We sat down with the visually stunning South London quartet Hidden Charms to find out more about being the new boys on rock’n’roll’s payroll.
You guys look incredible – tell us who or what has inspired the overall aesthetics of the band and they way you choose to represent yourselves, visually.
Vincent: Well obviously there’s that whole scene from the sixties with The Kinks, The Beatles and Stones and all that. We like all the flamboyant shirts and jackets of that era. The whole Carnaby street thing, I mean we feel more like mods than hippies or anything like that. But also the blues guys like Muddy Waters or Bo Diddley, they were sharp as anything.”
Oscar: We’ve recently struck up a partnership with ‘Chenaski’ Clothing who make some serious shirts and stuff.
How did you all meet and were there any previous projects before Hidden Charms?
2. Oscar: It’s an odd one. Me and Josh were in two separate projects playing with both Ranald and Vincent. They had obviously heard a lot about each other and there was a lot of healthy competition as we both moved in similar circles but they had never met. One night there was an acoustic blues jam at some bar and we were all there, Ranald just walked up onto stage, introduced himself to Vini and they sang a load of chuck berry numbers and that was that. We decided to merge the two bands into one.
Are there ever any in-house fights over creative differences? How do you deal with the compromise?
Vincent: There are many, many fights over everything not just music but that’s what being in a band is like or so I’ve heard. At the time, it seems like the most important thing in the world but after all the kicking and screaming is over we’re best buddies again. Life is all about compromise so being in a band is just good training I suppose.
Give us an isight as to who inspires you musically – your sound is pretty reminiscent of the organic rock’n’roll of yesteryear.
3. Vincent: We like anything that’s good, I don’t like the idea of retro or whatever. We don’t like music because its old it’s just good stuff, the melodies the rhythms seem to be better from the 50’s and 60’s to say now where all the tunes seem pretty bland. Our influences from the past are Howlin Wolf and all those guys but today the guys we like are Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Paolo Nutini and The Temples. They seem to really believe in what there doing you know.
How do you think London as a city has enriched you musically? How has it influenced the way you write, produce and execute yourselves?
4. Vincent: It’s hard to say really, it’s a very interesting place to grow up. I’m sure it probably influences everything you do like the way you walk, talk as well as the writing stuff. But when you’re playing music inspired by black guys from the 50’s and 60’s in America maybe London Town doesn’t come across too much.
Tell us more about the debut track Sunnyside?
Oscar: Sunny side came about while we were in the states ironically. We were working with an artist called Nick Waterhouse who is really, really good. He’s the meaning of rhythm and blues, he took us and under his wing and showed us the ropes. He wears sunglasses at all times like Dylan in the 60’s which is funny as the hook in the track is Been trying to hide from the sunny side.
What can we expect from the full-length record and are there any stand-out tracks which you are particularly proud of?
Vincent: More of the same really, were just trying to make the music we want. Today your up against dance music at least where we’re from all the young people want to dance in clubs rather than go see a folk band or a poetry reading or something. So really we just want to make music that you can dance to but with more than 4 words in the song ya know. I think we’re proud of all the tracks but usually the newest one you write is the one everyone is excited about.
As we said, you look great. Are you concerned that style might overshadow the music?
Oscar: I hope not. I believe the two can go hand in hand. But at the end of the day we like the stuff we wear.
Vincent: If I were to go to the shop I’d wear a shirt and a velvet jacket maybe a tie, it doesn’t seem like a big deal or particularly crazy to me so I don’t see why anyone else would feel that way. Whenever you see people go on stage in a t shirt and jeans it always seems pretty lazy to me, we’re entertainers you have to look the part.
Give us your top 5 tracks of all-time?
Vincent: That’s an evil question, it depends what day it is. Some days I’m a tomorrow never knows man other days Waterloo Sunset man. But Today, Black Math by the White Stripes, Rain by The Beatles and Turd On The Run by the Rolling Stones.
If you could have written any other track by another band / artist, which would it be?
Vincent: My Generation, it’s one of those that everyone wishes they wrote.”
What has been the best and worst live gigs you’ve played to date?
Vincent: Worst gig we ever played was in a fish market, they kept telling us to turn down because people could hear the fish mongers. Best gig would have to be the electric ballroom, it’s definitely the best venue we’ve ever done in terms of sound, lighting and all that stuff but also the biggest crowd yet thanks to Razorlight who we were supporting.
Words: Shane Hawkins