Humanzi Interview

Humanzi are a brand new band coming out of Dublin, Ireland who have recently set ears on fire with Fix The Cracks, their debut single out on Fiction Records.

Crossfire thought it was essential that this mag covered the band from day one so Zac met 2 members on their tour bus outside the Barfly in London on a freezing cold night in November 2005.

Right, Humanzi blokes, introduce yourselves….

Colin: Colin Rutledge, lead guitarist, one of three backing vocalists

Brian: Drummer, two of three backing vocalists.

I just read your biog and it said that you’re very wary of the media. Have you had a good kickin’ or something?

Colin: The English media have been nice so far in the little bits we’ve got. But the Irish media, not naming anyone, have been a bit begrudging y’know? Like they don’t wanna see one of their own get something outside of Ireland. They’re happy with U2 being that band.

Yeah but that’s years ago now man!

Colin: Yeah it is, but that’s just how it feels. A couple of people have said like “Who do they think they are?”. I mean we have all this hype around us, but we didn’t create the hype. It’s nice to have it around us but we didn’t create it. That’s the Irish way of looking at it anyway. But the English media, we’ve done a few bits and pieces and we’ve had a good response, it’s been nice.

Tell me a little bit about the history of the band and how you formed because most of the readers of the site will only have just heard about you through XFM and won’t know too much about how you got together.

Brian: Started off just as drinking buddies y’know? Me, the bass player and the singer were in a band and the bass player and Colin were playing together in another band and it all kind of merged together

Colin: This is basically the best four from all of the bands that we knocking about.

Which bands were you in before Humanzi?

Colin: Going in chronological order, me and the bass player were the first of all of our mates to be in a band, a band called The Sheds, a four piece. It was kind of poppy stuff, it was good but we were too young to realise what a record deal was even about. We were happy gigging away. And that’s the difference between that and us now, because we’ve all been through it with other bands, and this is it. And one of us said “If we don’t get signed in a year, we’ll call it a day.”

Brian: And because we’d only been together a year and a half, the year we got signed, people were making a big deal of it because they said bands have to slog it out for ten years. But because we’d all been in bands before, we knew that was bollocks. We just played some good songs and some good gigs.

So you’ve done the circuit in Dublin. Are you all from Dublin?

Colin: Yeah, all of us are.

So I hear there was a bit of a bun fight for your signature. How comes you ended up at Fiction Records?

Brian: Well we did the whole meeting everyone from labels thing and you just forget everyone’s names because they’re all just saying the same thing. So you get to where there are a couple of labels, that we felt really strongly about and kinda got attached to y’know, which made it harder to make a decision.

Colin: The other label we got emotionally attached to but in the end we had to look at their track record and listen to what a few people told us about them and what our future had to be like and we had to look out for ourselves anyway. I mean, we had to distance ourselves from that kinda thing. Everyone was saying the same things anyway and we knew we had to take a risk with someone. And we knew that if we just went on and on like this we could lose it too! So it was this and the other label…

What was the other label?

Colin: Virgin

Zac: So Fiction got it. What about the history of Fiction, obviously The Cure are the flagship band from my era.

Colin: Actually, I didn’t really know that these bands were on Fiction, it was more to me that they seemed like a new label, an up and coming label. And if you go with them then you grow with them rather than being thrown into big label that have all these big ideas of throwing your face on every bus that goes by. This just seems a little more… tasteful, unique.

Let’s talk about the record. People have only heard the single so far “Fix The Cracks”, which is a pretty hefty debut single as far as I’m concerned, is it an old track or new track?

Colin: We’ve been writing for fifteen or sixteen months so I suppose it would have been somewhere halfway through the writing wouldn’t it? Some of the songs on there are old, one of the songs on there Tremors is the very first song we ever wrote. It was when it was only me and Sean in the band, he wrote the song and I wrote bits and pieces. Fix The Cracks was just an instrumental thing we had going on, but then we got a structure to it and turned it into a song, but to begin with it was just a big jam.

Brian: A lot of the songs come about like that too. Fix The Cracks, we had a rehearsal booked on a Sunday, and it was the only time we had, we were all doing different things and knew we just had to get our shit together on one day. We just started jamming and it came from that like most songs do I suppose and we just thought “Fuck it, this is going in the gig“.

So you’ve produced Fix The Cracks with a guy called Garrett Mannix. Is he a Dublin guy? A local producer, or a friend of yours?

Colin: There’s a lot of people in Dublin you know. That’s how you know your real mates. I mean, there are people I’d say hello to and just have a drink with for five minutes before making my excuses. So we knew him on this sort of level but now we’ve worked with him and he’s really talented and we got some really good results with him. And he’s always busy, like I saw him the other day and he looked like his eyes wouldn’t open, like he only gets two hours sleep a night. But he’s worked on six tracks on the album. It was done by a few different producers.

Yeah, i hear Chris Renner was involved from Nine Inch Nails…?

Colin: He was the drummer in Nine Inch Nails

Ah! That makes a big difference on the production of the album then obviously.

Colin: Yeah well we went into the final two weeks and just went over everything that we’d already done y’know. And his work on the drums was just…

Brian: It was great finding someone to work with who had the same sort of ideas in his head of how a drum kit should sound.

It’s really important as well, especially if you have something danceable, the beats are absolutely essential and on the dance floor they have to sound crisp so obviously he bought a hell of a lot to the production. So did you work in America with this dude?

Colin: No, Ireland. It was in a studio right slap bang in the middle of Ireland. Its about a two mile span in the middle of Ireland.

Brian: It’s like an old farmhouse, really cosy and stuff. It’s good because it’s a place where you can go to just get away and concentrate on your music.

Colin: We found it good because no-one can get lost there, we were basically sleeping above the studio and you just get the work done which is what we wanted.

Did this guy have any particular traits that were weird? I know someone who worked with this guy called Steve Albini who used to get up at 6 o’clock every morning and take an axe onto a load of logs and go out there for an hour and pump himself up and then get everyone out of bed at 7 in the morning and be like “Right let’s fucking do it!”

Colin: Sounds like a good idea actually!

Did he have anything crazy to get to where you wanted?

Colin: Nah, to work with him was just great because he had the know how and a good vibe. We get on with anybody, but like on the first day we got to know each other, but after that we were at the bar drinking and we got on really well. We’d consider him to be the main man to help us out now.

Someone who suits your music?

Colin: Yeah someone who can work with us as part of a team y’know, so hopefully he’s gonna be our main man.

But you did mix the record in Connecticut I hear, with Peter Catus. He’s got Interpol on his CV, was that a particular reason that you chose him, because of the bands he’s worked with?

Brian: This is before we worked with Chris, we were just shopping around looking to compare the people we worked with, and we did two tracks with Peter which turned out really well, and when we came back, we finished the album with Chris and Chris had something else to do so couldn’t mix it, so we looked at Peter for the mixing.

Colin: Peter actually recorded two tracks with us, one of them’s going to be on the album, one is debatable. He was actually someone we wanted. We were name-dropping and his name came up, because we’re all fans of Interpol, which was why he was mentioned. The tracks he did with us are amazing.

Will one of these be a future single?

Colin: One of them could possibly be yeah, somewhere down the line.

So let’s talk about Connecticut because I understand you were in the middle of nowhere, and also the studio is in the loft of where Peter lives, which i hear used to be a halfway house for the mentally insane?!

Brian: There’s definitely a vibe left over!

So it’s a strange place to work?

Colin: The house isn’t short of things to do, it’s not as if you get bored there, you get more bored in my house. But if you go out for a walk, all you see is petrol stations and semi-retired people driving around.

Brian: There’s also a cemetery the size of Dublin city up the road as well.

Colin: There’s petrol station called “Freedom Fuels“! And if you walk five minutes in the wrong direction, there’s a ghetto. We got caught there looking for a couple of beers, and it was one of those places man…

Did you leg it?

Colin: We turned and ran, didn’t look back.

What was in the ghetto?

Colin: It was just like something off the tele y’know? Dodgy looks and stuff.

I understand that you took a trip to New York City and got kicked out of hotels?!

Colin: I can’t tell you the half of what I’ve done, because it really shouldn’t even be printed! – 48 hour sessions!

I’ve actually heard “three day bender” mentioned.

Colin: Second weekend, we had some friends come over from Dublin, because there was a music festival in Boston, so there was about 14 of us in New York having a craic. We all know how to party so it was great.

I understand that one of you met Snoop Dogg on your travels?

Colin: That’s Gary, the bass player yeah.

And became quite pally?

Colin: He was playing last February, and we were just about to go off to LA to meet with the American connection at Interscope and the guy we met ended up getting us on the guest list for Snoop Dogg and we got backstage and ended up meeting him. At the end of the gig everyone was singing “Ole, Ole Ole Ole” and he was like “What the fuck was that you were singing?” because he didn’t have a clue y’know, so he got us all singing it and started doing some little rap over it. He was right beside me, and y’know how his voice is so gentle? So then we were supposed to get a big bag of weed but… Anyway yeah then we heard a rumour that he was supposed to be doing something with Franz Ferdinand…

Colin: Imagine like us, who the fuck are we y’know? Next to him! haha!

I think it’s great, and he’s even started up a skateboard company too you know.

Colin: Well he had a dip, he had his great albums from the nineties and then had a dip but now…

He’s back on his game man.

Colin: Imagine it though, us working with him, we’d explode onto the scene. We could record like a new Irish national anthem or something.

Obviously you’re going to busy for the next year touring this album…

Colin: Don’t tell my girlfriend that!

She’ll just have to get used to it [laughter]. So, we’re at the Barfly tonight, but where do you see your futures going? Are you excited about what’s going on?

Colin: Not really actually, I’m just living it as it comes. Obviously I’m excited about it but there’s never been a time where there’s so many bands around. I mean, if people think we’re a great band it’s great but then they’ll drop us for the next one. There’s always a new band around the corner y’know? And if we get too excited then we’ll just go out on the piss too much. We’re all really aware of that, we don’t wanna go on tour for a year and not write a song, we wanna keep it real.

Brian: All the hype too, we just wanna be here a year down the line with people at our shows who are really into what we’re doing. We just wanna build up a loyal fan base too, not one that just goes off to follow another band in six months.

What influences the sound? Where did you all start musically that influenced you?

Brian: The very start? I suppose its what influences everyone really: The Stones, The Beatles, Zeppelin. The kind of thing were you wear the tape or CD out and go onto to find new things. We all moved onto different things but all similar type of music.

Colin: If you got us all on our own we’re be listening to very different things. We’re mad into dance music, which really comes through.

When you talk about dance music, are you talking about techno and house?

Colin: We’re more into dance bands than DJs, stuff like Leftfield and Chemical Brothers, who might only have had a couple of albums but they’re really great and its great to get that sort of thing into a guitar band. I hate going to see guitar bands that just sing songs, they always have songs in their set that lose people. At our gig, its full on and you have to dance to it. There’s no breather in there.

So it’s a lot harder live than it is on the record?

Colin: Yeah it has to be, it’s softer on the record, it has that lo-fi thing going on.

Now you’ve heard the record and lived with the record, you know the potential of what you can do in the studio, has it changed your live set at all? Adding little bits to make it a bit edgier.

Colin: Even before we recorded in the studio, we always did bluesy rock and roll tunes and people in Dublin were like “that’s amazing!“, we always had a good live set up with four people. The only problem now is that there are over dubs on the album that we miss out on live. But we’ve always been full on live, I mean, Brian is the fucking hardest live drummer, we all to try and keep up with him.

So you get into your live thing, you get into your drums.

Brian: Yeah it’s great. I mean, I’m hitting my drums hard and this lot keep up with me but play loud so I’m having to hit them even harder so there’s this big assault. I just feel sorry for the people up the front.

I read today that Sean was going to be a chef, but he’s obviously not making soup in the kitchen! So what are the worst possible jobs you’ve had on your CVs?

Brian: How long have we got left on that tape?

Zac: Probably about 20 minutes.

Brian: Not long enough then [laughter], just everything from working in a warehouse to selling bathroom suites!

Colin: Tell him the classic one….

Brian: Well, I saw this ad in the paper, to get money fast and I’d been on the dole for a while, immediate start. So I went in for the interview, sat down and they said “what’s your name?” and I told them and they were like “grand, when can you start?”. So I thought this was good and they told me to come in the next day and dress smart and when I got there the next day, they brought out this big postal bags full of ratchets, nuts and bolts. And they sent me going to everywhere, like butchers, trying to sell people these things that no-one wants.

I think I can almost beat that. I worked for a company called Britax, who made prams, and I was on the dole, skating, in a punk band and my mum was like “you’ve gotta get out and get a job“, so I went out and took the first thing that came up. I was sitting there in a factory, and I lasted two hours.

Colin: The worst job I had was having to hold a pole for a land surveyor, the guys you see standing on the side of the road. And we were just assistants and the boss used to call us “monkeys with sticks“. And because it’s a one man job, you literally just stood there holding this thing for him to look through and get the reading of the level of the road in the freezing winter months, with my minidisc player, shaking with the guy shouting “hold it steady you fucker!”.

OK last question: Penguins on a menu, does that ring any bells?

Colin: Just what I was saying earlier about the record company taking us out. I hate posh food, I think it’s disgusting, I just like something you can tuck into. They bring you these stupid big plates with a piece of lettuce and a prawn on it or something. And we went to this posh hotel in Dublin, and we ordered a load of food between us and there was some confusion and someone asked what we were eating, because it did taste a bit weird so the waiter went away to find out. When he came back he told us it was penguin, and we were like “fuck off penguin” and he was saying “no honestly, its penguin“. Where’s the fin? Where’s the beak? And then he came back after and said it was chicken or something. I mean, we were just brought up on stews, Guinness stew!

Check out Humanzi in 2006 as they are sure to be in your ears at some point….and if you can’t wait for them to come to you, check out the December Indie Show at Crossfire Radio by clicking here and launch the show to get the latest Buzz tunes.

Fiction Records release their second single Long Time Coming on February 13th, look out for it.