Interview: The Hosts
South Yorkshire’s own retro rock troupe The Hosts are on the verge of releasing their sophomore album Moon before embarking on a huge UK tour. Lewis Budden caught up with frontman Tom Hogg to discuss the new music, the secret to making it as a Sheffield band and Richard Hawley being their spiritual guru…
So this is your second album release on Fierce Panda Records, right? How did that partnership come about?
Yeah we did the first album, Softly, Softly, with them. We initially sat on it for about 18 months, but when we put the first single out it got played on BBC 6Music and a couple of spot plays on Radio 2. Simon Williams, who runs the label heard it, did a bit of digging and signed us on the back of that.
Why did you sit on the first release?
I think we didn’t know what we were waiting for, so it was just one of those things that felt like the right thing to do. We had been contacted by a radio plugger in London who wanted to work with us, so we had a meeting and they were sure they could get ‘September Song’ playlisted on 6Music. So we went for it with the plan to put the album out too, but then the whole thing kicked off with Fierce Panda so we got a different agenda.
Now you have a headline UK tour planned. How are you feeling about it? Is this the biggest one you have done so far?
Not the biggest as we have played with Paul Weller so it’s had to top that size as we’re not playing any arenas this time. We have done a fair bit of touring in the past also with The Walkmen and Cold War Kids, then odd shows with Cherry Ghost and Richard Hawley. But this is the first headline tour we have done in a while. We didn’t really do many headline shows with the first album, mainly because we didn’t have an agent.
What’s your best tour experience so far? Any memorable moments?
Nah, I’ve forgotten all of my memorable moments! They’re not great tour moments if you remember them, I think. Try asking me after this tour…
Who are your favourite Sheffield bands right now?
There are a few interesting bands about on the scene at the moment, and I have seen loads come and go. The ones that tend to make it work really hard at it. We are good friends with the lads in Alvarez Kings, who are doing big things in America right now, which is fantastic as they have worked incredibly hard to get there. I really like High Hazels who I know a bit and then These Gangs are great too. There’s some really good stuff out there.
Moving away from the Sheffield scene, what music excites you at the moment?
To be honest, I listen to a lot of old stuff. I’ve just got the new Walter Martin record [The Walkmen], which is really cool. I also went to see Father John Misty recently and that was a great show. Then bits and bobs like Beach Boys and Johnny Cash I’ll play all the time.
You guys are in the enivable position of managing to get out and become not just a Sheffield band, but a full time UK band. What advice would you give young bands wanting to reach that next level?
You just have to keep at it and keep writing songs. Richard Hawley once said to me, “Tom, your songs are your collateral” – and he’s right! You’re only as good as your songs. If your tunes are awful then you’re going to be awful. If your songs are great then you can work at that craft and keep at it. It’s just about writing, writing, writing. A good song is a good song, and that’s it.
Your next release, Moon, is out this month. What can you tell us about it?
Yeah, we’re really happy with it. It was all done in-house at our studio in Heeley and we produced it ourselves. It’s a step forward from the first album and I still enjoy listening to it now which is always a surprise after working on album for so long. It’s the roller-coaster of realisation: you just have a listen to Moon.
And what does the rest of the year hold?
Festivals for the summer, then more writing and getting back into recording and looking forward to album number three.
Will you guys be at Tramlines this year?
I expect so, but we haven’t confirmed anything yet. However, there are things in the pipeline!
How long would you like The Hosts to last?
As long as I am still happy writing songs and everybody is happy playing them! At the minute what I am writing is stuff I am interested in and it still holds my attention. I am still able to surprise myself with things and my creativity is still there. So as long as it’s still fresh I will still do it. If it ever becomes hard work for me I think I would just lose interest in it. Whilst I am still able to create, I’ll keep writing songs.
Moon is out on April 29th and you can catch The Hosts playing The Leadmill on May 26th. See leadmill.co.uk for tickets.