Friday, 19 April 2019

Rockers bring fresh ears to new album and tour

Rockers bring fresh ears to new album and tour

UP and coming indie rockers Broken Hands are playing a free show at the Purple Turtle in Reading next Thursday (April 18) as a warm-up for their upcoming US tour, writes Matthew Wilson.

Since being signed by Atlantic Records in October last year, the Canterbury five-piece have become one of the hottest-tipped bands in the land.

Their latest double A-side single release Split in Two b/w Friends House has seen them become BBC radio regulars.

Having previously shared stages with everyone from Blur and The Kills to Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones, the band have been busy finishing work on their Atlantic Records debut album due out later this year.

Just before entering the studio, the pace slowed when lead singer Dale Norton endured the sort of nightmare most musicians don’t dare dream about — intensive ear surgery that left him unable to sing or play music for nearly two months.

“I had to have this dissection to basically open up the pathways,” he explains. “I couldn’t do anything after for what felt like forever. I’m probably hearing music completely different from how I did, but the upside was I came into this record with a fresh palette.”

Choosing to embrace the situation, the band opted to work with producer Julian Emery (Nothing But Thieves, Lower Than Atlantic) on new music, with long-term producer Tom Dalgety moving to the mixer’s chair.

With a nod to US influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, Big Brother and The Holding Company and My Morning Jacket, Broken Hands adopted a “half-time” rhythm.

As a result, the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals hit harder as they seesaw back and forth.

“For a British rock guitar band, it’s all about fast four-to-the-floor singles,” says Dale. “We went slower and heavier. We loved doing the slow vibe. It was a big lightbulb moment.”

A case in point is the hulking distortion and sinewy riffing that propel Split in Two forward at a confident strut before giving way to Dale’s hypnotic hook. “We literally felt split in two,” he reflects. “Touring as much as we have, you’re divided from the ones you love and spend the rest of your life with.

“In a psychological sense, you can also feel divided between two things. You’re stuck in a corridor. The idea extends to the sonics. One minute, I want to write a screaming heavy record. In the next, I want to write something tranquil. It’s a push and pull.”

Friends House tempers moments of introspection with a bombastic sense of dread siphoned through sparse percussion and a paranoid wail. It draws on a moment when Dale found himself threatened at gunpoint in the midst of the band’s first US tour.

“It’s quite a dark song,” he concedes. “You think you’re happy and you think you’re safe, but actually you couldn’t be any further from safety. When you get very intoxicated, you’re happy and comfortable, but it’s actually the most dangerous position to be in.

“When we first went to the States, I got held up at a bar at 4am. I was drunk, British, and not familiar with this sort of situation. That could happen anywhere. It’s the illusion of safety.”

Ultimately, Broken Hands succeed in translating duality into definitive anthems. “It’s okay to be divided,” Dale adds. “You don’t have to feel like you’ve got to be one thing all of the time physically, psychologically, or musically. Too often in life, people try to tell you to be one thing. We reached a new level by clinging to both sides.”

Thursday’s concert starts at 8pm. For more information and to register for a free e-ticket, visit

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