Ahead of the first date of their After Forever Tour, I sat down with Tom Hammond (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Samuel Perry (Keys/ Vocals) and Ste Fisher (Lead Guitar/ Vocals), to have a chat about the new single, inspirations and the upcoming gigs.
So, first question – How did the band get started?
Tom: Ooh, bloody hell… we haven’t got started yet have we?
Sam: Er- arguably not. We met at Uni. So, we all moved to Leeds, maybe five-six years ago now? And studied music together. It’s quite funny actually. We all come from, sort of, small home towns and often when you’re, maybe, one of the only people who does music, people say, “Oooh you’re a musician? Oh great! You should- You should do the X Factor.” Erm and it’s often not the style of music that we all fancied. But then, in that sort of clique, musicians put
together in a manufactured way, it ended up being how we met, because we were all put together on the same part of the course that we played in. So, essentially we met on the X-Factor is the answer to that question.
What style of music inspires you guys to write? Any specific artists? Any genres? Time periods?
Tom: Go on, Stevie.
Ste: Erm what sort of music? I think music that makes you feel happy. If that’s too deep: sorry guys.
Ste: We collectively share music in a way, usually through parties, or when we’re at festivals, or gigs themselves and it’s always a good example; pop music or dancey music, where you can have fun other people. So we’ve tried to carry that through with our music. Music you can have fun to at a gig or on stage. So, yeah, a lot of pop music. If there’s a specific era; probably the 80s. I personally really like Prince, just ‘cause he’s weird and wacky.
Sam: Yeah, I think we often talk about the blend between that, sort of, more high energy 80s party feel music with some of the older 70s singer-songwriter stuff. I remember we watched an Eagles documentary a few years ago, and related quite a lot to the way they go about making music. And then people like James Taylor and Paul Simon. Those kind of people who wanted to tell stories through.
Tom: James Taylor for the ad libs
Sam: Indeed, yeah. Some crackers. So, yeah, we like to blend both. The sort of, “Let’s have a good time” with, “Let’s also tell a story” and in a – hopefully – interesting way.
Ste: Yeah, absolutely. The music making side of it definitely starts with the songs; the songwriting itself. So if we didn’t have stories and messages that we wanted to translate ourselves, we’d never get to the point where we put dancey tunes together. So I suppose that is the foundation of it all… feelings.
The new single: After Forever. What’s it about? How did it come to be?
Tom: After Forever is sort of about being okay with the unknown. I always really refer to it, when we’re talking to an audience, as the Rom-Com that never happened. Just with the imagery that we use. You know, you meet people in everyday life that you may never see again – and imagining being excited by the not reality of it. “What could have happened if we would have stayed in touch?” That kind of thing. We wrote it at Sam’s grandparent’s house down in Devon. We seem to do all of our songwriting at grandparents’ residences. We go on school residentials and write pop songs. So we wrote it down there, brought it back to the band and it came together pretty quickly didn’t it?
Sam: It did; it was one of the songs- sometimes drummer Sam will send us some, sort of, grooves to play along to and it was the first time we’d done that in a while. So it was quite fresh just to sit down with a beat and jam along without everyone there. It was quite fun and, yeah, came together quite quickly.
Finally; Tour. How have you guys prepared for the tour? What have you been up to?
Tom: Buying lots of underwear and stuff, so if there are no washing facilities we’re okay.
Ste: Sleeping bags.
Tom: Sleeping bags. Lots of snacks.
Sam: Tents, walking boots.
Ste: “Best Walking Locations”
Ste: Homeless community groups in Europe.
Tom: Yeah. No, we’ve got loads of new songs, so we’ve been locked away in the dark depths of Blueberry Hill making sure that we can – wow that sounds awesome!
Sam: Yeah, it sounds more poetic than it is. It’s an Industrial Estate.
Ste: Strawberry Fields. Blueberry Hill.
Tom: (To the tune of Strawberry Fields) Blueberry Hill forever
Tom: So yeah, we’ve been locked away doing that. We’re playing a lot of songs for the first time at this show tonight and on the rest of the tour, so it’s quite- it’s quite a weird feeling, but hopefully they go down well.
What venues are you most looking forward to?
Tom: (Gestures each one) Let’s go one, two, three. Give me yours (Sam. N)
Sam: Which one am I most looking forward to? Erm, I think, actually, the one I’m most looking forward to – We’re going to Germany for the first time and it’s a Sofar Sounds show. The Sofar shows that we’ve done – I’m not gunna say it – erm – so far.
Tom and Ste: *Laugh*
Sam: In the UK have been some of our favourite gigs because there’s a specific ethos and atmosphere that the people who set up the gigs want to promote. Everyone’s there in the moment; there for music, there to meet people. So it’ll be nice to combine that feeling with being in a new country. And the nice thing about the venues is that they can be anything from a living room to a church or something, so it’s a nice little lucky dip,
Ste: You’re looking forward to the one you don’t know where we’re playing.
Sam: *Laughs* Yeah.
Tom: I’m probably looking forward to – I’m gunna go for the European dates. Leeds is gunna be great – well I bloody hope so. Having sold out is great. London’s the same. Going down to London always feels fab. But I’m gunna say Utrecht because we’ve been there a couple of years ago. We know the promoter quite well and we stay in this really nice hostel where we play acoustic shows to get a bit of discount. Singing for your bed kind of thing. It’s just a really
welcoming place and everyone that we’ve encountered there has been so positive about everything. Yeah, really refreshing. That’s mine.
Ste: Number three? It’s like blind date isn’t it?
Ste: Two European venues. Are we putting this out on a Dutch website or something?
Ste: We should acknowledge our audience. I’m most looking forward to tonight, the Leeds gig, because we know it’s actually sold out.
Tom: We know that someone will be there.
Ste: It’s nice because we released a new EP two years ago. Not the kind of music that we play these days, but it was, again, at this venue; sold out. It’s not necessarily a progress in the form of a venue, but it’ll definitely be a much better show and – probably the same people. The atmosphere will be nice; it’s a small room and it’s the most exciting show. We’ve been rehearsing and doing all the nitpicky stuff for months on end now, so it’s nice to finally crack on.
Sam: I think it definitely feels like the one that might be the most rewarding in that, like yousay, the work together that we’ve done and all the the fun that we’ve had. Being able to share it with friends and family and people from the City we’ve lived in for a few years. Yeah, it’s definitely got an extra special angle on it.
Ste: So do you agree?
Sam: Well yeah – I mean it is hard to pick a favourite. But, yeah, bring on tonight.
Afterwards, the band went on to play a sold out show at The Lending Room above The Library. From there, they visited eleven more cities including; Manchester, London, Amsterdam and of course Utrecht.
You can see Heir and their energetic, soulful pop on the 1st June at The Precinct as part of this
year’s Long Division Festival in Wakefield.
All photographs by Elly Jones-Williams.