.An Interview with Broken Hands
Paula: I’m here on a sunny afternoon with Broken Hands. We’re currently sat outside UCA ahead of their sold out show tonight. So guys, how are you doing?
Dale: Very good, we live 7 minutes away so this is as close as it gets to a home gig for us.
Paula: First of all, tell us about the running theme of space exploration throughout the bands history leading up to the new album ‘Turbulence’.
Dale: Turbulence is a concept record about flight and the idea of taking off literally. A lot of people our age go travelling and the ultimate formed of propelled travel is space so some of the album has gravitated towards that. That’s why it was easy to create more art work and imagery in that way because it helps colour the music.
Paula: People to often dismiss the idea of a concept album as something too difficult to relate to. Are you confident that the music is grounded in your audiences way of life?
Dale: Yes, everyone our age that we know is either literally going around travelling and figuring things out or they’re getting a bit over the top at home which is a sense of travel in its own way. If someone could go on a long-haul flight and put our record on, that would be the ideal sit in listening experience. That’s how I’ve always pictured it.
Dale: We demoed the album ourselves before we recorded it properly and gave it to Chris Wade who made our videos and he went away for 3 months. When he came back he said that it really worked. So that was good to know and he was a good guinnipig.
Paula: How did the release go?
Dale: It came out here in November and its coming out in the states in October. Fingers crossed it will. We’re having some behind the scenes changes which sounds corny but basically we’re changing our record label. So Records will still be our label here and they’ll be our publisher but in the states we’ll have someone different.
Paula: How did you get your record label?
Tom: We had to go to Texas and do South By Southwest. Apparently trying to meet a label in this country is really hard but if you spend a wad of money and go somewhere else, suddenly you’re a commodity.
Dale: Yeah, you have to go around the planet to find the people who work in this country it’s a bit stupid really.
Paula: I thought you got signed at Reading and Leeds festival?
Dale: We did get signed there but the first time the label saw us was in Austin Texas three months before so by the time Reading and Leeds came around they said ‘yeah, lets do this.’
Tom: More planes involved there ironically!
Paula: What was it like playing Reading and Leeds?
Dale: It was cool. We were really lucky because the same bill travels to those two places and you have the same lineup on a different day so the day we played, Queens were headlining. So it was wicked seeing them two nights in a row. You don’t get to do that very often so it was a highlight.
Tom: We had some friends working at Leeds too so it was nice to see them and there were a few mates playing Reading that day so we got to hang out with them too.
Paula: So were you picked up by BBC Introducing first?
Dale: Yeah, Abbie McCarthy who does the BBC Introducing show…
Paula: She’s lovely!
Dale: Yeah and she’s doing really well at the moment so long live! But yeah she sorted us out that gig at Reading!
Paula: So ‘The Silver Landing Program’, one of your tours, it was so unique, how did that change things for the band?
Dale: We sounded different before this album so we decided that we were just going to get rid of all the old stuff and put a line in the sand. So we just wanted to do something unusual with the tour and make a concept of all of it. So we silvered all of the rooms we played in with marathon blankets.
Tom: Before the album was out we couldn’t really tie people into the concept so hard and it was important to us for people to come to the show and immediately have an idea of the concept. It could be busy London outside, they came in and were immersed in this capsule and had an idea of what it was about before any artwork was released.
Paula: How did you get together all of the blankets and stage set up?
Dale: Well we used a lighting rig, which we’re using tonight. At the time we only had 3 lights so we were using mirrors to make more lights. Then we decided to cover the room in silver and Margate was the first time we did it.
Paula: How old were you guys when you discovered your musical talents?
Dale: Me, Jake and Cullum all grew up in the same town and went to the same school. We all had an interest in music separately and started playing together. Then when our friends moved away to uni or travelling we stayed and carried on writing and playing together. That was our thing.
Tom: We all had to learn from each other because no one was in a position to go and pay for tuition.
Dale: The main thing was, none of us were very good but we were all at the same level and grew together.
Tom: As time goes on and we get better, it leaves so much space for us to evolve because we’ve got so much else to learn. In the past two years we’ve lived together as well so that’s tightened it up. It’s just been mates hanging out really.
Paula: What was the point where you decided to become a band, what age were you?
Dale: Most of us played in another band before this called Onlookers. We did quite a lot of touring in that band when were 15-16. So we had a few years of practicing together, writing and trying to get better. Four of us have been playing together since we were 15, Cal was 14. It makes it difficult to get things done if you’re not living close to each other.
Tom: It’s not impossible with the internet but staying here has been good for us. Gang moving to Brighton was good for them but they did that together.
Paula: Where would you all be without the band?
Dale: I don’t know. Jamie was gunna go and study.
Tom: Me and Dave have always just wanted to get out of the country.
Dale: That was the main aim really. We thought, ‘Ok, how can we travel around and see loads of stuff for nothing?’ We thought, if we stick together here, it will all pay back eventually!
Tom: …at a bare minimum! A beer each.
Dale: One beer at a time.
Paula: How has your sound changed over time?
Tom: Our vibe on the first album was heavier, more in depth. On the new record the song gets what it needs.
Dale: One big difference is that we didn’t have Dave back then. It has changed our dynamic as a group of mates and another is that recording is so expensive, we worked out that we could take the money from two recording sessions and buy our own stuff. Although we’re not particularly great at recording, we have more opportunity to reference ourselves. You go around for ages wondering why you don’t sound the way you think you want to sound.
Paula: You say you’re moving on from So Records to a new label, so what is the new record label?
Dale: It’s a major label in America and I wouldn’t like to say any more.
Paula: On the new album what’s your favourite track?
Dale: Turbulence because it sums the album up and it goes down well live.
Paula: How did you create the video for ‘Death Grip’?
Tom: That was Chris Wade!
Dale: We were sitting around in my room having a beer and deciding what to do for a video. Then our friend who is in it as the dead pilot, is a tree surgeon so we decided to use trees and go to the woods. Then we decided he could be dead and hanging from a tree because he didn’t want to be a major part of it! It just went from there and Casper, who is our tech, his dad used to be a pilot so he had all this pilot stuff we could use for props. So that was sorted all in the theme of the album.
Tom: It was good but we wrote the entire thing about flight and planes and at the time there was an aeronautical catastrophe.
Dale: There had been a string of planes crashing and going missing at that time and the day we put that out the Malaysian plane went missing. The press people said we should wait a couple of weeks because it would be touchy but I said ‘Come on, we’re not that bit a deal! No ones gunna notice!’
Paula: So you guys are signed to a major, what’s on the horizon now?
Dale: So they will release Turbulence in the states and we have written a majority of the next album already so we will continue working on that in America. We’ll be working with a new team and figuring out a way to get our music on to the planet!
Tom: In short, we have a lot of hard work to do in a different country, which we’re all looking forward to.
Dale: In a way we’re stating from scratch because we haven’t really done anything over there yet. It is exciting. We’ve been to New York a couple of times and its such a great country. We need a major label just to make a mark on such a massive country. More man power.
Paula: It’s such a shame because it feels like we’re losing our young bands to America now. Slaves haven’t played here in ages.
Tom: But look at Band of Skulls, they struggled here for so long, went to the states and smashed the living daylights out of it. All the interest that they had there, they were on ‘Twilight’ and did David Letterman’s Late Show, meant that when they came back, suddenly as a country we were interested.