After having the interview delayed when Theo Hutchcraft, of synthpop duo ‘Hurts’, posted a photograph on Instagram of a fresh black-eye, I finally got the opportunity to catch up with him a few days after the release of their new album ‘EXILE’, three years after their debut album ‘HAPPINESS’. We discussed obsessive fans, working with Elton John and Kylie, and the pros and cons of touring.
I saw your picture on Instagram, what happened to your face?!
Oh God, I fell down some stairs. It’s alright now, it looks less disgusting, so that’s good. It was a bit like a horror movie for a few days.
I can imagine. I’ve listened to your new album, which I absolutely love. I’ve been a fan of your music for ages, by the way. So I’ve been waiting for this new album. It’s been three years, hasn’t it? So… what’ve you been doing for three years?
Yeah, it’s taken a while. It more took us awhile because of touring really, that was what took the time: we toured for two and a half years. It actually only took us a year to make the record, but we were all over the place. But yeah, I think after that time it was important for us to make a record that was like progression and that was the next chapter in the book, really. We’re a long way away from that first record.
So what’s your favourite track on the new album?
I like The Crow. I also like Help. Help is an important one because I think it’s one of the best songs we’ve ever written. It’s also got a choir that’s made of fans from around the world that we’ve brought to London and Elton John plays the piano on it. But aside from those things, it was already one of the songs we were most proud of. It’s a very emotional song.
You mentioned you worked with Elton John. What was that like?
It was just incredible. We knew he was a fan, so we just found a way to ask him. We thought ‘wouldn’t it be incredible?’ and he was just brilliant. He’s so genuine, so friendly and so sort of knowledgeable about music. He had great advice and all sorts. He was just everything you imagine which is always a relief. It was just one of the best days of our lives.
You also recorded a track with Kylie, ‘Devotion’. What was that like?
Again it was the same. At the time, it was the last thing we did for that record. She was just incredible, to sit and listen to that voice. She had been so kind to us; we performed with her at Brixton. She was just brilliant. She’s everything you imagine her to be. She’s so sweet, and so talented. It really gave an amazing dimension to that song.
Your voices work really well together in that song.
Yeah that was sort of the reason we approached her, because of the way her voice would sit with mine.
What’s your favourite track on ‘Happiness’?
I think probably the most important one is Wonderful Life, because that was the song that changed our lives completely. It’s the song that got us from nothing to going around the world. It’s the song that people obviously associate with the band. And I still love it. Every time I hear it I still love it.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
It’s difficult to tell really, it sort of comes with the song. But it’d be nice: somebody like Lana Del Rey would always be good, because we’re very similar I think.
What music artists do you listen to and would you say they have inspired you in any way?
All sorts of people, really. For me when I was a kid, one of the most important people was Eminem. Not a lot of people would think. I lived in a very small village, with about 100 people so when I got that ‘Slim Shady’ album when I was 11, it was the first time that my imagination was sort of blown wide open. So he was very important. But then for the band, it’s sort of people like the Cure, Depeche Mode, the Smiths. People like that.
So how do you find touring? How are you feeling about your European tour?
Well it’s just about to start tomorrow. It’s exciting, it’s going to be exciting to play the new songs and to take the band all these places we’ve not been for a long time. It’s something we enjoy because what’s great about it is you learn so much about the music. As it goes on, the songs get stories and get more weight as you go and tour them.
Where’s the best place you’ve played, atmosphere-wise?
It’s difficult. We’ve done some amazing shows in Manchester which is obviously where we’re from, and the atmosphere is very intense. But Germany is always good, and Russia. We’ve been to Iceland which was one of the best gigs we’ve ever played, and Finland. All these places, they’re all different, so it’s exciting.
I can imagine it’s really tiring as well going to all these different places one after another.
It’s the only sort of by-product of the job that is a bit boring really, sitting in an airport. At the end of the day, though, it’s like going on holiday every day, it’s no different. It’s the greatest thing in the world that we get to travel around and do it all. It never feels like a chore because every day you wake up excited you’re in a different country. Time sort of stands still, which is really good.
I was wondering, what’s the strangest way a fan has declared their love for you?
Somebody once broke into my hotel room in Ukraine. They managed to get the key for my hotel room while I was asleep and came in and woke me up. I was freaked out and was like ‘Get out!’. And someone gave me a hot-dog once when we were in Japan, as a present, wrapped up in wrapping paper, a little hot dog. And it was still warm, which was nice.
Is that one of your favourite ways?
I don’t really know. I’ve never even expressed that I like hot dogs, but they must’ve thought I looked hungry.
I was thinking about your fashion sense, like you guys are always seen in perfect suits. Do you think we will ever see you in tracksuits?
We’ve got rid of them all. We threw them all out. It makes life a bit easier because you don’t have a choice. But maybe one day, maybe one day. You never know, we might switch it all up, with sportswear.
I think your style suits you guys, you should stick with it…
Ah well, in that case…