words by ross jones
Swedish four-piece Hater are a really warm and embracive bunch – they’re first full-length, the delightful ‘You Tried’, channelled their natural togetherness into short and passionate pop songs. While balancing poignancy and contentment without force, they deliver with such high-spirit and striking assuredness that not only comes across on the record, but also away from the music. When I had the chance to sit down and talk with the group, from their drummer Lukas Thomasson’s apartment in Malmö, the belief they have in each other shone through – they truly are a band in every sense of the word, and the music they are creating is exactly what they want to be crafting together.
“I wanted to be sincere to myself, and us.” Explains Lukas when considering what the group want to put across in an expressive sense, “Then if it feels good, the gut feeling, then it has a life of its own almost. It’s also really open for everybody’s input, so if someone wants something cheesier there is really no boundaries, we aren’t aiming at a certain thing.” Even when one member is considering a question themselves, you can tell the other members are feeling or wanting to express the same notion, evidence of that naturally binding spirit that the group have found. “We played together in other constellations, and I think it felt like this when we played.” As Caroline Landahl shows, they are sincere and concurrent, an earnest band of people obviously doing what they want to do and being able to share that with one another in the same way – it’s visible in the way they interact, not separate but engaging with one another as they answer. As Måns Leonartsson attests “I think we’ve been trusting our gut feeling”.
It truly comes across in their music. The feeling and emotion that they obviously exhibit personally is channelled into a balance of sentimentality and gentle fulfilment in their sound – in both Caroline’s lyricism and also the foundations that they craft. It’s music that summons relief and sentiment in equal measure, and seemingly comes natural to channel. “We’re all, at time to time, a bit low I guess, emotional. We encourage each other to try new songs and new feelings. It’s almost like, we’re just a band playing, there isn’t much post-production.” Lukas explains, speaking not only in the sense of musicianship but also thematically of the context or feel of the record. Engaging in a really honest and direct approach plainly helped the group to craft their first record and head down the courageously open route they have taken. It’s an obvious step by step process that the band are taking themselves on. “I think that (having no post-production) really helped us in the studio I think, cause we didn’t put on something extra like dubbing a guitar or putting on some synth. So we really are a four-piece band.” Måns determines, “Until this EP!” Lukas jokingly includes.
The new EP, recently recorded and set for release later this year, will no doubt continue to display the group’s ability to muster strength and vigour through their music. In particular with first album highlights ‘Heavy Hearts’ and ‘Stay Gold’, they deliver with such passion, something that can easily have a totalling circumstance of either wearing burden or alleviating and cathartic power. It’s something the band haven’t been able to put a definitive finger on, but that they consider with great empathy, “It’s not really clear which way, like life. It’s both almost all the time I think.”
Whats particularly enjoyable about Hater and their music is how they manage to elicit all these emotions and feelings into succinct, concise pop songs. While a more expansive and illustrative sound could certainly work for them, their ability to craft such compelling melodies within such timeframes and then injecting such personality into it so fluidly is what really makes it work so well. When contemplating whether working within such pop frames helps to define what it is they are trying to say, it seems that its something that comes more hand-in-hand with what they are attempting to achieve. “I think we’ve been really quick at ending songs. We don’t need to say more, it doesn’t need more. We don’t want to fill it out with anything.” Måns illustrates, open with their writing approach. “We certainly don’t want to add for the sake of it. It’s concise, the song’s structure is a part of the story. It’s like not thinking about it from a musicians perspective, only really listening or feeling.”
As exhibited by ‘You Tried’, it all comes together like a picture book, illuminative and striking, knowing exactly where to hit the mark at just the right moment, coalescing into an obviously confident and established sound. It’s an element the band are quick to notice has developed with time and growth. From the timid beauty of their first EP Radius, through to the assured debut record we hear today, to the even more expressive work we’ll hear in the future, it’s documenting their own development as well as their sound as a whole. “I think its a bit frightening sometimes that when you start a song you sometimes feel like it has to sound as good as these songs that we have made.” Måns admits with complete assurance, “with the good stuff we are making now, they feel completely without pressure.”
It’s a really positive outlook for the bands future, one that off the back of the reception received for their record can only look brighter. With a headline show in London tomorrow, and a recently announced appearance at this year’s Roskilde festival in Denmark, the group are excited by the opportunities ahead. “We’re really proud and we really want to get it out there and show it.” Lukas beams, and as they list the array of things they’d like to do as a group – playing in the US and Japan, meeting new people, seeing different cities across the world – you can see this little band from Malmö, Sweden certainly ticking each one off and doing just that.
A new set of visuals for ‘You Tried’, created by Nils Ekman, is streaming below from today. ‘You Tried’ is available here via PNKSLM and Hater play The Old Blue Last in London tomorrow, April 22nd.