Ohen you’re a teenager stuck in the same park every weekend, almost anywhere can feel stuffy — those long, boring days of staring at clouds, drinking cans, dreaming of a better world. Although their sound was born out of the frustrations of growing up in the Pennine towns of the Calder Valley, The Lounge Society now freely admits that their rural roots have helped them weather the wave of agonizing guitar music that has surfaced during the pandemic.
“All we have to draw from is our own experience and the way we see the world around us”, says Herbie May (guitar, bass). NME on Zoom, flanked by his teammate Hani Paskin-Hussain (guitar, bass). Despite being a political and telling tale of our times, their 2020 debut EP “Silk For The Starving” went through a brutal Nordic lens, taking aim at everything from local grouse hunters like “Burn the Heather “at nearby Hebden Bridge on ‘Valley Bottom Fever’ which they called “a lonely town with a lonely mindset.”
Since meeting and training in high school, the group’s view of their playground has softened as they have found success, though the relationship remains complex. “It’s an incredibly beautiful place with lots of assets and we’ve thrived here,” says May. “Given it’s a small town, the places are incredibly strong and influential.” Paskin-Hussain, however, quickly shares some of the darker elements that defined their early worldview.
“The city has a weird, darker side to it, especially in winter. Geographically, it’s one of the darkest and wettest places in the country with potential drug and alcohol problems around every corner, so you may want to step out as beautiful, idyllic and culturally enriched as it is. that is. It’s a right of passage to want to leave the nest as you grow up. Now that the group is used to life on the road, they have found themselves enjoying the space the house affords. “It puts into perspective how lucky we are to be from here, especially when we have the opportunity to take a break.”
If the EP was the earthquake, their upcoming debut album “Tired Of Liberty” arriving this month is most definitely the earthquake. Touching on equally important themes, May says it’s a more nuanced take on the snappy social and political takes on their early releases. Take the moving “North Is Your Heart” which features some of their most poetic lyricism to date:Once again comes the thunder / cascading you into tyranny / the ashes of dreams / engulfing the lands you loved.
“I think the way we express political things has developed as we’ve matured,” he says. “Initially it was based on the headlines of the world, now it’s based on personal experience, it’s less about the big dramatic events in the world and more about the little things that show up in everyday life.”
Ochicken NME spoke with the group on their 2020 breakthrough, they clearly stated their mission: “We set out to make sure people can’t really put their finger on us. We like to keep people guessing while staying true to ourselves. It only takes a few seconds of convention-defying single “No Driver” to see that it is, a ferocious anthem pulsing with glitchy electro before oscillating between disco and rock ‘n’ roll.
May says the track was an important moment in the making of the album. “We had never done a track like this and it was a huge leap forward for songwriting. Structurally it’s weird, it was born out of a few riffs but then it all blew up and we We had to put it all back together. Dan Carey of their London label Speedy Wunderground again took on a wizarding presence as he spontaneously realized the vision. “The vocals were recorded at two in the morning after a party and a meal, it shouldn’t work but it works.”
The band still sees categorization as the biggest peril on the road ahead. “I think the more music you put out, the more you run the risk of being understood,” he says. “Being stuck is the most dangerous thing, especially when we’re still young and young, as soon as people have you, they have you.” Paskin-Hussain adds, “You have to keep moving from song to song, bar to bar, changing styles and influences without losing your identity.
Although each song offers something sonically new, a common thread runs through the disc thematically this time around. Titles like “Boredom Is A Drug” and “Upheaval” grapple with the notion of freedom and finding your place in the world, which is perhaps unsurprising given their early rural trappings. It is a body of work brimming with a sense of unease and youthful confusion. “The idea of freedom absolutely had to be present in the title,” says May. “That’s what most of the songs are about, if they have anything in common, it’s the search for freedom, the search for it, the frustration of not feeling you have it.”
It’s a prescient subject given that they took off during the pandemic, when almost all freedom was stripped away. The band have since had the chance to shape their sound on the road. May says that experience bled on the record. “When we write, it’s so collaborative that it’s hard to work out what’s going on and where, so the distillation is often live for us. The question of how that’s going to trigger an audience is always in our heads. We want to make music for the listeners, it’s not this island thing just for us, we want to share it, it’s for the listeners and the dancefloor. So every member of the crowd should get a songwriting credit on this tour.
Those early tours were also vital in getting them onto bigger stages, including a dream opener for The Strokes alongside heavyweights Fontaines DC and Wet Leg. May describes it as a full-loop moment. “The very first song we played as a quartet was a half-finished cover of ‘Reptilia’ [from the former’s 2003 album ‘Room on Fire’]. That song and that band was arguably the most formative influence on us because those were the first notes we played together, so to come out on that stage with their names behind us and everyone to see them, was incredibly moving.
It was an opportunity that the group had to seize. Paskin-Hussain said, “We knew we had to go out there and be amazing because all the other bands were always going to be amazing, so we knew we had to bring something really special.” May quickly agrees: “You can’t shy away from huge opportunities like this because there’s a million bands that would have switched places. There’s something about a bigger scene that brings something out of us, we want to go on with a little more angst and we want to cause a little chaos.
“We want to get more of these gigs now, we really want more.” May points to a more immediate challenge. “We have our own milestones first like Village Underground, Gorilla and two return nights at Trades Club, that in itself is a test for us, it’s about working for it and showing that we deserve to be there, music is music and no one can mess it up but us, so we just have to make sure we’re as good as we can be.
The Lounge Society’s debut album “Tired Of Liberty” will be released August 26 via Speedy Wunderground