Hurts are known for their infectious pop music and love of smart tailoring, but as Gigwise discovered when we sat down with the band to discuss their debut album 'Happiness', they've got a wicked sense of humour too.
"It’s not the worst thing in the world but it’s a common mistake," singer Theo Hutchcraft said of people who often mistakenly call them The Hurts. "But it just says Hurts everywhere. There’s not one 'The'. The only 'The' is the 'The' at the start of the word Theo."
As well as clear up the confusion over their name, Hutchcraft also spoke about Hurts debut album, what it was like to work with Kylie Minogue and what's in store for the future.
You’ve been in other very different bands that didn’t work out so why did you bother carrying on making music?
Theo Hutchcraft: It was more that those were a learning curve like we were checking things out. When you start making music you’ve got to try different things out. Those didn’t quite work and Hurts was the natural end to it. It was all important though, it teaches you loads of little things, what to do and what not to do.
What did you learn?
TH: Well it was mainly all the bad things. Like don’t do loads of gigs in shit venues to ten people. Just try and do a couple of good ones. Don’t compromise what you do for other people, all those things. And also that democracy is overrated (laughs). It’s better to just be two people.
So are you and Adam friends or are you just co-workers?
TH: No totally. I mean we spent the last four years constantly together, working. It’s really important. It didn’t start that way. We started just making music and working together. Then obviously it’s important for the band and how the band grows that you end up that way because you see each other every waking hour of the day.
Do you ever argue over anything?
TH: It’s always give and take because we both offer something different to the band but it’s all good. We put the differences of our personality in to the music which is an important thing.
What would you say is Adam’s role in the band?
TH: It’s the same as mine really but he’s a lot more the fingers and the hands and I’m the mouth. We do a lot of it together now. It used to be more black and white and now I do a lot more music, Adam does more vocal stuff it all makes sense together.
Do you both write the lyrics?
TH: Yeah we kinda both do. It started off just me but it’s got to be teamwork or it doesn’t work properly.
You’ve got a strong image. Did you spend a lot of time working on that?
TH: Not really. It comes from a funny time when we were on the dole and we’d have to go to the job centre and say “Hello. I’m a loser. Please give me some money,” which is horrible when you do it for three and a half years which we did. It’s so terrible. If you dress smart, you present yourself well and you kind of feel good about the world and you get some sort of pride back so it kind of just comes from there and then it carries on through because we don’t buy any new clothes.
A lot of it is understated and I think that’s part of the appeal.
TH: It’s important in a world where everything’s cluttered it’s nice to be a bit more reserved about things because it gives more power to the music. It should be the songs that shine. You shouldn’t have to paint over the cracks.
What do you think about people questioning if you’re ‘real’?
TH: It’s kind of interesting. It’s a talking point innit. You just got to do what you do. We’ve made our vision for things, it’s different to normal people’s. We’re not just two lads down the pub. You’ve just got to keep going. Because we are who we are, we do it and it comes from us it’s going to be real isn’t it? The fact that we do all the videos and all photos and stuff like that, it all comes from us. It’s all real anyway so there’s nothing you can do. At least people are talking about it.
Hurts - 'Wonderful Life'
Yes exactly. And I guess ‘being real’ means something different to everyone.
TH: And also is too real interesting? If a band’s like someone you’d find down the pub, is that exciting? It never has been for me. Pop music’s about something more than that. Pop music is about escape, I think.
Yes. Pop music comes with its connotations though, does that bother you?
TH: No. We pride ourselves on the fact that it’s pop music. That’s the music that’s had the biggest effect on our lives and everybody’s life really. The soundtrack of my life is pop music not obscure, weird music and I think it’s important to embrace it because it’s not a bad thing. It’s not a genre of music, it’s an idea. Every band writes pop songs. Marilyn Manson writes pop songs as much as the Spice Girls writes pop songs. They’ve all got a common thread that a lot of people can relate to them. It’s a great thing, it’s a really great thing. For me it’s been my whole life.
What do you think is alternative about you?
TH: I guess it’s that we make pop music in our own little way and often we try and make it not to fit in. We’ve made pop music but we’ve tried to make the visuals not to fit in with anyone else which has been a challenge.
It’s odd how it is pop music but it’s been presented, not as something else but in a way that more people feel they’re allowed to listen to it, if you know what I mean?
TH: Yeah but I think the best pop music is always like that. I think pop music needs to be. You look at David Bowie they did something that was their own little thing and that’s what people liked about it. Pop music doesn’t really succeed if it’s trying to copy anybody else because it doesn’t become exciting enough.
You’ve already had success in some European countries. Why do you think people connected there?
TH: I think it’s the emotion and it’s all so direct. The lyrics are quite direct and the emotion’s quite grand and dramatic that’s the part people latch on to, that part of it. You write the songs in a bedsit in Manchester you never expect them to get further than that and the fact that you’re being taken to Greece and Germany and everything is an amazing thing but it’s nice to know the people connect with the music no matter where they’re from. I think it’s an amazing feeling.
Your songs are very dramatic. Who are your songs about and what influences that drama?
TH: It’s about escape again. A lot of the songs are written on the dole and we had no money and we were in Manchester and you get the drama to get a bit of excitement in your own life because we didn’t used to do anything. I think that’s where it comes from. It’s being brave and trying to make bold, exciting music for people and also I guess the emotion in them requires a bit of drama every now and again.
What’s the most surprising thing people will find about this album?
TH: Hopefully they’ll be surprised that it’s a grand album and if you’ve just heard 'Wonderful Life' there’s a whole other side that I think people haven’t seen which is a ballad side of it. There’s a song called 'Stay' and a song called 'Blood Tears And Gold'. They’re the other different side of the album. 'Better Than Love', 'Wonderful Life' and 'Blood Tears And Gold' encompass everything that’s on there.
Hurts - 'Better Than Love'
There’s a song called 'Evelyn' on your album. Who’s Evelyn?
TH: She’s a nurse that looked after me once. She was very kind and looked after me in hospital. I wrote the song while I was in hospital.
What was wrong with you?
TH: I got in to a bit of a scuffle and was glassed in the face which was a bit of a horrible moment and I was in hospital for a very long time.
There’s a duet with Kylie on the album. If she’d said no would you’ve asked someone else?
TH: We did think of getting someone like Kylie. “Should we get someone like Kylie?” And then we thought well maybe we should just get her. So I don’t know what we would’ve done really. I mean it was right at the end of making the record. I wouldn’t like to think about it. All we did, we wrote her an e-mail asking “Do you want to do it?” and it was amazing that she got back to us which we’d never expect. It was a great little thing. It was right at the end of making the record.
When people call you The Hurts is it the worst thing in the world?
TH: It’s not the worst thing in the world but it’s a common mistake. But it just says Hurts everywhere. There’s not one The. The only The is the The at the start of the word Theo.
Yeah I see it on Twitter sometimes and it looks like The O Hurts.
TH: That would be the Irish tribute band. The O’Hurts.
Yes! ‘Cause Hurts is such a good name but The Hurts is a really terrible name. I think if you were called The Hurts everything would be different.
TH: Yeah I think that too.
How did you come up with the name anyway?
TH: Just kind of looks cool, sounds good and because it’s emotional. I wish there was a great story like we found it in a bin or summat like that but there’s not, it just looks cool.
Do you think about things one album at the time or is there a grand plan?
TH: You can’t plan it, that’s the problem. So much has changed in the past year that we could never have planned it so you’ve just got to think about it one step at a time then it’s easier to deal with it. The important thing about music and continuing to do music is that adapting and moving things forward. That’s the best way to do things.
'Happiness' was released this week.