Irish brother duo, Hudson Taylor are poised to release their newest single, Battles, in a matter of weeks (due out 15th June), and with a debut album scheduled for release later this year, things are about to take a much deserved high for these boys from Dublin. With their intricately woven, thunderous folk pop, they are unstoppable.
I caught up with the brothers in Manchester before their wonderful set at Dot to Dot festival later that day, to talk about their highly anticipated début record, playing in Hyde Park with The Rolling Stones, meeting Paul Simon and much, much more.
You’ve amassed quite a lot of accomplishments over the past couple of years, from touring with Kodaline to playing Glastonbury, and of course not forgetting playing in Hyde Park with The Rolling Stones, not once but twice in a day. Now that’s impressive. For you, what has been your personal highlight so far of your career?
Alfie: Wow it sounds crazy when you put it together in one sentence like that.
Harry: The Hyde Park experience is definitely up there, it couldn’t have been a better scenario of just one thing after another of good things to happen to us. We got to play a gig to a small dedicated group of maybe 300 people, finished that started celebrating, drinking champagne and getting ready to go and see The Rolling Stones. Only to be told within only 20 minutes that we were gonna be supporting them, so definitely a highlight playing in front of 50,000 people in Hyde Park on a sunny day.
Alfie: More recently for me, I suppose as a more of a lifetime achievement is getting the first album done. We’ve kinda finished it now, so we’re just in the mixing process now. But that was something that we’ve pulled each other’s hair out for the last three years.
Harry: It’s been like this focal point of our whole life, I mean in the way in music and bands, your album is what defines you and it’s a body of work. Your first album in particularly seems to be quite important these days.
Alfie: But people are already saying what’s all the fuss about making an album, all you do is sit and record there.
Well, we’re all really excited about it.
Alfie: It’s coming out in September.
I’ve already pre-ordered it.
Both: Ahh, thank you.
The deluxe edition.
Harry: Nice. Well you’re gonna get what you bargained for anyway.
Alfie: Yeah we haven’t finished that yet.
Harry: It’s gonna have like another 8 songs. By the time the album comes out, including all the EP’s and the album, we’ll probably have like 50 songs out there, which is pretty mad.
Being brothers and making music together, it must be nice knowing that your brother will be there every step of the way with you and you can share the journey together and of course, knowing that you’ve always got each other’s backs. Are there ever any moments when you look at each other on the stage and have a moment where you think ‘Wow, this is actually happening. We’re living our dream’?
Alfie: Pretty much every gig I’d say.
Harry: I mean it happens at one point or another in every gig. You can look out for it, because we don’t give that much eye contact to each other but when we do sometimes at that point, it’ll probably be because we both had a similar little kind of chill down the spine. It’ll just be like a little goose bumps feeling or something, it’s really cool. Yeah that happens all the time.
Having started out busking on the streets of Dublin, do you feel that the immersive experience of that really helped you progress as artists and shape your sound?
Harry: Absolutely yeah.
Alfie: The songs we were playing when we were busking were covers and we played hit songs that people would know because you want people to be familiar with them. The first songs we learned were just songs that people like, I suppose.
Harry: On some level indirectly, I think it might have affected our songwriting.
Alfie: Because when we were playing our own songs, we were like why’s no one listening to our own songs, when people are listening to all these songs? So we were like if we can make them more like that or you make people be able to clap along or something like that, you know. And it also really helps performance as well, because you have to catch people’s eye and you have to make people stop. Yeah it helps in that way and yeah it’s just practise, if you’re out there every day in the street playing guitar and singing.
Harry: Playing in the rain, playing in the snow, playing in the sun.
Alfie: We hardly ever get soar voices, touch wood. We think it’s because of the busking.
Harry: We know how to project without over doing it.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote and if you do, can you tell us a bit about it?
Alfie: Yeah I’ll tell you a story now. Recently, we unearthed the first song I’d ever wrote, which I think I wrote when I was 15 or 16 and we had recorded it once before on an EP.
Harry: It’s called The Place I Called Home.
Alfie: Recently, we went about recording it again and it might hopefully go on our album somewhere, like on the deluxe or something, so that’s really cool. That’s about home.
I’m always fascinated by lyrics and phrases and you’re particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written?
Harry: I like our lyric, ‘Go with whatever flows, it comes my way, I always say’. It kinda goes with my life ethos, just to go with the flow, take things as they come, so I really like that.
Alfie: For me, I don’t know, I find it really hard to pick a favourite one of my lyrics. There’s a ton of new songs, one I’m pretty happy about is a line called ‘Barry the faux pas’ and it’s in a song that hasn’t been released yet. It is going to be a free download soon enough but we wrote it about our dear friend from back home, who got us into songwriting so we kinda tipped it off to him and I called him ‘Barry the faux pas’ for no reason at all. But it just came out.
Recently with your latest releases there seems to be a theme emerging of conflict and resolution, in particularly with the songs, Weapons and Battles. Was this a conscious decision or just random chance?
Harry: Complete random chance. We also seem to have a lot of songs that start with W for some reason and then a few songs that start with B and a few songs that start with C, but then there’s loads of other letters in the alphabet that aren’t in our set list, so that’s interesting too. But no they’re completely random.
Interestingly someone actually said to us like ‘Oh, you’re Battles EP, it’s like a running theme, it’s all a battle, it’s all a concept’ and we were like ‘hmm, yeah it is, of course’.
Alfie: We weren’t even aware of that.
Harry: But actually it’s kinda cool. I suppose when you’re writing songs, they’re gonna have a synergy if you’re both writing them, if you’re writing them with the same people, they’re gonna have similar themes. We know each other really well so we know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Alfie: Also, Battles and Weapons were written two years apart from each other, you know, Weapons is a fairly newer song.
Harry: Battles has been around for like three or four years, so they’re completely different.
Alfie: Actually, it was funny, because we were very open to what comes out first and we have a record label and stuff, so they had some ideas about what comes out first, so we were totally happy with that and I don’t think anyone meant that it was Weapons or Battles. But sometimes when you’re sitting next to someone saying ‘and their recent single, Weapons and then, their single that’s coming out Battles’. It sounds like we’re some mad men. [laughs]
Harry: [jokes] And the next single Bazookas.
You’ve toured with some of the biggest names in the industry including Kodaline and Jake Bugg. Being a part of touring shows of that size what has it taught you? Did touring with those bands give you any ideas for your own headline tour?
Harry: Yeah definitely, we’ve watched all of the lads, Kodaline and Jake Bugg and all these different people. You watch their sets and you can’t help but take in little tricks you see.
Alfie: We’re very lucky to have gotten those sorts of support shows as well, even just to play to the people every night but also for that, watching it and seeing how it all works.
Alfie: Yeah, learning the ropes.
Your summer is looking good already with the recent announcements that you’re playing Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds among other festivals this year. Which songs are you most excited to play at the festivals and are there any bands that you’d love to check out while you’re there?
Alfie: Well there’s the new songs.
Harry: There’s a new song called Just The Thought, it’s gonna be on our album I think. We wrote that probably a couple months ago.
Alfie: And then of course, Battles.
Harry: We’re really excited to play those two tunes. Always Battles, but the other one as well. Bands to see? Quite looking forward to the return of Paolo Nutini.
Alfie: We haven’t even really checked it out. We’ve just been looking where we’re goingrather than who’s going to be there, because it’s all like, one day here, one day there, so I suppose we’ll just get lucky on the day.
We as fans get star struck when meeting our favourite bands or celebrities and I’m sure that happens to many people when they meet you guys. Have you ever got star struck when meeting anyone famous?
Harry: Yeah we were in Los Angeles a couple of months ago just over, doing a bit of work, a bit of recording and we got to go and see Paul Simon and Sting in concert. We went to the after show because we managed to wrangle some backstage passes from our record label and we were sitting there just sipping away at a beer and then in the door walks Paul Simon.
Alfie: We didn’t know what to do. We were like how should we go up to him? But everyone was storming him, then he went to the bar.
Harry: Yeah he was by himself at the bar and we went to go talk to him and he gave us some really solid advice. He was like ‘Yeah you know, you guys. I’ve been doing this for 60 years’. I said to him ‘Great show Paul’, and he’s like ‘Well you know what, I wanna be good, I’ve been doing this for 60 years’. It’s like geez, 60 years, it’s mad. We’ve only been at it for like 5.
Alfie: We were very star struck.
You recently met Joy Williams didn’t you?
Alfie: Oh yeah, we worked with her yeah.
Harry: Funnily enough that was to do with Paul Simon, it was a tribute concert to him, so that was mad.
What has being a professional musician taught you about yourself?
Harry: I think I already knew this, but it definitely showed me that I am a people person. I like to interact with people, it’s nothing I didn’t already know but I think playing music to huge crowds of people and then meeting them after, it definitely proves that, well you’d want to be able to communicate I feel.
Alfie: It’s quite quickly rewarding, little things can make a big impact and stuff like that. It teaches you to put in a little bit of extra work. People remember little things.
Harry: Just saying thank you to everyone.
Alfie: And just being extremely grateful of where you’re at all the time because it’s crazy how far we’ve gotten already.
You have a very close relationship with your fans, is there anything you’d like to say to them right now?
Harry: Thank you to everyone.
Alfie: We wouldn’t be doing any of this without all of the support.
Harry: Without all of the lovely messages egging us on all the time. Really, the only reason we’re actually doing this is because we kept seeing messages and likes and internet stuff and then that translated into people at gigs singing your songs and that’s what’s egged us on to keep going. Made us realise that we could actually make something out of it and it wasn’t just a hobby, it could be a job. Thank you so much guys.
Alfie: It’s amazing, we’re just so happy. We never thought this would be happening.
A special thanks to Hudson Taylor for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.