True to their name, they don’t take themselves quite so seriously – but not in a way you might expect. As the video for their track ‘pure misery’, which landed this week, depicts, they’re anti-fame, aren’t egotistical and will readily admit that most of the time they have nothing profound to say.
Instead, they’re a bunch of mates, who live together, making great music, inspired by a multitude of American bands they share an interest in. And with an EP, also titled Pure Misery, out in November, expect to hear a lot more from Humour in the future. Here they are, in their own words.
Hello, let’s get straight into it. How did you guys form as Humour?
Andreas: We’ve lived together for many years. And we’ve played in bands before a bit together, but never really took it that seriously. Then, having all that time on our hands in lockdown, we started doing it properly.
And you’re from Scotland. Whereabouts?
Andreas: Four of us are from Edinburgh, originally, and then Lewis the bassist is from Perth [Scotland too, not Australia]. And then we all moved to Glasgow for university. But I went to school with Ross, the other guitarist, and Ruairidh, the drummer. Then we met Jack and Lewis; we were going to a lot of gigs together and playing a bit of music here and there – just covers and stuff, nothing good.
Which artists did you bond over or were inspired by?
Jack: We used to cover loads of things, but I suppose in the lead-up to lockdown, we all listened to a lot of the same bands like Ought and Preoccupations – and we thought we might be alright at doing that.
A: We kind of wanted to try that spoken word style of vocal, and it definitely worked better than whatever we tried before. It got more interesting when I started doing a bit more shouting and screaming, inspired by a lot of American bands like La Dispute and Title Fight.
J: Yeah, I think it was lockdown that gave us a chance to experiment more with it, instead of just doing the kind of spoken word thing; because we couldn’t play or release any music, we just kind of kept pushing it further. And that’s how we ended up with Humour. So, definitely the time we were given allowed a lot of that to happen.
What was it about that spoken word approach that drew you toward it?
A: I think we’ve always been really interested in the lyrics. And I’d always written a lot of stuff, like little poems and stuff like that. I think Jack just suggested that we try and do something where I was speaking over the music – just reading whatever I’d written down – and we instantly thought it was quite cool.
Then the more shouting and screaming side of it came when we were struggling with a song. I think it was ‘alive and well’. The music was all there, pretty much as it is now. We had the basic lyrics, but it was just a little bit dull. Then Jack said, ‘Why don’t you just try screaming it, as loud as you can?’ I did and it was way better. It just makes it much more of a thing.
J: I think if there’s a line you particularly like, if someone really screams it, there’s a lot to work on there.
So it was like a happy accident. And why the name Humour, if there is a reason?
A: There wasn’t really a specific reason. I think, probably like a lot of other bands experience, we were trying to come up with a name and they were all terrible. We had a list of acceptable ones, and then it was just a friend of ours who looked up some synonyms to some of those words on that list. Humour was one of them. We thought it was good, it’s quite neutral, and it’s got different definitions; it can be comedy, but it can also be quite lewd.
Can you describe your sound in three words? Just to put you on the spot.
J: Loud and sad.
A: Loud, Sad, Screechy. Maybe we’ll come up with something better.
Why should people listen to you?
A: They might like it. That’s kind of it.
J: If you like something that’s quite surreal and it’s not political, or anything like that. It’s just really for escape, I suppose.
A: I do think, so far, people really like or don’t like it at all.
Do you enjoy that? The fact that at least you elicit something…
A: Yeah, I think so. I think that’s always a good sign. If there’s just a blanket that’s good, you’re not doing anything that’s interesting.
Your music video for your single ‘pure misery’ involves you being repeatedly lowered into all sorts of locations, Andreas. What was the thinking behind that video?
A: There was the two directors who came up with that – Luke [Ainger] and Fred [Qvortrup]. They were really amazing to work with because we had to do very little work. We just sent them the song.
J: They came to our gig in London, and then we just got a message on Instagram saying, ‘do you want to make a video?’
A: Then we vaguely told them what the idea behind the song is; it’s sort of about being in a band and being expected to have something profound to say and feeling like you don’t really. It does seem like there’s quite a lot of bands out there that have a lot of anger and rage in the sound but not much substance.
That’s, ironically, quite a profound thing to say. It’s refreshing to hear that you’re expected to have something profound to say, but don’t really…
A: Yeah. the song actually came about because the music was there, and then Jack and Ross sent me a voice note with their idea for what I could do. Then it was just them saying over and over, ‘I’ve got to tell you something.’ And then I kind of thought about it and liked the idea that, for me, sometimes it feels a bit ridiculous going on stages and addressing many people. As though I have something very meaningful to get across – and actually, most of the time I don’t.
J: Yeah, Fred and I thought it’d be funny if he disappeared further – instead of being on a stage, he gets further into the ground.
A: And what’s the opposite of being on a stage? We thought: sinking into the ground. And then we just really liked the idea, and they totally took charge of it. They spent like the week that we were in London going round to different places, digging holes, so it was all just ready for us as soon as we arrived.
J: It’s not easy just to dig holes.
How have live shows been going for you? What’s it been like cutting your teeth as a band?
A: I think even in the relatively few gigs we’ve played so far, the live set has improved a lot, in terms of our performance and what we do onstage.
J: We actually had a gig in Glasgow, our first headline. And the first single was out at that point – so it was really nice because I feel like it’s always a bit better when people have actually heard a song, to get a reaction live.
And what’s the end-goal for you guys, what’s the dream?
A: I think just for it to be financially viable for us to do it long-term. Because it is quite difficult; we’ve got some shows in Europe lined-up. And while it’s really exciting, it’s very difficult to finance. So I think just getting to the stage where we can do it long-term without having to worry too much about how we’re going to fund it every time we go away. Hopefully that just happens down the line.
And which other bands are you most excited for?
A: I don’t know who we relate to directly, because I think a lot of the bands that we’re stylistically most comparable to are maybe in America.
J: Yeah, bands who are doing something interesting, and who have a complete disregard for trying to sound in any way pleasing.
Do you feel at all excited by the world of music we currently have?
A: Yeah, I never really get it when people say it was better before, because there’s just so much availability now. There’s so much more to work with and draw inspiration from. I don’t think we’d do very well in an earlier time because we take influences from many different places. And that depends on having access to old music and all music.
J: Yeah, there’s loads of amazing music being made all the time; there’s just a lot of it, isn’t there? But just because it’s so easily accessible, doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Humour’s debut EP, Pure Misery, is out on 25 November