C60 in Conversation: Hadda Be 14 July 2021

As part of the C60 Club, we here at austerity will be catching up with some of our favourite artists of the underground music scene. This month, we’ve caught up with Olly Trowler-Wareham – drummer & one half of the rhythm section behind the latest C60 inductees, the vibrant Hadda Be…

A: Hello Olly, & welcome to the C60 Club!

O: Thank you very much. It’s a fantastic club to be a part of.

You initially burst onto the independent music scene in the South under the name Foundlings back in 2018. After a global pandemic, newfound parenthood, a change in line-up & a trademark dispute that resulted in a name change to the Ginsberg-inspired Hadda Be, how has the band grown/differed since its initial run?

I think we’ve always taken the band very seriously & we’ve grown naturally as a result of that. We got involved with the label Last Night From Glasgow quite early on & the plan, after doing our “Foundlings” EP, was always to do a full-length album, so we had plenty of time to think about what we wanted the album to be & how we wanted it to sound.

Other than that, I think we’ve become a lot more selective about the things that we do & the shows that we do & don’t play - unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there who want to take you for a ride. Without massive financial backing, it’s more often than not a slog to build up your audience & widen your reach but I reckon we’re doing a pretty good job at it. It’s all about being resilient, patient & focusing on the things that really matter in the music world.

As our album shows, we’ve also developed as a group of musicians & songwriters - able to express ourselves truthfully & write about things that we feel passionately about. If you listen to our output from the first releases to Another Life”, I think you can clearly see how we’ve grown as people as well as musicians.

Prior to the first wave of coronavirus, the band signed to Scottish indie label Last Night From Glasgow. In fact, you were the first non-Scottish act to join their roster. Take us through how this came to be & the impact the label has had on the Hadda Be journey?

It was through chance really! Ian, who founded the label, discovered us on a blog called the Devil Has The Best Tuna & reached out to us shortly after that. Our vocalist Amber happened to be working for a month in the Shetland Islands at the time & I went up there to visit her. On our way back down in the car, we took a detour to Glasgow to meet with Ian & Gary from the label & decided then & there to do an EP & album together.

LNFG has a refreshingly progressive & ethical model to their label, one that focuses on freedom for artists, which we found very impressive. Also, Ian made us some fantastic Lorne sausage baps for brunch which, I must admit, did very much help to seal the deal.

In terms of the impact LNFG have had on the band, I’d say it’s massive. Although we’re motivated & driven people ourselves, it’s been immeasurably helpful having a driven record label behind us who have helped us plot our journey so far. They’ve put a lot of faith in us & have taken the kind of risks on us that a lot of bands would dream of with their label. We’re very grateful for it all.

“Another Life”, your debut album on LNFG, was born out of lockdowns, restrictions & an upheaval of everyday life. Do you feel that the uncertainty & frustrations of the COVID era has had any bearings of the sound & attitude of the record? It’s a much more abrasive & forward collection of songs than your previous material.

Yes, definitely. Although most of the songs were written pre-COVID, the themes on the album have come into sharp focus over the last year & a half: the deep frustrations with those in power, the need for escape, our divided & divisive society. I think the song that exemplifies this most keenly is “Nurse’s Song”, which Amber wrote about her experiences working within the NHS as a Nurse. Unfortunately, the things that song deals with have been felt to an even greater extent through the pandemic. The speech by [former Labour MP] Nye Bevan at the end is more affecting & prescient now than ever; the complete disconnect of the founding principles of the NHS to what it has become due to successive Tory cuts & lack of respect for its workers.

Musically speaking, audiences often commented that we sound much rowdier live than we do on record. When we were planning “Another Life”, we made the decision early on to create a much more “live” sound to that of previous releases, something which reflects what we sound like in a busy, sweaty room. I think that may be one of the reasons why the record has been resonating with people. In a time where those kind of gigs are off, listening to a record that makes you feel like you're in that environment must have some kind of power.

Upon the initial release of the LP back in April, you pressed the record on a variety of beautifully coloured vinyl. This suggests a love of physical media of your part &, as you know, the AUS C60 Club was created out of a similar sentiment. What does it mean to Hadda Be to have their music available to their fans on an actual physical format?

We all try & buy physical as much as possible. It’s the best way of supporting artists, labels &, of course, record shops if you buy independent & direct. Coming from a generation of CD buyers, it’s much more special to have your own copy of an album in a physical format, something you can hold on to & spend time getting to know - it’s a much more profound experience to streaming. To think that people are having that experience with our album is very special for us. We’re very lucky! Not many bands get to have their album pressed onto vinyl, especially not in four colours.

We’ve always enjoyed tape too. It’s been an affordable way to own a physical copy of a record for a long time now. Now that we’re part of the C60 Club, our record is available on vinyl, CD & cassette. There’s simply no excuse not to buy it!

Live music is on the road to recovery, & you are scheduled to play the first-ever AUS All-Dayer in St. Leonard’s on July 24th. Are you looking forward to getting back onstage, & what does it mean to you to finally be back in front of live crowds?

We absolutely cannot wait. We haven’t played most of the songs on the record live yet, so the prospect of doing so is very exciting indeed. There’s a brilliant line-up for the all-dayer too. As well as being our first gig back, it’s also the first gig that we’ll be going to as fans of the artists on the bill. So, it’s a bit of a double whammy on that front. We’ll just have to make sure to not get too carried away before we go on...

Unfortunately, the last 18 months have seen many in the underground/independent scene fall by the wayside. However, your band seems to have come out the other side more determined & focused than ever. In light of this, what’s next for Hadda Be?

Thank you! Well, we’ve got a good few gigs coming up for the second half of 2021, including a headline show in London on the 10th of September at The Victoria in Dalston - we’re treating that as our delayed album launch show. People can head to our Facebook page for details of the other shows (including Rivfest in Warrington, Brighton dates & others to be announced soon). We also have some material that we recorded during the album sessions that we’re planning to release later in the year. All going well, there should be many exciting times ahead.

Hadda Be’s “Another Life” (AUS-C06) is available on milky-white cassette in the austerity webstore now. ORDER HERE