Words by Tommy Johnson
In the coronavirus’s initial stages, Ana Perrote and her bandmates with Hinds looked for ways to stay busy during the lockdown. Next to recording some individual demos and lining up interviews to support the band’s latest effort, The Prettiest Curse, Perrote shared that she and the group have been releasing tutorials online for their music.
“I love tutorials. I feel like nowadays everyone learns how to play an instrument by YouTube, pausing the video and trying to figure out what thing they’re doing or actually with the tutorial, Perrote says. “It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, especially for girls and stuff. I remember when I started playing my instrument and you feel so self-conscious. It’s like a secret that you’re learning it. You know what I mean? I’m really glad we could do this project. I think they’re really clear and slow enough for anyone that’s beginning, which is what I care the most.”
Hinds have become a household name across Spain after releasing albums Leave Me Alone in 2016 and 2018 massively acclaimed, I Don’t Run. Having Jenn Decilveo (The Wombats, Ben Platt and Anne-Marie) helm the producing duties, The Prettiest Curse (released in June via Mom + Pop) showcases Hinds harnessing the full extent of their pop prowess. The album’s songs sound bigger, bolder, and more complex than anything they have done before all while remaining true to their garage rock sensibilities.
OffShelf: Hinds has had quite a successful run since its inception. You are one of Spain’s most prominent acts right now and there’s an emerging following here in the States. Has it been overwhelming at times for you and the group?
Ana Perrote: It’s been more, like, unbelievable. You know what I mean? We were, this must be fake. For example, when we released our first songs on Bandcamp the day after, we had an email from someone at a prominent publication that wanted to interview us. We weren’t even a four-piece yet. We hadn’t played any shows. Didn’t have any promo pictures. We just kind of like, it can’t be real, right?! That’s how he felt for like the first week. We realized it was a real person and they posted that interview. From there, it just snowballed. That whole first year, realizing that what we were doing, was possible because we didn’t even dream of it.
OS: When you initially started working out music with Carlotta [Cosials], I read that you two didn’t know all the chords on a guitar, but you wanted to get rolling.
AP: We had been on the other side of music being fans and groupies for so many years. The Madrid scene consisted of rock, garage bands. It was kind of small, maybe like five bands. They play every weekend and it sort of felt like a community. We met through there and our boyfriends each had a band together. We would go to shows we would see them rehearse and stuff, but it wasn’t until we went on a trip together when we got the idea to be in a band. Totally isolated and alone, we were feeling no judgment of anyone. We felt free to just like, basically fuck up. That’s how you learn how to do anything, right?! By fucking up. It took us like, I don’t know, three years to feel like we had it locked in.
OS: You two took a year and a half off from working together. Was it in part to keep working on material?
AP: Oh, no, no, no, no. We were determined since day one that we’re making a band. We made objectives like before the end of the year; we need to write a song and do at least one show. So we started to fucking learn all the covers that we could begin to rehearse and we booked a little show to play…we did two. One of them was a comedy show thing, really DIY with maybe twenty people sitting down. That was fun; our mums and friends were there. A couple of months later, we played something similar to a show. It was like a festival thing with five bands or something. That show went so bad, so terrible. We felt so ashamed that we didn’t even talk about it. We just stopped playing. We remained friends and kept hanging and stuff, but we didn’t even like to call each other again to play until like a year and a half after watching videos. Carlotta was like, ‘Hey Anna, this was fun. Wasn’t it?’ I was like, yeah, we should we play again? So it was in the middle of the summer, we didn’t have anything else to do, and I automatically fell back with a sensation of playing.
OS: What were the covers you were playing?
AP: I was going to say that I’m ashamed, but I’m not ashamed; it was all good and fun. The funny thing is we did all these mixes, and they didn’t make sense to be together. We played “Banana Pancakes” from Jack Johnson, “Hit The Road, Jack,” “Crystalised” by The xx, “What I Like About You” by The Romantics. It was a big mess.
OS: How did Ade [Martin] and Amber [Grimbergen] come on board?
AP: Yeah, it’s funny actually because Ade was there at the horrible show [laughs]. There were thirty people, and she was probably one of the two people there we didn’t know. She was there through another band that was playing that same day. We had that year or something break and then when we came back to start playing other covers we were into. That’s when we kind of started writing our songs and played two more shows. In the first one, we realized people were clapping while we were in the middle of the song. We wondered if it was a sign needing a drummer and a bass player. The music we liked was our oldest Burger Records coming out from California.; all of them were most of the things that we listened to were four pieces, or at least all of them have like drums and bass. So we started looking for female drummers and bass players, and we couldn’t find anyone. We’re like, ‘should we have men?’ because we wanted to keep going with the project. Then we felt if we had boys in the band, it would feel like from the outside, people would look like we’re only singers and they’re writing and doing the rest of the project. In Hinds, there’s total democracy on everything.
OS: What intrigued the band to work with Jenn on The Prettiest Curse?
AP: Everything we did in this album was done differently. We’ve pretty much had been touring for four years on a row while writing and recording in between. Our motto in Hinds was always saying yes to everything because we were so blown away by the fact that we were having all these opportunities; this is seriously not something that happens to everyone. It was exhausting, and we did a lot of things that didn’t even make sense, you know?
For the first time, we let other opinions get into our creative process. This project is very personal for us; four years, five years like just writing and doing everything by ourselves. Letting someone else in that process was a challenge, but we decided not to say no to anything when it came to writing. ‘Should we add pianos?’. Yes. ‘I love analog to digital, this digital bright imagery,’ ’Let’s go to London and New York and to LA.’ Every opportunity that we had to work with someone or do something different, we did it. You really can tell in the album because obviously looking at, looking back at the first two albums, I could tell that they were ready in like a month or two because the feelings, sounds, and everything is more kind of similar to each other, which is also great. I’m happy with this one. We decided to write in winter, in spring, in the summer, and autumn and, you know, in different places.
OS: The album also showcases the band having a more mature sound, I noticed.
AP: The hardest part I think was being in our heads. Like me, for example, I had a really hard time with anxiety or being secure. It goes back to learning the guitar. There’s always going to be a little bit of anxiety of like ‘can I bring something out to this group?’ But knowing that, you know, the band is going to be pretty open, understanding, and wanting to listen.
Recording our third album, I said to myself, ‘what the fuck are we going to do?’ We have these records that we love the production and we want to sound like that. You know, like I would have been so easy. We had that, but we did it. We literally have no idea. One of the keys moments for the writing of this album was when we wrote for the first time a song we wrote had a piano, we wrote, “Just Like Kids Now.” We were like, ‘Oh my God, wow. This is a new, different sound, but at the same time, this is pretty similar to what we used to do. The progression is not so different, but somehow I don’t know why when I play the chords in this instrument, my voice is going somewhere else, and I’m behaving differently and I’m writing different’. I think that was really like an important key moment for the album. Months after that is when we met Jenn.
OS: How hands-on was Jenn throughout the whole recording process for the album?
AP: She’s seriously the best person we’ve ever worked with. She totally got the best of us. I think she really got our energy, and just because of the way she records, she constantly got every little emotion. Like if you’re talking about a song and you started laughing, she’s probably recording that laugh and gonna pass it through a scene, and then it’s going to sound like a drum kit, and it’s going to be in the song. You know what I mean? She also accepted us by taking her ideas. It was hard. I think when you’re writing to feel super humble and, at the same time, respect someone wasn’t in Hinds already. So it was super sick to be able to listen to someone that comes from a totally different background. She was able to create that like a wall of sound with us, but at the same time, continually asking us to do it. It was just like a super, super, natural way of working.
OS: The album was recorded here in the States, correct?
AP: We kind of like wrote songs here and there, but yeah, we did most of the songs in bunker cities like in Brooklyn. It was, it was sick. It was really fun to be like the city with the most shows, art galleries, and things to go to.
OS: Did you get to enjoy Brooklyn during the downtime from recording?
AP: Oh, 100%. We fucking went to a show almost every night. At the same time, it was really good to get out of the studio and live.
OS: With the well-deserved attention that you have been getting and the vast library of music already crafted, has the band noticed an uptick in groups forming in Madrid?
AP: I’m not sure how much we influence others. A lot of bands are forming, and a lot of events are happening that have nothing to do with us. I think we, if something, we did show that you could do it differently, kind of like you can do it internationally.