"There's an 'otherness' within us"
Hurts have spoken about how their ‘risky’ new album ‘Desire’ further establishes them as an ‘alternative to manufactured pop’, and a band for ‘outsiders’.
Last week, the Manchester synth-pop duo dropped their fourth record ‘Desire’ – one which they say intentionally leans on a ‘lighter’ vibe as an escape to the current divisive political climate. Having exclusively told NME of a surprise collaboration with rap legend The Game, they’re always open to a diverse range of sounds.
“It is a risk,” frontman Theo Hutchcraft told NME. “That’s what we enjoy about it – not being able to be pigeon-holed and for people to be able to second-guess. That’s what the bands that we love have – the ability to change and to grow. Also, part of the lightness of it comes from looking back at how the world has been a very dark place over the last couple of years. There’s a genuine feeling of melancholy in everybody at the moment.
“Going into the studio was an escape. The lightness of the songs is an antidote to the darkness that everyone has been confronted by. Music is useful to escape. We could have written an album that reflected the mood that we were feeling, but the opposite is often more useful for us.”
How have you found the world’s reaction to ‘Desire’ so far?
Theo: “It’s been good, you know. As with everything we put out, there are some surprises in there. But what’s great for us is that people come on the journey with us. It’s definitely a much lighter album than we’ve made before, but I think that was important – just to show a different side of who we are. That was the plan. It’s refreshing that people do look at it with an open mind.”
Adam Anderson [guitar, keys]: “As long as the music comes from me and Theo, I don’t really think about genre that much. We just made what we felt like after being on the road for three years. If you write pop songs, they can do what you want them to.”
You’ve said that you intended for the record to be ‘escapist’. Do you feel like you’ve ever written a ‘political’ track?
Theo: “Not really. I don’t feel that’s something that we aim for. There are two sides to pop music and we never really set out to make it like that. We set out to tell stories and give people some sort of release.”
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What kind of themes are you exploring on this album?
Theo: “It’s more a feeling. Often our songs are love songs or are around about that sort of world. It’s not thematic in that sort of sense, it’s just about creating a feeling.”
Having constantly shifted your genre on each record, do you find yourself confusing your fans or are you ‘just Hurts’ now?
Adam: “It’s hard to tell really, it’s only been a few days. Every country likes a different aspect of us. Every country that we’re successful in has a certain ownership of us that’s determined by them. Russia for instance, thinks of us as a pop band. Then in Germany, they think of us as a more melancholic and brooding alternative act.”
What would you say is the common thread that binds all Hurts fans together?
Theo: “It’s strange. It’s something that we learn about a lot. There’s definitely an element of fans being outsiders. In a lot of ways, we create a community. That’s probably what draws fans in – they are very welcome. What they like about us is different, but what ties them all together is that they’re all people who like the ‘otherness’ that’s within us. We provide an alternative to the pop music that people listen to on a daily basis. That’s all we want to do – we don’t fit in. It doesn’t have to all be shiny and manufactured. You can make pop music yourself and in your own way.”
The tour is fast approaching. You’re four albums deep now. What is the setlist going to look like?
Adam: “We’re just trying to work it out at the moment. There are some songs that we’ve been playing for seven years, so it’s about trying to take people on a journey and play a lot of new songs – so seven songs have to come in and seven have to come out.”
Theo: “It’s also like building a greatest hits. Every time you go on tour you realise that together, songs all work. We also pride ourselves on trying to make the best live show out there. We’ve worked hard at it. It’s something that is a big part of the band. People wouldn’t expect it from when the band started, but it’s something we’ve always wanted to do. The last tour we went on had the best shows we’ve ever done because the songs have got memories attached to them now. It’s a very different prospect. The old songs get a better reaction because people have grown up with them in a lot of ways. With the new ones you get that as well.”
The production on your last tour was very ambitious. What’s the stage going to look like this time around?
“We’re trying to just make it theatrical and dramatic – we want to give people a real experience. You watch a lot of bands and they lack that sort of magic. You’ve got to work hard to get that in. Really, we’re just there to make sure everyone has a great time. That’s what being at a concert is. People are there to enjoy themselves and share a moment with each other – we’re just a conduit for that. We’re not there to play B-sides and entertain ourselves. That would be a disaster.”
- Check back soon for more of our exclusive interview with Hurts
‘Desire’ by Hurts is out now. Their upcoming UK tour dates are below, and tickets are available here.
Thu December 07 2017 – LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sat December 09 2017 – MANCHESTER O2 Apollo