The Edge caught up with Adam Anderson, one half of depression-chic synth-outfit Hurts, ahead of his band’s new album Exile to talk about touring, Manchester, lyrics, and grooming…
So your new album is out soon, what sort of sounds can we expect from it?
Our sound has advanced a lot. There is a lot more live instrumentation and it’s heavier and darker. I’d say it’s an album of extremes really, there’s a lot more ups and downs than the first record…
Less synths then?
They are still in there, but the focus has shifted a little bit. It’s a lot more live-focused because that’s who we are really, we love playing live and we wanted this to come through on the record.
Right. Any favourite tracks?
Yeah, my favourite track is ‘The Crow’, it’s got a grace which we have always been aiming for and on that song I think we managed to achieve it. It has a very stripped down feel to it and, to be honest, I think it’s the best song we’ve ever written.
Sounds good. So why was there such a long break between the first and second album?
It’s because we toured for so long. We toured for two and a half years, which is longer than most to say the least. As soon as we finished touring we began recording again and it took about 9 or 10 months to finish.
Will you be playing any festivals this summer? Are there any you enjoy playing more than others?
I think we enjoy playing every festival really. It’s good fun when you play to a crowd and they know all of your songs, which happens at the European ones the most, I guess. It’s good to play in countries where they don’t know your songs and you have to win them over as well though. Hopefully, we’ll get to do all the big ones this year.
One of the song’s on your new album is influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s novel ‘The Road’. Do you think lyrics and literature can carry similar types of importance and meaning?
I think music’s all about escapism. We wanted to use music to take the atmosphere the book creates and put in a different place. That’s the thing about music, it is massively about escapism and lyrics are a huge part of that, they paint a picture and tell a story.
So is there a theme you always seem to return to? For example, do you value political messages in music?
Well we stay away from that really. We do admire political bands, but for us it’s not really about that. The first album really focused on love, loss, and sadness, but this one is more about the extreme emotions, there’s even a bit of death in there; it’s much darker. I think it’s a reflection of touring for so long really as that can get pretty dark sometimes.
I can imagine. You’ve been massively successful in Europe, do you think this has happened randomly or do you think your sound just fits well with their musical scene?
Maybe there’s a bit of that in it, but really I think it’s just because we made an effort to go everywhere in Europe. For example, we played in Finland about 12 times, not many bands can say that. I think that these countries feel like they have a bit of ownership over us. Also, hopefully, they just really like the music!
You find your origins in Manchester, was the areas influential music scene key to your sound?
I think the beauty of Manchester is that on the one hand you have this brilliant musical heritage which is inspiring but, on the other, you want to break out of it and get your own voice; we’ve definitely been inspired by both of those things. It’s a great place for a young musician and I think that often new bands from there feel a need to make ambitious music, which is good. Like them, we wanted to become more than another local Manchester band.
You’ve done a lot pop covers, and Kylie was on the first album, how important is pop music to your sound?
It’s massively important. I mean, we write pop songs, even nine inch nails write pop songs; it’s all about how you present them. We exist on the boundaries of several different genres and ideas and this is what makes us hard to pin down, it’s part of our identity. Ultimately, I think everything we write is a pop song in some way.
Your first album was described as being the ‘coolest album of the year’ by one critic and I noticed that someone is accredited to be in charge of your ‘grooming’ on the first album. Is image something you think is important?
Firstly, I don’t remember getting groomed…
Oh, Wikipedia must have lied…
Image is massively important though isn’t it? It’s an extension of the music. I think it’s a form of expression, it should be about every asset of the band and we place a lot of importance on that. Also it’s easy if you wear just black clothes, it makes life a lot less hassle.
True. Do you ever get tired of touring?
We only get tired when we do it too long. The key is to give it your all but have a break every now and then. We didn’t have a break but we gave it everything on the first album’s tour. But it was still amazing, for example we toured Indonesia in 2011 and that was incredible; you’d never think that songs you wrote in your room in Manchester would end up in Taiwan, so that was a real eye-opener. It’s brilliant.
Exile was released on March 8th on RCA records and is available to purchase now