Spanish livewires Hinds teach The Skinny about the effort, energy and attitude it takes to tour their debut album, Leave Me Alone
Some people struggle with first impressions. Not Hinds. When the Spanish slacker-rock four piece take to a stage, they introduce themselves with huge, genuine grins and live wire enthusiasm. Winningly confident and infectiously energetic – and with a welcome disregard for tempo – you’d be hard pushed to believe that two years ago, they’d never played a gig. But it’s their inimitable live performances that have earned them a record deal (three, in fact) and seen them burst out of tiny DIY shows in Madrid to hold court in trendy New York boroughs.
Last year they became the first Spanish band to ever play a Glastonbury stage (really!), supported The Strokes at Hyde Park and finished off 2015 with a full tour of the US. There’s no doubt that their warm-hearted, sunshine-coated rock n’ roll is a perfect calling card… But don’t be fooled, there’s nothing breezy about a band that sweats it out this hard.
Initially founded under the moniker Deers by Carlotta Cosials and Ana Garcia Perrote in 2011 – and then reinvigorated in 2013 – the duo released tracks Bamboo and Trippy Gum via Bandcamp the following year. They received a ton of international praise, but when they tried to take the project to a stage, they realised a few extra hands would come in, err… handy. Shortly after recruiting bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen, the band were forced to change their name after a similarly titled band called dibs. Before you ask, Hinds is Spanish for a female deer (says Google translate). Characteristically, the band were unfazed.
It quickly transpires that Hinds’ charm isn’t just reserved for the stage. In a rapid-fire interview punctuated by a truly cackling laugh, Cosials talks The Skinny through the most important shows they’ve played so far, and why, to Hinds, a positive attitude is everything; she is the kind of person who, instead of saying a simple ‘yes,’ shouts the affirmation three times over.
We briefly discuss Hinds’ foundations, and Cosials is quick to correct any preconceptions of the band’s unusually speedy ascent to acclaim. “Okay, if you’re thinking about all of the steps we’ve done… We haven’t missed any, you know. If you see our history: We release a song, labels come to watch us, then we get a booking agent, then we start a tour, then we played a festival… da da da. It’s just like a real live band!” She pauses for breath. “But the thing is the timing. What usually takes a band one month, it takes us two days.”
She’s not wrong. This band are a total tour de force. In honour of their debut album Leave Me Alone, Hinds played two release shows across two continents – in the space of 48 hours. When we speak they’ve just arrived in London, on the eve of a wholly mammoth EU tour. A simple ‘How are you?’ receives a whopping answer.
“WELL!” Cosials shouts. “Actually! So… the day before yesterday, we wake up in New York City. We take a plane, and we go straight out of the airport to play our own release party in Madrid. After playing the release party we… partied. Ha. And then the day after, we were starting this tour. So it took us to a FERRY! And that ferry took us to London… and I mean… these three days? Now I don’t know where I am anymore.” She laughs, a lot. The Skinny feels exhausted, seasick and hungover by proxy.
Nothing sums up their recent success so well as Cosials’ hyper-speed recounting of their Brooklyn-based record launch. The 300-capacity show sold out spectacularly, and she cackles as she reports that they “stopped counting” after they’d received over 2,000 e-mail requests for tickets: “Impossible!” Even more spectacular is how, according to all accounts, the gig was a total shambles by “show” standards – and a riotous success by anybody’s party standards. “It was the craziest, wildest, most-people thing we’ve ever done!” she enthuses. “So okay, okay… everything was a mess. We were telling our label, ‘Please guys, do not worry at all. This is going to be a party. This is a release party! Of all the parties, it has to be chaos. It is expected!’”
Then, while the show was in full swing, Ade fell sick and had to leave before the encore – which they’d planned to be an audience participation Hinds karaoke, of course. “We had to stop the gig… ‘Sorry! We’ll be back in a minute!’ We went to the backstage, and Ade’s like ‘I’m so sorry!’ Then she took a cab home, and we were like ‘What do we do now?!’ So we had this friend John, from [the band] Public Access TV, and we were like ‘Hey John, do you play bass?’ He says ‘I guess?’ ‘Really? Great!’ So we showed him in the toilet the chords of the songs and he did it! He makes it! So we go back on stage like, ‘Let’s see if this works! Who wants to come on stage and sing with us?’ Suddenly ALL the hands are UP-UP-UP! I mean, come on, karaoke is usually a thing that makes people shy. But everybody wanted to do it! It was like a Disney movie, fighting against all the disadvantages. We had so much fun.” Phew.
That’s the thing, though. No matter how many handfuls of shit hit the fan, Hinds always look like they’re having so much fun. Their live shows are rambunctious, electric, chaotic affairs that feel as homely and inclusive as a house party. With a thirty date ‘World Tour Part One: Europe and UK!’ tour running from January to March (they hit Glasgow mid-Feb), it begs the question: How on earth can they keep up that energy? “It’s always a tough question to answer,” Cosials says, very seriously. “Because I don’t want to say that we’re always having a great time. Every day is a different day. I am a human being exactly like you. People break my heart exactly like you… so… I think we are just good at being in a good mood.”
“We’ve had to learn to be completely exhausted. To hate carrying all your shit into a fucking airplane and they’re going to tell you that the guitar cannot be in the plane, and you’ll have to fight… BUT! We are always very optimistic. Life is a shit – but you can say it with a smile on your face.”
It’s a universally impressive attitude, and a stern reminder that touring is no picnic. Hinds might look all smiles, but behind the scenes you’ll find nothing but fortitude and focus. The band’s social media is crammed with fans desperate to be the fifth member of Hinds’ gang – something Cosials finds faintly baffling. “It’s not that easy. I really have to tell you. Hinds is my life, completely, and in an extreme way. I’m dedicating everything, everything… every part of my brain and my heart and my sweat and my daily life to this project and… poooffff. Overwhelmed.”
She considers that maybe “it’s our fault, because of the way we started.” Cosials describes their rapid rise as something “out of reach of understanding” by the labels and management teams that they work with, and so Hinds are left to sail their own ship: “They just trust in our taste and our ideas, and our way of sharing what we’re doing with the world.” From running their own social media to directing their own videos (“and I am not a professional!”), Hinds infuse everything they touch with their special brand of street-smarts. Hinds speak your language, they’ll tell you their secrets… and then they’ll play you a total melter of a rock show.
In short: mistake Hinds’ energy and enthusiasm for naivety at your peril. Cosials explains that the band, eager to learn from more experienced musicians they meet on the road, have asked a lot of questions – and received unexpected answers. “We’re getting so, so surprised about how little involved they are. We even ask about money things, like: ‘How much do you pay your sound engineer? We’re thinking about getting one.’ And they say, ‘Oh, no. I have no idea.’ But how can you not know?! Come on man, it’s your band. They say, ‘Yeah, I guess the label knows?’ But come on! It’s your business! It’s your project, it’s your baby. It’s your life!”
All the elbow grease, learning-curves and “table work” considered, Hinds are exactly where they deserve to be. Cosials takes a deep breath; “It’s when we go on stage…That’s the moment. That’s the moment that I am exactly where I should be, and it’s here, on this stage, with these people; this audience of London, Chicago or Berlin – I don’t care.” So you’re ready for a world tour, then? “Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes! We’re ready.”
Written for The Skinny, Feb 2016
Image by Salva Lopez for Sonic PR