THE hype around HMLTD is famously discussed among music fans. Whether you’re at a festival or an indie music venue, the chances are if the conversation moves on to live acts someone will bring up HMLTD – everyone has an opinion of them and it’s usually something along the lines of love or hate. Gaining a reputation for their high-energy live shows and striking fashion, the band have always been a talking point and it’s something the music press have relished in their rising fame claiming they are they are changing the face of music.
Having first seen them at Field Day festival in 2016 when they went by the name Happy Meal Ltd, it was clear the band had a message they wanted to send out. We finally got the chance to sit down with them to learn about their whirlwind journey of playing to small crowds to landing a record deal with record giants Sony.
As Glass meets the band for the interview at a music festival, we decide their dressing room isn’t the right place to talk so I follow their lead into the forest where we huddle under the branches of a tree. Having caught three of six members of the band, we begin our interview in the deep dark depths of the forest to talk fame, fashion and fake rivalries.
The six members of HMLTD
It’s hard to describe HMLTD to people who aren’t already aware of you. How would you describe your sound?
Henry: Probably whatever the opposite of folk is. We say that we explore every genre in our music and I think the only genre which you could without a doubt say that we do not explore is folk. We do country in some songs but definitely not folk.
Duke: Our music isn’t really suited to the average 50-year-old Guardian reader.
You’ve been hailed the “the ones to watch” for quite some time now. You’ve now built up a very solid fan base and been on the circuit for a few years now. Do you think you’ve outgrown that title?
Henry: I feel like we’re still the ones to watch. People were saying it two years ago and people are still saying it because there hasn’t really been anyone that dramatic that’s come along who can replace that title.
It’s interesting that you don’t feel that well established yet. Why do you feel like this?
Henry: We haven’t even released an album! We’re still a very long way away from releasing an album.
Your single Pictures of You had a bit of a different sound to your first few records. How have fans been responding?
Duke: I think this is the song we’ve been most excited about by how the people reacted to it.
It’s very different.
Duke: I think people were just expecting us to release the same punk shit.
Does it piss you off when people expect the same thing from you?
Duke: No, I understand. People like to be comforted and categorise things but we despise that.
Henry: We do understand the issues that people have with the song. We can see that.
Have you had a tough time with it?
James: The thing is, our thing from the very beginning was mixing genres together and that’s what people always said that was the best thing about us, not that we consciously try and do that. Then as soon as we blended pop and trap a lot of closed minded people were like “this is horrible” but this is the stuff we’ve been doing from the beginning it’s just a different genre.
Your shows are hailed for being quite intimate and wild. Is it hard to do the same things when you play bigger venues?
Henry: Even if we’re playing a really big show it can still be personal. You can still have eye contact with the first three rows of people so I think there’s really not that much difference.
Your image is a big part of the band. When did you nail that look as a group.
Henry: We never really thought about it. We’ve just always dressed like this and it didn’t really make sense to dress differently on stage so it’s just a continuation in that sense. A lot of people are just boring.
Well perhaps you can inspire those “boring” people.
Duke: I hope so.
A lot of people think your music is pretentious. What do you say to that?
Henry: Nothing. We probably are slightly.
Do you believe that your pretentiousness has a rule in creativity?
Henry: I think it’s probably a word which is used less by creative people and more by critics who are too dull to like something and need an excuse to dislike it.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good band rivalry and it seems that the band Sports Team have thrown a low-key diss your way. What’s that about?
Henry: There’s no story. I’ve never listened to any of their music. I don’t even know what they sound like. I’ve never seen them. Apparently they talk shit about us but I don’t really mind. They’re a bit too small to start a rivalry with.
I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. What annoys you?
Henry: You know in dressing rooms when there’s a thousand band names scribbled on the walls. I make a big point to never write HMLTD on the walls …
Oh so you just piss on them instead?
*The band laughs*
Henry: No, I don’t do anything like that. But yeah, it’s just full of bands you’ve never fucking heard of in your life so I feel like its a bad omen. If that’s how ambitious you are in terms of what you want to be left behind as a memory of you which is just a name scrawled on a wall in St Albans then that’s shit. I’d rather we have something bigger to be remembered by.
James: If you write your name on a venue then your soul gets trapped.
What’s the ultimate HMLTD goal?
Henry: To have enough money and status to move to LA.
James: I’d like a boat. I don’t know whether it’s a yacht but yeah.
What was it like just before you were signed?
Henry: There was a time where we were playing gigs and Sony and Warner and Rough Trade and Domino would all attend and our manager was just playing them off in a bidding war. We almost created an illusion that we were bigger than we were.
What’s it like being signed to a big label?
Henry: It’s great. We need the money and all the things that make the band special requires money.
Well, good luck and thanks for chatting to us.
by Katrina Mirpuri
Listen to their new single Flex here: