From 2006 to 2015, South Londoners Hatcham Social were ubiquitous on the capital’s indie music scene and much loved by many, including us here at Joyzine. Formed around the fulcrum of brothers Toby and Finnigan Kidd, they released a string of top notch albums, EPs and singles, collaborated with the likes of The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, Faris Badwan of The Horrors and Baxter Dury and thrilled audiences up and down the country.
After a six-year hiatus, they returned towards the end of last year with packed out show at The Victoria in Dalston, and this week released We Are The Weirdos via legendary indie imprint Fierce Panda – a collection of tracks from across their back catalogue, including three unreleased songs. We caught up with Toby and Finn to find out more.
Toby: When I look over the Hatcham Social songs here as a whole I see a romantically and naively ambitious project that tried to make truly different poetry and music. Songs first. Words to create a world that stood against a lot of what we saw around us. Using simple instruments that anyone could have access to. Experimenting all the time while retaining that energy that comes from mostly physical process of hitting and striking, and then projecting your words against that. We always sat out of step with everyone else and we never felt like we fit into any real genre, but that’s what I am comfortable with.
Finn: It was so exciting working with Fierce Panda again, and to be releasing a selection of songs that celebrate our career to this point. And for it to be on coloured vinyl as well!
The artwork is a collaborative piece by me and Toby, where we created a real physical collage made up of all the people we have worked with along the way, our chosen family of misfits and weirdos.
We play Rough Trade East for our album launch on the 30th of March where we will play with our new line up that includes members of Flowers and Yassassin and is the best one yet, see you there!
If You Go Down To The Woods Today (Three Cheers For Our Side)
Toby: This was an interesting song for us, as we really loved it and had written it for the debut album but it never got finished. It had been like a manifesto for us in some ways. So I took what we had and worked on the lyrics and built a final chorus to it. It was like jumping in a time machine for a collaboration with our younger selves. I have been thinking a lot about some writers like Donna Harraway who talk about a tentacular connectedness, and so that enters to the vocabulary of the narrative bridging between the nursery rhyme simplicity of the verses.
It felt important to record this one and add it to this record. To bring something new in, and yet something old. And something that spells out so much of what we feel Hatcham Social stems from.
Finn: We wrote this in the first album writing sessions, up at Drummers Hill in Wales, along with some lesser known gems like Dissected (b-side to Crocodile), Mimicry (b-side to Murder in the Dark, and replaced Jabberwocky in the States), Pocket Sized (b-side to So So Happy Making) and King Kong (aka Beat My Chest in Anger, off of the Sidewalk EP). That was a really prolific period for us, we really came into our own musically as well.
Fun fact: At the time we took the bassline and used it to create a new piece of music that became Jabberwocky, which made the first album.
In My Opinion
Toby: This song was an important moment for us and so had to be on here. The original demo was a really big song on Myspace and landed us a lot of fans and opportunities. In its essence, the chorus is pointing out the danger and absurdity in people’s self-confidence in their opinions. It’s a call for a more paranoid and questioning approach to life and what we tell others. There is more in there if you listen but that is the core position it’s coming from. In short, it is about a hate of overconfidence, showing it as an inability to think.
Finn: I still remember writing this in our studio in Wales (Drummers Hill), sitting at the drums in the live room, trying to create something that had that urgency and solidness of something like Give Me Back My Man by The B-52s or The Puppet by Bunnymen, which I was listening to on “Selections From Urgh! A Music War” on vinyl a lot at the time. The original demo has this really overly loud solo in the middle which I have always loved. We added in the military shuffle on the snare under the solo later, when we were up at Big Mushroom recording the first record with Tim and Jim.
I Cannot Cure My Pure Evil
Toby: The title says it all really. But evil is a strange beast, often paired with religious connotations. While also used by big money or governments against those who oppose them. A word used for power. I think we all are both not capable of evil and also innately evil. I wanna face my evil in this song. Not pretend I am better than you. We are all grotty little buggers. I remember recording this and I was put under a load of duvets and blankets and made to go breathless and crazy to get the vocal right. I also think there is humour in there — I am really interested in the particular kind of absurd humour of things like Reginald Perrin or Hancock’s Half Hour.
I sort of think of this song as a no-wave dada poem.
Finn: This has always been one of the most fun songs to play live. I distinctly remember playing it at White Heat at Madame JoJo’s for the first time and it feeling like a big moment. We were playing a lot of shows with Ipso Facto around that time, as we had the same management, and we wrote the bassline and beat as a bit of a piss take on their 60s influenced single note circular riffs – the sound that Arctic Monkeys would later steal from them to reinvent themselves on Humbug (listen to My Propeller). In classic Hatcham style, our “homage” ended up nothing like how it began and became much more No Wave and discordant, morphing into something all of its own.
Toby: This is a simple song. We spent a lot of time on the parts, especially the bass part and David Fineberg (founding member bass player) did an excellent job on this – one of the best opening riffs in popular music! Some of the lyrics in this song are inspired by people digging tunnels to escape incarceration. A set of snapshots of hope and moments of despair. This is paired with the light-hearted chorus line ‘hey hey hey let’s go out to play on the sidewalk’ in homage to our trip to New York that year.
Finn: There’s a great photo of Alex (Miller(Vice)), Joe (Daniel(Angular)), and Jamie (Reynolds) and a couple of other friends and some random punks holding ‘You Dig The Tunnel, I’ll Hide The Soil’ on vinyl on top of Primrose Hill. Alex later used it for an article he wrote for Vice about Camden, haha.
Lion With a Lazer Gun
Toby: I was always annoyed this got the US spelling on release with a ‘z’ not an ‘s’. On the vinyl LP, it is spelt with an s now! This was very much a song about the lives of me and my partner at the time, the singer-songwriter Amy Studt, who I was living with in a house in Leytonstone (a street away from where Damon Albarn was born and Alfred Hitchcock lived). Channelling a kind of surrealistic Andre Breton impression shaped into what was meant to be a pop song. We recorded this ourselves. It was recorded all in one take on a tape machine up a mountain in wales. I love the bass playing that Riley Difford plays on here, he is a true genius musician.
Finn: Me and David Claxton(Ex-Guitar player) directed the video for this, shooting it on an iPhone in Toby and Amy’s flat in North London. It documents Toby painting a large canvas from start to finish, creating the image as we watch. I wanted it to have that cheap, modern, playful feel to it, whilst capturing the reality of our private world, a little like the Adam Green videos from Minor Love.
So So Happy Making
Toby: I have a clear memory of writing this in the flat of our managers/best friends at the time Chris Mcilveny who now manages all sorts of people and Dan Divine who was later in the punk band Flats. We were all living in the same flat, about 7 to 10 of us over different times. We never had keys and would call up to the window and someone would always be in to let you in. I was reading Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh at the time when I found the title. Initially a throwaway thing it ended up being loved by Loog records who put us in the studio with Faris to record it. I distinctly remember Finn having a very clear idea of the drums, which are a signature opener to the song and really underpin the record’s potency.
Finn: We went to watch Edwyn Collins perform for the first time after his stroke at Pure Groove in Farringdon. It was incredibly emotional and just a wonderful performance all round. Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) played guitar for him, and we all hung out after. Pure Groove always had all the singles displayed on the wall, and I remember talking to Roddy and pointing at So So Happy Making and explaining that it was number 14 in the indie charts, haha. It was a very exciting time.
Til The Dawn
Toby: This was the first time we recorded with Tim Burgess before we did the sessions for Loog records. We kept it off the debut album because we wanted to have some singles, not on albums, however, in the long term it has meant that it has not been on streaming sites, so we really wanted to include it here. We filmed the video at Notting Hill Arts Club. We used to spend a lot of time up there at that time with the aforementioned Dan and Chris and all our group of friends back then planning to bring cardigans and bowl cuts to the masses (which I think you will find we did).
Finn: We used to run Death Disco with Dan (Devine) at the time. Every Wednesday we would play unknown singles and b-sides of bands people didn’t know, or hated, then take K and dance around the room with our heads down. You can see Dan in the video, waving his arms about, along with our old friends Phoebe and Emily.
All Summer Long (Harry Love Remix)
Toby: Originally written for our second album this version is an alternate more electronic version specifically made for this compilation in collaboration with an old friend Harry Love. Harry worked for Pure Groove records for a long time in North London making white labels for big dance producers. He is responsible for around 20% of the music played at raves in the early 00s! The original lyric for this song was actually inspired by an argument with our founding member David Fineberg when we were on tour stuck in the van. The original song was very much written in the studio by me and Finn working on lyrics and structure together, I think Finn had the main hook line? The second album was a much more direct pop album; it was like a homage to T- rex and Heaven 17 or something, even though (due to being in debt with our accountants) we never got it to sound like that until Harry made the electronic version!
Finn: Fun fact, the arrangement of the “About Girls” version of All Summer Long is exactly the same as a Beach Boys song, bar for bar, but I’ll let you work out which one… 🙂
Hypnotise Terrible Eyes (Baxter Dury Version)
Toby: One day when we were rehearsing Baxter Dury came and told us about how he thought he could make something of our songs. So we went in the studio. We loved it. He had a vision for something ambitious. I would have loved to have worked more with him but it never worked out. Maybe in the future!
I had been reading a short story collection by Roald Dahl which I loved at the time as well as becoming obsessed with the kind of imagery in Cat in The Hat and Lewis Carol. There is something very subversive about something so surreal and absurd that also captures something deep and concrete. This is a very playful song really and it is content with that.
Finn: I love the sparseness of this version, also the synth sounds that we got in the studio with Baxter are great. I was always annoyed that no one got ta hear this, haha.
There’s a great video of us playing HTE from when we headlined the second stage at Offset Festival in 2009, such a fun festival and a great line up. I remember Good Shoes were playing their new album that year, as well as The Horrors, and These New Puritans and I think I DJed before Wetdog, before we all took copious amounts of MD for three days.
Murder In The Dark
Toby: Another of my favourite videos that we did. Nicola Probert this time filmed on super 8. We borrowed another friend’s puppet and it got broken which I always felt really really really really really bad about. I remember being in Andy Fraser’s flat (which was the epicentre of the music world in London, 2nd only to the Griffin Pub which was across the street!) and listening to a Scritti Politi song when they went syncopated poptastic. There was something in the chorus hook that stuck with me and became the template for how we would approach the song.
Finn: Tim (Burgess) insisted on watching particular films while we recorded the first album, it was all about getting the atmosphere right, absorbing the right kind of energy, this meant watching a lot of David Lynch and a lot of 1970s horror classics, like The Exorsist, Dawn of the Dead, Susperia, and The Hills Have Eyes, and of course some John Carpenter. If you listen closely you can hear a sample from one of these films in the middle 8…
The synth on the verses really emphasises that atmosphere, creating something quite haunting, yet hopeful. The take that you hear was from late one evening when we were a little drunk, it captured something that we couldn’t explain, it had more of a groove, a push and pull, and a pulse to it.
Wild Creatures (Tim Burgess Version)
Toby: I don’t remember a lot about writing this one. But I do remember recording it. There are a couple of references in the lyrics to some of the music we were listening to, Pavement and Echo and The Bunnymen. But I think we lost the aggression in the recordings that we had live which is why it never got released. Listening now though I think Tim did a really good job getting the strange groove and getting some nice guitars out of me for it. I like playing it live.
Finn: William Pine shot some great footage of us playing this at the 100 Club back in 2008. That was a landmark show for us, we were headlining to celebrate the release of So So, and had Electricity In Our Homes (Charlie Boyer of The Voyeurs old band) and Neils Children(John Linger is now in Girls In Synthesis) support.
Penelope (Under My Hat)
Toby: One of my favourite books of poetry is the Penguin Poets: The Mersey Sound Anthology. I learnt a lot about writing from people like Adrien Henri and Brian Patten. It feels like I can hear that in here somewhere, between the wistful dreamscapes of Billy Liar. I always felt this was one of the most complete songs we wrote. So it had to be on here. I remember this was a Queens of Noise Trophy track on BBC 6. One of a couple of tracks we recorded that was instigated by Allan Mcgee and he helped guide us, he told us to take our time and get things right. Which I think was important and great advice.
Finn: I remember Jim(Spencer) saying that I played like a robot when we were doing takes of this. It was such an exciting experience going up to record at Big Mushroom for the first time. Faris (Badwan) did the illustration for the cover for this one, he also did the illustration for the previous single – self released ‘How Soon Was Then?’, which we printed by hand on each 7” sleeve in Fineberg’s garden.
Always reminds me of sitting in a hotel room with William Reid (JAMC) after the NME awards, and talking about the Pastels and the Shop Assistants.
The Struggle That Keeps Us Together (Coming Of Age In The Milky Way)
Toby: Our latest album was a science fiction influenced record. The Birthday Of The World is named after a story by Ursula K Lequin. We have really rewritten this a lot for the live shows. Although I love the backing vocal parts Amy Studt did on here! I remember writing the start of this song on the piano and playing that ‘coming of age in the milky way’ part for months before it developed into the full song with the band. We wanted to include something from the last record on here and I think this one made sense and shows well what we were doing in that lineup with David Claxton on guitar who brought a kind of wide landscape to our sound at this point.
Finn: This has definitely proven to be a highlight from the last record. Toby’s lyrics, especially in the chorus, capture an idea and state a truth that is so close and true to our very existence. We have had some great highs, but also some long and persistent lows. Money affects everything, as much as you try to pretend it doesn’t. From being homeless, staying on the sofas in our management’s office in Soho, eating one 75p microwave meal a day. To crushing debt after the first album campaign, to mental health and family illnesses. These experiences can either bring you closer together or can pull you apart.
Stay True To Your Teardrops
Toby: The core of Hatcham Social is me and Finn working together, but sometimes this is more driven by a lyric or song I might or it might come from something Finn writes, either on guitar, lyric, or even a riff or beat. This is one that I think is a great example of when Finn writes the core lyric and melody. This was originally recorded for the third album, but this version is something we felt did not get heard enough, something we made later for a special event and shows a more noisy side that we did not get to showcase as often. If you take one sentiment away from this record, take this one.
Finn: It’s always fun reimagining a song, seeing where you can take it. I really like the high single note synth part we ended up putting on this version, it really adds a new element.
I wrote Stay True To Your Family after feeling hurt and disappointed in one of our close friends. I wanted to celebrate the family we had built, and the love of true friendship, and point and sneer at those that misunderstand what that is – Those that only see kindness as weakness, and their current success as strength. It’s about loyalty, forgiveness and surrounding yourself with those that make your life better. I think, a little like Struggle, it became an important song because of its meaning. Because it stands for something bigger than us.
We Are The Weirdos is out now on Fierce Panda. Get it on vinyl and via all of the usual streaming services here.
Hatcham Social play an album launch show at Rough Trade East in London on 30th March – free tickets here.
Follow Hatcham Social on Facebook
Introduction by Paul Maps
Photography provided by the band