taking it seriously. We had the same schedule for a year and began to hang out. Eighteen months later we were like, 'Maybe we should play some guitar together,' and that's what we do most days now."
Key to the band's sound is their humble drum machine, which has become such an important part of the group that it takes centre stage and has the honour of being adorned with pictures of the pair's favourite actor, Pierce Brosnan. ("Our band spirit animal. Our third member," explains Fitzpatrick. "A friend of mine printed out loads of pictures of him and he handed me one on a night out. He's been with us ever since.")
"I had a drum machine that my dad bought me when I was 10," he continues. "I'd never properly used it before and we were jamming. It just seemed a magical thing to use. I thought, 'there's our niche' – they drink less than real drummers too and cost less and it means we make more money. You don't have to put them in bed with you in your Travelodge when you're on tour.
"I like to think of it as freedom in restriction – we can embrace the one beat going on in the song without overthinking it, so you're bound to do simple stuff and when that happens it's very poppy. We'll never play to intense click-tracks – we're just not cut out to be a prog band."
While the knicker-based graphics of their artwork suggests a band intent on raunch, a truer picture of their intentions is revealed on the likes of I’ll Try, which comes on like Mac DeMarco guesting with Aztec Camera – all lovelorn balladeering atop sprightly indie basslines, with shades of jangle-pop in the production.
Her’s have now compiled a rollicking record of their infant career so far: Songs of Her’s will be released on 12 May, including all their recorded output to date plus six new songs to make for the most complete introduction to their slacker world yet.
"Our manager said to call it 'a collection of songs,'" says Laading. "It's everything we've put out so far but it's not a full stop. We'll still play them live and they might end up on our first proper record!"
"There's a lot of humour, a lot of romance and I hope there's a lot of ambiguity and melancholy too," adds Fitzpatrick, as the band prepare to head out live with Happyness, following previous jaunts with Wild Nothing and Dutch Uncles.
"It was always the aim from the start to play gigs – we knew it would be easy because we could just press play on the drum machine."
Songs of Her's is released 12 May via Heist or Hit. Her's play Gold Sounds festival, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 20 May