The Hobbes Fanclub are pretty much the perfect pop band - this much you should know by now. Ahead of their appearance at this year's Nottingham indiepop all-dayer, they answered some questions for me.
Leon, you started the band via a long-distance music writing relationship, didn't you? How did that come about, and how and why did it end?
Leon : Well it was just me to begin with but after getting chatting to Fabiana, who lives in Sao Paulo, on last.fm we decided to collaborate. We wrote two songs together, but only one of them has been released. She sang vocals with me on the first two singles too, including lead vocals on Love From The Stars which she wrote the words for. It worked pretty well all things considered, and it was nicer having someone to share it with than working on my own, even if we never met. It came to an end when Gary at Bubblegum Records asked us to play Glasgow Popfest. The chance to play live was too good to miss and Fabi being in a different hemisphere obviously made it pretty difficult for her to be involved in that full time so I asked Lou and Adam to join me and I reckon we make a great team.
How did all three of you meet?
Adam: Myself and Louise used to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Then we fell out, then we made friends again. Then Louise introduced me to Leon who she had made friends with in between. Then we also became friends. Then we formed our band!
Leon: I met Lou at a gig I played with my old band through a mutual friend about 4 years ago. We became good friends and after a couple of failed attempts at starting a band together both Lou and Adam were my first choices when I wanted to get Hobbes playing live.
Louise: Adam and I go way back to our teens, which is a pretty long way back! I met Leon a few years ago through a friend and we got along right away, then I introduced Adam and Leon a couple of years ago. We toyed with the idea of getting together to play for quite a while before we finally managed to mobilise but we quickly became quite a natural three piece once we started playing, somehow it just worked really nicely together.
Do you all share similar musical tastes?
Leon: The more we get to know each other the more we realise we have in common, plus we're introducing each other to stuff all the time. I’m probably the most immersed in indiepop and shoegaze stuff, but we have loads of other stuff in common, especially girl groups and '50s & '60s pop.
Louise: I think we kind of meet nicely in the middle of our sometimes very different tastes! It’s probably fair to say that Adam and I come more from the rock/punk end, but we all have lots in common musically too. I think we all share enough to make us work well together but have enough differences to make it interesting and each bring something else to the songs too.
Adam: Yeah, I’d say we all like stuff the others like. And we all like stuff the others really don't like too!
What's your favourite album ever?
Leon: That's a tough one, I find it hard to pick one but it could be one from 'All Mod Cons' by the Jam, 'Bandwagonesque' by Teenage Fanclub or 'Nowhere' by Ride. They are albums I go back to again and again and they never get old.
Adam: Wow, that's a tough question! Mine's probably the one that I made for myself that has my ten favorite songs on it!
Louise: I’m notoriously bad for getting through a full album and am much more likely to dip in and out for particular songs. If I were really, really pushed to say (and I’ll probably disagree with this tomorrow!) in my top ten would always be 'Siamese Dream' by Smashing Pumpkins, 'Doolittle' by Pixies, Violent Femmes (Violent Femmes) and some bits and bobs from Sonic Youth/Pavement/Hole/Dinosaur Jr/Moldy Peaches with a bit of Shangri Las and The Raincoats and assorted other girl groups thrown in! Not quite an album choice, but about as near to one as I get, sorry!
What's it like in West Yorkshire these days for indiepop? There seems to be some good stuff going on in Leeds.
Leon : I don't get over to Leeds that often but obviously we've got Blanche Hudson Weekend who I love and before them were Manhattan Love Suicides. Like in many other ways Bradford suffers for being so close to Leeds, so we never get touring bands which is a real shame. It wasn't always so. We've only played twice in Bradford and never in Leeds so we've not met many kindred spirits locally. Having said that we did play with a Leeds band called Buen Chico in June who are a great pop band and lovely people to boot.
Adam: Leeds has LOTS of students. I think things like gigs and bands go hand in hand with that. Were playing a really amazing event in Sheffield soon, so I guess Yorkshire definitely does have its golden moments!
Lou: Yeah, Leeds certainly does better for touring bands and there’s a few great venues. Bradford has a reasonably small, but enthusiastic alternative scene which we’ve all been part of to some extent, though it definitely tends to err more to the rock than indiepop. Leon however valiantly flies the flag DJing at a monthly night we all go to/are involved in, treating folk to a fine array of indiepop/related tunes! As for us, the gigs we’ve done have tended to be further afield but I’m sure we’ll do more gigs locally, both in Bradford and maybe Leeds and Manchester in the future too.
How did the releases on Cloudberry and Dufflecoat come about?
Leon: In 2010 I sent a speculative email to a couple of labels including Cloudberry and Roque liked our songs and asked us to do the single which was fantastic. I didn't really expect anyone to respond but I'm really happy Roque did, it was a catalyst for everything that's happened since. Then six months later Gary at Dufflecoat asked us to be on his first release, which when you see the quality of the stuff he's put out since is something to be proud of I reckon.
Tell me a bit more about the songs on the new single. Kieron from ILWTT pointed out in his review that they were like a call and a reply. Was that intentional?
Leon: No, it wasn't intentional and it hadn't occurred to us to be honest although I can see why he would think that. They were written about two years apart and 'The One You Love' (the reply) was written first. 'Your Doubting Heart' was inspired by the title of a short story I saw in an 1950s copy of Woman's Own I found in a back room of Bradford Playhouse one night when I used to help run a night there. 'The One You Love' is just about that feeling you get when you know a relationship is beyond repair, and you're looking wistfully back at what you've lost even though you know it has to end. My songs aren't especially wordy, and I repeat myself a lot! But I think the tone of that song is a bit gloomy which matches the words
Adam: From my point of view I'd say "Your Doubting Heart" is defo the punkiest moment in our set. And i like things punky! I think the vote was unanimous from the word go that it would be the first single. It seemed to be the one song that we were collectively drawn to.
What's next? An album?
Leon: We'd love to do an album or another single. We are in the middle of our busiest set of shows so far but in between we're busy writing some more songs. The Shelflife single is going well so hopefully we'll get the chance to put some more stuff out.
Louise: yeah, we’d love to do an album and I think we’ve certainly got one in us! We’ll just have to see what opportunities arise, as Leon said, we’re pretty busy with gigs right now, but we’re definitely keen to do some more releases.
Adam: I'd really love to play at Indietracks again! It was awesome. I'd love to record and release a couple more singles. And I'd love one of our songs to be featured in a reality TV programme. One about engineering or automotive construction, that would be good.