The Lounge Society: ‘The way we see it, we’ve been able to soundtrack our youth’

The Lounge Society are fast becoming the band you need to keep your eye on. Having already been on a supporting bill for The Strokes, their recently-released debut album, Tired Of Liberty, was produced by Speedy Wunderground founder Dan Carey – who helped craft superb number one albums with Wet Leg and Fontaines D.C.

The Lounge Society banner

Hailing from Hebden Bridge – “a town of two extremes,” as they see it – there’s equal angst and uplift in their sound; a feat they’re able to deliver in their live performances too (as this reporter can attest to). What’s more, the band are barely out of their teens. We chat to them about their hometown, why they don’t have a leader and the making of their debut record.

How did you form The Lounge Society?

In high school actually, after meeting in the same music GCSE class in year 10. We soon bonded through musical inspirations and began to play some covers together. It really helped us get through those last few tough years of school. Being able to rehearse and begin to write every lunch time and escape it all. 

How would you describe Hebden Bridge, for those who haven’t been, and how did it help shape The Lounge Society?

Hebden Bridge is a town of two extremes. That’s what forms the culture. Growing up there has enabled us to see both sides of it. Nightlife as a teen in Hebden can be tough. Before we could get into pubs primarily. The drug culture, which is centred around our local park, can be a scary and very real thing. It was all around you.

The Lounge Society

Photo: Alex Evans

This side of the town isn’t talked about as much, it’s seen as such a touristy place and this can be why nothing changes. Most people in Hebden haven’t seen the darker side, so they do nothing to help change it. Lyrically this helped us learn to put everything through the lens of what we know and have seen growing up. It’s a very mature way of writing and it’s great that we’ve learned this so early on in our careers.

What kind of artists did you bond over the most, who’ve helped shape your sound?

Certainly bands like The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Bowie and The Strokes. Music like that is what initially brought us together and, ever since, these artists have been the backbone of our sound.

I read that you’re described best as “a collective entity with no core leader”. Could you just elaborate what you mean by that and why you operate like that?

It’s how we’ve always worked. One instance is in our writing, which has always been through jamming. We all bring our own ideas and throw everything into the mix. I think we’re very lucky that we have a good level of equality. It means everyone’s got this great setup for releasing their creativity.

Congratulations on Tired of Liberty. You worked on it with Dan Carey, who’s having a remarkable year with Number 1 albums for Wet Leg and Fontaines D.C. already. What was it like working with him and what did he bring out of you as a band?

Thank you so much! It was wonderful getting to work with Dan, we are very lucky that through recording a single and then an EP we got to form a proper relationship with him. We felt so comfortable in the studio when working on Tired Of Liberty.

The Lounge Society

Photo: Alex Evans

Anything and everything was an option and at this point the speedy studio was less confusing and we knew it better (as he has such a huge collection of amazing equipment). However even in such an exciting space, Dan is the perfect conductor. He knows when and where to direct us creatively and act as a leader for us.

Why the title, Tired of Liberty? 

At first glance the title appears nihilistic. But in truth it is quite the opposite. Throughout the album we are searching for liberty in many shapes and forms, searching for the truest and purest form of Liberty. Not the modern world’s ideas of liberty, which is something that has become a tool for manipulation and creating false hope.

We find liberty when we least expect and through the catharsis of playing our songs, either to release feelings of social fears, local issues that we’ve seen and experienced first-hand or wider injustices that uncontrollably anger us.

I understand everything on the record was written just before or during a brief two-week period. What impact did devising and recording the tracks in that short time do for your creativity and the end-result?

We did indeed make a lot of edits before and during the recording, I guess that’s because it just felt like such a big thing to do a debut album and we could never be truly content. But I think that’s the best way of writing in most cases. However, some of our songs are almost four years old. There’s a real range there and the way we see it is that we’ve been able to soundtrack our youth; it is all the feeling that brought us closer as mates and gave us the realisation that we can and want to do big things together.

Of course there’s moments of angst, but there’s moments of uplift, too (‘Upheaval’, for instance). What do you think this record is saying about the state of the world?

The beauty and hope of upheaval does actually come from the over-consumption of mankind. But that sadness is not the focus. Instead we appreciate the beauty of nature and how it effortlessly fights for itself. When you take a step back from yourself and look around it is liberating. When you are ‘grounded’ in nature you are ‘untouchable’.

What’s ‘Generation Game’ about?

Gen game is one of our oldest songs, written when we were in high school. As we were all beginning to learn about the world outside of Yorkshire, we heard about the Uyghur Muslim genocide occurring in China. It was horrific to read what was happening at that age, it’s something so inconceivably inhuman. Although unable to understand the level of fear and suffering these people go through, we tried our best to create a kind of discomfort within the lyrics and recreate the sense of anger and injustice we felt about it. 

You’ve said that “Anything that follows [after your debut record] is just an evolution from that”. Do you feel a sense of pressure that comes with releasing your debut?  

Definitely, it’s a huge thing for us. You have to establish yourself with a debut – and finding the confidence to do so was quite tough. As with many things it was the reassurance we found in each other that formed the confidence we now have. We are proud of ourselves and each other and if nothing else then we are lucky to have found three other people to share our creativity with.

The Lounge Society

The Lounge Society

Photo: Alex Evans

The artwork is quite striking, too. Who’s the artist behind it and was it specifically intended to reflect the record as a whole?

The artist is called Phil Hunter. He’s an artist who was based in our town, Hebden Bridge, at the time. We were actually all sitting in a bar and struggling on where to start with artwork. Then, like some act of God, we all saw this striking painting on the wall. We loved that it seemed to appear like a portrait of a dictator but that he was obscured. They appear confident yet lost. Like Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias.

You can see this character in our world today; in the shape of many tyrant world leaders and money men. The art perfectly shows the false security these people feel and that they are weak to the bone, they just don’t know it. 

How much have you been able to perform Tired of Liberty tracks live? And what’s it been like when you have?

Quite a lot actually. We see ourselves as a band that must be experienced live. Even before recording the album it was vital that we could road test all the tracks and see what worked and what didn’t. Since recording, the tracks have just become more exciting and intricate. The specifics of playing live is such an interesting world to dive into and the tracks on our album really allow us to go wild with experimentation.

What’s next for you guys, after the release of Tired of Liberty?

We’re super excited to be touring over the next few months. It’s been a while since we’ve done a proper tour and we can’t wait to get back in sweaty rooms and play some rock n’ roll night after night. We’re also getting the chance to play all over Europe. We’ve never been able to play in Italy, Spain or Switzerland before and we can’t wait for that.

Are there any bands you know who deserve more recognition?

Yes, a couple spring to mind… Splint are a great new band we’re good mates with, from our hometown of Hebden Bridge. They’ve recently released their debut single and are a killer live band with a real Sonic Youth, television energy. Also The Short Causeway, who are from Hebden too. They’re a three-piece and are even younger than us. They have such a mature sound with influences like Stereolab and Duster at the forefront.

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