“This album is a f**k you to them. We’re channelling that anger into music” - The Hunna on coming through the mire on new album I’d Rather Die Than Let You In
Ask any musician if they've got a story about being screwed over by the music industry, and you'll almost certainly find yourself talking for hours.
A circus built on the work of idealistic young artists with big dreams, and, not usually, much of a notion for the business side of things, it's an exploiter's paradise. And it proves to be the case over and over again.
In the case of hard rockers The Hunna, a fall out with their record label almost broke them.
Back in 2018, the band were forced to cancel a string of tour dates, including a night at London’s Alexandra Palace, after discovering, as they put it in a statement that "...so many decisions have been made on our behalf which we were unhappy about and were not within our control. We believe these decisions have impacted negatively upon not only ourselves but also our fans. Having taken legal advice we have decided we need to take a stand."
Take a stand they did. They left their label, High Time Entertainment, got new management, regrouped, and now have a third LP to unleash.
Recorded with pop-punk kingpin John Feldmann and featuring a guest appearance from Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, the album finds the band in vicious, fiery form.
As the album drops, we spoke to guitarist Daniel Dorney about how the band overcame their label troubles and found salvation in California...
This album was originally due out earlier this year. When did you decide that you were going to have to push the record back?
“We didn’t have a lot of choices, really. Both of our record labels suggested it. We were already having to reschedule all our tour dates. There wasn’t any debate.”
How long have you been sat on the record for? Has it been finished for a while?
“We went out to Calabasas in California to make the record in November of 2019. That was the window we could get in John Feldmann’s schedule, so it has been a good while.”
How did you wind up working with John Feldmann? Every band we’ve spoken to says exactly the same thing about him. That he works you very, very hard…
“He does. We loved it. We started calling him ‘Papa Feldy’. We first met when me and Ryan (Potter, singer) went out to America to write some songs and we just clicked straight away. He doesn’t waste a single minute of the day. Ever. I remember we’d written two songs with him and the session had 20 minutes left. We both said ‘Shall we go home?’ and he looked so cross. We did a shot of espresso each and then wrote another song in 20 minutes!”
Naturally, you thought this was the guy for the album…
“We told him. ‘We work hard. We love your work ethic and everything you do. And he was up for it’. Getting him for the album, it was such a big win.”
This is the studio that’s basically in his back garden…
“It has everything in there. The best engineers, the best gear and he’s so well connected. While we were writing with him we had Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy come in, one of the dudes from Twenty One Pilots, Travis Barker came in and he’s on the album, so many great people.”
Did the album come together quite quickly with John at the controls?
“It did. We had this philosophy for this album that we would just write as much as we physically could. If we got 100 songs then 10 would be incredible from that. We ended up hundreds and hundreds. We’ve got this thing which we call The Hunna Bank, there are hundreds and hundreds in there, easily another album.”
Is there a song on the record that took a long time to get right? A real labour of love?
“‘Cover You’. That took a long, long time. There were so many different versions and styles. Me and John had to work very hard on it, because it wouldn’t go away. That’s the track with Travis Barker and he came in and just nailed the drums. It gave it such a foundation and we built it back up from there.”
You said about the sheer number of songs you’ve got, how do you know when a song is worth persisting with when you’ve got so many others?
“You just know. It doesn’t make sense. You spend hours on something that falls away in a few minutes.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s a very, very honest album. We’d split from our label and our management. They were stealing our money and trying to f**k us over. It had to go to court and then the label went to administration. The album title is a f**k you to them. We’re channelling that anger into music.”
Is everything sorted now? That kind of thing can bury some bands…
“We’re fighters. We don’t go down like that. We got together. We got new management and they look after us now. They look after us and they helped us get our new record deals. We’re through it. Thank God.”
Did you ever think it was all over for the band?
“For sure. But only in moments. We’ve got each other and we’ve got real self-belief. At the end of the day, we’re the music. Anybody can sell it. It’s stupid to imagine that you won’t have setbacks. You will. You have to overcome them.”
How have you found building up a new relationship with a label? There must have been some trust issues…
“It’s been really great. We’ve got a lot more control now. Our own accountant, our own lawyers, every decision is explained to us. It’s a much more modern set-up. We’ve got a lot more protection and we’ve learned our lesson.”
When did you settle on the title?
“It’s a very honest record and it needed that kind of title. Everything we’d worked for was taken away. Taking negativity and turning it into positivity.”
How are you finding life without touring?
“It’s so weird. We’re a touring band. I’m finding it really peculiar. We’re trying to do more and do more online. Recording little covers, trying to keep writing. We’ve got a fanbase to keep happy and we love to do that.”
Finally, how is 2021 looking? Are you planning to be busy?
“It’s looking good. Our tour is selling really well. We’re talking about going back to America and Japan. Most of the festivals from 2020 have moved to 2021, so we’re going to be very busy.”