Interview: High Hazels

high hazels

It’s release week for High Hazels, are a young quartet from Handsworth in Sheffield. Their debut EP In The Half Light is out today via their own label Hit or Heist. The EP is streaming in full below the interview and our review will be ready shortly.

In between releasing their EP and touring with The Crookes, High Hazels took some time off to chat with us about their musical influences, the development of their sound and their future plans.

When did you first meet and decide to start a band together?

We all attended the same schools so we’ve been good friends since childhood.
Myself (James – Vocals / Guitar), Anthony (Drums) and Scott (Guitar) have been playing music together from the age of around 14, playing in various little musical groups, getting to grips with our instruments and enthusing about music.
In 2011, Paul, older brother of Anthony and bass player, joined our group and cemented the line-up. A seamless addition as we hung around together anyhow. I guess that’s when High Hazels was born.

How did you come up with the name High Hazels and what does it mean?

High Hazels is the name of a park close to where we all grew up so we thought it was quite geographically fitting!
That, and the fact we all agreed it sounded quite alright at the time with no particular connotations is why we settled on it. I think it’s the music that ultimately makes a name, like if I’m talking about a band I don’t tend analyse the actual words of the name, it just subconsciously rolls off the tongue. Regardless of it’s outrageousness!

Your sound has repeatedly been likened to The Smiths, how do you feel about that? Does it put you under pressure and do you find it appropriate at all? (Personally, it reminds me of The Coral rather than The Smiths.)

I think it’s great to be likened to likes of The Smiths and The Coral but it’s also something as a band we take quite lightly. In terms of whether it’s appropriate, I think everybody naturally tries to compare or find a link between certain music and songs when they’re greeted by something they haven’t heard before.
Based on that, if people link us with bands we are inspired by then that can only be a positive. In terms of The Smiths and The Coral, and many other artists, alongside their music, it’s their career and ethos that really inspires us.

Speaking of which how would you describe your sound and how did you create it in the first place

The sound of our music is something that comes from many different corners. It’s something I regularly try to put my finger on, but can never quite do it. I can only suspect that it’s a mixture of; our equipment (we like to use vintage equipment where we can), particular chords (we use major sevenths fairly often) and floating, intertwining melodies.
We try to keep things as uncluttered as possible and give things plenty of space.

What other bands than The Smiths have influenced you?

Simon and Garfunkel, The Walkmen, Elbow, The Byrds…the list is very long.

You’ve got an EP Coming out next week titled In The Half Light. Could you elaborate on the title?

It’s actually a lyric taken from one of the songs on the EP – Winter Song. It seemed to nicely capture the feel of the EP as a whole.

The lead track off your new EP is titled Summer Rain and there is also a song called Winter Song. Is there a concept behind those titles or is it more of a coincidence? Did you write these songs in summer and winter respectively?

I think it’s purely coincidence!
Seasons and other natural things do tend to pop up in our lyrics quite a lot, it’s nice if you can weave those references with day to day life references.

How does the songwriting process work, do the lyrics come first or the music?

I think every band’s writing process is different. In our case it could be a lyric, or a melody, or a chord, or a guitar part that initially gets the ball rolling. These things are usual unplanned and can come at any time, from anyone of us. Once we have a starting point, we then gradually build a song up and let it take it’s course, each bringing our own ideas to table. Ours is quite a collaborative affair in terms of input – which I think is a good thing.

You’ve got a tour with The Crookes coming up. Can we also expect a High Hazels headline tour later this year?

Who knows. We’re all chomping a the bit to get the tour underway – it’ll be the first real string of dates we’ve done!
We’re really grateful to have been asked by The Crookes and it should be a good one.
I don’t think we have any form of ‘tour’ penciled in as yet, but you never know how things will go, but hopefully.

Where do you see yourselves 5 years from now?

As long as we’re enjoying it and still earning the right to write music and make albums in 5 years I think we’ll all be very happy – hopefully building a catalogue of music that will reach and connect with as many people as possible along the way.

Thanks for your time.

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