With their vibe-driven, atmospheric opening EP, two recent singles full of indie-pop pleasure, and much more right around the corner, LNLYHRTS are only going one way, and that’s a steep incline up and up. To say I was looking forward to interviewing them is an understatement.
There were points on my car journey to Sheffield that I felt like turning round at the closest opportunity and razzing it straight back home out of pure nerves. But I grew a pair out of somewhere and I’m glad I did. No one wants to read about a half journey to Sheffield in my Toyota Yaris after all.
I met Tom and Kieran in The Benjamin Huntsman, and despite the suspect weather and damp seats we went and sat in the beer garden. Things you have to do for a bit of peace and quiet eh?
Anyway, here’s how it went from there.
How did you two first meet?
Kieran: The first time I met Tom, I turned up to a seminar and I was running a bit late and he’d already got there before me, I sat next to this guy wearing a band jumper, I can’t remember what band it was. I sat down and he cracked a joke, started talking and got on really well. As were walking back to our student accommodation we spent the whole time just talking about music.
Tom: This was like two months into uni, I hadn’t been going in because I was of the opinion that ‘oh I’m not into this‘ so I stopped going completely. I think that was the first and only actual seminar I’d attended. I just went on a whim, met Kieran there and happened to start talking about music.
Kieran: We were both in bands at the time, so we spoke to each other about our bands, left and I didn’t see him again for about five months. Then we met again on an Amsterdam trip and never got rid of each other.
Tom: We’d always had a plan to do music on the side from bands, because we always had such a similar taste and always had the same bands in common, the same hip hop influences etcetera. Then we had a summer where we wrote some songs together, but nothing really came of it, and then I went away and wrote some stuff on my own that became sorta like the seed of LNLYHRTS, and I kept sending it to Kieran always as like a ‘come and fuckin’ make music with me‘ as like an incentive, because I knew it would be good.
Kieran then told me about the beginnings of him getting into music.
What made you individually want to make music?
Kieran: I was quite a late starter to be fair. I remember it was one Christmas, I was about 15/16, and I didn’t know what to ask for. I was really into Jamie T, Ben Howard type of music so I wanted an acoustic guitar, but because I was left handed, it was really hard to buy one, so my first guitar was a right handed acoustic which didn’t work out at all. The only left handed one my dad could get was from a mate and it was electric. I just started playing and I remember just getting so into pedals and things, and I just got obsessed with that.
The pair went on talk about recording and the benefits of the way they work together.
Kieran: Tom wrote ‘Koala’when he was 17 on Audacity with a drum pad, and did the whole song. That’s why it made sense for that to be the first single off the back of the first EP, because it was like our big pop song.
Tom: The irony of it is that it was written before the EP. All the songs that are coming out we written before the first EP in a way, in one form or another. You learn from having these other bands not living together, you don’t have that coordination to go, ‘right we’ll record this and record this and we’ll plan all this stuff out’ because you literally get like one hour on a Wednesday to talk about things and practise. Whereas now we’ve got that 24/7. I think it’s become a lot more concise; a lot of people talk about not collaborating on things because they have a vision, and that vision is the ‘right vision’. I think that’s from people who have experienced collaboration in a sort of fractured way. Whereas with us it’s literally one vision, it just happens so constantly that it develops naturally.
Who are your main inspirations musically?
Tom: The 80’s is such a cliché thing to reference, but literally it’s in everything we’ve ever done, and even modern bands now that are doing the 80’s thing, when I was 16, I was very influenced by them. Primarily it was always New Order and Joy Division. It’s that synth drone sound, like New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ – it’s just enough synth and just enough guitar. I always thought that album was the glue and the archetypal album for that sound.
Kieran: I’d say I have three areas of biggest influences. Number one that has led my guitar playing is ambient; things like Brian Eno and Steve Roach, these ambient creators that make these massive, half an hour long soundscapes with this amazing reverb, that made me want to have really expansive guitar sounds. I love hip-hop, always have done. I think that influences my want make beats. I concentrate on hi-hats. That’s when LNLYHRTS really made sense; Tom had ‘Police’, and it was just the bass drum and the snare, it banged. Because I love artists like Trippie Redd or Lil Peep where all of the hi-hats are so prominent, I just had to make that song, not trappy or hip-hop, but add the hi-hats that make it. And then obviously 80’s. I wouldn’t be a pop, ambient electro hybrid if I wasn’t well into pop; stuff like Steve Winwood, New Radicals, Go West and things like that.
Kieran: That’s why we wanted the first EP to be electronic and ambient and then the second EP to be like pop. We’re well into post-hardcore and punk at the moment, so we want to take it more guitar driven into the third EP.
Tom: We’ve always had the idea of surprising people and being like ‘we’ll do that because we can’ and we wanted the shock factor because I think that’s quite an effective thing to do.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
Tom: I always struggle because of the variance of it. I would say it’s beat driven.
Kieran: I’d say the number one thing with most of our big songs is really happy instrumentation over really sad lyrics. Tom’s such an amazing lyricist, so a lot of them are quite sad.
Tom: It’s the knowledge of what you’ve got coming. But yeah, sporadic, eclectic and we’ve always said nostalgic too. I think when we do a song, we know what emotion we want to create. That’s how it forms; you sit down, and you go ‘this is what I’m feeling’ and you play it and then the other goes ‘this is how I’m feeling’ and they play it and then it becomes that feeling involuntarily. They all have a tone, and I think that’s what brings it all together, is the sporadic, sometimes off the wall tone.
How did you come up with the name ‘LNLYHRTS’?
Tom: This is before Kieran joined the band, but we were living together. I ended up going back to my friend’s house who was the singer from my old band Kerosene, I hadn’t seen her for ages and we started chatting about stuff, and I was playing these songs. The name came about because I was like ‘what do you think I should call it?’ and she just went ‘Lonely Hearts’ and I didn’t like it at all. And then I went home and thought about it and wrote it down. There’s that song by Fall Out Boy called ‘Thnks fr th mmrs’ and I always liked that because they took the vowels out. It sounds desperate almost, literally like a text, that sounds so modern. So, I took the vowels out, and I was like ‘right, that’s a brand’. That sounds really daft but the obsession with being a brand is important.
Kieran: It takes out the sentiment to it I guess, because ‘lonely hearts’ as a term is considered cringey, but when you take the vowels out you sort of hide behind it, I think.
Tom: It’s exactly that. It’s an empty statement; ‘lonely hearts’ should be this emotive thing, but to strip it of what it is, is I guess quite post-modern and that’s why I liked it. I’d always liked those band names like PVRIS and CHVRCHES.
I then asked the pair about the music scene in Sheffield, to which they talked about stereotypes of Sheffield bands and not fitting in to that.
Kieran: So, obviously everyone sees Arctic Monkeys as gods. We’ve only just discovered that there’s more Bring Me The Horizon influences now we’re delving into it. With neither of us being from Sheffield, we don’t feel very Sheffield sometimes.
Tom: It’s so tribal, and it’s great if you’re four lads in a band and you’ve all got guitars and that’s what you make, but it’s been done before.
Kieran: That’s why I think, especially in Sheffield you feel a little bit separated from the rest because there are a lot of bands doing what we were doing when we were 17 with guitars, drums, bass and vocals and just being really indie. But because there’s two of us, with the process of making a bedroom studio and just making drum beats and being influenced by hip-hop, it means that we’re sort of different interest.
Tom: I always fear that when we write Sheffield down as where we’re based, before you’ve even listened you’re expecting something and you’ve got a preconception. I hope that when we do start playing live people will like us.
Kieran: Because if they turn up to a random gig where we’re playing down at like Café Totem or The Washington, they’d maybe expect Arctic Monkeys or someone like that, and we’re coming out with synths they might be like ‘what the fuck’ – but that’s why I’m excited to see how Sheffield receives us.
Are you looking forward to playing live?
Tom: More than anything, we are looking forward to playing live.
Kieran: Well [Tom]’s been writing songs since he was 17 for this band without him knowing, and now I’m in it I can also get really excited about it. Now we’ve got all of these songs we’re dying to get up on stage and play.
Tom: Say ‘Koala’ was written when I was 17, I did it in my room; it’s mad having seen this project from its very basic. I never ever thought we would get to a point where we could play live. When we practise at the moment, it very much feels like ‘oh my god it’s a real thing’ and it’s tangible and it sounds like something; and there’s an element of not getting that when you’re just releasing songs.
Lastly I had to ask what the near future has to offer for the band, and what we can look forward to.
What is to come from LNLYHRTS?
Kieran: I think we’re definitely content driven, we were working so hard before we even announced the band so we’ve got so many songs to come out. We’ll have three EP’s out within a year of announcing the band, so that’ll be 14 songs we will have out by February. We’re just gonna gig as much as we can, produce artwork, photoshoots, we’ve got a video for ‘All Over For Now’ coming out in the next couple of weeks.
Tom: I think what we realised was that there’s so many bands that want to be a band and want to make it but aren’t willing to put the work in.
Kieran: More music, more gigs, more content.
Well that sounds good to me. The more songs from these pair the better. If you’re new to LNLYHRTS then be sure to check them out and follow their Instagram @lnly_hrts.
I am off to Brighton next week for my 21st birthday (woop) so there won’t be much going on until the end of the week, but hopefully I can get something out. I also want to put out the audio for this interview at some point, but I didn’t want to rush that. Bare with me to figure it out and I’ll keep you posted on its progress. I have got my fingers crossed for more future interviews soon, let’s hope they’ll be as enjoyable as this one was. Until next time guys.