Interview with Himalayas
From Manic Street Preachers to The Stereotypes, Wales has a tradition of producing powerful indie rock bands. Himalayas are a group ready to take on this mantle. Although the band have many influences, their music sounds fresh, with clever lyrics and a dynamic sound, making them stand out in an industry with many other bands. What also sets them apart is their ability to get a crowd going, which has created a strong, loyal and ever growing following.
Babystep asked about their origins as a band, asking when it all started for them; “Two and a half years.” With Mike adding “Joe and I have been playing in high school since we were young, James was in the year above us. James got Louis involved through his work.” James states, “then we formed a cult.” While this is a joke (hopefully), their ability to inspire a crowd and create and create an atmosphere is extremely impressive.
We asked when it became serious for them; “it was serious. We always had the vision of forming a band when we were younger.” Mike suggests the process was steady, “As time went along it gradually become more serious. When we released our first E.P we knew where we wanted to go.” Himalayas ascent as a band is ongoing, and the initial target is to be able to be full-time musicians, “We are all still doing stuff asides from the band.” James interjects, “Are we? you haven’t even got a job!”
Although the band come from Cardiff, they have broadened their horizons. The band describe how this occurred. “ We played [Cardiff] loads when we started, but we really try and play shows all over.” Joe detailed how this happened: “I think the first time we played with This Feeling was one of the first times. We tried to book as much as possible for ourselves. We played a load of times in London and Bristol, as well as Manchester. We want to be as ambitious as possible.”
The band’s most played venue is still back in Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach. However the music scene in Cardiff is experiencing difficulties, “We’ve had a lot of venue struggle in Cardiff, which is a terrible shame. A lot of the venues we’ve played all over seem to be doing it in the right way. Places like [The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds] don’t just host gigs, It gives smaller venues a real chance to thrive, as opposed to shutting down.” When asked whether this attitude would benefit Cardiff venues that are struggling, the band are certain, “Definitely. Personally I think that symbolises the differences between a good venue and a great venue.”
We asked how their current U.K. tour was going, “It was great, we played in Liverpool [at Heebie Jeebies]. We only managed to get there half and hour before the show, as we were doing a photoshoot in London. But it all went well!"
Although Himalayas have played in a lot of these cities before, things have changed since their last tour, “We’ve played new venues, which is always a pleasure to do. When we go back to the venues we’ve played before we often bump into people from the tour before which is great.” These venues varied from small, intimate gigs to venues with larger audiences, which offer different experiences for the band “I think there is a massive difference really. When it’s a bigger venue you have to get people going a lot more. We’ve often found it the case that in a small room where people are packed in they are far more likely to get involved.” However, the band’s ambition and readiness to accept a challenge comes through, when asked which venues they prefer. “The bigger the better!”, “Stadiums!”
The tour has seen Himalayas support fellow Welsh band Trampolene, who’s first meeting with Himalayas was fairly unusual, “We met them in the Isle of Wight at This Feeling, on the Jack Daniels stage. That was the first time we spoke properly, we saw the lead singer Jack jump off scaffolding and back on stage.” With James adding, “ We played our first gig with Trampolene two years ago in a basement venue in Cardiff. There were only about ten people in the crowd.”
When asked about their favourite venue that they’ve played the band were in complete agreement: “Nambucca”, with Joe stating “We’ve always dreamed of playing here. Another we’d love to play is King Tut’s.”
The band’s influences are varied, but Joe had a clear example of one artist that had changed the way he wrote music: “Prince for me. He got me into so many things and really changed my perspective. It changes for me everyday with what I listen to. ”Mini Mansions” were another influence, according to Louis.
The future is exciting for Himalayas, both in the long and short term, “Tomorrow we are releasing our single and can’t wait!”
Himalayas new single “If I Tell You” is out now
Words by Josh Crowe
Images by Graeme Miller