Interview: The Howlers


Since forming nearly two years ago The Howlers have generated a buzz around their music, winning praise from BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, KEXP’s Cheryl Waters, and BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders.

With all of the bands’ singles debuting on Radio One – an extraordinary feat for a band not yet signed – The Howlers seem to have an exciting future on the horizon. The Indiependent caught up with frontman Adam Young to talk new music, lockdown and the return of live music.

THE INDIEPENDENT: You’ve made a name for yourself amongst the UK’s best up and coming, how do you feel about what you’ve achieved so far?” 

Adam: I think every artist loves being appreciated. Obviously as a band, we really appreciate anybody who gives their time or support to us. You know, it means a lot because essentially what they’re saying is, “We understand your head.”

You know, we’re not egotistical in any way at all. We’re always looking to be better, we’re always looking to push and achieve the next thing. So yeah, whenever we get recognition it’s like, “Thank you so much. Stay in touch,” and it’s built together.

THE INDIEPENDENT: COVID-19 permitting, you’re embarking on a rescheduled tour this spring, how are you feeling ahead of it?

Adam: I mean it’s definitely not gonna be the spring, it definitely will be postponed. We just wanna play again. But we know the world we live in doesn’t really permit that. Like any band out there at the moment we’re just keeping going, we’re quite fortunate that we we’ve got a lot of supportive people around us. We’re one of those bands that gets kicked down and gets straight back up. So, I feel sorry for bands that don’t have the ability to do that.  We’re all good, we’re just trying to hold some sort of hope, I guess, for the future.

We just we take a lot from the past. There’s no such thing as true originality, we try and take something and make our own and reimagine it.

Adam Young

THE INDIEPENDENT: As mentioned, you’ve had to reschedule your tour due to the pandemic, what have the band been up to in the past year despite the multiple lockdowns?

Adam: We’ve been really busy. We’ve actually been one of the busiest bands out there, we’ve loads of new materials coming out this year. The first single is coming out in March. And then a couple things after that and then the EP. We’re back in the studio very soon. Then we’ve got a load of material for like next year as well. So, yeah, a lot has been going on behind the scenes. I think that the new material we’ve wrote means so much to us and it comes from a time which was really bad for us. I lost a family member to COVID, you know, the Black Lives Matter protests were going on and we wrote these tunes in the middle of that, in a factory in North London where we locked ourselves away. And then we recorded them. We isolated all together in Eastbourne and we were able to have some normality for a week, and what they represent is our understanding of each other. I’m truly excited for people to hear it, it’s a little bit more natural to who we are. We recorded these tunes without clip track, so they were live and we kept a lot – like mistakes and things –because we want it to be organic and authentic. I’ve also done a lot to help other bands in this pandemic. I want to pass on our knowledge and experience. And if I can help people. That’s what I want to do.

THE INDIEPENDENT: What are you most looking forward to about performing in front of a live crowd again?

Adam: I actually love performing and it’s one of my favourite things, we’re a very tight live band. One thing people pick up on is how we are live together. If things fuck up, we’re able to counter it very quickly and most people don’t notice. And when we come offstage, we always beat ourselves up because we always strive to be better. Even if it’s the best show we’ve ever played, people will go “That’s amazing” and you’re like, “No, it wasn’t man.” Seeing people connect with our music is what really fuels us. We like to create an atmosphere in a room that isn’t angry. It’s all too easy for bands to go out there and be post-punk, shout and be angry. Like, I can jump around on stage, but the difference is our music is more diverse and makes people feel and experience things other than anger you know. As long as I change one person’s night, as long as they can leave everything at the door, and give them that escapism, and I’ve done my job and I’m happy. That’s what fuels our music, and to see us smile at each other on stage and when someone’s cocked up, or like to have that little moment of joy that people can experience with emotive sounds. Where we can make three instruments ring out the whole venue and fill the room. That’s what we want to be, because that’s that comes from being true to yourself and not just trying to represent something that isn’t you and yeah, I hope people get that.

As a band, we really appreciate anybody who gives their time or support to us. You know, it means a lot because essentially what they’re saying is, ‘We understand your head.’

Adam Young

THE INDIEPENDENT: One of the venues you are playing (The Lexington) is listed as at risk of closure by Music Venue Trust. Does the current state of live music in the UK worry you, or are you feeling more optimistic?

Adam: The Lexington is always been on the list of one of the first things we ever wanted to play when we started making a more successful career. Any band worth their salt so goes through there. And I think if people aren’t concerned about it, they really need to think why. The music industry has been dealt a shit hand. I think that a lot of people like to use the false cause like “oh yeah, sure we support it” but they’re not doing anything. A lot of people come out saying “oh yeah we want live gigs back” but you weren’t supporting it before the pandemic, and you’re not going to support it afterwards. I think that’s what angered people a little bit, this is a false sense of support. When actually supporting someone like The Lexington, for example, it’s one of London’s most loved venues. If even one percent of that city pledged their support to The Lexington, that should be more than enough to survive. But when they put their Crowdfunder out there, they didn’t meet the targets. That’s where like the fake side of things come from and can be quite frustrating, I guess.

THE INDIEPENDENT: What would you say to people who do want to help support the live industry?

Adam: I think it just there has to be action rather than people saying it. I think a lot of it is perception of how the music industry is. People have this idea of the music industry that’s still like how Hollywood projects it – that is, champagne and cocaine – when actually it’s pot noodles or a cup of tea. I mean, you know, we don’t get paid anything really. We have the best job in the world but it’s the worst paid job. For instance, when I explain to my family the things we’ve achieved and what we got paid, they’re like, “what?”. But at the end of the day, there isn’t any money in the industry, and people need to understand that. I think once people start registering what they can actually do to help then things will actually change.”

THE INDIEPENDENT: Recent singles ‘Badlands’ and ‘La Dolce Vita’ have a foreboding, Americana vibe to it, similar to musical contemporaries Black Honey. What artists have most inspired The Howlers’ sound?

Adam: We take a lot from the ’60s and ’70s, the iconography of like Spaghetti Westerns, which if you ever watched a Spaghetti Western, are fucking hilarious. They’re not synced up properly, someone’s lips moves before they speak. And the story is shit. But the one thing that makes them great is the music, how it makes you feel and how it makes something really terrible interesting. And so yeah, we take a lot we take a lot from that. Like Sergio Leone’s film soundtracks. We take a lot from the past. There’s no such thing as true originality, we try and take something and make it our own and reimagine it. I think any band is kidding themselves if they say they’re original because it’s bullshit. You can’t be. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not doing anything new or forward thinking, we’re doing something that has meaning to us.

Black Honey are a band that aren’t signed [to a major label] like us. They’re a band that have gone from pillar to post and really worked hard and that’s something I admire about them. So yeah, but I wouldn’t say that music has affected us in any way, because we take it from the same origins. There’s nothing really new that really excites me. I’m waiting for someone to come out and blow me away, which is completely left-field.

THE INDIEPENDENT: In contrast, B-sides ‘County Lines’ and ‘My Apologies’ take a more tender and stripped back direction, is this a style the band are interested in exploring further? 

Adam: Yeah, as the boys often say, I pull those tracks out of my arse, if you excuse the expression. Both of the B-sides – the stripped back acoustic ones – were recorded in like one take. That’s why they’re a little raw. What we took from the songwriting of that was, “Let’s apply it to our band songs and write songs instead of music.” I’ve always wanted to play them live. We took our set and threw it out the window. We wrote a whole new set. We’ve actually written in a stripped back section. I’m really excited to play and a bit nervous because it’s me playing on my own. Usually, I get to hide behind the boys a little bit but with these tunes we wanted to demonstrate a different side to the band.

THE INDIEPENDENT: Looking forward, then, what’s 2021 looking like for The Howlers?

Adam: As long as we survive, I think that’s an achievement. I always say, if you don’t expect anything you can’t be disappointed. If you work hard, you’re nice to people and people can see that you are who you say you are then you can’t be unhappy. We have a tradition that anybody we work with, we sit down, order a curry and we have a family meal together, and that’s what it’s all about. For us it’s just connecting with people. As long as we can keep building who we are and developing, both as a band and as people, come into our own little bit more, I’ll be really happy. And getting the new fans along the way who always cool. I really appreciate all the time that is given to us. As long as we survive that’s all that matters – as long as everyone gets out alive.

Words by Brenna Cooper

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