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20th January 2019

The Fulford Arms’ 5th Birthday: An evening with The Howl & The Hum

Olivia White catches up with rising stars The Howl & The Hum as they talk David Lynch, Great Whites and the prospects of their debut-album
The Fulford Arms’ 5th Birthday: An evening with The Howl & The Hum
Photo: Olivia White @ Mancunion

“If you condense a novel, you get a short story, if you condense a short story, you get a lyric”.

Bursting out of York’s underrated yet immensely rich music scene are the peculiarly named The Howl & The Hum. Griffiths, Blackwell, Hirons, and Williams combine their adoration for stirring short stories and haunting notes to produce their own musical anthology that over 2018, has shaken the upcoming industry’s hottest new bands.

After a “confusing, exhilarating” and “humbling” year playing the likes of Citadel, Latitude and The Great Escape leading to the boys realising that “something could seriously happen”, this quirky quartet have earnt a 2019 that will undoubtedly propel them even further into the realm of sold-out headline dates, festival slots and impressive support. Over the past year, The Hum have risen to the brim of their hometown’s music scene which is proudly embellished with artists such as the Black Lagoons, Fawn and Bull.  Similar to the names of their artistic counterparts, The Hum are entrenched in a soundscape that embraces alternate universes, dystopian lands, and ominous undertones. Frontman Sam Griffiths preaches his obsession with short stories, particularly those of “Raymond Carver” and with his curious disposition, guides you through a distant yet oddly familiar land filled with desire, temptation, and heartbreak.

Playing an intimate, incredibly sweaty and cramped sold-out Fulford Arms on the venue’s 5thbirthday before The Hum embark on their largest headline UK tour yet is nothing short of magic. After an introduction of heart-warming folk artists such as Fawn and Amy May Ellis, the crowd were not only thirsty for a pint in what felt like 30-degree heat but also for their headlining act to strike.

From the moment the modest stage space was drenched in a serene, yet eerie light blue wash and the rising musicians took their places, The Hum instilled an electrically charged energy that exploded as the first pounding bass drum beat resonated from Williams’ kit. Throughout their performance, The Hum effortlessly captured cinematic and vivid imagination which would certainly be fitting for both a blockbuster Bond movie or a more indie cult classic similar to the work of “David Lynch”, one of Griffith’s “favourite directors”.

The Hum teased us with a new single as they performed their upcoming release ‘Hostages’ which narrates the emotional attachment to possessions of your ex-significant other as you are forced to return them and come to terms with the void that will be left after. The song begins with a similar tone to their hit-single ‘Godmanchester Chinese Bridge’ as Griffith’s introduces it as illustrating the awkwardness behind returning “the kettle that you stole and the toothbrush that you left at their house” before handing both over on a bridge “like ‘Hostages’ ” .

With the release of four new singles in 2018, premiered by ‘Portrait I’ on Spotify alongside a music video for ‘Portrait II’, Griffiths alludes to a third that will perhaps be drawn from a short story that he is currently writing. Both ‘I’ and ‘II’ have so far taken inspiration from fictional paintings with a theme focusing on “how you see people” and the “frame” in which people are presented. However, not all The Hum’s songs are derived from fiction, although they may all be fringed with whacky personification and twisted romanticism. As Griffiths steered me through The Hum’s current discography, what becomes apparent is that all of their songs, although seeming abstract and unnatural, are invested with emotions that are very real indeed. ‘I Wish I was a Shark’ for incidence, perhaps the band’s most bizarre song is a dark, crooning and wistful invasion that is illuminated by lead guitarist, Conor Hirons’ subterranean riffs. Although the myth that “when sharks stop swimming they die” certainly influenced the track, Griffith’s elaborates that the shark itself is invested with real human emotions and it would certainly have had “hands and legs” had it been a real creature. But, if Griffith’s was a shark himself, he’d be a “great white”.

Perhaps still being a long way off, Griffith’s analysis of the band’s current releases had me ask the long-awaited question… “When are you releasing your debut?”.  After an outward sigh from the bespeckled frontman who, quite frankly looks as if he’d fit perfectly in the peculiar worlds he conjures, replied “soon”.  Although remaining vague, Griffith’s assures me that the band are well on their way determining the theme and track-listing of their evolving landmark debut album. Due to streaming platforms, I interjected whether they felt the pressure to release an album to which he expressed just how “important” having a “solid collection” of their work is for them. Griffiths wants to create “something people can hold onto”. Their debut will focus around “human contact and encounters” but will “use fewer gender pronouns to make it a little more relatable and universal”. The band hope to focus on its recording in the latter half of this year with a possible release date on the horizon of 2020.

Although perhaps not yet achieving their goal of “Betty’s and Yorkshire Tea endorsement”, The Hum have not only announced their largest headline tour to date spanning all the way from the highlands of Orkney down to the cobbles of Brighton but will also set out to perform overseas at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Be sure to catch The Howl & The Hum as they depict alternate world’s and conjure deeply embedded emotions near you.

(26thJan, Soup Kitchen, Manchester), (27thJan, The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge), (30thJan, The Leadmill, Sheffield) …

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