Prior to their gig at The Joiners, American indie-rockers Howler took some time to talk to The Edge about their new album, their previous band names, how their first headlining UK tour is going and how they are coping with being labeled with the next-big-thing.
Firstly, how is your debut headlining tour of the UK going? Where has been the best place to play so far?
Wonderful so far. We’ve only been to Bristol and Brighton on this tour as of yet but headlining has been very different from when we were supporting The Vaccines on our previous visit. The best place we have ever played over here is Sheffield though; the audience was great.
How does playing in the UK compare to playing in America?
We don’t really have too much experience headlining either the UK or America so at the moment there isn’t really any way to answer that question at the moment, as we continue to play perhaps we’ll start to notice a difference.
You’re signed to Rough Trade Records; how does it feel sharing a record with The Strokes?
The Who? Haha. No there isn’t any pressure because the label seems to sign you because they genuinely like your music. It’s like ‘ just do what you do’ and if they believe in you then you’ll do fine.
You’ve received a lot of hype from NME who voted you one of their best new bands of last year, how are you finding these expectations that are being formed of you?
We’ll recover if it doesn’t work out.
Right, is there a meaning behind your new album title ‘America Give Up’
It’s mostly a joke. It’s just kind of like looking back to that middle 80’s middle finger punk rock thing.
You’re previous band names included ‘Gay Animals’ and ‘A- Cups’, what made you settle on ‘Howler’?
We were called ‘Tits’ as well at one point. Oh and we were called ‘Faggot Giraffe’ for a while. People were kind of offended by ‘Faggot Giraffe’ but we were very drawn to gay animals, it’s a sort of theme. Somehow it just progressed to ‘Howler’, I think it came from ‘Gay Wolf’, ‘Gay Howler’ is the next natural progression.
Your sound has been compared with The Strokes, is this something that you are happy with? Who would you say has influenced you the most?
It’s cool; The Strokes are a good band so it’s nice. Big inspirations for us were Velvet Underground, The Replacements, The Jesus and Mary Chain; a lot of late 70’s to early 80’s punk rock helped us shape our sound.
Will you be playing at any UK festivals this summer, or can you not say?
We’re not allowed to say technically. But obviously that means yes. Yes, we are.
What is your favourite song to play live? Are there any songs you don’t like playing?
We like playing ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ the most. There are some songs that we do get a little tired of playing at every single show from the first EP, but we’ll be playing everything tonight. We only have 16 songs to our name, so we have to play them all at our shows really. We haven’t really been going long enough to grow to hate songs yet but this could happen eventually, but we’ll have new stuff by then so we’ll phase our least favourite tracks out or something.
Where do you see yourself going with the second album? Will there be a change in genre?
I don’t know really, it’s hard to say. Who knows? Perhaps a glam album, that’d be pretty awesome. I’m really more into classic rock ‘n’ roll, which sounds so lame. I want to move more onto The Velvet Underground-style road; we’ll keep the songwriting the same but maybe change the production; it would ideally be a more 60’s sounding album. I mean we haven’t started work on it yet, but we have begun the songwriting process so we’ll have to see where it goes.
When you’re touring is it always exciting? Or is there a lot of sitting in random rooms like this one?
We’re kind of bored all day, play the show, which is great, and then get trashed after that. I’d say it’s waiting around for about twelve hours and then playing for just one, so obviously there is a lot of down time to fill.
Are you used to playing more intimate venues like this?
You have no idea haha; we’ve played much smaller places than this. We used to play bars in downtown Minneapolis, which were awful. They were the sort of place you just have to email ‘Can we play at your venue?’ to and they’d let you on; there wasn’t even a quality control it was just ‘if you want to then you can’’. We like playing both the bigger gigs and the smaller gigs. Sometimes the people in the smaller venues just stare at you or try to talk to you. Last night at Brighton there were these three guys who were fucking annoying, they were like stalking us, it wasn’t flattering though, it was worrying. But it’s great to be so close to the audience your playing to when they aren’t annoying you.
Who would your ideal musical collaboration be with?
Nicki Minaj and Phil Spector from his prison cell. Done.