The Lounge Society Interviewed: "People Are Too Scared To Call Themselves A Rock Band"
10 Jul 2022
© April Arabella | Lytham Festival, 2022
Made up of high-school friends Cameron Davey (vocals/guitar/bass), Herbie May (guitar/bass), Hani Paskin-Hussain (guitar/bass) and Archie Dewis (drums), The Lounge Society have made a name for themselves as purveyors of youthful, emotionally charged rock music over the past few years. Despite just barely being out of college, they’ve already signed to cult label Speedy Wunderground, released a sell-out debut 7 inch ‘Generation Game’, a critically acclaimed EP ‘Silk For The Starving’, and just a few days ago they supported The Strokes along with Fontaines DC and Wet Leg.
Ahead of the release of their debut album ‘Tired of Liberty’, Pretty Green caught up with the young band to talk about the new record and the crazy journey they’ve had so far.
There’s a term that comes up a lot throughout this interview with The Lounge Society, and that term is ‘post-punk’. In recent years, it’s a genre that’s become very in vogue, especially down in south London where you now can’t walk three feet without tripping over a weaselly Mark E Smith imitator and his backing band of privately educated pinstripe punks; and guess what? One of them plays saxophone!
It would probably be easy to lump The Lounge Society in with this post-punk ‘scene’. They released their debut single ‘Generation Game’ with Speedy Wunderground, the label that has become renowned in recent years for kickstarting the careers of what some might call the ‘scene’s’ ‘big three’, Black Midi, Black Country New Road and Squid, all of whom have since gone on to break out of the ‘post-punk’ shackles forced onto them by music journos and carve themselves unique musical identities.
I would place The Lounge Society in this defiant camp - their upcoming debut album ‘Tired of Liberty’ transcends the boundaries of a lazy genre misnomer and places them firmly in a canon of British pop and rock music that feels timeless and original. It’s also something of a triumph that a young band has opted to release a debut album consisting almost entirely of new music instead of rehashed singles. “I get why people go that way because it helps streams, but we wanted to give people something exciting… something they’d not heard before,” explains Dewis. “We kind of love everything we’ve ever done, but we don’t want to linger on it and not try new things.”
“We wouldn’t ever want to appeal to the Spotify universe and throw out single after single - obviously, there are some singles, but that’s an ancient [process]. We want the album to fit into the canon of music whether streaming was invented or not.” says May. Dewis concurs: “The medium will change again in a few years and we want it to apply to that as well.”
Pretty Green / The Lounge Society Interview, 2022
But let’s take a step back a minute - how did The Lounge Society first meet and start making music together? May describes a “sort of fake GCSE, not a BTEC either, some sort of certificate that our school offered” that Davey remembers as being called “rock school”. Paskin-Hussain is taken aback for a second: “I didn’t know that it was called that!”
“Herbie and Cam went to rock school, I don’t know where we went,” laughs Dewis.
“It was more practical than the traditional music GCSE,” explains May. “It wasn’t sort of scribbling down notation.” They recall truanting in the school practice rooms and playing music together every lunch break, honing their craft, writing songs and building their friendship. All four of them grew up attending their first gigs at venues like The Trades Club and the Golden Lion down the road in Todmorden. “I think because we weren’t in London or Manchester we sort of valued those venues a lot more than we would have if we had one on every street.” says Paskin-Hussain.
“I think the Golden Lion was almost the most important in the foundation of the band,” says Dewis. “We’re definitely a guitar band - we’re not a post-punk band - but when we went down the Lion when we were younger and played our first gigs there, there was a lot of dance music going on which really crept into our music and I think is a big part of what we do.” This is the first mention of the term ‘post-punk’ that leads me onto asking the band if they agree that it’s painfully overused as detailed in my opening spiel.
“I think we’re lucky not to be from London in that case,” says Davey. “I think a lot of people there are trying to do this weird mix of something that sounds similar to everything else that’s going on but with some useless gimmick on top.” He says that the term seems “inescapable”, but feels that their distance from London has been beneficial in not being pigeonholed.
© April Arabella | Lytham Festival, 2022
“People are scared to call themselves a rock band,” says May. “They are a rock band, but because they’re from a certain area they will call themselves post-punk. It has very little to do with the music, which is a shame really. We’re definitely not a post-punk band… I don’t know what we are, from one song to another we’re a rock band or we’re a disco band or whatever. I think [post-punk] is just too narrow a term. If you look at the music that actually set up that genre, traditionally, it was only a handful of bands and now it seems to be anyone with a guitar. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I think we were a bit of an anomaly. When most bands sign to Speedy Wunderground it’s because they were seen at a gig in London, we were the outsiders because we did it from two hundred miles away… I think it was refreshing for them and us to be a northern band on Speedy, otherwise it can get a bit concentrated in one area.”
We’re getting slightly ahead of ourselves again, so pulling things back once more - how did the band first end up getting in touch with Speedy Wunderground and therefore the acclaimed, sought after producer that co-runs the label, Dan Carey? “It was a fluke email basically,” recalls May. “I remember waking up one morning when we were supposed to be going to college and having a text from someone saying that Speedy had got back to us and wanted to do a record… I was ringing you all, half of you weren’t even up yet!”
“Didn’t we go into college on the same day and it was like, the most awful thing?” Davey remembers, almost cringing at the memory.
“Why am I here? Dan Carey knows my name and likes my band,” laughs Dewis.
“I think we were a bit of an anomaly,” says May. “When most bands sign to Speedy Wunderground it’s because they were seen at a gig in London, we were the outsiders because we did it from two hundred miles away… I think it was refreshing for them and us to be a northern band on Speedy, otherwise it can get a bit concentrated in one area.”
After releasing ‘Generation Game’, to date Speedy’s fastest selling 7-inch, the band quickly moved onto their debut EP, ‘Silk For The Starving’, released to rave reviews in June last year. However, whilst they remain proud of the EP they don’t want it to be “the main offering”, and the band are clearly most excited about ‘Tired of Liberty.’
© Pierre Hall/Speedy Wunderground, 2022
So, a little bit about the process of writing and recording the debut - the stories we so often hear of Mr. Carey’s recording studio as a kind of mad scientist’s laboratory complete with smoke and lasers - are they true? “It’s not like there’s smoke constantly going everywhere,” says Paskin-Hussain. “It’s timed quite carefully.”
May elaborates: “It’s only for the takes, most of the day is spent looking at what guitar you’re playing and little bits of stuff, then you get the smoke and lasers as the payoff… I think if we’d recorded this album with anyone else it might sound all over the place because there are so many different sounds… I don’t think anyone else would have been able to pull it off.”
“Literally after every two or three songs, Dan would come over and move the mics back a bit so you gradually get this totally natural room sound. On the song ‘Upheaval’ towards the end of the album, the majority of the recording is coming from a mic in another room, that’s basically everything you’re hearing.”
“The magic of Dan is that it sounds like one album when we are being so specific with each track and each instrument,” says Davey.
The most extreme method used in the production of ‘Tired of Liberty’ is probably in how the band opted to gradually move the microphones further away as the recording session went on to create a feeling of the album ‘opening up’, so to speak. “Literally after every two or three songs, Dan would come over and move the mics back a bit so you gradually get this totally natural room sound,” says Dewis. “On the song ‘Upheaval’ towards the end of the album, the majority of the recording is coming from a mic in another room, that’s basically everything you’re hearing.”
There are also some sounds you might not expect buried in the mix: “At some point Dan got really obsessed with bird sounds, so he stuck this seagull sound on ‘Generation Game’ and everyone sort of looked at him like ‘are you sure?’, and he was like yeah, that’s staying on… nobody could say anything, there was no movement on the seagull.”
If there’s one thing, if anything, that The Lounge Society hope people take from ‘Tired of Liberty’, what would it be? “That’s a hard one… there is no one sentence that can sum up the album,” says May. “I’d say basically never get tired of liberty, liberty in its truest sense.”
“The title itself does have a lot of weight to it, but the way I personally like to see it is that liberty is twisted, it’s used as a weapon,” says Davey.
“The thread [of liberty] runs through the whole album… it’s the hunt for freedom from all these things, whether it’s outside aggressors or the prison of your own head, it’s the constant search for getting out.” continues May.
“It’s quite a hopeful album, I think,” says Paskin-Hussain. “I often think about it like everyone went through those few years [of lockdown] and when we got the chance to get in the studio and play gigs, it was such a feeling of relief and ecstasy - that hopefulness is kind of the overshadowing theme of the whole album… obviously there’s dark stuff in there, but a combination of youthfulness and hope drives it.”
“Don’t let the bastards get you down!” says Dewis.
The Lounge Society’s debut album ‘Tired of Liberty’ is out August 26th via Speedy Wunderground.