On a gloomy October evening, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Auden Laading of Her’s brought an eclectic mix of dreamy jangle-pop and 80s influenced electronic rhythms to Tufnell Park.
Fitzpatrick of Barrow-in-Furness and Norwegian Laading only formed as a band in 2016 after having met as students in Liverpool. The band’s on stage chemistry, both with each other and with the crowd therefore comes as no surprise. Digressing to discussions of motorbikes, hair dye and Laading’s recent birthday between songs (resulting in an impromptu Happy Birthday singalong and a cake being passed around the crowd), the endearing bond both between the pair is evident.
Her’s take the stage to the sounds of The Everly Brothers’ All I Have To Do Is Dream. Laading erects a life-size cutout of Pierce Brosnan- the band’s adoptive third member - that sets the scene for the hour and a half of obscurity and nostalgia to follow. The set is kicked off with crowd favourite Marcel and the room is notably captivated by Fitzpatrick’s faultless vocals and Laading’s unrivalled energy. The pair dispel any hesitations or pre-conceptions about making music as a two-piece, their trusty drum machine adding an effortless dimension and tone to their polished sound.
After bounding through newer songs Low Beam and She Needs Him, Laading introduces older fan- favourite Cool With You, a slower and more sensual song. The crowd is kept on their toes throughout the set, which seamlessly transitions between the band’s older and newer tracks as a journey through time and genre, both in their eclectic musical style and in their live show.
Laading upholds a familiar air of romanticism and nostalgia throughout the set making almost narrative-like quips which drag the audience away from the confines of London on a dull Wednesday night. He introduces the slightly experimental and softer sounding You Don’t Know This Guy with an enchanting description straight out of an 80s teen rom-com “maybe it’s prom night, maybe it’s the last night of summer, maybe that special someone is over in the corner,” before showcasing his dreamy vocals once again.
Whilst touching on topics like long-distance love and loss in their lyricism, the upbeat atmosphere and energy the duo express never falters. Mannie’s Smile discusses the death of Fitzpatrick’s cat whilst Low Beam provides a commentary on the toxic masculinity haunting modern times. Clearly, Her’s never stray from sincerity and provoke thought without detracting from the enchantment of the crowd.
After a few moments of anticipation in which the the six foot Pierce Brosnan is left looking out over an eerily empty stage, the band bounce back onto the stage for a well received encore. The duo wrap up the evening with Speed Racer, a firm favourite from their first release “Songs of Her’s”. They are met with an incessant applause that has characterised their set from start to finish, proving that this won’t be the last we hear of Her’s.
How’s the tour going so far?
Fitzpatrick: Very good yeah, a good reception so far.
Laading: I mean, we’ve been doing our first little stint through Europe, we did five or six dates ending in Paris. Paris was insane. The other ones were great too, they were slightly less insane but they were all super nice.
Do you have a favourite venue to play?
Fitzpatrick: I kind of really like this venue, this one. We played here once before with Happyness when we were on tour with them.
Laading: Brudenell is like the go-to really. Brudenell in Leeds, it's so nice, like the vibe is always on top. That’s always a good time, but that’s kind of an easy answer as well isn’t it? I feel like I’m copping out. It’s really nice here as well for the working-men vibe a little bit.
Fitzpatrick: I heard they do wrestling here now, that’s kind of different.
Aside from touring you’ve played a lot of festivals over the past couple of years, do you have any highlights?
Fitzpatrick: We really enjoyed Truck festival, that was pretty cool, Truck this year was great.
Laading: And Green Man.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, Green Man’s great.
Laading: We only just scraped by playing it as well... A little tent just off to the side but it was a crazy gig, it turned out to be a wild gig because nothing else was happening so it was well-over capacity and everyone was going a bit loco for some reason... Bit overwhelming.
You’re both from similar seaside towns, are your musical backgrounds very similar?
Fitzpatrick: We came from different backgrounds really, like vibe-wise the places were very similar I’d say for sure, both from the coast and both were pretty sleepy and stuff.
Laading: I think the mindset was very similar and I think for both of us our families were quite musical. Mine are not musicians at all but we just appreciated a lot of music together when I was growing up. But I didn’t start playing guitar music until I was like 15, I was always into electronica growing up mainly, so I picked it up with the bass first.
Fitzpatrick: I had a bit more of a traditional musical upbringing, musical parents and family and stuff, I was kind of like always surrounded by instruments. I was surrounded by bass players as well, yeah a lot of bass players.
‘Invitation to Her’s’ came out earlier this year, how does it feel to have a debut album out as opposed to the ‘Songs of Her’s’ collection?
Fitzpatrick: Pretty nuts, pretty official. We put together some songs that we liked and we’re happy with it.
Laading: Yeah, I mean it was similar to the first one in a way, except for that we recorded everything at once and it felt more cohesive.
In that sense do you feel ‘Invitation to Her’s’ flows better or has more of a story to it?
Laading: Yeah, it was recorded in one bulk over three months and we also had time to demo all of them which was really good. It came together a lot more cohesive conceptually.
Fitzpatrick: Definitely, yeah.
Do you have a favourite song from the album?
Fitzpatrick: It’s always changing, it always changes
Does it change when you play a song live?
Laading: Yeah, it’s forever changing. There’s some hard ones that I’m like oh no, I can’t believe we’re playing this and there’s some easy ones that are fun.
Fitzpatrick: My favourite at the minute is probably Love on the Line (Call Now) I think, I like going back to that it’s a fun track.
Laading: Yeah me too, I think it's quintessential to the album. I think mine might be Don’t Think It
Over right now, we’re really trying to get that going live a little bit as well.
Are there any artists or bands you’re particularly big fans of at the moment?
Laading: ...Paul Cherry, he makes like really jazzy indie vibes à la Mild High Club maybe. It’s super nice and he’s super nice, he played before us and he’s absolutely great live.
Fitzpatrick: Paul Cherry’s definitely one. I’m really into this obscure artist the minute called Superstar and Star, which is this guy that’s been putting videos on Youtube since 2006 or something like that. He’s like crazy 80s obscure lo-fi, well, pop I guess. Yeah, he's great, Superstar and Star, I don’t know what the meaning behind that is yet.
Photo cred: Neelam Khan Vela