INTERVIEW: Hyde & Beast

Hyde-and-Beast-talk-to-NEMM

The concept of an album concocted by two drummers may have some of you recoiling in horror with visions of Phil Collins style production & competitive drum solos (oh God, the humanity!) however, when Hyde & Beast first got together for what was admittedly a lark about in the studio, they surprised and delighted many with their debut album ‘Slow Down’ gaining critical acclaim throughout the music industry

We caught up with the dynamic duo to learn more about what is behind their follow up album ‘Keep Moving’, and how things have moved on since their debut

“With the last album we were just dicking around to be honest. We had no intention of releasing the stuff we were recording, we were just having a laugh”

Since then it seems like these two chaps have been through the mill a bit. Their latest album ‘Keep Moving’ unveils a story of loss, bereavement, &heartache. Hardship that could have easily sent any songwriter crawling off to a shed to write a series of depressing songs has instead been transformed into a happy-go-lucky story with a very British keep calm & carry on attitude. 

“We both like upbeat music, it doesn’t mean the words have to be upbeat. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition: happy music with sad words”

It’s true that this album is an altogether happy listen, inviting you into their slightly bonkers world & sharing their past misadventures but leaving you feeling like it’s been narrated in some sort of magical fairground. Neil helps explain

“Dave (Hyde) likes things to have a certain “wonk” to them…he’s a real life Willy Wonka”

This “wonk” pops up to say hello in numerous places throughout the album, such as the wonderful circus fade-out in ‘Train to Nowhere’ .. the Thomas the tank engine style intro of ‘Blown Away’ & the slide guitar in ‘Animals’ which would fit pretty well in a Ren & Stimpy sketch.

Amongst the serious lyrics, there is a sense of fun & a spontaneous feel to this album with a freedom and looseness to the sound 

“We never rehearse an idea or even write a song prior to recording, we gather in my little womb like studio and drink some beers until we are loose and goosey, Dave plays and writes most of the music, I drum a lot on the album and also engineered, recorded and mixed the whole album. We share the lyric writing. Democracy in action” 

It’s an interesting partnership, where Dave’s mischievous musical antics are not reigned in by producer Neil, rather they are encouraged and contributed to. 
“I don’t think there is a producer on the planet who could put up with our stupid way of working. We’d be thrown out within a day. Sadly. Shit gets a bit weird when we are in the studio together”

We never rehearse an idea or even write a song prior to recording, we gather in my little womb like studio and drink some beers until we are loose and goosey

“We do things back-ass-wards. Drums tend to go on last. It’s ridiculous, we are both drummers. It’s like we are scared of them! Actually it’s probably because we don’t know where the song is headed when we start recording. We’ve been recording in the dark a bit recently, Keeping it cavemen!

This album is not all bonkers, there are many exceptional tracks that are easy to find from the off. My top 3 stand out favourites could not be any further apart from each other in terms of style & sound. 

Borderline glam-rock stomper (& BBC 6-Music track of the week, well done lads) ‘Keep Moving’ has a super catchy guitar riff accompanied with lush beach boys inspired harmonies and a brilliantly kooky rhythm section reminding us that we are in the presence of 2 meticulous percussionists. Noteworthy lyrics on this track ‘How could you lie just to make it better? But it’s alright, because you’re alright’ explained a little more by Neil,

“It’s a way of saying things were crap, but you are ok so I guess everything is ok. There’s always someone worse off than you so try and look on the bright side”

‘Forever on your own’ really shines on this album, largely down to the piano and horns section, which really add an element of class to this song and the entire album. Neil elaborates

“The brass and strings really make this record for us. We love em. The three horn players are affectionately known as “lips, lungs and cheeks”. The violin player was amazing. We love all these crazy fools and are so thankful they came to spread their magic over us”

The finest example of the beautifully produced strings on the album can be found on final track “Ba ba ba” which by the time you reach the chorus will evoke a mild state of euphoria, contrasted by the hard hitting lyrics ‘don’t kid yourself that you feel alright’

But I do feel alright. ‘Keep Moving’ is an easy & incredibly addicive listen with so many intricate layers to be discovered. There is a very tangible nostalgic vibe to this album, hailing from somewhere around the late 60s / early 70s while still holding enough modern relevance not over-emulate an era. 

“We both listen to a lot of retro stuff so with me being a recording engineer I try and recreate certain ambiances…We have a shared love of 60s and 70s music and that just comes out I guess, it’s not planned. Nothing is contrived.

‘Keep Moving’ is a cleverly constructed & pleasingly varied album to remind you of a time when music was just oh so good, even if times were bad and carries with it enough melodic genius to send Sgt Pepper and Ziggy Stardust packing

Hyde & Beast are now rehearsing their socks off getting ready for festivals and are shooting another video before the new album ‘Keep Moving is born on August 4th 

“We dunno if it’s a boy or a girl yet, we wanted it to be a suprise!”
In the meantime, be sure to catch Hyde & Beasts’ self described “many legged clattering joyous mess” of a live set.

James Clarke
James Clarke

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