A conversation with The Lounge Society @ The Castle Hotel.

It’s 17:29. In less than two hours I am meeting and interviewing The Lounge Society before they play their second night in a row at the Castle Hotel, a venue that is an hour away from me. I do not know this. In fact, as I finished reading, still stoned from a couple of hours previous, the last thing on my mind as I check my phone is a conformation of an interview that I thought would be dead in the water. Perhaps for another day over the phone, but not tonight. Instead, I am met by the sudden realisation of the task at hand. Sitting at the desk I’m at now, spitting out questions with the help of some laughing gas (a real cog turner) and a genuine belief that the band I’m going to see are the next best thing since the phrase “the next best thing since sliced bread.” After 15 minuets I was as happy as I could be with how much time I had left and got my things ready to go. Despite the rush I thought it a wasted opportunity not to commandeer my trusty cameraman/co-pilot/conspirator for the ride. And so, at 19:26, with I’m Waiting for the Man blasting over the bar speakers, we found ourselves heading up the stairs of the Castle Hotel to interview Hebden Bridges answer to the question “Who’s been causing that ruckus down the Trades Club?” The Lounge Society.

A room no bigger than a couple of decent sized coffins was what we were met by, with two… well-loved sofas to boot. That and of course Cameron, Herbie, Hani and Archie. There was a buzz in the room that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t coming from any pre-gig excitement. Of course, their combined age is still younger than It’s a Wonderful Life but I would’ve been naive to so quickly put the feeling in the room down to pre-match nerves. Whatever it was Archie seemed to be counteracting this by keeping occupied, rolling what he would later attribute to being his post-gig ritual. “I tend to head out, first thing after I finish and wonder off and smoke that for a bit. Then these lot usually spend about half an hour running round trying to find me so I can sign some vinyl.” This was reinforced after the gig when, sure enough, as myself and my trusty DoP were outside smoking and stewing in the gig we had just seen Archie came out as alone as the day he was born, joint in hand and wandered down a side road. Never to be seen by this interviewer again. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There only seemed one natural place to start. As they all squeezed onto the sofa at the back of the room, I couldn’t help but ask how their new found life on the road had been treating them. “It’s been great” was the resounding answer of the room, before Hani added; “It’s just sleep, like drinking and stuff is fine but if you don’t sleep, you’re fucked.” This comes as no surprise to anyone that has stared down the barrel of weeks of insomnia filled nights and tightly scheduled days. “It’s just a different kettle of fish, it doesn’t matter how good a musician you are.” Added Archie before Herbie rounded it off with the customary “We just owe it to the people that have paid to see us to give everything every night but when it gets to it the adrenaline gets you through. We’ve got a couple of bottles of our after-show ritual over there.” He joked, pointing to a couple of large bottles of Jameson in the corner of the room.

Catching them at their second show in as many nights in Manchester seemed to be a positive point of the tour for the band. “It is good to be back up north.” Herbie admitted as the band from Hebden Bridge seem to be making a home away from home in the city. That being said the resounding answer to which city had stuck out to them on tour so far was Brighton. “I think we were all expecting it to be one of the highlights but it was all that and more.” Archie explained. “We had a day off there so we actually ended up losing a lot of money.” A more hopeful Cameron added “We got a Brighton shot glass at one of the arcades.” Before Archie added; “Yeah and ended up £40 down.”

Upon reflecting on their set list, it was interesting to see the bands opinions of their own tracks. “We were all saying that just before it came out, we thought maybe Last Breath felt like one of our weaker songs but since then it’s really taken on a different feel.” Archie explained. “To hear people singing I will spend my last breath singing after everything that’s happened is really cool.” The mention of Last Breath had me intrigued as to how the band approach writing songs that sound so different from each other. “We just keep doing left turns, it’s just a circle, we’ll be writing Generation Game soon.” Joked Herbie. “We never want to do the same thing twice. Sometimes I listen to some of our older songs and I don’t like the way its recorded but I think that’s a good thing cos it shows the evolution.” Archie added, before Herbie wrapped things up; “I think the minute people can predict where we’re going is the minute we stop. If you just play the same thing for 25 minutes you’ll never go anywhere, or at least you don’t deserve to.” This perhaps is one of the most promising things about The Lounge Society. That comment immediately took me back to October 2nd, a day after seeing a brilliant Lounge Society set, walking out of a Sports Team gig and feeling absolutely… nothing. I had clearly just witnessed a band at their most comfortable and despite the frontman’s reassurances that “This is the biggest show we’ve ever played, its huge for us.” I Still saw nothing from them to make me believe they could access any real human emotion. Let alone project that onstage into something that made ME feel something. In the Lounge Society there is a complete antitheism to this Sports Team-esque comfortability. This is by no means a call to arms, it would be self-deprecating to a degree if it was, but it is just highlighting that The Lounge Society aren’t comfortable and I don’t think they ever will be. And that should excite everyone.

Not only are they not comfortable, they have an album waiting in the wings, something that again came as a shock to me for a band so young. Normally I would expect a couple more years of singles, EP’s and countrywide tours before a jump like that is made. “We’re testing these songs. But definitely an album feels right as the next big project.” Cameron tentatively said as their tour manager made sure nothing that shouldn’t be said was being said. “The writing process of the songs just comes from anywhere.” Archie then explained it in Lameman’s terms. “Every song is a bit like a really bad collage. It’s just a load of fucking random shit that doesn’t fit together.” “We very rarely go into a room and say let’s write something today.” Hani compounded. “We’re a bit like the pineapple on pizza of music, dyou know what I mean?” Herbie rounded off with a wry smile and a sideways stare. 

With one of the most exciting labels in the country behind them (Speedy Wunderground, but you already knew that) it really does feel like The Lounge Society can’t put a foot wrong right now. But for such a young band I wandered just how influential Dan Carey and the Speedy machine had been on the band’s song making process. Herbie took the reins; “You can never really go into that studio knowing what you want and getting what you want, and that’s good. No one artist is talented enough to really know what they want and get what they want. It’s sort of the four of us plus Dan, our five varying visions coming to a bizarre compromise and that’s good because three months later you listen to it and you think that’s what it should’ve been all along. It’s not even that we need to speak we just communicate in whizzes and bangs.”

The relationship the band has with Dan Carey should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the producers past projects. I couldn’t help but feel though that, taking into account Dan Carey and Speedy Wundergrounds track record as the La Masia of the rock world, bringing up promising new bands and letting them go on to bigger things. It was interesting to get such a loyal sounding bands opinion of this and where they see their future. “We don’t really care what label we’re on and I think speedy are similar, it doesn’t matter too much who the band is so long as were both right for each other. If we both want to get to the same place and we can do that with Speedy and they can do it with us then I think we’ll stay together.” Herbie explained before Cameron added “We wanna be huge and if we can do that with Speedy then we’ll do it with Speedy.” Again, some of the exciting ambition that is hard not to admire on show but I feel Hani summed up the feeling of the room. “To be able grow as a band with the label is perfect. If we can both take over together then that’s ideal.”

After some below par wrapping up by yours truly and the customary pleasantries, we shook hands and it was done. Not only had I been at their first show of their first tour a couple of weeks previous, I had also been there at their first interview of their first tour, sitting in the driver’s seat no less. Now whether or not I had the driver’s licence to be there doesn’t matter, or at least I don’t care because in talking to The Lounge Society I saw something that I don’t think I was expecting to see. So often in this business there are on-stage/on-record personas that never match up to in person interviews. They are just part and parcel of the job to the point that getting something other than this feels like a shot of pure adrenochrome directly into your will to live. I have seen the Light that Never Goes Out, they are called The Lounge Society.

Photo: Piran Aston