Outlines by Hearts Under Fire was my favourite album of 2014, and is probably going to be my top album of 2015 too. If you haven’t heard it yet, please take the time to check it out – they are incredibly talented and hard working musicians, and also amazing people who are worthy of your time and support, so please check out Outlines and if they are playing a show near you soon make sure you get along to it, you are guaranteed a good night.
The girls are about to head out on tour in support of the album, and in honour of that we spoke to them all about the album. Enjoy.
You’ve released your long awaited debut album Outlines, how does it feel to finally get the album out there?
It feels really fantastic. We feel better than the cow that jumped over the moon, and the dish that ran away with the spoon.
I think we were so desperate for everyone to hear it, it was a relief. We recorded it at the end of January 2014, so we were bursting by the time the release date came. Some of these songs we started writing just after We’ve Come Too Far… EP. I think in total we had over 25 ideas for songs. Narrowing it down to just 10 was tough, as we all have such different ideas about what songs we like. I think we were all just so excited to be finally recording and releasing our first album, it over powered any nerves we had about it. We did look into maybe releasing it on a small label, but we went ahead and did DIY as normal.
You recorded it at Stakeout studios with Jason Wilson, tell us a bit about that?
We recorded there before when we did our Spitting Glass EP back in 2006. So we were familiar with the way Jason worked.
He’s recorded and produced some great bands over the years from Reuben, You Me At Six, We Are The Ocean, Don Broco to Fightstar. So we were in safe hands for our first album! The studio itself is on its own little island, so when you’re in the studio you can focus on recording, because there is nothing else to distract you. Except for cats, Jason has two cats, Buffy and Gizmo. It was really fun. We worked really hard, and we got exactly what we wanted for the record. Jason pushed us to work hard, but also really listened to us when it comes to the mixing process.
What is the HUF songwriting process like?
Slow..haha! Nicky (guitar) and Kitty (guitar) tend to write skeletons and come up with song ideas or riffs. Then we take them to the band as a whole and we work on them together. It’s very much a shared writing process. For this album, we’ve all written words, melodies and the music collectively. We still have this brutal honesty about being able to tell each other if we think that an idea is total crap.
You’ve had some great reviews for the album, how do they make you feel?
We’ve had some really positive reviews, which takes away the worry a lot. Some of us have been playing in bands for 13 years or more and this is the first album we’ve ever achieved. We’ve had reviews on some great music websites, in magazines and on blogs globally. There’s always that brief anxiety before you read it, just in case they hate it! We are very grateful for everyone who’s taken the time to review it and share it with other people. One of the best parts has been sending out the album across the world. We’ve sent copies to Australia, Russia, America, Canada, all around Europe! Considering we are just an unsigned DIY band, that’s really humbling that people want to buy our record.
Finally, what have HUF got planned for 2015, any more singles coming off the album? tour?
We’re planning a second single in Spring but it will be business as usual. Many shows, continuing doing what we love. Ideally we want to go to Europe and get on as many festivals as possible. We are also planning on playing in places we didn’t get to last year. We’ll probably start on the next record too. Honestly, we have the best time being in HUF. Being in a band in this climate is hard and sometimes soul destroying with the way the industry works. If it wasn’t for having the best friends anyone could have with you, we’d probably explode.
Track-by-track insight on Outlines
We are so divided on this as some of us much prefer to let listeners take what they want from songs and lyrics, whereas some of us (Kitty) always wants to find out the true meaning behind songs. Generally speaking, a lot of the lyrics reflect real life and situations we’ve found ourselves in.
This is the first song we recorded. We’ve been playing it live for some time. We got a great reaction from the acoustic video we posted last year. It’s been great to see people singing along to it at shows, even before we recorded it! This was the first single that we released a video for in September. Our friend Tom Le Bon filmed and produced the video for it. We were performing in some woods solidly from 10pm until 4am in the morning! It was so brutal, but we are so happy with the result. The song lyrically is about not being able to speak up about something you really need to. Saying what you really think could have negative consequences, but holding it inside is just as bad.
Colours is about the breaking down of a good friendship. Key changes are always risky, but it doesn’t come off as cheesy with the way that Mary (bass/vocals) altered the melody. Watching Lexi (drums) record the hi-hat work in the chorus made me feel exhausted watching her!
The Things You Do To Keep Yourself Amused
This is one of the most fun songs to play live. Especially when the final riff kicks in after that drum fill! We’ve also been playing this one at shows for a while and its gone down really well. Lyrically, Kitty wrote the verses about a bad experience she had with being in another band.
This is the only positive song on the record! Haha! Don’t get used to it! We actually wrote this song a few days before we hit the studio. We were all sitting in Mary’s living room staring at each other. Then all of a sudden Sharks appeared. I don’t think we even have a demo version of this song? It turned out to be one of our favourites.
Lexi wrote the lyrics and melody to this using the power of wine. It’s about someone not wanting you anymore. Part of the songwriting process involves us making demos using Garageband, then sending them around for someone to have a go at the lyrics.
This tracks is probably one of the heaviest on the record. The drums and bass have this really pleasing syncopated rhythm in the first part of the verses. Its deliberately meant to cause unease. Like some of our songs, we all have lyrics that have been kicking about for a while, as you don’t always have the right music for something you want to say. This is about a situation that I’m still not happy about with a way a friend has been treated over the years. They are too kind sometimes and unable to say ‘no’ to people who’ve got themselves into stupid situations.
This Can’t Be Love
This Can’t Be Love is about love becoming more of a habit than anything else. Classic Nicky Day catchy riff! Might have been writing lyrics in a blind panic before recording it! Absolutely fun to play live.
DEPRESSING MUCH?! I think this song is pretty self-explanatory. However, there is a righteous guitar solo in the middle. HUF don’t really do guitar solos. I think there was a deal made in the studio that for every guitar solo on the album, there would be 10 tambourines. Kitty is a miserable cow, and this song is about suffering from a lack of serotonin and letting it get the best of you. Also not wanting to find yourself trapped and unfulfilled in life. This was actually the last song we recorded for Outlines, and we were all exhausted. At first some of us didn’t feel the love for this song, but then after hearing it back its one of our favourites.
This is our one punk song on the album. It’s a little bit of a nod to the old HUF with the fast as fuck drums and guitar. I think Kitty was listening to too much Bad Religion at the time of writing it! The “Thank Fuck For THAT!” at the end of the track was Lexi finally being able to have a break after being a drumming power house for about 7 hours constantly. Originally the concept for Lines was about Tattoos. We have a nice collection between the four of us. But the song is also about ageing as well. “Lines on our skin don’t mean a thing” – How you present on the outside and how people perceive you really has nothing to do with who you are and who you love. We’ve been asked whether this song is about self harm. It wasn’t intentionally written about this issue, but we can see how people would come to that conclusion. If you are a victim of self harm please seek professional advice.
Slow It Down
Love this song. This one we wrote in Nicky’s bedroom. She was having her usual crisis of “I can’t write anything, I’m shit…” then came out with this blinder. Nicky is an absolute riff demon. And the grunge ending was actually on the demo because of the sheer frustration building up before writing the track. So we kept it for the album itself!
Photo – Derek Bremner Photography