This article originally ran in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland) on February 19, 2016.
Don’t be misled by the cervine vibes of Madrid garage-pop rabble Hinds. Their name might conjure Frida Kahlo’s barbed self-portrait, The Wounded Deer, or Goldfrapp’s nascent obsession with antlers, but it was, they say, picked almost at random – a haphazard moniker for a band they thought would never play a gig, let alone make an album.
Yet their debut LP, Leave Me Alone, came out last month to widespread fawning, thanks to their harmonic take on kamikaze rock ‘n’ roll.
We speak while Hinds are on the road – they’ve veered across Europe, the US and beyond almost constantly over the past two years, and won fans from Los Angeles to Glasgow, where they’ll return this weekend for their second sold-out show in the city. Despite their musical travels in place, and in time (they variously invoke The Velvet Underground, Thee Headcoatees, Thee Oh Sees and The Shangri-Las), Hinds are very much a product of the (counter) culture and geography of Madrid.
“I think Madrid is more poor in a way, than Barcelona, the youth and stuff, and I guess that makes us more brash, and DIY, and lo-fi, and punk,” says vocalist / guitarist Ana Garcia Perrote. “I think also the fact that Barcelona is closer to the rest of Europe, geographically, means a lot of big bands go there if they’re playing in Spain – they don’t come to Madrid because it’s so far.” So they do their own thing there. “We grew up surrounded by people who were musicians, or who did pictures. We were like a big band, like 100 people, doing music, doing art.”
Hinds formed in 2011, and then again in 2013: a band so good they made it twice. Perrote and co-vocalist / guitarist Carlotta Cosials started as a two-piece called Deers in 2011, “just for fun”, and played some covers, played some shows, then called it a day. “We stopped because we stopped having fun,” recalls Perrote. “We did this one horrible gig and we were so embarrassed that we just stopped playing. But we kept being friends. It wasn’t such a big deal that the band didn’t work, it was more like – okay, let’s just be friends for a while. And that worked.”
But rock ‘n’ roll intervened in 2013, as rock ‘n’ roll does. “Two years later, we came back from a festival and we were feeling melancholic – you know that way when you come back from a great trip and you’re sad because it’s over? So we started watching old YouTube videos of us from when we played together, and we were like, maybe we should play again,” Perrote recalls. “And when we did, the magic happened again – because we always felt, since the very beginning, that we did something special, even when it was covers. All the things that people seem to really appreciate about our band – the rhythms and tempo changes and singing together, and doing that thing like, ‘Now you sing and I’ll respond’, we always had that. But this time, when we got together, we wrote our own songs.”
Those intervening couple of years are interesting – the time during which Perrote and Cosials were resolutely not a band seems to have been crucial in forging the camaraderie, and musical ideas, which provide the foundations for Hinds’ grrrl-gang charms. “Exactly,” nods Perotte. “When we first played together, we played all sorts of covers – The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, the xx – our taste in music was not defined at all. We were music lovers, but we didn’t really know what we liked. What we discovered in between the two beginnings of our band was all this new music that was young, alive, and about things we thought and felt. It helped us realise we didn’t have to write like Bob Dylan. Now we always try to do honest music, talk about what we feel, scream when we’re angry. And we love that.”
When the band was born for the second time, they were still a duo, still called Deers. Soon thereafter, they welcomed bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen to their increasingly thrilling ranks. But as they made a name for themselves, they were forced to change their moniker, following a legal threat from an existing Montreal band with a similar name (Dears). “The name Deers had come to us in a stupid way, it was just for fun, it was totally random,” Perrote recalls. “But when we had to change it last year, we suddenly felt so naked. We felt like they were taking everything we had built with that name. So having a name that was similar – Hinds – explained that we were going to be the same.”
While Hinds’ name may have been half-accidental, their debut album title – Leave Me Alone – was anything but. “We take real care over all our songs, and we take a lot of time,” Perrote explains. “And although the title didn’t come with any [particular] song, it was about the whole project, because it’s so personal to us. This started with just Carlotta and I and two acoustic guitars, and then suddenly our team was growing, and everyone had an opinion – some in a good way, some in a bad way. And we understand that we have a label and stuff, and that we have to do things. But the music is ours. That’s just the four of us. Leave me alone for this. Don’t touch that.”
They’re untouchable, all right, these raucous leaders of the pack.
Hinds play Stereo, Glasgow on Sunday. Leave Me Alone is out now via Lucky Number / Mom and Pop