Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo, Peggy as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses gigging in your dressing gown,touring with Hotel Lux and lockdown releases, with reborn, Bristolian post-punks, Home Counties.
WH: Will Harrison (vocals/guitar)
DH: Dan Hearn (drums) SW: Sam Woodroffe (bass) CK: Conor Kearney (guitar) BPP: Barn Peiser Pepin (synth/percussion/vocals)
You announced the formation of Home Counties in mid-January but have been playing and releasing music over the past few years in various other outfits. How did the full band come to be together?
WH: Well me, Conor and Dan had been in Haze since we were 14. Childhood friend and Jerry frontman, Barn joined the band towards the end of last year and then Sam came in on bass duties shortly after that. The band was heading in a noticeably different direction anyway but Barn and Sam really solidified the new sound. We went away for a month or two, recorded the debut Home Counties EP and then launched the project late January.
Formerly known as Haze with a highly praised discography, how as Home Counties have you reformed your sound and style?
DH: We’re proud of what Haze achieved but by festival season last summer we were all feeling a little tired of the old material and when we started writing new stuff we soon realised that it was time to start a-fresh with a new name, lineup and musical direction. Once the new guys joined everything fell into place really.
Your debut single, ‘Redevelopment’ manages to uplift a seemingly downbeat topic to the dizzy heights of playful nostalgia. How did you go about creating the track and do the same qualities and/or processes translate in your other work?
WH: It was the first song that came out of us living together in Bristol, and the first of a more collective approach to writing. Me and Conor came up with the guitar parts and spent ages weaving them together - the percussion and synth parts came later when we linked up with the other boys in a practise room.
The redevelopment topic came from my university dissertation which I was thinking about a lot. That songwriting progress has very much formed the basis of a lot of the other tracks, and lyrically being more about everyday life.
As one of the first bands to release music under the watchful eye of social distancing measures back in late March, how did you go about the all-important celebrations?
BPP: So Young and Black Cat White Cat Promotions were set to host a single launch party for us at The Shacklewell Arms - we were gutted when it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. Especially as Dan lives 30 seconds from the Shack so big after-party plans were brewing. Release celebrations have been pretty sedate. But we’ve got into the habit of meeting for a drink on Zoom every time ‘Redevelopment’ gets a spin on 6 Music or Radio 1. It’s a strange time for sure but it’s important to acknowledge when things go right.
The release garnered much industry support from the likes of BBC 6 Music, So Young and DIY magazine to name but a few. Do you have any advice for other artists who may be concerned to release music for the foreseeable future, given the current national lockdown?
BPP: Now is as good a time to release as ever - people are stuck at home bored and it’s nice to see hunger for new music and a general appreciation of the arts. I guess our advice would be to stay active and stay creative. Use the time as productively as possible. Release stupid videos of you hitting pots and pans in your dressing gowns.
You hit the live music circuit running with your debut performance at North London’s historic gig venue, The Lexington, followed by a string of support dates for Hotel Lux. Can you pick one show out as being a highlight for the memory books?
SW: Yeah, The Lexington was a great place to play our first show but I’d probably say the show we did at YES in Manchester with Hotel Lux was my favourite so far. I’d never been to the venue before, but is definitely one of my favorites now. I think we have plans to be back there on another tour in the Autumn. We played in the basement room and it was packed out. Considering it was only our 3rd gig it made for a solid start.
You certainly know how to put on a ‘virtual’ show in your recent Facebook live streams - sunglasses and bathrobes, a strong spring/summer isolation look. Any other indoor tricks up your sleeve?
CK: I’m glad you like the look! The live streams have been a lot of fun. We’re making an effort to totally re-work the tunes and provide something that you wouldn't normally get at our live shows.. I can’t think of anything more boring than acoustic renditions of our music so we’ve opted for 70s electronic vibes instead. We’ve got a few more ideas to see us through the rest of lockdown and we’re working with Dork Mag on a virtual event planned for the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Where can we hope to see you next performing live in a post-Covid 19 Britain?
DH: Well we had a UK tour and a bunch of festival dates scheduled to promote Redevelopment but that’s almost definitely not happening now. Which is gutting - we’re a live band first and foremost so to be without a stage for months on end does feel strange. But I think we’re going to be heading out on a UK tour in the Autumn supporting some good friends of ours. It’s going to be really special when the venues re-open.
Despite the pandemic present, it’s safe to say that post-punk is very much happy, healthy and thriving. Which new bands or artists have captured your attention this year?
WH: There seems to be a ton of good music coming out of this lockdown. We’re loving Egyptian Blue’s new EP - such a strong collection of tunes. Do Nothing also released a great EP a few weeks back.. Oh and fellow Bristolians’ Norman are definitely a band we’re all enjoying at the moment. Looking forward to sharing a bill with them at some point.
With one successful single release resting safely under the belt, what can we expect to see next on the recording schedule?
CK: We’ll have another single out soon. The debut EP is finished and we’re keen to get it out there… In fact, lockdown has given us the time to focus on demoing EP2 and there’s some exciting ideas flying around. I think things will start moving pretty quickly for us post-lockdown.