The House of Hats EP is one of my favourite records of the year so far. Hailing from Brighton, this is the band’s first release and it does an excellent job of capturing the great songwriting and beautiful voices that make the band special. Glorious harmonies put you in mind of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Fleet Foxes or another someofitistrue favourite The Staves.
After an exceptional in-store at Union Music Store they leapt to the top of the list for a profile at someofitistrue. Let me know what you think.
Where did the name House of Hats come from?
It was James’ observation of us as a collective, as a band as well as our social crowd, that created the name ‘House Of Hats.’ He said “when we are together, it’s pretty much like the mad hatters tea party. Everyone has such a strong character and we are all so different in so many ways, but somehow we all fit perfectly.” This is also helped by our insanity and a deep rooted passion for tea.
If you had to build a house out of Hats which types would you use?
Predominantly Flat caps, throw in a couple of Bowlers, a Top and something woollen with a lot of stretch to contain the phenomenon that is Noddy’s hair!
You have a beautiful blend of voices in the band. How did you find each other?
We’ve known one another for about 6 or 7 years and each of us were involved in individual projects previous to House Of Hats. At times we even shared the same stage in our separate bands. Over the years we have all written and worked together in some capacity or another and gained a mutual respect for each other’s strengths within music. It wasn’t until a chance encounter in early 2011 that we found ourselves together in a room and began jamming. Alex and Noddy experimented with sharing the lead vocal, James tied the voices together with a 3rd harmony and Rob glued it all together with a simplistic rhythm section made up of bass, a stomp box and a tambourine. It just felt right. From that moment on we haven’t looked back.
Do you write as a band, or individually?
Both. It could be a jam, where a melody starts to take shape that a couple of us then take further and develop. Or one of us might begin writing something alone, where the lyrics maybe more personal in nature. But whether it be of a group or solitary conception, we all tend to have an input into how all the songs develop, no matter how completed they are when they are brought to the table. It’s the entire creative process that is important to us, from a song’s conception to how it sounds live or recorded. It comes back to respecting each other’s strengths in music and learning from each other.
Do you plan for music domination a la U2 or are your aspirations for the band somewhat different?
Domination all the way! (HA HA HA!) Who knows where this will lead? Our main objective is to create honest music, from real experiences and to work hard for something we believe in. House Of Hats is a lifestyle for us and we hope to take this as far as we can, wherever that may be.
Tell us about your recent experience in a shed?
When people ask you, “What did you do at the weekend?” and your reply is, “I drove a 7 hour round trip to Somerset to play with the band in a garden shed for half an hour!”, you would be right in thinking you would get some funny looks. But I tell you it’s well worth it and a great experience. We were invited by the legend that is Jon Earl, the founder of www.songsfromtheshed.com to play 3 live tracks in his shed that were then uploaded onto the website.
We had such a great time there and recommend it to any band, as they generally have a genre free policy, but you must be able to play unplugged. We had a fantastic day and chatting with Jon was an honour.
We seem to have a thriving music scene here in Brighton – is it beneficial to be based here?
Yes, definitely! There is some great talent here, and as an arts and university city, it means there is a constant stream of new audiences and indeed new great music emerging year after year.
Who would support House of Hats on your dream tour?
Tough one … but the ultimate fantasy line up would have to be ‘Ella Fitzgerald’ or ‘Bob Dylan’ for Noddy, ‘Ray Lamontagne’ or ‘Donny Hathaway’ for James, ‘Neil Young’ for Rob and ‘Mason Jennings’ for Al. As you can see, our influences vary quite a bit!
As musicians, is there a venue that you would love to play?
Well we are already on the way with that one. We have a gig at ‘Ronnie Scotts’ in London on the 3rd April, which has definitely been an ambition of all of ours for a long time to play there. We can’t wait and it’s set to be a great night! Shepherds Bush Empire would be a great one, as would Union Music Chapel … one day man … one day!
‘Close to Me’ is probably my favourite tune of the year to date – it’s great all the way through, but the moment when all the voices come in is very special. How did this song come to be?
It was finished pretty quickly. We were messing around with a new bass line idea and the whole song stemmed from that 4 bar bass line. We listened to a lot of Fink and Fleetwood Mac at the time, so probably drew a little influence from them.
The House Of Hats EP is out now – what’s next in regards to recorded output?
Yes, the first EP is out now and you can download it from iTunes and all major digital distributors. Or if you are old-school, you can come and see us live and buy a hard copy with artwork from our Jimmy. We have have also just finished an animated music video for the first song on the EP, ‘This Love’, which again is in the process of being edited. We are continuously writing and recording; we currently have 6 tracks that are being mixed. Our next release is in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled and all will be revealed very soon. Exciting times!
What bands are House of Hats currently listening to? Do you all have similar tastes?
We listen to a wide scope of music and our tastes vary considerably, but one thing we are all in tune with is great song-writing with a double scoop of harmonies. For example ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’, ‘Fleetwood Mac’, ‘The Civil Wars’ and ‘The Staves’. Great sounds!
House of Hats can book five bands for the Brighton Festival this year – who are they?
Probably some of the people we have gigged with recently: ‘Jake Morley’, ‘Conrad Vingoe’, ‘Luke Sital Singh’, ‘Louis Checkley’ and of course, ‘House Of Hats’. These are people to watch!
Where can people find out more about the band?
You can go to our Website www.houseofhatsmusic.com and from here you can access all our social media pages like ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘Youtube’. From these you can check out our tour dates, get links to our music, free downloads and generally keep up to date with our progress. You just click a button and it’s all there.