On a very wet Friday afternoon I head off to Brighton, Concorde 2 to catch up with the two brothers, Harry and Alfie Hudson Taylor; a duo from the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland.
We caught up ahead of their performance as part of their ‘Singing for Strangers‘ tour to coincide with the release of their debut album of the same name, released on the 30th of March in the UK. Such topics include: their debut album, the art of busking, powering through power cuts and their plans for the future.
Hi! How are you both?
Harry: Very good, we had an amazing show in London last night so we are on a massive high state of mind, can’t wait to play in Brighton tonight.
Alfie: The whole tour in general, the last 10 days has been so much fun, really amazing.
You played Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night in London. That must have been massive.
A: It was amazing, crazy.
H: We’ve been putting up a picture after every show, just on Instagram saying thank you for coming but there are so many good photographs and so many good moments I just don’t know what to choose. Struggling to find the one that goes “that’s the one, that’s the one that defines the night”.
A: It was also double the size of any show we’ve ever done…
Does that make you nervous at all playing such big shows?
A: Well there was one part in the middle of the show where we unplugged and played all acoustic and it was a bit like “Whoa, shit, what are we doing here?”
H: And there was a couple of times where I forgot there was a giant three-storey balcony up there and it’s so far away and disconnected and there’s a whole other 200, 300 people up there.
A: And then when the lights come up at the end and you can see everybody, that’s crazy, but we had family there and it was brilliant.
So the new album coming out, the debut album…
H: About time!
A: Well, apparently we can do a sold out tour without an album even out so it’s pretty good.
It must be a pretty big thing to sell out a tour before the album is even out…
A: Well, we are very interested once people have heard the songs and stuff like that.
H: We’re not going to stop touring.
A: The album coming out took us about three and a half, four years to make…
H: Which is obviously quite a long time but we wanted to get it right, you only get your first album once, that’s why we had twenty-one songs on it, ‘cause we were like “We can’t choose”.
I love a long album!
H: Surprisingly because the songs are so short, even though its twenty-one songs it actually only comes to just over an hour.
A: And we sing them really fast!
H: Normally if you had twenty-one songs you wouldn’t fit it on one CD but we do.
What’s your favourite song to play live?
H: It sort of changes every night for me, what about you?
A: Yeah, it’s different every night…
H: Some crowds react differently and know the words to different songs that maybe we wouldn’t expect them to and it’s really cool.
A: On this tour so far we’ve been singing a new song which was the last song we put on the album, we thought we were done and then we thought “We have to put that on”.
H: It’s called ‘Don’t Know Why’.
A: It’s got this bit on it that goes [H and A sings] “I don’t know why and I don’t know when” and we get the crowd to join in and we teach them that part so that’s been a really nice moment. It’s a totally new song to everybody and it’s not ever been put up anywhere; we haven’t really experienced anything like that before because we used to just put all of our songs straight up on YouTube as soon as we wrote them, so it’s cool.
You do a lot of busking and you have been doing a lot on the tour…
H: Yeah we have tried to, we would of today…
A: The weather’s holding off so we might still try to take our guitars and go busk in Brighton cause, it’s always good. We’ve had a lot of experience from busking in Brighton.
H: Probably more than any city in the UK, it’s probably been here the most.
A: Yeah because it’s always sunny and beautiful down here.
H: Apart from today of course, I literally got off the train and was like “This is the most disgusting thing ever” with the my umbrella and the wind blowing.
A: [laughs] Yeah!
H: But yeah we love to go busking, we try to go as much as possible. It’s the most humbling and amazingly fun experience. We used to do it for pocket money and a bit of a laugh and now it’s mainly just for the laugh. We just wanna go out and sing our songs on the street. It’s a good warm up, it gets you in the right head space before a gig, especially when you have a hangover like we do today. Just a nice thing to wake you up.
A: And also to just get a feel for it. There’s been a couple of cities on this tour, places we haven’t really played much.
H: And you’ll get people come up to you and say…
A: “We’re coming to see you tonight!” so it’s nice, you meet people that are going to the gig.
H: Sometimes we ask the crowd that night “Who came and saw us busking earlier?” it gets a bit of a buzz going.
So how does busking compare to playing live shows?
H: It’s actually very similar to supporting people because when you’re supporting someone you are basically there to just win over a load of people that aren’t there to see you. But with busking you’re there to win over people in about three seconds as they walk by, you have to try and get their attention.
A: Like the three seconds of ear phone coming out.
H: We’ll find that in the middle of a song that a few people are coming over, so we’ll skip to the good part of the song and just go into the full harmonies and the bits that will keep their attention. As soon as you get their attention, don’t end the song, try to do a segway into three different songs so they end up saying there for about ten minutes before they realise. It’s just the little tricks of the trade.
A: And like when we were busking in Dublin; another thing you can’t replicate or haven’t replicated on the stage, Harry used to jump up on poles or bollards or bins and sing on top of there.
H: Yeah, [laughs] you can’t really ignore that. A twelve foot high man in the middle of the street screaming and Alfie down below. Sometimes it didn’t even matter like when we were a bit younger.
A: …like nimble teenagers.
H: I used to stand on Alfie shoulders as well which was a bit of a circus act, and we’d walk around and be playing guitar.
A: We could perfect it really, we should of! [laughs]
It would have been a whole new act then!
A: One day I think.
H: For a world tour or something… if we ever do one.
What sort of inspirations or influences do you have on your music?
H: In terms of influences for writing stuff, we are influenced by what we do every day our daily lives so it’s autobiographical; everything we write is mainly about things that we’ve experienced. We don’t just pick a topic out of thin air but at the same time we might just sit there and something might come out of nowhere, we don’t know what it’s about until after but it’s usually about family, friends…
H: Yeah or politics sometimes even. But influences as artists and stuff probably singer-songwriters and folk bands from the 60’s or 70’s; bands like The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel…
A: The Everly Brothers…
H: For their type of song construction.
A: It’s harmonies that gets us going!
H: A tasty harmony never goes amiss.
A: There you go that’s the title: “A tasty harmony never goes amiss” [laughs] Inspiring us day to day is touring and singing songs so people would sing them back, it really gets you going, it makes you want to write way more songs.
Are you planning any festivals this year?
H: We’ve just announced Dot-to-Dot yesterday but I think there’s loads more that we just haven’t finalised yet, but in the next month or so you’ll probably see us announcing another few.
A: We love festivals so we’ll happily do three in one weekend
H: I mean last year and the year before we probably did collectively around forty festivals.
A: Bring ‘em on!
So what are your plans once the album has been released?
H: It will be more touring and going into the festival season, and then more touring and more touring and while we’re touring we’ll be writing new stuff. We’ve already written a good few songs already but we’ll be continuously writing new songs for album two and three and whatever.
A: But they’re probably all gonna be such happy songs because that’s what we are at the moment! [laughs]
H: Not like when we moved to London and had no money whatsoever…
A: No album.
H: We’ll probably be writing songs and albums like [sings] “Ooo albums are great” I dunno maybe busking songs.
Was it Glastonbury last year when you did the full acoustic set when the power went out?
H: It actually happened to us on this tour again already, it happened on the second day on the Edinburgh date and it was actually the first day on the ‘Singing For Strangers’ tour but we were coming on for an encore, we started playing the song and the bass amp caught on fire so there was a power cut. People didn’t see the bass amp on fire but they did think the power cut was part of the show and was meant to happen because it kind of felt like it was. It was so perfect in a way because it just broke on a perfect beat and everyone was like “What’s going on?” and we had to sing with no lights…
A: And the bands came out as well while we were singing, it looked like they were coming to help us because they knew the power was broken but they actually come out in the song anyway so that was really cool, the drummer was playing with his hands.
H: But yeah, it happened at Glastonbury and that was mad. We walked out into the middle of the tent in the pissing rain, crazy thunderstorm going on, we weren’t allowed to make noise on the stage or use electricity purely for health and safety reasons. So we were like “Can we go in the crowd?” We went out with a megaphone and just got on with it.
A: And then we got the hat out! [laughs]
Can we see you in any Blue Corner Store gear any time soon?
H: Yeah definitely, I wouldn’t mind one of those jumpers [laughs]
A: We’re feckers for white t shirts and that.
And finally, when can we get our hands on the new album?
H: Actually the album will be coming out on the 30th of March.
A: And we have a music video coming out as well for our new single ‘World Without You’.
H: Also one thing about the album, something quite cool is for people who like to buy physical copies on the day, it releases on the 30th of March. It’s twenty-one songs, bearing in mind you get it on that day from HMV for £5.99, so there you go, a secret buzz thing.
A: And come and see us live!
H: If you don’t understand what we’re about the best way is just to see us live, there’s not a lot more I can say really, you can’t fake live music.