Currently nursing a post-BRITS hangover? HANYA have the cure. The band's new EP 'Sea Shoes' - out today (Wednesday, 19th February) - is like a warm, comforting blanket of shoegazey dream-pop. It's proper lovely stuff.
To celebrate the release, Heather Sheret (guitar, vocal) has put together this here track by track, running through each of the four songs with tales of procrastination and runaway dogs.
Sometimes when you write a song at home, you think you've finished it, until you get into the studio and hear the bare bones on good speakers for the first time. It's like you're listening with fresh ears, and all these ideas start popping up that weren't there before. That's my favourite part about recording, that rush of 'oh, I know!' and running over to a guitar/keyboard/microphone to jot down that idea in your head before it goes. That's what happened with 'Dream Wife'.
I first started writing it on my acoustic guitar at home, the first verse was something that came oddly naturally, lyrics and all, but I couldn't find the 'lift' that the song needed for the chorus. Most of our songs start this way, I fiddle around with some vague ideas and bring them to the guys to see how we can develop them together. Since Ben has joined the band, my knowledge of guitar theory has grown, so it's great to have a songwriting partner with so much knowledge. He came up with the chords on guitar, and we agreed it felt exactly like where the song needed to go. Little did we think at the time that the song would continue writing itself in the studio.
Personally, my favourite part of making this song was recording the 'oohs' at the start of the chorus. We wanted some male vocal, so Ben took care of singing one line while Max did the other. Ben doesn't sing much, and during the recording, we were watching him through the glass, fists clenched, eyes closed, giving it all he could. He smashed it, of course.
This one took the longest to write. I have endless notes on my phone edging closer to a fully-formed version of this, but it didn't come easy. We tried to record the demo version the first time we went into the studio, and after fumbling around for a little while, Max said to us it wasn't quite ready, and we should sit on it for a little longer. I'm glad he said that. It's hard to find the middle ground between writing more, and never finishing anything. Who knows when a song is finished?!
Funnily enough, the song is about procrastination, so maybe it was telling us to slow down all along.
When we finally went back to record this, it was some of the hottest days of the year. We took Ben's mum's dogs to the studio who padded around and made the whole experience extra wholesome... until we lost one of them under a shed for a good two hours, but that's another story...
The idea of endlessly 'coming through' rough patches is one I think everyone can relate to. I went through a stage when writing this that a lot of my friends were having a really tough time, and while we were all supporting each other however we could, we were also just starting to figure things out ourselves. It felt like we were all endlessly in a loop of trying to get over various bad news. The lyric 'I know the feeling having grey in your pocket' is pretty much saying we all know what it's like to be pretending it's all cool for the sake of getting on with it.
Ben came up with a great little keys part for the chorus of this tune which I think tops off the recording, along with Jack's rhythm changes during the last minute of the track, it ends as a completely different song to how it started. This is the song we had demoed for a long time, so to have it out in the world finally is pure B L I S S.
We wrote this song knowing we wanted to get back in the studio asap. For a long time, it didn't have a name, so it was reasonably called 'Song 4' for most of its life. Ben came up with the heavy, chugging chords that start the track, and I came up with a little guitar riff to play after the heavier part to separate it, resulting in this satisfying change from tense to gentle throughout the verses. I wrote the lyrics the night before we were due to record them, and stayed up very late while dog-sitting two little dachshunds, feverishly trying out all the combinations of words I could think of while stopping for intermittent dog-petting (that helped a lot).
When Dylan was about to join the band, I sent him a demo of this track, and I honestly don't think I could have convinced him if it weren't for this song. I remember him saying it was the best thing we'd ever done! Considering he's been a friend of ours since 2013 and has been to a ton of our gigs, that was a very big compliment. I always think of that when we play it live.
HANYA play New Colossus Festival in New York City (11th-15th March), The Rose Hill in Brighton (26th March), then tour the UK in April and May.