Interview with The Northwestern

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Featured Story  The Northwestern 

Written By:

Gavin Riley

11th November 2009
At 10:28 GMT

7 comment(s)

One of the reasons the Strange Glue website came into existence was to support under-appreciated music. Hope of The States debut record, The Lost Riots could do no wrong in our eyes. It was a solid 10/10 record.

Yet there were people who wanted the band to be something they weren't. Many a review would exclaim they weren't sure what HotS were railing against, then slam them for the emptiness on record.

Difficult to pin down and hard to label, they divided opinion even as to their genre. Whether they were post-rock, indie rock or just a plain old rock band, its fair to say that when Hope Of The States called it a day after the Reading & Leeds Festivals in 2006, it was a tragedy that the band only managed to get out two albums.

Troubles, their post-rock side-project became the main focus thereafter, but imagine our joy when news of The Northwestern's existence came about. There was beer flowing in abundance whilst we dusted off our Hope Of The States t-shirts.

So can we expect The Northwestern to be a continuance of Hope Of The States? We sat down with Sam Herilhy to discuss that very notion.

S.G: Obviously given the history of some members of the band, there's going to be an expectation of HotS part II from The Northwestern. What differences between the two bands do you see?

Sam: Obviously there are two people in the band who used to be in HotS, four years ago! That band sounded the way it did because of the six people involved, the music we were inspired by at the time, and our lives at that point in time. The Northwestern is a bunch of different people, listening to very different music, inspired by very different things. It makes it all pretty different to my ears, though I imagine there are still very small elements of the old band in what we do now. The things we haven't got round to eliminating yet!

S.G: Hope of the States downfall came about quite quickly - how hard was it to draw a line under the whole project and think... "Hell we have to start this all over again".

Sam: Not sure about "downfall"! We sat on a bus on the way to Leeds festival, and just all decided to stop being in Hope Of The States anymore. There was no huge fight, recriminations or explosion. It just felt like the right time for us all to move on and do different things. It wasn't hard at all to start something new, that's what we wanted to do. There are tough things to deal with starting over but it's generally outweighed by the excitement of doing new stuff with new people. 

S.G: How did this band come about, what was it about the people involved which made you think "yeah, I'd like to play with these guys".

Sam: We rented a cottage in the middle of nowhere and just went in and started working on new songs. Simon and myself still wanted to be in a band together and Jon was a friend since The Open supported HOTS. They are both boy geniuses in my eyes and it was just fun to start again with a load of new ideas.

S.G: Was there a conscious effort to steer the band away from a post-rock style. If so, why?

Sam: Not a conscious effort as such. The sounds and arrangements just got really dull to us. We felt like we had already done that style of music and taken it as far as we could. Not so much with HOTS but with the three Troubles records. Playing long, epic, sad music just felt incredibly boring. I think the best postrock records have already been made (By Godspeed and Troubles!) and it's become creatively bankrupt. I still hear "postrock" bands now and there is nothing exciting to me whatsoever. They all sound as much of a pastiche as Ocean Colour Scene do, just with a different set of source material.

S.G: Where do you see the Northwestern in five years time? Do you think think they'll be some longevity?

Sam: No idea whatsoever. I never had any idea how long HOTS was going to last. Without meaning to sound like a recovery case, one day at a time!

S.G: You started your first tour together this summer, how did it go? And what memories will you take from it?

Sam: It was fun and frustrating and exciting and tiring. I just like playing shows, it's what we know how to do. Just the fact that people were interested enough in what we are doing now to come out and see us meant a hell of a lot. I have always been incredibly grateful to people for taking the time and spending their money on shows and records.  

S.G: Which bands do you wish you could play shows with, large or small, but preferably alive.

Sam: Broken Social Scene so they can lend us their brass section every night. They owe us because we lent them ours at the last HOTS shows! We played a show with Editors a while back who were lovely gentlemen so that would be fun. Most of my suggestions would probably just be bands I would want to watch every night, of which there aren't many.

S.G: What are you opinions on illegal fire sharing. Is it good or bad for new bands?

Sam: I'm not entirely sure. I think all points of view on it have been yapped out over and over again and the pieces will land where they land. From our point of view we always try to make packaging and the artwork as awesome as we can so hopefully people have an interest in buying a physical release. Also whatever the ins and outs of the situation, the justification that bands can just make their money from touring and records should be free is a weird one to me. Firstly because at the level a band like us is at, we usually lose money playing shows and secondly because you don't steal a baker's bread and tell him to make money off his cakes. It's a nonsense justification for theft. Though possibly if you then go around telling everyone how awesome the bread is then maybe people will buy a shedload of cakes...I'm not sure.

S.G: Finally, will Troubles or Hope of the States ever rise up and play again?

Sam: If Troubles ever finish our acoustic deathfolk record then possibly. HOTS? Everyone is otherwise engaged at the moment though in ten years time when the world realises just how damn good we were and how much we were ripped off, then we will refuse to reform just to be contrary. Though in all seriousness I would very much doubt it.

The Northwestern - What Did I Do from theartof agency on Vimeo.

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