Beloved by young men in old raincoats, Hurrah! built up a strong reputation on the roots/indie rock circuit. Then very little happened. Now they’re back again, with a major record company and a spanking new single.
Hurrah! are back. Now, if you’ve spent the past couple of years with your head buried in the top 30, you may never even have heard of the Newcastle band. If you’ve ever thrilled to the sound of two young guitarists who know how to play together, or you’ve ever bought a decent fanzine, you most certainly will.
The band seem to have spent their time ensconsed in various recording studios recently, and now, at last, the resulting record, ‘Sweet Sanity’, is being released. A record about growing up, something Hurrah! have been forced to do these past months. Or is it about growing old?
“It’s just the idea of a lost youth, really,” explains Paul Handyside during a break from yet another studio session. “It’s that paranoia that can set in when you realise you’re not 21 any more –- I’m 38 now!”
A slight exaggeration of course, but to some it’ll seem a possibility — the band seem to have been away for years.
“Well yes, the last new recording we did was ‘Gloria and that was two years ago this summer,” he continues. “The main reason has been the fact that we’re skint. We just didn’t have any money to make decent records and we didn’t see the point of getting a load more in debt and then watching the group split up. But because we couldn’t afford to make the records, we couldn’t get any gigs, so it was a catch 22 situation really.”
All of which seems incredible to anybody who remembers records as good as the aforementioned ‘Gloria’.
These boys make excellent pop music. The kind of exciting, slick rush of intelligent noise that you just can’t understand why it isn’t on ‘Top Of The Pops’ every week. “We’ve always been a reasonably big name in the music press and in fanzines, but not outside that circle,” says Paul. “That’s always worried us since our first single, the fact that we weren’t more successful, but we’ve never wanted to compromise so we can’t complain really.”
Hurrah! have a new recording deal that allows them to stay within the nurturing bosom of Newcastle’s Kitchenware Records while using the muscle and power of one of the capital’s major companies — Arista. How much was their absence a case of holding out for the right deal?
“Well yeah, in a way it was, I suppose,” says Paul. “We knew deep down that we were going to last and that we’d get there in the end. It’s good Kitchenware going through Arista, because although they’re a major, they’ve not got too many bands. They’ve enabled us to get on and finish our album.”
The new album, wonderfully titled ‘Tell God I’m Here’, should be out in the new year. A fact no doubt, that will send a thousand fanzine editors into apoplexy. “The whole fanzine ‘champion’ thing was nice in a sort of way but they went over the top a bit. I hope it doesn’t stop them liking us now that we’ve signed through a major,” Paul says.
A year or two away from the pop merry-go-round can be an interesting experience for any act. All those TV appearances by people you just know are less talented than yourself, all those crummy records being hailed as classics. Paul, for one, hasn’t been too impressed by anything he’s seen. “I don’t think I like anyone really, not anyone who’s come through while we’ve been out of action. I haven’t even bought any records for ages ’cause there’s nothing around that I like except the Go-Betweens.”
The great Hurrah! drummer scenario also continues. They’ve always had problems with those men with the sticks (a different breed of human to be sure). Hurrah!’s most recent drummer has just left the fold (“Damien and the band had a sort of love/hate relationship for three years”), and now the band are frantically auditioning for their forthcoming tour. Hurrah! fans will remember that the last time the band were about to go on tour, Damien broke his arm. Those auditioning have been warned!
The new Hurrah! recordings, though found more confident than much of their older material. As Paul points out, it’s a while since they recorded brand new material.
“All the songs we’re recording for the album are at least 18 months old,” he says. “We’ve had all the songs ready to record since this time last year and we decided to stick by them because they summed us up well. We’ve got a big backlog of stuff.”
– Story: Andy Strickland (Record Mirror)