Just back from a festival in Japan – “an insane place and a bit different from Manchester in the rain” – Hurts are scorching the airwaves right now with their sad synth-pop sound which has echoes of the early 80s. New single Wonderful Life and album Happiness are due out soon and we caught up with the Manchester duo – Adam and Theo – in London’s Soho to chat about their sound, getting Kylie on their album and their 80s influences…
Your new single Wonderful Life is fantastic but I remember reviewing it months ago. What’s the story there?
Adam: The first release of it was a remix and we made a video for it a year ago so it has been around a while. It’s about time it was unleashed on the world really isn’t it?
Your look and the video is very Black Wonderful Life – was that on purpose?
Adam: We’re usually very self-aware, but when we wrote the song we didn’t even think about it – it was a strong enough idea on its own.
Theo: And then four months later someone said ‘Oooh, it’s like Black,’ and I went, ‘Oh my god!’
I wondered at first if it was a cover version…
Adam: It’s a cover, but we changed all the chords and the words – it’s really well disguised.
There’s a bit of Johnny Hates Jazz in your look too. Are you fans of the 80s?
Theo: We don’t remember the 80s because we’re too young – our musical ties are from the 90s and beyond. We listen to Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Prince and Michael Jackson from that era, but aside from that not a lot else. But in the 80s there was definitely an idea of pop music with integrity and that appeals to us.
Your debut album Happiness is out soon – is it all done and dusted?
Theo: It is. We’ve had a crazy year – it started off with us on the dole in the rain in Manchester writing songs that are on the album, then six months later we signed a record deal, six months after that we’re playing around the world. So it’s been an intense period and the songs portray that.
Adam: We went to Sweden to record a lot of it and it was so cold and dark we went a bit mad – it was so cold it took you till lunchtime to warm up. In the end it was like The Shining – 35 soundproofed rooms, all of them empty. But it’s good not to get too comfortable when you’re making music – after we lost our minds we wrote a great song that’s on the album called The Water.
You’ve duetted with Kylie on it – how did that come about?
Theo: We finished the album, listened to it a million times and thought that the song Devotion would be great with a girl’s vocal – someone like Kylie. So we thought, why don’t we ask Kylie – she can only say no. So we wrote her a letter and said ‘Hi, do you want to sing on our song? Bye!’ and two weeks later she got back and said she’d do it. She sounds like Kate Bush too which is interesting…
You played Lovebox on Polysexual Sunday – did it feel very polysexual to you?
Adam: Well, Peaches was certainly polysexual. I saw some things backstage that I didn’t know existed.
Would you class them as polysexual?
Adam: They were definitely polysexual. Multi-sexual even.
Have you heard your songs on the radio?
Adam: I remember the first time I heard one of our songs on the radio – it was a demo we’d made about four years ago. It was the most amazing feeling of my life and I’ve never recaptured that since.
Theo: But for me it never gets old – I love it every time I hear it. Radio is where I learnt everything about music and thinking about all the different people who might be listening to your song is kind of cool.
What’s the most-played song on your MP3 player right now?
Theo: The Drums – Me And The Moon.
Adam: Georgio Moroder – Love Theme.
If you could be the lovechild of any two pop stars, which two would you choose?
Theo: Good question! Elvis and Kate Bush.
Adam: That’s superb. Erm… Jeff Buckley and Sinead O’Connor. I’ve picked a melancholy mum and dad there haven’t I?
Theo: Our dads wouldn’t get on at all would they?
Hurts’ single Wonderful Life is out on August 23rd; album Happiness is out on September 6th.