Last August, Hinds were all at sea. The foursome from Madrid were one of multiple bands aboard Belle and Sebastian’s Boaty Weekender, a floating festival that sailed from Barcelona to Sardinia and back again.
When the Norwegian Pearl liner left port, the Spanish band were fairly low down the bill. Fair enough. Next to the veteran Scottish indie outfit whose party it was, and alongside B&S’s fleet of pals of a similar vintage (Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, Buzzocks), Hinds were, by a whole generation, the new kids on the deck.
With two buzzy albums (2016’s Leave Me Alone and 2018’s I Don’t Run) behind them, the pop-punk guitar band had a crucial role to play. As B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch put it when I spoke to him on the second night aboard: “Hinds are the free radicals, the young ones who are gonna show us how it’s done.”
Sure enough, Hinds were the stars of the cruise. Everywhere you went over the four days, it felt like you spotted Carlotta Cosials (vocals, guitar), Ana Perrote (vocals, guitar), Ade Martin (bass), Amber Grimbergen (drums), or a combination thereof: on stage, by the pool, at the bar in the Spinnaker Lounge, in the queue for chips from the 24-hour buffet, judging the children’s belly-flop contest, on the below-decks dancefloor at three in the morning, on another stage, at the bar again.
These joyous women turned a party boat into an even bigger party boat. In the having-a-laugh stakes, Hinds went totally overboard (not in that way).
“Seriously, that was the best thing we’ve done as a band,” Perrote reflects now of a trip the four cheerfully – and accurately – refer to as “the booze cruise”.
In lieu of bringing road crew, “we brought all our friends, so that’s possibly why you felt like we were everywhere,” Perrote explains. “There was a Spanish group of us, our friends, our boyfriends. And then finally getting to play on the main stage, just by being annoying and creating an appetite for everyone to convince Belle and Sebastian that we should play there… It was so much fun.”
That was ten months ago. That feels like ten years. When we talk on a five-way Zoom chat in mid-May, with all four members bunkered separately in flats in Madrid, Cosials agrees that, of late, time has become slippery.
“Do you remember the first or second week of quarantine?” she asks her bandmates in their separate video boxes. “You thought you’d been there forever! But really, we’d only been there 15 minutes. The person from week number one is a completely different person from today.”
“Today it’s exactly 60 days. I just saw it in the news. Congratulations!” adds Martin. The bass player says this with cheerful sarcasm. In the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of mortality rate Spain was the second-hardest hit European country, after Italy. Accordingly, the country’s lockdown was swift and it was tight.
Right before the world was ordered to get home and stay home, Hinds were on the road, supporting The Strokes around Europe and shooting the photographs for the cover of their third album, The Prettiest Curse, in London. High-tailing it out of the UK, they remember Heathrow “was already empty”.
“I was shitting my pants that we’d be stuck in London and could never come back,” admits Martin.
“And that was the last thing we did together as a band,” nods Perrote a little forlornly.
Cosials says that the early days of Spanish lockdown were worrying. “It felt like we had to keep any eye to Italy, because Spain was going the same path. Trying to learn from the mistakes of other people. But it’s pretty difficult to be ready for a global pandemic. I’m not the one who’s gonna complain about how the government is dealing with it, because I think they really are trying to do their best.
“It’s sad because we just had [national] elections and the left hand [sic] won,” she says of the November 2019 Spanish general election that resulted in a coalition between the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) and the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos (United We Can) alliance. “But when you have a global pandemic and everyone is dying, politics become really sketchy and tricky. And the right hand is saying ‘you’ve done this wrong!’ and ‘you weren’t ready!’, and blah blah blah.”
Her response to those right-wing critics: “Dude: first of all, we just started. Second of all, we are having the sanitary situations that you guys left us. And third of all, it’s so sad because we are probably going to switch government when the [next] elections come.”
Martin describes a lockdown that was “absolutely strict. No walks for nothing that is not pharmacy or groceries. Only dogs could go for one walk a day! So it was really, really strict until just before weeks ago – then children up to 14 could go out, then the rest of us could go out for an hour a day. So, seriously locked down.”
“Police everywhere!” chips in Cosials. “Every corner! It’s crazy how many policemen we have!”
“My boyfriend is from England and his Instagram Stories are full of people in England,” says Perrote. “And it’s crazy how there are people everywhere in the parks! It really feels like a different thing from Spain.”
It was whatever the Spanish is for sod’s law (“It is not an expression we use much” – Spanish Ed.) that three-quarters of Hinds had their birthdays during quarantine. Of course they celebrated anyway:
Amber’s birthday: “That was the first day of quarantine so we were more or less safe. We went for a drive.”
Carlotta’s birthday: “I actually loved it. We had a Zoom party at night, and we stayed up till 6am in the morning. That was pretty cool. And you know when you’re in a bar and you’re the last people to go, and you started talking about politics? We did that! There was four of us, the last survivors, and each of us had to be a political party and expose yourself: say what you wanted to happen, and also what you think is actually gonna happen. It was a really cool game.”
Ade’s birthday: “We had a party at home and I was really drunk and at some point we did tattoos. Ana was tattooing her boyfriend at the same time I was tattooing my roommate. The morning after he woke up and wanted to kill himself because I tattooed him across his chest: ‘Quarantine Baby.’”
The Prettiest Curse was due for release on 3rd April, and Hinds had already released three singles: the woozy psych-pop of Riding Solo, sunshine singalong Good Bad Times and breathy ballad Come Back and Love Me <3.
Despite that well-advanced release schedule and album set-up, Hinds had to make a quick, 11th hour decision to postpone the album. So near yet so far. On the day of our interview they were meant to be playing in New York. Dang.
But Hinds appreciate that, in the scheme of things, these are first-world – or, indie-world – problems. Shelving their album was the right thing to do.
As Perrote says: “The main thing was that, at the start, we didn’t feel stable and everything was chaotic. Our families were either working in hospitals or getting the virus. It was really, really scary in that moment and that was exactly when he album was literally meant to be hitting the whole world and everyone was so overwhelmed and had a feeling of anxiousness and stress.”
But now, after a two-month delay, The Prettiest Curse is coming out.
“We wanted it to be before the summer for sure,” states Cosials. “We’re Spaniards – we love the summer and we love the heat, that’s something everybody knows. And we’re always in a rush in this band. Everybody in our team… not complains but laughs at us, because we always want to release music as soon as we have it. But of course the industry doesn’t work that way.
“So putting it out now is a combo of being optimistic and also us saying: ‘Waiting until the autumn? No way!’”
Teeing up the release is latest single Just Like Kids (Miau), where miau is Spanish for meow. With typical Hinds wit, the song relays the litany of patriarchal, patronising, condescending English-language music biz bullshit the band members have to deal with, well, all the time, viz: “Where are you from with that accent that doesn’t let you pronounce? /Are you Spanish or something? /Wait, can you roll your R’s?” And: “To be fair I don’t know you /But a friend of mine does /He said you were successful /’Cause your legs are nice!”
“The thing we hate the most,” begins Cosials with a laugh, “is when interviewers or photographers or whoever say: ‘Oh, you’re so cute.’ I’m like: ‘What am I, a dog?’”
Another lyric: “It must be so much fun to spend your daytime in the van.”
“I don’t know how many times we’ve heard that!” exclaims Perrote. “I read this book called Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl,” the guitarist says of the 2015 memoir by Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein. And it says something like: ‘Fame covers a shit in gold, but it’s still just shiny shit.’ You know what I mean? It’s kind of like that, people saying that it must be so cool to sit in a van… People are interested in those behind-the-scenes things, which is fine, but we just have to laugh about it.”
Hinds are back, just in time. A take-no-shit band renowned for their positive vibes and bringing-the-good-time noise are ushering in the so-called holiday season with the first sound-of-summer album.
Right now their European and American tours have been rescheduled for September and November. But with few in the live industry holding their breath for a full resumption of gigging this year, for the moment Hinds are focusing on options closer to hand.
“In Spain we are talking about this technique of doing shows sitting down and distancing chairs,” says Cosials, “of 400 people maximum, and outdoors. That seems like a good system of live shows. I would definitely go. And I would definitely play!”
There are, too, Perrote points out, deeper considerations.
“Maybe the good thing about this is, it’s going to let us all appreciate our own countries. We’ve had globalisation and fucking flights for €10, and people deciding to go to Scotland instead of Valencia. But now this will hopefully reintroduce us to our own countries. That’s good for the country, for the environment, for everything. We’re just going to have to appreciate locally.”
In Madrid, they’re now taking their first tentative steps at doing that. The week of our interview, hairdressers opened, and “small markets,” says Cosials. “We’re going out of quarantine little by little, depending on which city you live in. It goes by phases. We are in phase #0, and we can’t wait to phase #1 – that means some terrace [bars] that respect the distance are open, you can meet people in houses…”
So, when Madrid reaches phase #1, how will Hinds celebrate?
Ade Martin: “I’m gonna have my boyfriend over and– [words, possibly sexual in nature, lost in mash of English and Spanish shouting]!”
Amber Grimbergen: “Lock myself in my parents’ house! I can’t fucking wait.”
Ana Perrote: “Definitely see my family. I really miss them, but I feel like this is getting really hard for my mum. Then, a selfish thing: I want to spend a million hours in a terrace [bar], drinking and eating with my friends. You know those afternoons where you don’t do anything and it’s fine because you’re drunk and you’re with your friends and the bill keeps adding up and you spend all the money you don’t have?”
Carlotta Cosials: “I was going to say that! Bar, and people, and faces.”
Staying local, reconnecting with our neighbourhoods and with our community and our friends: if that’s one, well, covidend this summer, let’s take it. And, while we do so, play the defiant, upbeat, brilliant The Prettiest Curse. Loudly.
The Prettiest Curse (Lucky Number) is out now