I Dream of Vinyl

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“I’m quite proud that we’re next to Haddaway” – An Interview with Hadda Be

One of the best things about music festivals is turning up to a show and seeing an artist you know nothing about and really enjoying their set. We stumbled on the awesome melodic indie/post-punk of UK band Hadda Be as part of The New Colossus Festival in NYC and came away converted. The quintet of Amber, Jake, Jago, Tom and Oliver played a number of tracks from their debut album “Another Life” which was released in 2021 during the COVID lockdown. It’s a record that deserves to be heard (personal favorites are “Apathy”, “Another Life” and “This Won’t End Well” as well as standalone single “Mercurial”) so it’s great that they were able to reach a wider audience with their shows in the US.

The following day, lead singer Amber was kind enough to join me for a chat over a Guinness while the rest of the band preferred to get drenched on the Staten Island Ferry.

How are you enjoying the festival so far?
I’m really enjoying the festival. We’re so excited to be here. It just feels like a dream to be playing in New York where so many of our influences have come from. I’ve discovered loads of new bands. I’d listened to the playlist before coming so I’d made a note of a few of them and then just chanced upon some as well. I think part of the beauty of these kind of festivals; you just sometimes stumble across something that’s a surprise. 

When did you get to to the US? 
We got here on Wednesday – kind of losing track of days and times! I feel like I’ve finally caught up with the jetlag.

I caught your show yesterday at Berlin. Was that your first show at New Colossus?
No, so our first was on Thursday at Heaven Can Wait. That was the Joyzine showcase. They’re a blog based in the UK that’s supported us a lot. During COVID, they did a lot of online festivals and they’ve always been very kind about our music. They had their own stage at Heaven Can Wait and that was our first show. Then our second show was yesterday at Berlin and then we’ve got a show on Sunday. We’re closing to the festival at the moment so hopefully it’s a busy show. We fly back on Monday evening so we’ve got a little bit of time to do some more sightseeing and eating and drinking our way around New York.

Was this the first time the band’s played in the US?
Yeah, first time we’ve played in the US. It was very exciting and we’re playing a festival in Germany next month. It’s kind of our own little mini international tour. 

How do you find touring Europe now, with Brexit and all the challenges that has created?
We played a festival in Paris in September last year and it was okay. I feel like at European festivals, we’re treated so well there and we’ve been treated really well here as well, but I think in the UK, for new bands starting out, it’s very easy to get disappointed. There’s a lot of pay to play there whereas, it feels like playing gigs internationally, you get very well looked after. In the UK now, we play the right gigs but I feel it’s quite easy into get sucked into those pay to play shows and stuff which just doesn’t really seem to be a thing abroad.

I’ve seen a lot of posts where the venue wants to take a cut of the artists merch sales which seems really unfair. 
Yeah, in the UK like the time they want to take a cut of the ticket sales and merch. But we’ve been a band since 2018 so now we know kind of like the right gigs to play, but when we were starting out, we played so many shows for free and someone else made all the money. There’s only so long you can do that. 

Which classic cover album art is your current mood? 
Okay. I’m getting Revolver in my head. I don’t know why. I think because they all look kind of dream like and that’s how I feel at the moment. It’s such a dream come true to come to New York and play where so many of my influences are from. That’s kind of how I feel, like we’re in a fantasy, but in a good way, but in a bit of a dreamlike state as well.  

For those that don’t know the band, what should the new listener check out?
So we released our debut album in 2021 so it was during Covid. Not great timing! We’re really proud of it as an album and, because it was during Covid, we had a lot of recordings and festivals lined up and everything got cancelled. I think we were booked in to record the album five times. Then when we were finally able to rehearse again, we just got really tight and we just recorded it in about five days. We had an EP out before when we were called Foundings and a lot of people always said we sounded a lot heavier live, so when we recorded the album, we recorded a lot of it live. We’re really proud of it, but obviously, we didn’t get to kind of tour it much so we’re still kind of playing those songs now.

Why did you change the band name?
There was a band called The Foundings and they sent us quite a few scary emails. Hadda Be comes from an Alan Ginsberg poem which is quite fitting while we’re playing in New York. It’s called Hadda Be Playing On The Jukebox. I was just looking through a little book of his poems and I kept saying it “Hadda be. I like that – it’s got a ring to it.” 

When I saw your name on the line up I immediately thought of Haddaway. I had wondered if you were big fans of “What is Love?”
I mean, as a 90’s child, I am a big fan of that song as well. When you type us into Spotify, it comes up with Haddaway and then Hadda Be so I’m quite proud that we’re next to Haddaway. I feel like if you got our vinyl in a shop, it would be next to his, which is a big change but a compliment.  

If you could only listen to one record,  what would it be?
Oh, these are hard questions! I would probably say Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. I grew up with a mum that’s was a Bob Dylan fanatic. I wouldn’t say he’s an influence, but if I had to listen to one album, that would be it. I think it’s such a hard question, because with music, it totally depends on what my mood is and what I’ve got going on in my life at the time. But right now, being in New York, definitely Blonde on Blonde

So you said that you’re influenced by a lot of American bands. Who made you want to become a musician?
I’ve always really loved Patti Smith and Blondie. Again, my mum was very influential in my music space, so hearing those artists when I was growing up, I feel like I was around a lot of good music but also strong female-fronted bands as well. The first time I saw The Strokes when I was like 16 and thinking these guys are so cool and I want to be in a band even though it was full of guys.

I’ve also always been quite into folk singers as well, like Francoise Hardy, Sandy Shaw and there’s a singer called Melanie from the 60s that I really like. So I feel like my influences are all over the place, but collectively, I try and channel a little bit of all of them into my own performance.  When I was in my early 20s and got into The Cocteau Twins, that’s when I got more serious about it. They made me really want to try and do something. I was getting into Joy Division and The Smiths and all those kind of 80s bands. I’d say we’re really influenced a lot by The Pretenders – they’re one of my favourite bands.

What’s the favorite venue you’ve played and where would be your dream venue to?  
My favorite venue that we played is a place called The Windmill in Brixton in London. It’s a really, really great scene there with loads of great bands playing.  And I really loved Berlin last night – that’s a great venue. My dream place to play? I’m going to say Madison Square Garden. I walked past it earlier and it’s stuck in my head. I don’t know if that would suit us right now though?  Maybe when we’ve all gone on our separate solo careers and we do the reunion tour when we need the money!

What was the one thing you couldn’t leave at home that you had to bring with you on tour?
Last time I came to New York, I did not have appropriate footwear. This time I was like, I’m bringing good trainers because we walk so much so that was my essential item for New York. We just brought hand luggage as we’re trying to keep costs down but if I had like a checked bag, I would’ve brought some tea bags. Because we bought some here, but there just not worth it.

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?  
Definitely not pineapple! People that like pineapple on pizza should be thrown into the sea. I think pizza should just be really classic, it should just be tomato, cheese, basil. I think sometimes we mess around too much. But I do love artichoke on pizza so that would be on my dream pizza. Finally, add some pepperoni and I’d call it The Haddaeroni.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
So we’re playing in Germany next month at the Cologne Pop Fest. We’re really excited about that. We’re playing in Brighton for The Alternative Escape, which is a bit like the Great Escape, and then we’ve got some other London shows. We’ve never played in Germany before so new experiences but it’s just very exciting. Also releasing some new music!

Follow Hadda Be on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to get the latest on new music and shows.

Feature Image Credit – Saul Perryman

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