SLAM with Hungry Kids of Hungary
With the release of their second album “You’re a Shadow” this week, along with being Queensland ambassadors for SLAM Day (Save Live Australia’s Music) this Saturday, playing at this year’s Groovin the Moo festival and an Australian national tour set to kick off in April, the boys from Brisbane have come a long way since their humble beginnings in 2007. Tammy Potakh caught up with vocalist Dean McGrath:
Hey Dean, thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with me. You guys are touring soon and are Queensland’s ambassadors for SLAM Day. Do you think you’ve made the people of Brisbane proud?
Oh, God knows! I think we’ve made some people of Brisbane proud. I’d hope so, we’ve had a lot of support from the very beginning.
Were you guys all friends before you formed a band?
Well, we lived in the same area and played in bands doing local gigs and stuff. It’s good that it worked out so well, it might have been that situation where we’d gotten together and it was all just awful. It’s great that we have our camaraderie… we have our moments just like any other bands [laughs]… but yeah for the most of it, we’re all pretty good mates and we get along really well.
You guys have been compared to the likes of The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and Ball Park Music. Who would you say is your biggest musical influence? Any particular icons or legends that you look up to?
None of the bands you just mentioned! Ball Park Music are good mates of ours. We get compared to The Kooks all the time, I don’t see it to be honest. Our music is mostly influenced by a broad range of our parents’ records that we listened to whilst growing up.
Are there any bands or artists that you’d love to collaborate with?
Oh God, heaps and heaps – probably my two fave acts at the moment are Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors and I’d like to collaborate with them.
Your single Sharp Shooter ripped up the airwaves when it was released at the end of last year. Congratulations on its success! Were you at all expecting this?
[Aussie radio station] Triple J have always been massive supporters of us. There was a lengthy period where we dropped off the radar to work on our record but it’s really nice and we’re all really pleased that Triple J have jumped onboard. It’s exciting to get that welcome back.
Are there any surprises up your sleeves for fans on your tour? Any stage dives or throwing your shirts out into the crowd?
[laughs] I don’t think we’re the kind of band too many people would want to see us with their shirts off! We like to do something a bit different every time we go on stage. You can only go on so long playing the same old songs so it’ll be really great to play some of the new stuff from our record and we have a special surprise cover lined up. We’re looking forward to the fans’ reactions to that one.
Do you think your music style has changed much, since your first record?
Yeah definitely, I think we have come from a different approach in terms of the writing and recording. The first album was a collection of songs that were written over three years, so it’s more of a compilation of ideas and now we’re just paying a lot more attention to how the songs fit with each other. Also in terms of the production values, our last record was very poppy and this time round it’s a bit different – we wanted to make this record sound a bit more rough around the edges, more organic in sound. We actually had a lot of crap going on the few years before the record so there was a lot of stuff to get out.
Aw yeah, you’ve gotta exorcise your demons somehow and this is a great way to do it!
Yeah! I mean there are a lot of things in the songs that you can’t necessarily say aloud in conversation. There’s a bit of artistic freedom to say things that are too difficult to approach.
I came across a playlist on the HKOH YouTube Channel called; “songs played in weird places.” Where’s the weirdest place you’d like to play a song and why?
Ummm, the realm of possibilities is just huge. I don’t know, we’ve always wanted to go full Beatles and do a rooftop thing. But I guess that’s not so weird these days, it’s probably something that happens quite a bit. Um I don’t know. Underwater? We could do an underwater show – that’d be fantastic… scuba gear and everything! [laughs]
Which albums are currently burning a hole in your CD player?
Dirty Projectors are pretty solid. What else? I really got into the new Oh Mercy record – I think it’s really brilliant.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
I probably would’ve ended up staying and working full time as a graphic designer. I had a job when we first started out – when we first started touring and everything – I was trying to juggle full-time work as a graphic designer with being in a band and it’s a hard thing to juggle. Not too many employers are understanding when you say to them “oh I’m just gonna take a couple of months off to go on tour!” [laughs].
ATTENTION ALL BRISBANE FANS: On release day for “You’re A Shadow”, (today, February 22), the band will be launching their album by playing a few songs for Rocking Horse Records at the Queen Street Mall, Brisbane City upper stage from 5pm. The guys will even sign your shiny new copy of the LP.
And for more on all of the gigs you can see on Slam Day this Saturday visit http://slamrally.org/nationalslamday
You can Catch Hungry Kids of Hungary on tour in Australia in April/May and also at the Gear Up Festival next week. Full dates here.
Interview by Tammy Potakh