Meet Social Haul – the thrilling three-piece whose brand of frenzied punk is ready to blow the cobwebs away and make us yearn for those chaotic, sweaty basement gigs once again.
The trio, consisting of TRAAMS’ Leigh Padley, Daniel William Daws and Richard Trust, turned heads with the release of their frantic debut single Wet Eyes earlier this year and its equally brilliant follow up The Ease.
Now they’ve dropped This Is All I Need, another powerful cut from their forthcoming, Daniel Fox-produced self-titled debut LP out on June 11 via FatCat Records, which is set to be one of the year’s most riotous albums.
They’ve earned a host of plaudits from music tastemakers already, receiving plays from BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and the legendary Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music.
They’re signed to FatCat Records, too, home to the likes of The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks, and will embark on their first ever headline UK tour this September, stopping off at the likes of Manchester’s YES and Heartbreakers in Southampton.
Miss them at your peril.
Daily Star’s Rory McKeown caught up with Leigh to talk about their formation, their influences, working with Girl Band’s Daniel Fox, and their live shows.
Hi Leigh. Firstly, tell me more about Social Haul. When did you guys form?
“I think it was about 2018, something like that. A childhood friend of mine moved back to my hometown. We hadn’t played together for a long time. I was on a break from the band I was in. It started as a little jam and we thought ‘actually, this is really fun. Shall we carry it on?’ It’s not a very interesting story I’m afraid but it’s one of those, just catching up with old friends and hitting the ground running with it.
“We started meeting up weekly. I’d never done a frontman thing in a band. Even though I’ve been mates with this guy most of my life, we hadn’t done any original stuff together.
“By about 2019 was when we started writing songs. It’s quite a long time ago now really but last year was a complete write-off. We didn’t do anything.”
How did you find the past year? Was it difficult or any challenges involved?
“It was a bit because we thought we’d finally found our feet with it. We’d recorded this album in January of 2020 just before everything went wrong. We’re lucky in one sense that we had the opportunity to get it down.
"I don't know if it would have happened otherwise. I was getting really impatient. Sitting on it for a whole year I was like ‘oh my god, is this going to see the light of day?’. It was a tricky year sitting on it but ultimately we got it done when we did and it’s nice that a couple of tunes have come out and people have been saying nice things.”
So it was all written pre-lockdown/pandemic?
“Yeah, it was all done by then. There’s nothing in the lyrics that touches on what’s been going on in recent times.”
What’s it like getting behind the mic as frontman?
“It’s strange. We haven’t really gigged much but it’s going to be fun doing it. I won’t be shy about it. I’ll be confident with it because I’m with my mates and it’s going to be fun. I’m usually hiding behind a bass or something. I don’t have a mic and I can just get on with it.
"I’m normally enamoured by a frontman or front person. When I go to shows I watch every member of the band but for some reason you end up watching the guy trying to pour his heart out. I’m a bit aware of that but at the end of the day you’ve just got to do it, if you want to do it.”
Did you have a goal you wanted to achieve with the project?
“It was just to have fun. I’ve spoken to a few people about this. Looking at the lyrics, there is the odd thing there. I’ve done a write up for the manager about what the songs are about or what the album should be, and there’s definitely a theme there, but I think that’s something a lot of musicians find if they have a bit of space between them and the project and look back.
"There wasn’t an over-arching theme. We wanted to make music that we could play live.”
You are good mates, is it pretty natural playing together?
“Yeah. The process came quite simply for us. The hard bit was knowing which songs to chuck in the bin. You write all these songs and everyone has their favourites, especially if there’s no over-arching theme. There’s nothing to tie them together, they’re all loose. That was probably the only hard thing.
"Ultimately everyone respected everyone’s ideas. Because we didn’t take it too seriously, it was more the act of recording it than the outcome.”
You released your frantic single Wet Eyes back in March, which is a major introduction and instantly demands attention. What made you choose it as the first single?
“When I came up with the hook, I thought ‘there’s something about this one’. We tried to make it almost as simple as possible music-wise. I want people to press play and nothing really changes for a couple of minutes. It’s just go, straight in, no messing around. It’s a good introduction to us.
"It’s probably more aggressive than the rest of the material by nature, but sometimes that’s a good way to get attention. The chorus hook stuck with us. It’s one of our oldest songs too. When we got the mixes back and we were doing the selection process, we just agreed this one has to come out as a single. We decided between us it should come out first.
“Maybe because how instant it is we thought it could be a good introduction.”
It’s followed up with the equally huge The Ease, which also features on your forthcoming debut album. What can listeners expect from it?
“The Ease and Wet Eyes are on different sides of the record. They’re probably a bit more representative of their side. Wet Eyes is on the first side, it’s a bit more aggressive, it’s a bit more critical of itself. There does seem to be a lot of picking out flaws, highlighting things wrongs with others or yourself, there’s a character in there.
"The second half of the record is more jovial. Maybe these first two represent those two sides.”
What is evident on both tracks is the backing vocals. They really push the track along with this punchy dynamism. Was this something that you wanted to a stand out in your output?
“Yeah definitely. When we joked about what songs we should write, everyone has these ideals of ‘as many hooks as possible’ but you can’t pull hooks out of thin air – well I can’t anyway. When we found them, rather than spreading as many hooks over songs, we found we could do that by using the backing vocals. We really enjoyed doing it like that as well. Because it started out as me and my old schoolmate, I wanted him to sing with me as well. I gave him all the hooky backing vocals, and I’m shouting in between it. It’s the call and response sort of thing. It feels like we’re a team. It’s good fun.
“It’s nice you picked that out. We didn’t necessarily be a two frontman band but we wanted more than just me shout all over it.”
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You mentioned the album was produced by Daniel Fox from Girl Band. What did he add to the sound?
“I’ve met him a few times before touring. He’s a really nice bloke. When we got the opportunity to do it with him we were like ‘definitely’. He brought a sense of professionalism to us. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re don’t really know our gear, compared to some bands.
"I love playing guitar but it’s more of a means to an end to write a song. People like Dan really know their stuff sound-wise. It was great letting him have full control over it, to be honest. He has such a good ear. He made recording guitar really fun. I had four or five amps set up at the same time. He was fiddling with it all. The way he got us organised with it and got the best out of us. He wasn’t scared to tell me off if I was doing a bad vocal take, which I respond well to. It was good.
“It must be a real tricky job being a producer. The first couple of days you’ve got to figure out how the artist is going to respond. It’s like that football manager thing, should I call them out or should I put my arm around them?”
Do you think you’ll take anything you’ve learned from the sessions onto your next steps?
“Absolutely. Because there’s been such an unfortunately huge gap with the world being on pause for a year, I’m sure we’ve lost a bit of momentum on that side to be honest. But we’re regrouping soon to focus on some live shows as opposed to recording. I’ve got so many ideas for the next stage as it were. If we do get the opportunity to make another record, I don’t really want to make the same one twice.
"From what I learned from the first one, especially with tinkering with sounds, and having a bit more respect for sounds as opposed to songwriting, I definitely want to get a bit more of that next time. It was great working with Dan, he was like the fourth member.”
You mentioned the live aspect there. As a listener this record is going to translate so well live. You must be really looking forward to getting back out there? You’ve also announced a headline tour in September playing in Leeds, London, Manchester, Southampton.
“I can’t wait. Personally I love going to live shows and played hundreds of live shows with other bands. I just can’t believe I’ve got another tour booked! It feels like this music is fine tuned for the stage. I appreciate your comments there because we thought choruses and uptempo tunes.
"I’m really looking forward to turning it into a show. Some of the songs are going to have to have a different structure for the live shows. I don’t want people to stop dancing! We’ve got time before September and hopefully the world will be a bit more back to normal by then. We’ll be prepared.”
Who are your main influences and inspirations with Social Haul? Any common threads?
“We all came of age during the post-punk revival, NME, noughties, new rave era. Where we grew up in Bognor Regis, we would all go to this nightclub that played this music. We did think ‘shall we not try and overthink this and do stuff that comes naturally?’ Rick was in a band back in the day that was quite successful that’s influenced our sound. We thought of that style but try and have it a bit more scrappy, a bit more modern, a bit more Minutemen influenced. A bit of XTC rather than straight up Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand.
"We couldn’t really steer too far away from that because that’s what we grew up on. That and metal music we listened to when we were kids, but we’re not a good enough to play metal, so we ended up doing this!”
You’re on FatCat Records, home to the likes of We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad. How supportive are they as a label?
“They’re great. The other band I play in TRAAMS have done a couple of records with them. When this project came together with a couple of demos, they didn’t put all their cards on the table straight away but after a little while they offered to put it out. It was amazing.
"They offer advice and you do what they say because they know their stuff, but they leave you to it, which is really good. You really feel like you’re in control of it. They’re really trusting of it. It’s been perfect working with them.”
What are the next steps for Social Haul?
“The album is out June 11th. I imagine we’ll see another song just before the album. Obviously it will be before the tour starts. Hopefully people will keep pushing and keep listening to it, and they’ll hopefully know all the words when we come and play!
"Building up towards this tour, which is going to be great. I like things being nice and neat. I joked with the guys that I’ll start writing album two the day album one comes out. I’ll be writing in the background there as well.”
Social Haul's debut self-titled album is out on June 11 via FacCat Records
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