October 2024

From The Heart

Words: Gabriel Knowles Images: I Heart Hiroshima

I Heart Hiroshima are a prime example the modern trend that requires every band to sound like another band for referential purposes. Around the traps they’re described as sounding like various bands they actually sound nothing like. In the case of the Brisbane based and bass-less band it might just actually be their fault.

“When we just started playing I remember we first set up our Myspace page and I was filling out the influences section and I had no idea what to write. So I just wrote down what bands we kind of sounded like as a reference point for people in case they liked those bands so then maybe they’d like us. I think that whole sounding like other bands thing comes from actually planning on playing a certain type of music.” Guitarist and co-singer Matt Somers cheekily offers, confessing that the band, which also includes Susie Patten and Cameron Hawes, had found much amusement in perpetuating the myths. “It’s funny though because some of the bands we put there we don’t actually sound like but we just like and they would always turn up in reviews and on little press releases as bands that we sound like.”

While the comparisons to bands like TV On The Radio mightn’t have been entirely on the money it’s possible that they slipped through under the cover of their undoubted potential. That same potential has seen them become firm favourites with the increasingly crowded and cut throat indie scene in the UK and even make inroads into Europe itself during a grueling tour that saw them play 45 shows in just over two months.

“It was ridiculously good, I didn’t have many expectations but in Europe we had heaps of people at the shows, mainly because we were supporting big acts, it was more surreal than anything.” Somers continues. “It was good to play over there and experience something different. Because we’d played so many shows in Australia so it was nice to get excited about playing again. We also got dinner every night for free, we felt like huge rock stars!” He laughs before admitting that he didn’t tell his day daytime cafe job when he had returned so he could get the “tour lag” out of his system. “The days that we had off were all bunched up so we were pretty much playing shows every day. It was pretty much play the show and then find somewhere to stay, for free. We were zig zagging a lot, I think we went through France six times.”

Somehow in amongst all their jaunts across the continent they found time to work with Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill on their new album, The Rip. “It was pretty intense, I was really nervous.” Somers starts. “He’s also a really intensely musical guy. He’d ask us what we thought about things and if it was what we had in mind and you start to say something to him and he’d just stare at you really intently. It was really odd. A couple of times on the first day we were too scared to tell him what we really thought. But after that we were fine to tell him what we wanted. He kept asking us all the way through if everything was OK.”

Like many contemporary indie bands, I Heart Hiroshima are also Gang Of Four fans, not that Somers thinks that shines through especially. “We’ve always been a little Gang Of Four influenced but it isn’t consciously so. I think we’re a little less angular than that. Some of Cam’s parts are similar but a little more pretty.”

And with this being their second album Somers concedes that there was some apprehension about having to sit down and come up with new tracks all over again, especially considering that a heavy touring schedule had meant time to simply practice and jam together had been almost non-existent. “When we started to get this one together I was personally a little worried about having to write again. It was a bit daunting to have to write songs again, rather than just have songs and record them.”

But Somers is adamant that they’ve moved forward from their debut album. “I think we’ve definitely developed. There are a few songs from Tuff Teef that directly relate to the new stuff sound and creation wise. It’s more along the lines of the full chord songs, it’s a bit less wiry than the first one. We also had a lot more time to do the recording for this one. The sound of the songs has come out like how they were made rather than how they were recorded. We’ve also done a couple of overdubs but they’re very subtle.”

Subtle they may be, but there’s no escaping the presence of water based themes on the The Rip, with ‘River’ an particularly pleasing case in point. “There are a lot of water as freedom metaphors. I think they come from being stuck at work and living in the same place. It also probably comes from constantly touring Australia and the repetition of it. Not that it’s not fun but you need to get out every now and then. I remember I went through the ‘I’ve Been Everywhere, Man’ song and I’ve been to about half of them. There’s some really obscure places on there so I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to them all!”

I Heart Hiroshima

Next Article: Mario Hugo – Mario, Mario