Howler talk new album, Reading Festival and Scotland…

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When I was first ushered in to Howler‘s dressing room, I ended up walking in on a gift unwrapping session with the entire band in attendance. Jordan (Gatesmith, guitarist and vocals) was busy laughing over a DVD whilst Ian (Nygaard, guitarist) was brandishing a new bottle of whiskey (which I was later told is 15 years old and had 60 calories per serving).  Within a few minutes of the chat, the whiskey was being passed around and almost everything was being discussed– pretty much setting the tone for the interview that went absolutely everywhere and back again.

It’s the first night of the NME Generation Next tour, how did you end up coming on it? And headlining it for that matter?

Jordan: How did we… That’s a good question. From whence did I come, from whence? I guess we just got asked, just like any band on the NME generation tour on the bill. They just say ‘do you want to play for the NME generation tour?’ and we’re like ‘yeah we’ll play for the NME generation tour’.
Max: Next generation bro.
Jordan: It’s generation next.

So why did you accept the headline slot?

Jordan: Because we were bored, we weren’t doing anything really anyway.
Ian: We really didn’t want to make money so…
Brent: Because the NME loves us. I think I have a shot at being in the cool list this time around.

This tour ends at The Haunt on ‘Howlerween’—it’s a once in a lifetime coincidence. How are you going to make it memorable?

Jordan: Well, we’ve worked out about 9 terrible covers and they’re not very coherent or cohesive. They’re just going to happen and you guys are just going to have to… Do you guys like Phil Collins? Or Thin Lizzy? Or, I’ve got to think of some you’ll love.
Max: Vanessa Carlton
Jordan: The Carpenters.
Max: Dexys Midnight Runners.
Jordan: So if you like any of those things you’re going to love the Halloween show.

My friend is going to go to that show, what would you tell him to dress up as?

Max: Morrisey
Jordan: Yeah Morrisey. We’re all dressing up as Morrisey; so wannabe Morrisey’s playing Phil Collins songs

It’s your first time playing in Bournemouth—do you get a chance to see the places you stop off at on tour?

Max: No, well he saw Mary Shelley…
Jordan: I went to Mary Shelley’s grave today. Well, Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley are buried there. Actually it’s just Percy Shelley’s heart.
Ian: Really?
Jordan: Yeah, because he died a terrible… How’d he die?

I don’t actually know…

Jordan: Well anyway he died some place, somewhere weird.
Max: Inform me about these people.
Jordan: Percy Shelley was a romantic poet and Mary Shelley was his wife who was also a romantic poet and she wrote Frankenstein.
Ian: Power couple.
[everyone laughs]
Jordan: So yeah, I went to their burial sites and that was fun. Well, actually my Dad emailed me—I’ve read Frankenstein a couple of times and I read it again two days ago just for the fun of it and my Dad was like ‘Mary Shelley’s buried in Bournemouth’ and I was like ‘holy shit’ so I went and saw the gravestone.
Max: So your Dad likes Frankenstein?
Jordan: I don’t know, I think it was just coincidence. So I was like ‘shit, I got to go’ and I shed a tear. It’s a fucking awesome book, so fucking good.

What’s been your best and worst live moments?

Jordan: Oh man, I think our best and worst live moments are probably the same moments, if that’s possible. At Reading I tried to tackle Brent and his drum set and I ended up busting my wrist. That was the greatest moment of my life because I got to jump in to a drum set at the NME/Radio 1 stage at Reading but I was also terribly injured, it was horrible.

It was quite funny from where I was standing.

Jordan: You were there then? [laughs]Yeah I don’t know what happened to my guitar though, I don’t really remember some of it. I think I hit my head too a little bit. So I don’t know what happened but my guitar has indents on it, on the fret board.
Max: Ian was twisting around the microphone and then I started twisting around the microphone and…
Ian: Oh yeah, everything just went to hell in the last 8 seconds.
Jordan: Yeah, it was one of the greatest and worst experiences all rolled up in to one.

When The Edge last spoke to you, you said that ‘Pythagorean Fearem’ was your favourite to play live. Has that changed?

Max: Yes
Ian: Definitely
Jordan: I hate that song so much. So much. Why was that our favourite song to play live?
Max: Because that was when we first started playing it.

Yeah, it was your third headline show in the UK.

Jordan: Oh yeah. I remember the Southampton show! That was a fun show actually. Yeah so, hate that song, never going to play it again.

What about your favourite?

Jordan: I think it’s our new song ‘Ipecac’.
Max: Yeah and our cover is pretty good too.
Jordan: Yeah. And a cover—‘The Boys are Back In Town’. That’s my favourite to play. [Max laughs] We’ll play it tonight if you’re good enough.

Well, definitely do! Your album was really well received over here—did it surprise you?

Jordan: Yeah. Well everything is a complete surprise, I still look back at it and think it’s really weird. Just being signed to a label in the first place was a big surprise and it was strange to watch this publication pick it up, then that publication pick it up. Then to end up going to Japan; the whole thing was weird and surprising.

You’ve said that after this tour you’ll be laying the ‘America Give Up’ era to rest. How have you found it?

Max: It’s been a pretty good era.
Jordan: It’s had its ups and downs and it’s almost totally over.
Ian: It’s a bygone era. Let bygones be bygones.
Jordan: Yeah, it’s like let’s do the next thing already. I think we’re all in desperate need of a break…
Max: And to do something new.
Jordan: Just take a breath and do something we really love which is write music and just take it from there.

At the most recent shows you’ve started to play some new material; is it daunting to see how people react to it?

Max: No, it’s just nice to play something new. Usually people react really well.
Ian: We’re selfish.
Jordan: Yeah, we don’t give a fuck what everyone else thinks. It’s way better than playing ‘Pythagorean Fearem’.
Max: I think that a lot of people are now coming to see us for the second time now too so for them to hear new material is cool.

What sort of direction are you going to take for the new album? Anything you didn’t try before that you want to do now?
Max: Sadness
Jordan: Sadness, yeah. We love Scotland [everyone laughs]
Max: Seriously though
Brent: Really?
Max: Yeah, it’s going to be our number one priority for our next record.
Jordan: Glasgow just really knows sadness. Like really well and we want to capture that sadness. Like there are bands that know sadness like Cocteau Twins—they know sadness. And we want to know the sadness they know.
Max: We should spend some time there. We should just go and live there.
Jordan: I would do it.

As I get up to leave, Jordan asks me to do one more thing. “Tell your readers to watch Highlander II: The Quickening.”

Consider my job done.

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