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Howl & The Hum’s Sam Griffiths tells why the band’s new sound is influenced by old ideas

Hum kind of wonderful: Sam has been enjoying recording by the sea

SOCIAL media can leave us isolated and pining for real life, rather than online interaction. It’s a subject that The Howl & The Hum are tackling with their music, particularly their latest single, Human Contact.

‘From a songwriting point of view, there’s this loneliness in a digital age,’ explains frontman Sam Griffiths.

‘We can feel connected socially in so many different ways, but it’s always through a screen. It’s never through a personal touch in the way it used to be. There’s a lot of pining for traditional connection and the way things were. It is terrifying sometimes, but it’s never quite real.’

Regarding technology, he recalls a time when old-school phones caused a change for the better.

‘Our guitarist just recently left his phone under a stage in Dublin. It took four months to get out. It is a very long story, but he ended up having a Nokia burner phone and it honestly turned him into a different person — it was amazing!

‘It looked really dodgy, him having this burner phone, but it made him better. We’re all considering getting brick phones that have Snake on them. They’re brilliant phones. Attach a disposable camera on the back and you’re set. I want to beat my Snake high score.’

The new single is a change in direction for the band, and Sam explains the thinking behind it: ‘A lot of the time we’re regarded as a ballad band because our last couple of singles were waltzy and people think we write sad indie-folk songs.

‘We wanted to turn it on its head and write a song that was something like if Talking Heads were put in a blender in a weird future with electronic sounds. We jammed our influences together into this strange, technical, digital universe.’

They’re currently recording their album in a remote room on a farm, as well as a coastal studio. Sam says: ‘We get to stare into the endless chasm of the sea instead of our phone screens now, which is great. It’s good being in a different place — in someone else’s playground, I guess.

‘We find ourselves out of our comfort zones — it all works. You can’t get further from the sea when we’re in Leeds and London. We’re having the best fish and chips, too.’ The band describe themselves as ‘your dad’s favourite miserable disco band’, explaining that they’re extremely lucky that a lot of people who listen to them find them through playlists and suggestions.

‘For some reason it always seems like their dads hear us, then they cotton on and really like us, and then come to gigs with them,’ Sam says.

‘It’s not “dad rock”, it’s a strange form of indie disco that dads seem to like. It seems to be working. The miserable disco element is alive and well.

‘There’s an LCD Soundsystem quote that’s something like “a lost nostalgia for the unremembered 1980s” and that sums us up. We were all born in the 1990s, but we’re still making music like we’re in New Order.’

The band are out on the road this month and Sam’s looking forward to reuniting with society: ‘It would be great to see you on the tour, but if you don’t catch us, it’s your loss,’ he laughs.

We suggest you leave your mobile phones at home…

Wednesday, Scala, thehowlandthehum.com