In the spotlight – London based trio The Howlers comprised of Adam Young (vocals, guitar), Tom Triggs (drums) and Guus ter Braak (bass).
“Originally we are from all over, but we all met and live in London.”
That brings me to my first question: Guus, how does a guy from a little town in the Netherlands end up playing in a band in London?
“I moved to london to go to University and ended up on the same course as Adam. After living together for a few years and going to lots of gigs and experiencing the London music scene, we sort of just fell into being a band.”
If you guys had to give yourselves one word to describe each of you, what would that one word be?
“Adam – driven, Guus – chilled, Tom – dependable”
Tell me about your journey with creating music. How did you get started, and was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
“Everyone’s journey into music is slightly different, but I don’t think you know music is a possible career path until you try and managed to overcome the initial setbacks. For Tom, he has always played music in various forms – from being in a choir as a kid to various bands and now teaching music outside of the band. Guus’ experience was playing in covers bands as a young guy. Adam played music in various bands when he was younger, but never as a frontman – that was completely new to him when we started this band. He never wanted the spotlight on him.”
“But ultimately we all dipped our toes into the world of playing live music and caught the bug for it. It’s a great experience to be so in tune with other musicians, no matter if it’s in a rehearsal room or on a stage or wherever. When you instinctively know what you’re all going to do next that’s a special moment. So once you experience that you know it’s what you want to do as a career.”
What kind of sounds were playing around you as you were growing up?
“We all have different backgrounds in musical taste, we like to think everyone is slightly influenced by their parents and what they listen to, whether you follow their interests or you don’t like their tastes and find your own path, we are no different. We tend to explain the band as a three way Venn diagram. We all bring different interests to the table and that ‘sweet spot’ in the middle where we all crossover is The Howlers, but our influences and what we grew up listening to range from Adam listening to Soul and 70s rock, Guus listening to class rock and 00’s Indie records, and Tom listening to a range of heavy rock to pop records, its all in their somewhere, but we all connect on soundtracks and certain rock and soul records that we find really interesting.”
Tell us a little bit about how you ended up with The Howlers as a band name and what other name options (if any) you also had in mind?
“The band name comes from a pub on Hoxton street in East London, not to far from where Adam was living at the time on the neighbouring housing estate. The pub called ‘The howl at the moon’ was where the band met up to pick a band name. A few beers later we settled on ‘The Howlers’ not least of all because the lager we were all drinking at the time was called ‘Howl’ – not very inventive for a band name but it suited us at the time. It later turned out to be the pub where the Arctic Monkeys shot the ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ video and it’s also the street where the Verve shot the infamous ‘Drugs don’t work’ video. So the name stuck as a homage to the history of the area.”
Musically, do you find the confines of a three-piece restricting? Do you have to make creative moves to make to fit the vision you might have in your head for a song?
“Not at all, in fact we find it more liberating to be as raw as it can be, there’s no gimmicks here or forced musical parts – it’s just the basics of what a band is guitar, bass and drums. The trick is to make it sound like there’s seven of you on stage, but ultimately the music is how we sound when we get together. Nobody turns up and goes “hey I want to sound like this”. It’s just what we naturally fall into as a band, there are so many artists out there that are faux with how they sound, pushing themselves into a genre that in reality is no representative of themselves.”
Are you also thinking about how songs might sound on stage when you’re writing and recording them?
“Of course, our whole thing as people is we want the songs to sound cinematic to sound HUGE, so when people see us on stage there struggling to work out how three people can make a dynamic sounding record sound just as good on stage.”
What is the writing process? Does it come together in rehearsals or is there a primary songwriter?
“Adam is the primary songwriter, often writing a song working on the demo with our friends in Black Honey and then bringing it to the band. It’s sort of at that point that we put our own spin on it whatever the guide bass or drums is, because we want our own individual parts to speak to us as individuals and Adam is quite insistent on that being the case. The demo is there as a guide but Tom sounds like Tom on the drums and Guus sounds like Guus, you want their own parts to be theirs.”
When it comes to making music versus playing live, which part of the music process do you like the most?
“That is a difficult question as they are great in different ways. Of course the live experience of playing songs in front of a crowd that engages with them is great because that’s why you do it. You never know how a song really sounds until you play in front of 2000 or 2 people. Being in the studio is a special experience – it’s like being on a desert island, at least that’s how we record. We cast ourselves away and just have this tunnel vision of what we are doing, totally in sync with each other totally locked into the song.”
You’ve just finished a UK tour, do you have any favourite tour memories?
“The tour was great! We headed out to play towns and cities we had never played before. So our expectation was “we will see what happens”. It was great to see full rooms and people singing back the songs where we never thought we had fans, but we kicked it all off with a residency at one of our favourite hometown London venues almost 1000 tickets went for those shows, so that was special.”
What do you feel when you walk on stage and what is your favourite thing about playing live shows?
“Excitement, nerves, I guess its a sense of anticipation as you don’t really know how the show will be until you finish one or two songs and your hear the crowd and settle into the set. Anybody who says they don’t get nervous before a show is a liar, but strangely the bigger the crowd for us, the less nervous we are. I think for us our favourite part is just doing what we love to do. There are no cliches here, just we get up there smile and laugh and enjoy the show, and we hope people see that and enjoy it too.”
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
“We all have a different answer to this but we’ve got a whole bag full of new songs so there are so many. It’s always good to play ‘Further down the line’ as it’s sort of the first point in the set we can usually audibly hear the crowd singing.”
Did you have to make any sacrifices to achieve music goals?
“100% any musician worth their salt has, and we haven’t achieved our goals yet. There are some bands at the moment that have been given things on a plate – they come from a privileged background and they’ve not had to sacrifice anything to get recognition. We’ve lost and sacrificed more than most bands ever will in our short career. What’s got us through it and still does is we have each other. We’ve consistently been a band that has not quite broke through, but all we can do is keep trying. We come from working class backgrounds and we don’t have alot of money – just look at our equipment on stage, its taped up and busted up – but we try our best to go out and make other people happy. I don’t think you can honestly and sincerely do that if you’ve never had to sacrifice anything. Imagine someone from privilege saying “we’re all in this together”, it’s fake.”
Let’s talk about your newest single ‘El Dorado’. What was the inspiration for this song? How would you say that it compares to anything else that you have released?
“El Dorado is a taste of what’s to come from us. It’s the band turning a corner into a new beginning so to speak. The inspiration however comes from when Adam first moved to London – the allure of the bright lights and anything is possible quickly fades as you pull back the curtain to see you’re not the only one with those dreams. But the ultimate message is to keep chasing what you want no matter what “One day you will find El Dorado”.”
Your debut album is set for release in 2024. Tell us about the album.
“Shhh, who told you that? For now all you’re getting is, it’s coming. We’re so proud of it and it’s representative of us and our story – it doesn’t sound like anything else you’ve heard before.”
What can we expect?
“Cinematic records, intimate songs, it’s all in there.”
What is the most rewarding part of making music?
“To be honest, it’s the part after a show when we speak to fans and find out their story and why they connect with the songs we write. Our ethos has always been, there’s so much hate and anger in the world and we just want people to forget all that for a few hours at one of our shows and have a good time where they can be themselves. There’s a great atmosphere at our shows – something we are proud off.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“We’re going to chuck our boy Phil Madeley in here with his song ‘God’s Country’ as its *Chefs Kiss*.”
Written by: leancool20
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