At the end of the month, The Howlers, a desert rock formation from East London, is releasing their debut EP, The Sum of our Fears. Filled with bangers, we couldn’t resist and jumped on the occasion to share a few words with Adam Young, lead vocals and guitarist.
Facing what scares us is never an easy task. Neither is transforming all of it into music. And doing it in five energetic, optimistic, bright and deeply rock tracks, even less so. Yet, this is what London-based band The Howlers has done exactly that with The Sum of our Fears. The EP is a pure treat for strong riffs lovers. Effectively clean (and that thanks to the implication of Third Man Records in the process), this EP is also way too short! It means that putting it on repeat becomes mandatory… and we’re doing it with not an ounce of guilt in us. This addictive record will be available on the 26 everywhere. Don’t miss it out.
Now Playing: Never Enough – The Howlers
Unis Son: This EP, The Sum of our Fears has something quite optimistic to it, although the themes you are getting into are not so positive in some ways. Is it the sum of the band’s fears?
Adam Young: Yes. So the title came about, basically, like a definition of everything you fear may happen when you are an artist. Your art doesn’t connect with people, stuff like that. That’s where it came about and we wrote a track, the title track, with the title which sort of… to be honest it just sort of sounded really cool. It just sounded cool, like I can give you some really bougee explanation of why we named like that but effectively, the EP is optimistic even if some of the tracks are not. But yeah I can’t explain it better than that. It just sounds cool.
US: It does, it is really energetic as well. I enjoyed that. You’re technically a young band, aren’t you? You were formed just before the pandemic…
AY: Yeah, so we released our first single in June or July 2019, and we had gigs for three or two months before that, and then the pandemic happened in early 2020. I had a meeting with someone the other day actually, a label, and they literally just said ‘you have to think about it but you’ve been a band for 9 months’ and I was like ‘oof actually yeah, that’s mental’. But in that 9 months, or a year, or whatever, we did 56 shows or something like that, which is a lot. We are a fledgling band, so to speak, but we’ve been through a lot. More than most bands are going through in years. It’s sort of like we’ve had to learn to swim or sink pretty quickly. Which is scary. But great as I quite enjoy the challenge.
US: How was it to actually create during lockdown and the pandemic? Because it was obviously different from the time you were gigging just before it happened, how did you feel different about it? How did you manage that?
AY: For us actually the pandemic was a blessing in disguise in a weird way. When the pandemic happened, we actually took our old setlist and throw it out the windows, we were like ‘it’s actually rubbish’. It takes a lot for a band to hold the mirror to themselves. For us it was a very cathartic experience, we went through a lot emotionally and during the pandemic, we sort of used that time to really hone in on our brotherhood, our family aspect of what we want the band to be. That’s an extension of our family, our team. It was a little bit difficult at first but I’m a big believer in if you really want something to happen, you have to overcome every obstacle. To write an EP, we isolated ourselves, in our own little bubble, and spend all day every day together in that isolated bubble in London… Looking back, it was one of the best moments we’ve ever had. A week of just from 9 am to 11 pm, just making music in that windowless box in an old factory. Probably got horrible diseases from the dust in the air, and the toilet was pretty mean but it was awesome, it was awesome. But I will say it was difficult in some ways as well.
US: You’re making desert rock. That’s your genre, at least if we put a label on everything that we listen to, however, there is no desert in London, so what pushed you towards this genre and what are your influences?
AY: To explain it, we coined the term desert rock… well we coined it, it’s been used many times by Queens of The Stone Age or people like that, but we used to describe our iconography as a band and our imagery. Also, it’s how we feel London was sort of becoming, like a cultural desert, so to speak. It was so sanitized, like gentrification and it was very fractured in terms of the scenes, and we never wanted to be part of an inclusive scene in London because you get sucked into it and you go into a kind of a pretentious bubble of like, you know post-punk, and you know, we’re not about that. So basically our influence is sort of stirred a little. We’re all into spaghetti westerns because they’re like totally utterly ridiculous. They’re just like stupid and fun films to watch and the soundtracks are amazing. That’s sort of how we started, like taking elements of the soundtrack and put them into British music and develop from there into the sounds that are kind of unique to us. Yeah, so the desert rock is just fun to say when people ask you which kind of music are you doing and you’re like ‘desert rock’ they’re like ‘what’s that?’ But obviously, the influence is coming from like Sergio Leone and stuff like that. I’ve got so many records of all spaghetti western soundtracks that I just put on.
US: You have a tour starting in November, with a date in London on the 3rd of December. What would you like to do after this one?
AY: Get really drunk. Nah, I would like to… we’re doing this tour as like… it’s been postponed, and postponed, and postponed, and postponed… and one day our agent turned out and said ‘I’m NOT postponing it again, you’re doing it!’ we were all ‘yeah, great!’. It’s going to happen no matter what. We’ve been taking a little bit of a step back from the tour and working on few things behind the scene. And just growing and developing, that’s the exciting bit about being a band. You constantly get to push your abilities and the boundaries of what you know. When we started the band I was an awful guitarist, I am a mediocre guitarist now, but at the end of the tour, I should be passable, like fine. Even when we were recording, there’re moments where I’m just like ‘I can’t do that, I cannot do that riff that you want me to do’. But that’s what being in a band is like: growing and all so as long we’re keeping get better, meeting new people… Playing a bigger show in London would be amazing. But I’d be over the moon if The Lexington sells out. That’s all we care about, really, just having fun.
US: Is there any band you would like to open for?
AY: Oh, there’s loads. We’ve got really good relationships with a lot of big bands and big managers, but I think for us the perfect band to open for, in terms of sounds and aesthetics would be a band like Black Honey. We’re very similar things like ways to learn from difficulties and personalities. It would be really fun. They’re very specific in terms of bands to support them and we quite don’t fit there yet. But yeah a band like that would be great. Then again, I’m not into the ‘oh yeah we would love to support big bands, like U2, around the world’… Like, I can’t be bothered with that. If you can’t see the person in the front row, where’s the fun?
US: Do you have any wishes or hopes for the future of the music industry, which is changing at a rapid speed?
AY: I think for me, I just want the music industry to be more inclusive than it is. I think that definitively positive steps have been made and I think that’s still a lot of, old guys, let’s call it, who are still clinging to some aspects of the past. I think when it comes to the music industry, it’s an art form, everybody can come but at the same time there is an underlying big form of competition in there, and I think it’s great to have but it can also become quite toxic. So I just want people to be more supportive across the board. But yeah it’s music man, everyone is going to be cut through, it’s the art.
US: What would like to say to a music fan, or any art fan, who’s afraid of the pandemic and of climate change?
AY: Of the pandemic I would say, life’s too short to worry about things that, you know. You can search about things, safe and sensible and proper, you can still enjoy yourself no matter what. My family suffered the worst of the pandemic, so I look at things and go ‘what could be worst than what we’ve been through?’ And you know I’ve had really vulnerable family members for years, we’ve done pandemic sort of protections in the same way we did with cold and flu, so it’s nothing new to me. As long you’re sensible and you’re, you know, have common sense, you can still enjoy yourself. We played a festival on a weekend and people were still wearing masks and keeping their distance, things like that. In terms of climate change, I think like, our generation, in particular, is very much climate aware. And all we can do is continue to be, how we grow into the world and knowing climate is delicate, things like that. Keep doing what we’re doing, we have to face off our parents’ generation, unfortunately. They are the people in power, they are the one dictating the policies, and until our generation hold these positions, we are in this sort of like a waiting game. And I really believe our generation is the one to make sacrifices for future generations. We have a broken mantle, figure of speech, and we have to fix it. I think that’s the beginning. I think life’s too short, you still have to enjoy yourselves and try not to worry about things too much.
US: There is this beautiful limited edition with Blood Records that is out in November. Is that something you would like to do again in the future? Another limited edition of a vinyl?
AY: Yeah definitively, we got a really good relationship with Blood Records. For us to get the opportunity was just like, mental. Like, they do some ridiculously big acts and we’re not a band with a label, we’re self-releasing. We’ve got everything around us but a record label, that’s the last piece of the puzzle. And self-release with a limited edition like that, it’s crazy. But yeah we’ve got some things up that would be coming out later this year. I love the idea of giving people something that you can keep. But yeah I would like to do it again. If they’d have us.
US: Yeah, I also appreciate that you can look at a beautiful object whilst listening to it. And it is really easier for us to support you guys, when we have that kind of physicality with you in a sense. I prefer vinyl over a cassette for example.
AY: To have things on vinyl it’s a bit of a dream come true for us; and actually the one copy that I get, I’m getting it framed, I’m not going to listen to it. I’d rather have that achievement on a wall. I got a degree, but I don’t have that on the wall but I’d happily have that piece of plastic on the wall. It means more to me. I feel you get that more with vinyl than other platforms. Vinyl still blows my mind. My brother came the other day and, very obtusely, he’d never seen a record player and I was showing it to him and he was like ‘but how does it play this sound?’ and I said ‘mate, I don’t really understand, all I know it’s there’s grooves and there’re little ridges in it and it plays it’ he was like ‘yeah but how?’ ‘I don’t know, it’s a miracle like, it’s amazing, don’t rock the boat don’t do the science of it, just listen and enjoy the smell and the sound, the soft wobble of the table’ it’s just a reflection of the journey, that we don’t have on any other platform. I got so many vinyls here, close to 1000 records around the flat. I used to DJ, I still do sometimes, so I picked up some weird stuff, but yeah, I get a connection with it. I have too many records, can’t get rid of them. When I have people over, I just give them records. Like, Belgian funk, just take it, man. But it’s a record? It cost me 50p so just take it. I have some really amazing French psyched stuff somewhere. I bought it because the cover is amazing. Put it on and it was awful.
US: I have a last question, it’s a difficult one though: what is your earliest music memory?
AY: I got a few, actually. I can’t really remember what my earliest was, ‘cause they probably where all around the same time. But I always narrow it down to three musical moments in my life that like defined my love of music. The first one, I think it was the first one, was my mum and dad used to have that hi-fi sound system in the living room. And my dad used to have that madness cassette, and when he was cooking he used to put it on, and the house, you could walk around like a circle, and my dad used to put it on, jump around, singing in his baggy trousers, and he’d be cooking and going around next circle he’d be just in his boxers and my mum would be looking at him ‘what are you doing?’ – And it was mad for me to see someone as passionate about music… Another one is around the same time, with my dad again. We were in the car, beat up piece of rubbish car we used to have, and we had no music other than Genesis in there. And there was this one CD I was like ‘what’s this?’, he said ‘Motörhead’, and I put it on and it was Ace of Spade. And I fell in love with that track. I played it over and over again. It drove him mad, on this journey, and I was like ‘let’s listen to that again, and again’… And there’s another one, that, say fulfilled my love for music, was… about six years ago, my uncle passed away. A few years before that he’d sent me a CD which he made himself and he wrote on it ‘I heard you have really good music taste now, you’d enjoy this’. I plugged it into my laptop, and it didn’t work; and I was like ‘oh…’ and I left it on the shelf, ‘cause it’s a gift you know, I’m not going to get rid of it. The day he passed away, my mum came and told me he passed away and all this. I went straight up to my room and try to find the CD. I don’t know why I did that, but I put it into my laptop and it worked. On it there was everything from The Jam, everything from The Clash, The Sex Pistols… So it means a lot to me as well, and I still got that CD somewhere. And no one believes me when I say that! But it genuinely happened, man!
We must admit we got scared for Adam, as a few days after our interview, he suffered from a minor stroke whilst driving down the motorway. Thankfully out of any danger, we really can’t wait for him and his mates to get back on stage. We’d like to thank the band and Julie from DawBell for the opportunity.