Duo discuss debut album Galore, Chvrches, Sub Pop and not being 'fun'
Andrew Trendell
14:18 19th February 2014

Ah Thumpers. Fresh signings to the legendary Sub Pop record label, former touring buddies with Chvrches, a joyful sound of summer and destined for greatness in the year ahead. Yes, Thumpers may only be a duo but they are many things.

Just don't call them 'fun'. 

"I hate it when people call us 'fun'," laughs John Hamson Jr, one half of the band. "'Fun' is too trivial and throw-away - say it's celebratory and uplifting. 'Fun' is just a surface level thing."

Beyond the insanely infectious hook-laden pop anthems that have been exciting the blogosphere and starting to dominate radio airwaves, Thumpers are a band with layers and a very considered approach to what they do. They're here for the long haul, and they worship at the alter of 'the song'. 

It's hardly surprising, seeing as they've cut their teeth on the road with the likes of indie kids done good Chvrches and Friendly Fires. 

"With Chvrches, the one thing that comes across live is the sheer power of their songs," admits John. "Seeing how crowds respond to the power of the song when all of the shows were sold out really reinforced our belief about the importance of songs."

A good song is what separates the men from the boys. 

"A lot of new bands know how to get the right keyboard sound and they know how to look cool with the right haircut," says John. "We were at the Great Escape last year, saw loads of bands and so many of them just had no songs and forgot that it was supposed to be the most important thing. For us, we really focus on that. If a song isn't good enough then there's no point in even recording it or getting up on stage."

And as for Thumper's carnival-esque live show? Well, it seems that some of that famous Friendly Fires magic may have rubbed off on them...

"It was just amazing to see how much energy they put into a live show and how they put it together," smiles John. "Everywhere we went, whether he was ill or whatever, Ed never had an off day - he would just bring it and dance like a maniac every night. That was really inspiring. My Friendly Fires experience has really shaped many things about Thumpers - from who we want to work with to the general vibe. They're a riot."

So, they've toured with some of the best, signed with Sub Pop and have critics foaming over their debut album, Galore. Hard to imagine then, that there really hasn't been that much buzz or hype around them. If you ask us, they were criminally-omitted from the BBC Sound of 2014 poll. 

"We don't dwell on that kind of stuff that much,"  shrugs John. "If you constantly wish that you were doing something else then you're never going to be happy. You'll just be complaining to your manager about why you aren't in the NME or whatever, but it's not my job to worry about that. From experience, you just can't force that sort of thing.

"However," he laughs, "the BBC Sound Of thing could have been really helpful! We've been readying so much work and have a lot of fans already, but the timing would have been right."

Saying that though, they would have stood out like a sore thumb had they made the shortlist. Their anthemic indie would have hardly sat well among the savvy pop of Banks, Sampha, Sam Smith and that lot. We find ourselves in a rare but refreshing year where there's been no 'return of guitar music' talk - and Thumpers are well aware of the climate they find themselves in.

"That list, I think it's interesting that it's really pop-focused, but those people are backing winners," continues John. "That list is not risky. The biggest indie bands of last year like Bastille and The 1975 weren't on it, and I feel like the way pop is pushed as mainstream these days, no one will do that for a guitar band because no major label is going to spend a shitload of money on them. It needs to happen naturally, like it is with us."

He goes on: "I think there are a lot of really interesting alt-indie bands coming back like Metronomy, Wild Beasts and Bombay Bicycle Club who are all established and on their fourth album. That's going to be really good for new bands like us and Jungle who are considered a little more than jangly guitar music. I hope mainstream ears will turn to that, but if you don't like what they're doing there are so many other avenues."

Not that Thumpers need any 'other avenues' - not for a band that had Sub Pop, the iconic alt-rock label that first signed Nirvana, chomping at the bit to release their music in America. So much so, that Galore is already out and making waves in the US, while us pastey Brits have until 19 May until it hits shelves.

So, how does the Stateside buzz and becoming labelmates with Kurt Cobain feel? 

"It's a headfuck," laughs John. "I did an interview with Rolling Stone the other day, which was ridiculous to think that something like that can happen to me.

"People have discovered it really naturally and Sub Pop have given things an interesting twist because it hasn't been shoved down peoples' throats. We got sent the record and it was really emotional to see that logo from the back of Bleach on the back of our record. Sub Pop was the first label I'd really heard of, so to be with that list of bands is just insane."

But fear not, Europe - our mix of the album has some exclusive tracks, and is more fitting for our delightful summer months. It's going to sound epic at festivals throughout the season, but don't assume this was all part of the plan...

"A few friends have asked us 'what are you doing?' But there's no plan, basically," says John. "If Sub Pop had their way then they would have put it out last summer, so it's just boring stuff about the UK industry catching up and needing to do so much more which is why we haven't released it here yet.  I don't think anyone knows if it's going to benefit, we just want to let SubPop do what they do.

"Ideally, some kind of buzz will happen but there was no grand plan. The album will sound better in summer anyway."

Yes it will, and whether they like it or not, Thumpers are going to help us all have a pretty damn FUN year. 

 Thumpers' already announced UK tour dates are as follows:
17th Feb – Soup Kitchen, Manchester
18th Feb – Louisana, Bristol
19th Feb – Cavern Club, Exeter
20th Feb – The Lexington, London
21st May – Green Door Store, Brighton
22nd May - The Scala, London Tickets
23rd May – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
24th May – Leadmill, Sheffield
28th May – Cluny, Newcastle
29th May – King Tuts, Glasgow
30th May – Library, St Helens
31st May – Epic Studios, Norwich

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 Below: Thumpers, SKATERS and more - the bands that are going to be huge in 2014

  • FKA Twigs: This unique London vocalist deserves to hit the big time next year. Her debut EP, EP 2, produced by Yeezus collaborator Arca, features stunning tracks 'Papi Pacify' and 'Water Me'. The blogs are already abuzz - surely mainstream success beckons next.

  • Jessy Lanza: Her debut album, the minimalist R&B/electronic tinged Pull My Hair Back, was released in September 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. A guest appearance on a crossover electronic hit could assist Lanza in becoming one of 2014's leading female voices.

  • Flyte: A beautiful, brilliant hybrid of Kodaline and The Feeling, Londoners Flyte specialise in jaunty, upbeat guitar pop, as was evidenced on recent release 'Words Come Easily', but will truly kick up some dust next year when they drop huge ballad, 'Faithless'. An indie anthem in the making.

  • Banks: The new mistress of breathtaking, downtempo electronic soul, Banks specialises in elegant, haunting pop music, as evidenced in her flawless 2013 track, 'Waiting Game'. Having toured with The Weeknd in 2013, the mainstream is set to sit up and pay attention next year.

  • Asgeir: Iceland knows a thing or two about epic-sounding pop and rock music, with stars such as Bjork, Sigur Ros and most recently Of Monsters And Men hailing from their shores. Next export is Asgeir, a solo star with a more acoustic take on the glacial tones of Sigur Ros, mixed with the guitar-led warmth of OMM.

  • St Lucia: New York-based producer Jean-Philip Groble has been kicking around the internet for a little over a year, but with the recent release of debut album When The Night, (it's amazing), he is set to be the next big name in credible, electronic pop. His single 'Elevate' is perhaps the best pop single of 2013, and the album is packed full of future classics.

  • Phoria: Brighton collective Phoria made waves with their 2013 EP Bloodworks, and are set to follow in the epic, downtempo footsteps of the likes of James Blake with their gloomy yet euphoric sounds. Perfect for lazy Sundays, hungover Wednesdays and, well, any other day of the week, basically.

  • Say Lou Lou: After the release of their stunning 'Julian' single (which even caught the attention of Daft Punk - they're big fans), the Swedish sisters stepped out of the limelight to focus on their debut album. They are currently on tour with Foals - and we can think of no better band to coach these newcomers on the long and winding road to success.

  • RAC: Formerly a prolific remixer, Portland producer Andre Allen Ajos dropped his flawless Don't Talk To EP in October 2013, signalling big things to come from the US star. Like Nile Rodgers for the next generation, this bass-player and production wizard is big on collaborations (Kele Okereke, Penguin Prison) and will set light to dancefloors in 2014.

  • Darlia: The year of the guitar band never happened, but that hasn't stopped the UK rock and indie scene flourishing in the past year. When it comes to 2014, Darlia are leading the charge, with their ragged, uncompromising rock and roll - straight out of Blackpool.

  • Kelela: LA singer Kelela is another vocalist at the front of the futuristic R&B/indie R&B/whatever you want to call it movement. Her free mixtape Cut 4 Me, was released in October 2013, merging hip hop, R&B, electro and even grime, featuring production from Girl Unit and Kingdom. If her free material is this awesome, it's exciting to think how an album would sound.

  • Fryars: Specialising in thoughtful, electronic pop, Londoner Ben Garrett has been on the scene for several years, but like a number of new artists for 2014, has only really hit his stride in the past year, dropping spectacular singles 'In My Arms', 'Cool Like Me' and most recently, 'The Power'.

  • Yung Lean: This enigmatic Stockholm rapper, leader of rap collective Sad Boys, may not quite be to everyone's taste, but he's already garnering comprehensive blog exposure and gaining a cult following thanks to his hip Windows 98 screensaver music videos and dreamy, trippy brand of hip hop. Debut track 'Ginseng Trip' is beautiful in a very odd way.

  • Sasha Keable: Having already featured on tracks by Disclosure and Zinc, the 19 year old Wandsworth native is gearing up to strike out on her own, currently working on her debut EP. Manager Tinie Tempah told us himself she's his big tip for next year (he does manage her, so he is biased however).

  • Radkey: Rocking the cobwebs off Later With Jools Holland to bring a welcome dose of hard and brutal noise to the attention of UK viewers, these three brothers from Missouri proved themselves as ones to keep a close eye on the year ahead. 2014 won't be the year of punk, but it could certainly be the year of Radkey.

  • SKATERS: These three NYC rockers describe their sound as 'humblecore'. They may not have big egos, but their potential knows no bounds. With a free and easy garage rock sound, they've been compared to The Strokes - but hopefully with a much longer shelf-life.

  • Mausi: They've already made waves with their undeniably danceable Anglo-Italian pixie-pop. Expect them to soundtrack next summer once their album drops.

  • Alpines: They've teased us with a handful of singles and collaborations over the past couple of years, showcasing their bewitching glitch-pop electronica that both swoons and soars, they enchant the crowd with their Bat For Lashes-esque dreaminess. GIVE US AN ALBUM AND GET MASSIVE SOON PLEASE.

  • Foxes: After collaborating with Fall Out Boy, Disclosure and Zedd, she's won hearts around the world with her sweet and soaring vocals. Her recent singles 'Youth', 'Beauty Queen' and 'White Coats' have further laid her claim to dominating the airwaves in 2014. Expect a smash album, and to be hearing her A LOT in the year to come.

  • NO CEREMONY///: If you're yet to hear or see this Manchester trio, they're you're a poorer person for it. With the mesmeric dreamscapes of Chromatics driven by the pulsing dark rhythms of New Order and elevated by warm electonica and fuzzy guitars, their self-titled debut album is really, really ace and they're surely the sound of big things to come.

  • Lacey: With only a couple of EPs behind them, Lacey have already supported some pretty big names, attracted a legion of screaming teenage girls, appeared as ThisIsPulp's Unsigned Band of the Week and featured in Front Magazine being described as 'arguably the best thing to come out of Nottingham since Kevin Costners' mullet'. With the same balance of power-pop prowess, adrenaline and sentiment that calls to mind the sound of Static Prevails era Jimmy Eat World, Lacey offer refreshingly cliche-free set of solid emo mastery. You'll be hearing a lot more from then in 2014.

  • Bondax: Prodigy producers Bondax are as young as they come. With a totally fresh airy take on disco/house production, they're a shoe-in to steal a top spot next year. Currently working on the live show and no doubt a debut album, the duo have a huge amount to offer in the coming months.

  • Jacob Banks: Signed and discovered by Wretch 32, Jacob has been cropping up on a few features this year, including Chase & Status and Wretch himself. With a distinctly powerful voice, Banks is bound to tear it up from stripped down tracks all the way to future rave classics.

  • Joel Compass: Britain's answer to The Weeknd is so much more than that. Offering the know how to take the cringe inducing R'n'B' genre to new heights, Compass signed to the prolific Black Butter label where Rudimental and Gorgon City began. Joel is definitely one to watch.

  • Ben Pearce: After 'What I Might Do' was re-released on a major following being originally put out on Chase and Status' MTA label, chart success is almost a given for Pearce. In the vein of Duke Dumont and Breach, the anthemic groovy deep-house has travelled organically through the charts by word of mouth.

  • NONONO: This Swedish electro outfit have have success written all over them. Inspired by the likes of Oh Land and the Knife, their single 'Pumpin Blood' is making consistent waves all over - with much bigger and better things to come.

  • Grey Hairs: This fierce and furious little beast is comprised of the mangled limbs of Nottingham's local heroes Kogumaza, Fists, Cult of Dom Keller and Fonda 500 – sewn together to make one mean mother. Brooding, angry-bastard riffs set to haunting howling make one hell of a nightmarish and awesome onslaught, look forward to the Hairs scaring the shit out of your town in 2014.

  • Joey Bada$$: It certainly shows age to constantly refer to newcomers as 'young,' but bloody hell Joey is young. Yet somehow his sound shows a huge appreciation for the good vibes and laid back grooves of old school hip-hop. With no Trap music in sight, he is the answer to the problems manifested by the often stale contemporary American rap scene

  • MNEK: Supposedly working with Florence + The Machine on her new material, MNEK got his break on Rudimental's 'Spoons' where his truly unique voice shone through. Something of a feature star currently, along with some blinding covers, his debut has high expectations riding on it.

  • SAMPHA: Following the recent Drake collaboration, there is no doubt that a whole new spectrum of listener has opened up to Sampha. As one of the greatest voices in music at the moment and an insanly talented multi-instrumentalist, the possibilities are endless. Fingers crossed for an album soon.

  • Cyril Hahn: With his 'Say My Name' remix of Destiny's Child, Hahn uncovered a simple yet effective tool in production of slowing down vocals and fitting them over a melodic deep house groove. The following tracks have sounded unlike anything else, leaving the producer poised to take the dance production game up a notch. With more to come, we're really looking forward to him being a big part of 2014.

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