Hadouken! For The Masses
Huw Jones | Wednesday, 13 January 2010
"I think the music industry's savvied up to not go overboard with these stupid words," says James Smith, referring to his band's multi-genre nu-rave, grime, indie, grindie, dance-punk-rock status. "We're comfortable in who we are now. We're Hadouken!"
Once the upstarts of the spurious fluorescent nu-rave scene, Hadouken! have spent the past twelve months readying the harrowing follow-up to their debut album Music For An Accelerated Culture, and if all goes to plan For The Masses promises to deliver a cochlea-crushing amount of hype, acclaim, dismissal and journalistic glow sticks at dawn before the month's out.
"It's something that we're very proud of. Usually the second album is the one in the UK where everyone forgets about you, but we like to hope that we're ahead of the curve because we were making the album this time last year," exclaimed James.
"Since then we've seen acts like Chase N Status and Pendulum get to number one and we've seen The Prodigy release an album of retrogressive-sounding music and it going stratospheric; we feel that some of our influences and our peers are actually having the most success that they've ever had.
"Also, there's not a lot of new acts. I mean, you do have the little hype sound of 2010, but essentially major labels haven't been signing much because the music industry is in such decline and there's been a recession so we've actually got quite a lot of space between us in terms of the genre and our peers."
Known for the forceful and focused courage of their convictions, the decision to record and produce the album in Holland alongside Dutch drum n bass heavyweights Noisia is enough to raise the odd inquisitive eyebrow, but as Dan explains, the decision to invite collaborative creative criticism was based on mutual trust.
"We respect them as producers and we knew that they were able and interested in doing stuff not just within the drum n bass scene. We didn't wanna make a drum n bass record."
Talented producers they might be, but that doesn't mean that the recording process was without conflict.
"There were a lot of minds and a lot of opinions, cos there's three of them. Add a fourth person into the mix with an ego such as myself and yeah it got quite messy," laughs James. "But you need that for it to be a good album, otherwise you're not questioning why you're doing things."
During the course of their brief three-year tenure, Hadouken! have invited acclaim and courted criticism in equal measure, the irony employed in much of their early material winning awards at the same time as prompting accusations of snide mockery by grime purists. Although these accusations have been firmly dismissed by the band and their supporters, For The Masses does signal a slight change in attitude.
"When you play the same songs for eighteen months you discover what you do and don't like about your own music," says James, admitting that their lyrical comedy has become tiresome with "the punchline [not being] funny the 50,000th time you've played it," before revealing that as well as being more heavier and aggressive compared to their debut, For The Masses "is more mature [and] considered." And that's probably a good thing given that this is due to be their US debut, as well as taking into account the American public's general lack of understanding when it comes to irony, as Dan explains.
"I think the first album lyrically was very Brit-centric, so we never really saw that as one that would necessarily translate apart from to a small community. Whereas this has a broader appeal and I'm excited and ready for people to hear it."
Although For The Masses is new in the physical form, Hadouken! have been showcasing much of the second album live over the past six months, most notably supporting The Prodigy, a longstanding live inspiration to the band: "We've learnt a lot over the past two years watching bands like The Prodigy, taking things on board and seeing how they make their sound work in a live capacity."
With an exhaustive UK and European tour, as well as two American dates imminent, the band are quietly confident that they have enough of a new found stage presence to impress new and old fans alike: "Ours is a constant work in progress," explains Chris. "We're never happy with it but I think that's to our credit; we always want to be better."
"We're trying to make the whole set slick - almost like a DJ set rather than like a band. We want a whole set that people can start dancing to at the beginning and hopefully not stop until the end."
It's an approach to music that if anything bears testament to proactive perfectionism, but it also goes a long way in illustrating how bands are having to react to declining record sales and an expanding digital landscape. For Hadouken! it's no big problem and if the music is important enough the key to survival is adapting to this changing environment.
"We're riding a wave that's getting smaller and smaller," explains James. "It is what it is and you have to work within those confines. You don't fight the tide, you swim with the tide, and maybe it will get to a point where everybody steals music and no one makes money but you have to work with that. I'll get a real job and just do music on the side. It's not the end of the world."
It's doubtful that For The Masses will actually appeal to the masses, but one thing is certain: wherever Haudouken! are there's a party to be had, however you decide to categorise their music.