After a long day at the office, all you want to do is relax, switch off and put your feet up in front of some mind-numbing television. Then, without warning, along comes an Invitation To Her’s and the evening changes for the better.
While it might not mean putting on your finest threads, you could at least neaten your hair and do up a couple of shirt buttons – Her’s have worked hard on providing a delightful aural treat for you in the form of their debut album.
Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading met in a canteen while the pair studied at Liverpool’s illustrious LIPA – bringing together backgrounds of the music scenes in Barrow-in-Furness and Norway respectively. Fitzpatrick’s forté is apparently as a drummer (“He’s fucking sick by the way,” his bandmate chips in) but in Her’s he takes on the frontman’s role as singer and guitarist.
Though this may be the pair’s debut album, they’ve come close to this stage before with their self-dubbed ‘collection’ ‘Songs Of Her’s’ – a selection of their singles to date.
“I feel like people thought we were wussing out a bit with the collection thing. When we announced this one they were like, ‘Isn’t this the second album really?’ We got cold feet for the debut though so I guess we couldn’t put it off much longer, but I feel like we approached this one more confidently,” Stephen explains.
Some of the ideas behind the album had been fermenting a while, with fragments of songs laying around the cutting room floor for up to two years before being called up to the front line.
Stephen continues: “It seemed very clear what needed to be on ‘Songs of Her’s’. It was basically what we were playing actively live at the time, which is why it felt not scattered, but we were dipping our feet in a lot of different sounds at that point.”
The album sees a definite, intended move away from being a selection of singles into a full-length release that ebbs and flows naturally and ‘Invitation To Her’s’ is certainly a more polished article filled with interesting stories and plenty of character.
Ariel Pink’s production style and a Bruce Springsteen attitude are cited by the pair as influences on their latest release, while MGMT’s latest album was in heavy rotation in the stereo around time of recording.
“We realised that after, listening back to the two side by side we definitely took some colours from that subconsciously,” Auden explains – erring on the side of caution when it comes to any potential copyright issues.
Opening track and recent single ‘Harvey’ is Stephen’s take on a classic Jimmy Stewart film about a man whose best friend is an invisible six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall invisible rabbit. Stephen has been a big fan of the film for a few years.
“I guess the chorus of the song has been around for a while and it kind of came after watching the film,” he says. “I just liked the idea of taking on the character a little bit.”
The rest of the album contains a tribute to a cat that Stephen’s family sadly had to give away, tracks with “dude vibes” and sounds that are apparently going down a treat in Norway. Despite the sleek production, the album was recorded in a friend’s living room on Liverpool’s student-heavy Smithdown Road.
Most of the guitars are played in using a DI, and there’s only minor amp usage featuring on the album which has a surprisingly DIY demo aesthetic.
Auden notes: “It’s nuts how you’re free to do that nowadays. It’s very much just in somebody’s house with an interface and a laptop.”
Both Stephen and Auden contribute to the drum programming, and they spent plenty of time demoing before heading into the makeshift studio to record the finished product.
Though for many bands being on the precipice of a debut album might mean there aren’t too many fan-favourites already under the belt, Her’s are no strangers to requests when they take to the stage – that’s where releasing the ‘collection’ has come in nice and handy. While their cover of Minnie Ripperton’s classic ‘Loving You’ is high on the request list, their original gem ‘What Once Was’ is the track they find audience clambering for as soon as they take to the stage and the pair can’t believe their luck.
“It’s crazy; they know the lyrics and everything – probably better than I do,” Auden begins. “I thought the Waiting Room like the first London headline show we did – obviously it’s not the biggest, a 120 cap, but it was packed out and everybody was there to have the best time, and they all knew the lyrics. That was a proper intimate moment.”
This is far from a one-off by the sound of it, with 2016’s Green Man appearance marking a hugely significant moment for Stephen.
“They put us down in this slot, and nothing else was happening at the same time as this slot, and we were on the smallest stage – the Green Man Rising stage. It was some strange like Woodstock moment.”
Fans were apparently already familiar with the Her’s catalogue at this point and enjoyed it to the extent that there were calls for an encore. Sadly these fell on deaf ears, though only as Her’s had already rattled through everything they had.
Her’s live show is definitely a sight to behold – despite being a duo they’re able to command the stage and present a performance that’s more than just them rattling through the tunes.
Stephen comments: “We’ve gotten so used to having space on stage that we’re just asking bands to take their drum kits off stage, even though we’ve got lots of space.”
Auden has been known to don a cape for performances (“It’s from the Ladies section of TK Maxx, £15”) in what he describes as his Batman get-up.
“I quickly found out it works well when you boogie because it gives you a bit of an extension to your body so it like waves about in a hopefully mesmerising way. It’s definitely worked out since I’m only wearing black most the time, it does give me a certain Batman aesthetic.”
And who of hasn’t wanted to command a room with a Dark Knight stare and shawl?
Last time the pair spoke to Dork, they boasted of Auden’s ability to make a mean leek pie – will they give us the recipe yet?
“It’s more of a family recipe. I got it from my mum; my grandmother used to make it. I’m trying to keep the tradition alive. Not evolve it too much. It’s not very Norwegian. Norwegian stuff is mostly a bunch of roots with a lot of water and a lot of pepper on top. It’s what you do when you’re stuck up in like permanent frost and ice and can’t cut a potato really for your family to eat.”
Auden’s family have now moved house to somewhere more picturesque: “We’re on a lake in the woods, and it’s very Norwegian romantic.”
With the debut album now under their belt, thoughts turn to the road ahead, and there’s hope from the pair that a US tour and a potential return to SXSW are in the pipeline.
Auden sums up where their heads are at with a perfect cliché: “The world is our oyster.”
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Her’s debut album ‘Invitation To Her’s’ is out 24th August.
Words: Ciaran Steward