An Interview With… Hidden Charms

With their robust blues-rock sound, Hidden Charms have found themselves becoming part of the foundation for an increasing revival in classic blues rock over the past year. On their latest single ‘Love You Cause You’re There,’ they combine crushing riffs with cheeky sing-a-long elements that would make The Black Keys jealous. The band have recently finished an extensive UK tour – both as headliners and supporting both Yak and Dexters – and are now gearing up to release a full EP in the new year.

We caught up with Oscar from the band to ask him more about their work with legendary producers, their latest single and the resurgence of rock.

Hi guys! How are you at the minute?

Yeah, it’s all going well. We have been playing a lot and it’s nice to sell out anywhere, especially your home town. London can be a tough crowd to crack. Just been on a short tour around the UK with Yak which has been a lot of fun. Those guys are masters at what they do and we really get on, which makes the whole experience more special.

You’ve just finished a fairly extensive UK tour. If someone’s gearing themselves up to go to a Hidden Charms show, what can they expect?

… Sticky floors and high energy, we give it our all, I’m always disappointed going to shows and watching a totally static band, it’s as much about visuals as the music, it’s a spectacle. You gotta get into it and the kind of music we make is slightly unhinged, so it may help if you get into that spirit!

It’s been a really big year for you since you released your debut double A-side single, which was really successful. What’s it been like for you to have been thrust into the limelight so quickly?

Well lf I’ve been thrusted into anything it’s only confined spaces and the back of a van. But it has been a busy year. This is all we’ve ever really wanted to do so it’s nice we are starting to be acknowledged.

People have been making a lot of the fact that your sound, while quite fresh, takes influences from psych and blues. Who were the artists that inspired your sound?

So many artists have inspired us, as we grow as a band and people and travel more and get deeper into our journey more stuff keeps popping up. We all started with a love of blues, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, JR Wells etc. and obviously the whole British invasion in the 60s. There’s a lot of great stuff going on now too, the whole west coast scene with the likes of Nick Waterhouse, The Growlers and The Blank Tapes. Also the bands we first went on tour with like July Talk were big influences in terms of performance. We are not as closed minded as we were when we started, we take influence from anything, early hip hop, house music and loads of film scores. We are all big into Tom Waits at the moment though.

With band like yourself, The Vryll Society and Blossoms all doing really well in the UK at the minute do you think that we might be in the middle of a bit of a classic rock revival?

There’s so many good bands out now and it’s great to feel like we are part of whatever movement is happening. I think everything just does circles. It’s been 50 years or so since most those classic records happened. But I wouldn’t want to over analyse it or coin a phrase for it, as soon as that happens and people catch on the clock starts ticking, But I’m happy guitar music is alive and well and more interesting than ever. It’s about time, I think people have become tired of hearing the same old shit over and over. It’s not the case of old being good and new being bad, I just personally believe music was at its best around the 60-70s and people are now taking in those influences.

hidden charms lee vincent grubb.jpg

 I’m happy guitar music is alive and well and more interesting than ever

Your debut single was produced by the legendary Shel Talmy, who worked with the likes of The Kinks and The Who in the 60s. How did he first get on board? How did he find out about you?

Shel contacted us after hearing us played on the radio in the states. It was pretty surreal, we’d been studying his work. We had a great time with him in the studio and he got the best out of us. Plus told us some of rock n roll’s best kept secrets. He’s now a good mate. We are lucky chappies to have worked with him. He is a legend and makes a mean chili.

Did you work much with Shel during the process? What do you think he added to the single?

We did a few days pre-production with him and got to know each other. He added his golden touch in the studio and when working on a record it’s very much just about someone’s presence and disposition that helps capture what you’re going for. We were aiming for a couple of tracks but ended up getting 10 in the 7 days. It was a beautiful time.

Your latest single ‘Love You Cause You’re There’ has been getting some really positive reviews; what was the inspiration behind the song?

‘Love You Cause You’re There’ was inspired by warming your feet by a fire with a cup of hot cocoa. La la la…

This latest single was produced by Mr. Chop, who’s well known for his love of nostalgic sounds, even when he’s working with people like MF DOOM. What do you think he added to ‘Love You Cause You’re There?’

Working with Mr Chop was an experiment at first that paid off, we wanted to try something new with ‘Love You Cause You’re There,’ focus more on the sounds etc. He is a wizard when it comes to finding new tones. He’s also got some mad gear, microphones from WW2 bomber planes and the likes. He is very open minded and his experience with hip hop and other genres really helped. We are back in recording the EP with him.

The debut EP is slated to come out early next year; what can we expect from it?

I think our sound is growing and will continue to; we’ve landed on this darker vibe with ‘Love You Cause You’re There’ which we really like, so hopefully you can expect a cohesive set of tunes following that mood.

Now that the tour is over, what are you planning to do before the EP comes out?

We are going to just get our heads down and write more. We have a few one of shows around the UK which we are excited about and our first headline tour of Europe in January.

‘Love You Cause You’re There’ is out now. Images: Catie Lafoon and Lee Vincent Grubb.

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