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Hhymn - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 16 / 4 / 2012

Hhymn - Interview


Anthony Strutt speaks to Ed Bannard, the former front man with Palace Fires, and guitarist Simon Ritchie at a gig in Leicester about their band Hymnn and 'In the Depths', their debut album of last year

Hhymn hail from Nottingham, and are fronted by Ed Bannard who was the singer in Palace Fires which featured two Gene former members, bassist Steve Mason and drummer Matt James. The other songwriter in Hhymn, alongside Ed, is guitarist Simon Ritchie. Simon, like Ed, was in the General and Duchess, a band again that featured a musician that was successful first time around, the former Beta Band bassist, Richard Greentee. Shane Meadows, the Nottingham-based cult film director, has said that Hhymn’s debut album, ‘In the Depths’, which came out last May, was his most listened to album of last year. Hhymn also consists of Mike Wynne on drums, Amy Helliwell on glockenspiel, organ and trumpet and Will Jeffrey on bass. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Ed and Simon in their car outside the Leicester music venue and pub, The Donkey, which is owned by Gaz Birtles, the former saxophone player with the Beautiful South. PB: Ed, you first met Steve Mason from Gene and formed Palace Fires when he was running the club Rendition in Holborn in London, and which is now a strip joint. You were a solo artist then, weren’t you? EB: That is true, but it was also when I was still with my first band which was called the Lanes. PB: How long was that band around for? EB: For about seven years. We started in school. That was with Will who now plays bass for us now. PB: Did you release anything at all? EB: There was some self-released stuff, but it was before the age of the internet. We recorded loads. We did two albums on our own label. I also did some solo things both during and after it for a while. I did a solo album. That is how we met. We were both doing solo stuff. PB: Was Hhymn going then pre-Palace Fires or at least the idea of it? EB: We started writing before Palace Fires finished. PB: In the end Palace Fires released two 7 inches, a download EP and a self-titled album. EB: That's right. PB: The album I believe was lost on a laptop, and finally released last year three years after the band split. EB: It actually got lost twice. It was lost in a taxi. Then it was just bad circumstances that lead to it taking so long to come out. PB: Did it do well in terms of sales in the end? EB: I don't really know. There was a hardcore of Gene fans who bought it though, and also friends and family. PB: How long has Hhymn been going? SR: Four years. We first spoke about it on Boxing Day 2007. We started it because we both had bands in London, and we had enough of that. With my band, it was a similar thing to Ed's band, and being in a group with a person whom had been in a successful band and who thought that they could get back there. PB: Why did you put the additional ‘H’ in your name? SR: It was from the days of MySpace. You know you change your name, picture, profile. One day we put fifteen Hs on there, and then there was just two. That looked good to me. EB: We never thought it would piss people off but Steve Lamacq on 6Music did a show last week about it. We just did it as an accident. Then we started getting booked for Christian festivals. PB: Did you do them? EB: Yeah, it was amazing. We did Greenbelt. Normally at festivals you just have a line check, and they had a marquee totally shut. The soundcheck finished bang on time, and they streamed in wearing ice hockey hats. They clapped at the end of the songs, and we got an encore. They adored us. They had a pub on site called the Jesus Arms. PB: Are you all Nottingham based? SR: Yeah. PB: Is it a healthy scene musically? EB: It goes through stages. It is healthy at the moment. SR: Four acts got signed to majors recently, which ‘The Guardian’ has been going on about because it is known as a bad city for music. PB: How would you describe what you sound like? Would you say it is based in folk or would you describe it yourself as an indie pop act? SR: It is definitely not folk. PB: Vocally, it a bit like Nick Drake. Would you agree? EB: Yeah, it has got elements of that. It has got elements of lots of things though. SR: Sometimes we go to folk festivals, and we are not that sort of band. EB: There is a sort of dream pop element in it. There is a lot of general pop in there as well. We just write songs basically, and if they are good enough, if they sound great with a band, then they are band songs, and if not I keep the others for my solo work. PB: To date you have done just the one album. Will you be releasing a single from it? EB: We have got a new EP for our current tour, which is limited to two hundred copies, and then after the tour is finished we are not going to do any more gigs for a while. Then we will finish off writing songs we got, and start on the new album. PB: Will the last album be coming out ‘In the Depths’ on Denizen Recordings? EB: No, that was a one off deal. The new one we will be hopefully able to take it to a new label. PB: Are your download sales healthy? EB: We sell quite a few CDs on the road. PB: What are your future plans? SR: To go back to the drawing board. This is the live band, and with writing anything is possible. We have got some musicians in Nottingham like a great double bassist that we can’t afford to take out with us. We want to try out new sounds, and to get the new album behind us. PB: Thank you.

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