INTERVIEW

“London monochrome four-piece Haunts have written the best lyric we’ve heard since David Bowie warbled, “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow”, in our direction. “Don’t make me laugh/It doesn’t suit my face!” is delivered on the band’s debut single, ‘Low Slung City Skyline’, in a spit ball half hocked up with pure distain, half […]

“London monochrome four-piece Haunts have written the best lyric we’ve heard since David Bowie warbled, “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow”, in our direction. “Don’t make me laugh/It doesn’t suit my face!” is delivered on the band’s debut single, ‘Low Slung City Skyline’, in a spit ball half hocked up with pure distain, half with a wry smile of how articulate it is. Singer Banks croaks and growls a deep baritone vocal while he and his band (guitarist Alex, bassist Mitch and drummer Gaz) prove to be the perfect house band for the post-art-rock un-dead. It’s music to dance to, sure, but it’s also music to dress impeccably to and enjoy a civilised glass of merlot alongside.
If you want your Goth-rock to simply grab a fistful of your nuts and vomit in your face, stick with Eighties Matchbox. For the shambolic ghoul lover, The Horrors is your best bet. Everyone else craving meticulously thought out punk to stalk the streets at night to, Haunts are here. And, most importantly, they’ve arrived with a plan.

“We spent a lot of time talking before we picked up our guitars,” says frontman Banks “discussing what we wanted to do and what we didn’t want to do. I found a piece of paper the other day and it just said things on it like ‘stately homes’ and all this weird random imagery. Most bands are all mates who get in a room and jam, and after a few years you’ve got a sound but you realise that no one cares. With us we knew exactly how we wanted to sound.”

“You kind of get to a certain point when you realise that the only way you can possibly move forward is if you’re completely concise about what you want to do and write a manifesto,” adds the singer’s wingman and lead guitarist, Alex. “Become your own favourite band. When people say, ‘oh, we’re just four guys making music and if other people like it it’s great’, I think it’s a bit lame. If you’re as maverick as that then you don’t deserve to be making music.”

Joining ‘Low Slung City Skyline’ in Haunts’ arsenal of muskets and pocket cannons, are songs like ‘Underground’ – a psychotic prowl that sounds as if it’s played by twenty-foot high tarantulas – and the paranoid ‘Bombz 2 Drop’, which makes fleeing from Armageddon seem like a V-flicking adventure to do before you’re 30. Like the rest of the band’s live set, both are proof that the Haunts plan is coming together; a plan that features as many don’ts as it does dos.

“We don’t really promote ourselves massively,” says Banks. “We’ve never given a single demo to a single record label person. We’ve never asked anyone for anything. But we’ve had people interested since an hour after we put up our Myspace page, because the stuff is good. We’re very insular but things are happening and it’s all part of the progress.”

And Haunts don’t surround themselves with fellow breaking bands either; currently making names for themselves, decked out with coattails that are all too temping not to ride all the way to The Old Blue Last.

“We don’t really have a scene,” ponders Banks. “Like, on our top eight on our Myspace we don’t have any friends. Normally bands are all pals but we’re kind of on our own. There’s definitely a punk thing going on at the moment and I’d say we’re more new wave than that scene. We’ve got a punky vibe because we do what we want and it’s something different but we’re not spitting at people. We’re more new wave like The Cure and Talking Heads. I think that’s more lasting.”

And if Haunts are indeed an island, they’re an island with a national radio station as honed-in in its output as this band are in their plans. Of the Mercury Awards, it’s no surprise that they feel the dark, poignant and musically superior Bat For Lashes should have been handed the 20-grand cheque this year, but Haunts FM would be dedicated to today’s dance music (and especially MIA and MSTRKRFT) and, as Alex puts it, “anything that’s old and stompy, and makes you want to put your collar up, like Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Police, Bowie and Prince.”

It certainly sounds better than The Fratellis on Radio 1, so join us in the underworld, where Haunts may refuse to laugh through vanity but have a plan to save us all from monotonous punk hell.

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