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Interview: Vincent H.L. Talks About His Album 'Weird Days' + Shares Single 'Yeeeaahh'

Interview: Vincent H.L. Talks About His Album 'Weird Days' + Shares Single 'Yeeeaahh'

Chris Cudby / Photo by Coco Campbell / Wednesday 27th June, 2018 3:07PM

Auckland songwriter Vincent H.L. is releasing his debut solo album Weird Days this coming Friday [update: it's out now] via the fine folk at 1:12 Records, following up his laconic lead single 'Up All Night' and a brief but powerful run of shows and radio performances. Stepping out on his own after lending his talents to countless local groups including Hang Loose, Magic Factory and Whipping Cats, the new collection flexes a finely-honed sound combining the vocal dexterity of a whiskey-soaked Jeff Buckley with the garage rock heft of classic Memphis punks The Oblivians. Vincent H.L. is celebrating with a launch party at Auckland's The Wine Cellar with Green Grove and Him this Friday and an all-ages in-store show at the Flying Out store on Saturday. Chris Cudby met up with the artist at one of Auckland's burger establishments to shoot the breeze about Weird Days, wrap your ears around Vincent H.L.'s new single 'Yeeeaahh' and read his words below...

You've played in bands for quite a while, including bands that you've been the lead singer of... how did Weird Days materialise into reality?

There was no real reason, no direct reason. I came back from London in 2011 and I started messing around with Pro Tools (editing software)... and I just starting coming up with songs that I wanted to keep for myself. I kind of piled them up and before I knew it I had a sound happening, that probably wouldn't fit with Hang Loose. Magic Factory takes care of its own. I've been building up songs for this album for a long time. There's only ten songs. Short and sweet, all killer no filler.

Did you have a tonne more songs and you picked out your favourites?

Yeah I've got a few more, they're quite different. These are the ones that are the most consistently the same. I was playing around with a lot of stuff, it could have gone in any direction.

You had the songs kicking around for a while, how did the live thing happen? Who's in your band when you play live?

Hariet Ellis from Bozo, Dan Ward from the Sneaks and Droor, and Matt Short from Magic Factory. He played in the Feelers, I think he's doing Sola Rosa still as well.

I guess it just got to a point, the songs were ready. I was super hesitant about it.

Did you put up a notice at the local Rockshop?

Yeah "serious dudes only." I saw a really funny picture of one of those ads, I think it was in Palmerston North. It had a picture of Kirk Hammett (Metallica guitarist) in a bath holding a guitar. "Looking for a guitarist."

It just got to the point. I met Hariet, I think I must have told her that I had some stuff, she was really keen and she just really pushed me for the band. So we got her, Matt Short through Magic Factory, and Dan as well I just asked him, he was in town. He's totally awesome.

How would you describe what your music sounds like?

Matt Short called it 'Nightmare Country'. I came back from London listening to doom metal a lot, I thought it'd be cool to mix country music and doom metal together. That was the original idea but I don't know if it ended up like that.

When I've been listening to your stuff, with the singles and the recent bFM live to air as well, there's a real rustic kind of vibe to it. It sounds at least suburban, if not on the edges of suburbia.

It totally makes sense, I guess it's not on a conscious level. I'm from Kumeu, which used to be out past suburbia, out west. So I grew up there, and then I went to Massey High School, which is in the West Auckland 'burbs. I spent all my teenage years in West Auckland suburbia. Maybe it's come through somehow. Now I live in Point Chevalier. So I'm slowly moving towards the city.

Like urban crawl. Can you see West Auckland from where you live?

Yeah across to Te Atatū, across the harbour and stuff.

When I lived in Beach Haven you couldn't see the city. You could only see across the harbour from the North Shore to West Auckland, it just looked like empty farmland... So what are you singing about, and what inspires the stories that you're telling?

I think for this album, a lot of the past. The songs are kind of old so it's past moments and stuff, looking back on it. Some parts of Weird Days are pretty direct recollections of out west and that kind of shit. 'Get Off My Couch' is like a self-motivational song. In a roundabout way it's about stuff I've been up to. That looks like a real juicy burger.

REAL juicy. What's your song 'Snacks' about?

That's about... do you remember Straton (from the Whipping Cats)? When he turned twenty one he had a party, the theme was called 'Lunatics Ball' or something, so everyone was dressed like crazy people. No particular dress theme or whatever. I turned up and I had a bottle of sparkling wine. I got there, finished that and then smoked heaps of weed and within an hour of getting to the party I was like paralytic on the lawn. It is what it sounds like, I was having an out of body experience or something. [laughs]

What have you got planned, what's happening for Vincent H.L.?

I want to go big man, all the way! I want to take it as far as it will go, I'd like to tour, I'd like to play overseas and stuff as well. I just want to play everywhere really.

'Weird Days' is out on vinyl and digitally this Friday 29th June via 1:12 Records. 


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