HMLTD are one of the most fun, dramatic and all-in bands around. As 2018 ticks round, they're ready to battle the forces of boring from the front lines.
Everyone dreams of tearing up the rule book from time to time. There's something freeing in disregarding convention, and no uncertain amount elation that can be gained from stepping out of line and doing whatever the hell you really want. It's a free-spirited nature a lot of bands strive to embody, though few are mastering the art of rocking the boat and making waves quite like HMLTD.
"We came together because of a shared ambition, and a shared aesthetic, and a shared desire to do pretty much the same thing," guitarist James describes. "Obviously we've all got different ideas of how we get there." Rather than balance out these differences, HMLTD thrive in them. The motley personalities that make up the band are a defining part of their identity and the music they create.
"It's like an action. It's like a craft," James portrays. "You just do it. You don't really think about anything." In defiance of the notion that making music means "that you have to be some sort of special talent, and you have to have this inspiration come down from the sky or something," HMLTD's music is an exercise in creativity run riot, boasting melodies as vivid as their energy is livid, every moment purpose-built to engage – for better or for worse.
With complex song structures that often see the group tear through several styles in the space of just one track, the group describe themselves as "the sound of Spotify" – a mix of influences and ingenuity running wild with imagination. All bets are off, and no holds are barred: HMLTD are creating a world of their own making, and all it takes to be a part of that is to just tune in. As the band's momentum continues to grow, there's never been a better time to do exactly that.
"We've not written a song that we play live in months and months, maybe almost a year," James conveys. "All the songs we're writing at the moment, and all the songs we were writing for the past year, have never been played live." With an armoury of new material that remains untouched and unheard, HMLTD are raring to carve out a future of their own making. If there's one thing you can expect from the outfit, it's to do the unexpected.
"I'd like to see the band definitely at the top of the charts, with either an album or an EP or just a couple of songs," James voices. "I'd like to see us headlining some major festivals. I'd like to see our popularity grow until it was so strong that there's a big, big backlash at the beginning of 2019 – that would be the ideal." Far-fetched or unfaltering? That's for them to decide, but there's no doubt that HMLTD seem capable of achieving whatever the hell it is they decide to put their mind to.
"We're in a position where we're not too constrained to pathways of a band," the guitarist details. "If we were constrained to the pathways of a band we'd be releasing another music video, we'd be clobbering together songs for an album, and then we'd be going on tour." Whether any of that will happen over the next twelve months is anyone's guess. What we can be sure of is that whatever direction the band turn in, the results will be a thrill ride for all the senses.
"In an ideal world, in heaven, all your senses are probably stimulated in a really pleasant way all at the same time. So how do you capture that?" James contemplates. "What we do is we go through the senses. We're like 'how can we stimulate this?'" It's not an easy task – the band have many a tale of problems when they've tried to utilise flammable mannequins or bring several kilos of fish guts – but HMLTD aren't concerned with what is easy. Their only concern is making every song, and every show the best it can be.
"I think that's where we feel most at home, surrounded by masks and smoke and flammable sculptures," James comments, referring to a recent headline show at London's Electric Ballroom. From the decoration and stage set up for their live shows, through their aesthetic, to the music itself, everything HMLTD do is hardwired with their ever-recognisable fingerprint: a voice, a sound, a look, and a feel that is unmistakably their own.
"I think watching a band is often quite boring," James drawls. "You pay however much money, and they strum their guitar and sing, and they expect that to be enough. I find that quite arrogant." The solution, as far as HMLTD are concerned, is simple. "You've got to do everything," the guitarist states matter of factly. "You owe it to the audience to do everything you can to drag them in and keep them excited."
Keep your eyes peeled and your boots well-heeled, because everything is exactly what HMLTD are setting out to do – and there isn't anything they're going to let stand in their way.
Taken from the December 2017 / January 2018 issue of Dork, out now. Order a copy here.