Hinds Talk the ‘Prettiest Curse’ and Love for NYC [Interview]
Spanish indie rock outfit Hinds drops their much anticipated third album today, The Prettiest Curse.
Prior to the pandemic, I chatted with lead singer and guitarist Carlotta Cosails. An unabashed fan, my goal was to avoid becoming awkward fangirl, Mel, from Flight of the Conchords. A nearly impossible feat, as Hinds’ first two albums, Leave Me Alone and I Don’t Run, are still heavy in the rotation. But after a few apologetic text messages that would give the Smiths a run for their money, it was clear that Cosails is not only sweet and approachable, but also the kind of frontwoman you could easily hole up in a bar with until 4am, talking about music. (Once social distancing is a thing of the past.)
We hit the ground running with talk of The Prettiest Curse, a record that diverges from their garage rock roots. Which is fine with the band.
“We already made two albums that were pretty raw and lo-fi,” she noted matter-of-factly. “For I Don’t Run, we were obsessed with being a rock and roll band, like we really wanted to be tagged in that genre, since it’s the genre of freedom, in my opinion. Once we felt strong enough having that background, we said let’s experiment in the sounds, let’s experiment in the music, because we don’t need to prove that we can do songs only with guitar, bass, and drums.”
This new tack is an interesting development in the evolution of Hinds, considering the foursome lacks a keyboardist. And could pose a challenge when they go on tour this fall – assuming shows are booked post-pandemic – but Cosails remains mostly unfazed by the challenge.
“We’re trying to only keep it as the four of us, so it’s going to be a little bit of a nightmare. For Ana’s (guitar, vox) birthday, we bought her a little piano, like a Casio – a very cheap one – but she’s started practicing.”
In recording the new LP, Hinds possessed something not experienced recording the first two efforts: time.
“We weren’t in a rush, and could enjoy every single day of the studio. We actually ended up with one extra day, so we recorded ‘Spanish Bombs.’ We did some pre-production in Madrid, so it felt like the whole album was ready to be recorded. The studio in New York was incredibly expensive, so every single minute counted. We had really clear ideas before going [to the studio]; it was kind of fast.
When asked if there was a story behind The Prettiest Curse, Cosails smiled sweetly and nodded, as if revealing a secret.
“Yeah, of course there is. There’s a lyric about it in ‘Just Like Kids (Miau).’ With this album, we’ve realized that this is now our life. After album one and album two, you never actually know how long you’re going to go for; you never know if people are going to get tired of your music, or your persona, or whatever. So with album three, it was realizing, ‘alright, this is what it is, we are musicians, and this is the life that we’re going to have to go through.’ And it’s not an easy one. It’s really tough and exhausting sometimes – being far away from a lot of people. It’s not having a house, it’s not having a place to be; it’s like being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But we still love it. That’s why it’s the prettiest curse.”
These themes of coming to grips are set to memorable melody. Indeed, when you listen to Hinds, it’s nearly impossible to separate the melody from the lyrics. Their lo-fi vibes mashed together with layered vocals leave it a mystery as to which came first. Cosails affirms, though, that melody usually comes first, with mumble words as stand-in.
“We try to respect that first idea [when writing], the born idea,” she says.
The “born idea” is the perfect phrase – untampered creativity. I ask if being so honest lyrically is challenging. As it turns out, Spaniards aren’t that keen on words in music, anyway.
“We used to be kind of embarrassed, as in people might not understand [what we were singing], and this person is going to read the lyrics and realize we’re talking about him or whatever. But then, album after album, we realized that nobody fucking reads the lyrics. I think that when you listen to music, and you’re a Spaniard, you don’t focus that much on the lyrics, especially if they’re in English.”
In the past, Hinds faced scrutiny for soaring through the Madrid music scene. Purists complained that the band hasn’t put in their dues, or years of hard work, to get where they’ve gotten in such a short amount of time. But with The Prettiest Curse, it seems some of that sentiment has subsided.
“It changed with I Don’t Run. We really have a fan base now. Spain is definitely the country where we have more haters, but it’s alright; I think the amount of people who like Hinds right now make more noise than the people who still don’t like us.”
Though their US tour dates have been postponed thanks to the pandemic, Cosails’ eyes light up when asked what she likes best about touring in America.
“It’s the best! I mean, that’s an easy question – no, for real. You’re driving down the highway and you need guitar picks or strings or whatever, and there’s a fucking Guitar Center next to the gas station. It’s just so fucking easy! If you suddenly need a cap or whatever, and you’re in France, and it’s after 6 pm, everything is closed. To us, the US is the most comfortable and fun – like actual fun.”
From there, the conversation travels to New York City. They enjoy drinking at Sophie’s on East 5th Street when in the city. “It reminds us of a bar in Madrid and we love it. Having the pool tables and the jukebox – it’s like a rock bar.”
And Hinds are not without an “only in New York” story.
Cosails thinks a moment, before answering. “We were watching Orville Peck when we were in New York recording the album. He was playing one night and we came to see him, and we ended up watching the whole show standing next to Mark Ronsen.”