Time is often a barrier, but it mustn’t be an impassable object. On the cusp of their debut album’s release, a number of local sources refer to Hairband as veterans of the Glasgow DIY scene. It was far from a straight line from their initial gigs six years ago to today, but it feels like it’s been worth the work and
SNACK caught up with Rachel Taylor (guitar and vocals) to get the lowdown on songwriting, shows and making something happen.
How would you describe Hairband to people who’ve never heard of you before?
I would describe us as strange, energetic, melodic, cacophonous, special.
Was there a moment when you felt the band clicked together into being a group?
Not really; I think the music expressed itself quite easily when we were playing together, and it was that aspect that made Hairband feel like a bit of an entity in itself. Of course, there were the relationships between us that played into it becoming more of a group over time, but the music was the thing that kind of pushed everything forward, in an autonomous way.
How do you manage being in different projects?
Between 2016 and 2018 we were all busy with various projects, and the biggest challenge was finding a time when all five of us could align. We managed, but it has always been a very tedious process getting us all together!
When it comes to writing songs, do you know if a song is instinctively right for a certain project?
When it comes to writing songs and knowing which band would be suitable to play them with, you just get a sense, really – some projects have a certain feel, the themes in the songs tend to have a particular character, and in the case of Hairband, when I had a particular idea, I could either imagine the band playing it easily or not: it was rather clear.
When jamming songs, is there a typical process? Have any of your songs gone through different styles before you decided on what works best?
When jamming, sometimes it was a totally free jam; maybe we’d find a groove we’d like and keep it for later, or expand upon it directly.
Most often someone would bring an idea, or a couple of us would have been playing on an idea together, and then we’d all freely just jam on it and respond to each other. It felt like it would happen quite quickly, the songs unfolding. It’s the arranging that’s the tricky part!
Your debut album, Under The Plow, comes out 21st April. It’s very layered and intricate, but on many songs, the sense of fun is palpable. How was the recording process?
The recording process was quite a whirlwind. In spring of 2020 I came to Glasgow from Berlin for three days before we were set to record, and I think we had three rehearsals before heading into Green Door [studio] for four full recording sessions. The last time we were together was in autumn 2019 when we supported The Raincoats, and we completed a few of the songs remotely between that show and our studio time. We were working with Ronan Fay, which has always been a pleasure, in our experience. Things went quite swiftly in the sessions: there were lots of laughs, though the pandemic reached Scotland in the middle of the process, so needless to say it was a time of worry and confusion as well.
Female representation (or lack of) at festivals is once again a hot topic. Are there any steps you’d like promoters and festival organisers to take to improve the situation?
I guess I would hope that promoters and festival organisers would try to make their line-ups as diverse as possible in general, in terms of the bands playing, and the demographics of the musicians. Maybe instead of inviting the same bands to headline every year they could try to ensure that different bands are given the opportunity to play. Of course, it would be beautiful if festival line-ups included more women, because again, diversity is the spice of life! Otherwise it’s so boring.
It’s easy to focus on the challenges of being a long-distance band, but are there any benefits or at least opportunities from working in this manner?
The long-distance band thing has been tricky, but long-distance anything is tricky. It’s nice to know that if you really want to make something happen – and in this case, it was realising our LP – then it’s possible.
You’ve had some excellent and perhaps surprising support slots over the years – anything unusual which sticks out as a notable story?
I think supporting Brix & The Extricated was really special for all of us; we all knew Brix Smith’s work with The Fall, which is obviously cool, but seeing her play and talking to her was so fun and inspiring. She’s a very charismatic person and performer, with an incredible presence, and it was such a nice surprise when she was enthusiastic about our music. Actually, it was through her that we were connected to our shows with Sleaford Mods.
What are your hopes for the next six months for Hairband?
We hope that the album reaches people, that they enjoy it, and that they feel something in response to it.
Under The Plow is released on 21st April on Lost Map Records