Broken Hands make supercharged and atmospheric psychedelic blues rock. Their most recent EP Down by the Current features four killer tracks, currently touring the UK in support of that EP, they only have two more dates left in London and Brighton, get down to one of those dates if you’re about because they are sure to smash it.
I caught up with the band while they were in Manchester on Monday night, before their gig at the Soup Kitchen to chat about everything from their love of famous food destinations to what it was like on set filming the video for ‘Curves’.
How did the band come to fruition? How did you all meet?
Dale Norton (lead vocals): To cut a long story short, we all grew up together. Cal’s my brother, we’re all from the same area, and we played in another band together, which almost ended, and we were going to split up and not do music any more. This was a couple of years ago and then we started running a club night in our home town, when we weren’t a band, and then just started playing at that, just to fill in the opening spots and sort of started playing again, so this incarnation of us, as a group of people, is just from there. But it’s just out of literally knowing each other forever.
Describe Broken Hands in three words or less.
Dale: Universal time warp. The next sort of stuff we are going to do is very space orientated, so I’m pre-empting it.
You released your latest EP, Down By The Current, earlier this year. How has the response been to that?
Dale: It’s been kind of delayed because we didn’t really do any shows when we put it out, so we’re actually only just getting a response to it now, this week, so your response to it tonight is really as fresh as everyone else’s.
Jamie Darby (guitar): It’s sort of been a whole four months behind where we are. We are like doing things four months ahead of what we’re releasing, so it’s a bit strange.
Callum Norton (drums): It’s the first time we’ve kind of come away playing shows were we’re actually playing the same thing that we are releasing at the same time. As before, we would release something and constantly had written new songs and played them instead, so it’s good that people can listen to them and come to the shows.
Dale: It’s been good so far.
What’s the story behind each of the songs on the Down by the Current EP?
Dale: When we did T in the Park last year, it rained really hard and basically the whole story behind it was that we just tried to write some music that would fit in with that scenario when we come to do it again, so, basically everyone just being really drunk and a bit messed up, in the rain. So that’s basically the synopsis of the whole record, I think.
The video for Curves is quite something. For people that haven’t seen the video yet can you explain a little bit about it and did you have any input on the concept for the video?
Dale: It’s a very BARE concept.
Jamie: We came up with the concept and we were there while he shot it as well.
Thomas Ford (bass): You can either say that it’s a comment on the fragility of human nature or you could say that we wanted to see our friend get naked
Dale: And drunk. They got paid in alcohol.
Callum: That was the only condition to him doing it, was that if you get me really drunk on cider then I’ll get naked and run around in the woods, and that was it, and off he went and we got the camera out.
Jamie: I don’t know. I think we just kinda wanted to let people know that we just want to do things our way now. Hence, it’s a little bit more literally balls out.
You’re midway through your UK tour, how has it been going so far? Any highlights yet or backstage shenanigans you can share with us?
Dale: The tour’s been really good, it’s our first headline tour, so it’s a bit hit and miss. We haven’t got any expectations, really. But Birmingham was wicked, that’s been the best night so far, at The Sunflower Lounge. Yeah, we’ve had some shenanigans with Storms, our support band. They’ve got a big black van that you can’t see inside and horrible things happen inside of it [laughs].
Jamie: They’ve got a light called The Vibe Light, and as soon as it hits someone’s eyes, it just drags them into the van. Takes their soul away.
Thomas: They’ve also got a lot of juice, like every kind of smoothie you can imagine.
What’s your favourite aspect of performing live?
Callum: We have got really into lights recently. We like to get all the lights off from the venue and use ours. Get a smoke machine going and get just really sweaty.
Thomas: At the minute, everything you see on there is ours. Self created.
What do you get up to between shows when you’re travelling to the next city?
Dale: We go to Weatherspoons [laughs]
Jamie: And if there is a famous food destination…
Dale: Like I said, we went to Melton Mowbray the other day, that was good, and it’s not like one of those things that people say that Guinness is better in Dublin, which debatably it is. The pork pies there are better there than everywhere else.
Jamie: We went to Kendal.
Dale: We went to Stanage Edge, outside Sheffield, that’s good.
Jamie: There’s no food there, though.
Thomas: There’s a cave there, though. I think we’re going to go to Bakewell.
Dale: For Bakewell tarts. When we go to Scotland, we wanna do the Arbroath smokies [Note: it’s a type of smoked fish.] It’s the same as Melton Mowbray, it’s like one of them things where they can’t call it that unless it’s made there, we like those sorts of places.
It’s been quite a big year for you guys so far. You’ve played some of the best festivals around, including Lounge on the Farm and Tramlines. Not to mention that you recently played alongside The Rolling Stones, that’s quite a big deal. How was that experience for you?
Callum: From what we can remember [laughs,] it was wicked, it was really good. But there was a free gin bar backstage and that got a bit vibey.
Thomas: We met some boys from a band called Loom. They are awesome but they really like to get on it, so…
Dale: Yeah, we really got smashed together, it was good. We were surprised though, that The Stones… I thought there’d be like a backstage and then another backstage, but they were just walking around like everyone else, it was amazing. It was actually a bit mad really, just to see them was cool.
What are your thoughts on the music scene in Canterbury? There seems to be quite a buzz around the music scene in the city, with the help from bands like Syd Arthur and yourselves. Are there any venues you would recommend checking out?
Dale: The only thing holding back our area is that we don’t have a venue.
Jamie: There’s not a single venue in Canterbury.
Dale: Our last venue just shut down.
Callum: We’ve got a great music scene, but no venues.
Dale: We’ve got loads of great bands, but no venue, which is why we started this club night, that I was telling you about, and then the venue we ran that in got shut down, so that’s why a lot of us have to tour.
Thomas: You just have to constantly find a building that doesn’t have a sound restriction and that has a cheap bar, so it’s usually somewhere like a social club or a snooker hall.
Dale: And they are all getting slowly shut down.
Thomas: Go in, convince the owner that he’s going to have a really profitable night. Do it, ram it out, have a load of fun and then either the person who’s own the bar will decide that they never want to do that again or the council will just tell them that they can’t do it again. So you literally have to have one big show and then move on to the next. But other than that, it’s one of the best places to just lay low and write some music.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?
Dale: There’s a band from our area called Slaves, which I hear on Radio 1 quite a lot at the moment, they are really good, check them out, and Syd Arthur. You mentioned the Gang; Catfish and the Bottlemen, Loom are really cool.
Thomas: Obviously, Storms.
Jamie: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
A special thanks to Broken Hands for the interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.