Rising Stars: Hallan making waves with their gritty post-punk and ace live shows
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With major tastemaker praise under their belts, including the backing from a film icon, Portsmouth risers Hallan are turning heads.
Led by frontman Conor Clements, the scorching four-piece pair frenetic post-punk with lyricism tackling everything from the monotony of everyday life to abstract dystopia.
Their concept-fuelled debut EP Reporting Live From The Living Room Floor is a perfect snapshot of their mission statement, capturing the ferociousness of their live shows across bristling tracks like Orwell's Idyllic Future, Modern England and Reruns.
They're signed to the stellar label Nice Swan Records – an indie responsible for an incredible charge of guitar acts right now, including Courting, Sprints and English Teacher.
And if praise from the likes of Rough Trade and Radio 6 Music legend Steve Lamacq wasn't enough, Hallan were given a Twitter shoutout by Trainspotting icon and new music champion Robert Carlyle.
Hallan further cemented their status as ones to watch with a thrilling set at Nice Swan's showcase at Hackney's MOTH Club earlier in September, which also boasted slots from fellow signees Malady, Mandrake Handshake, Opus Kink, and Jelly Cleaver.
Daily Star's Rory McKeown caught up with Conor to talk about Hallan's journey so far, their influences, and growing up in Portsmouth.
Hi Conor. How can you sum up the past 12 months for the band?
"Guten Tag. The last 12 months have been a blur of up and downs for us. It started out looking quite bleak but with the help of the Nice Swan Records family we’ve had the support to put out Modern England and our EP.
"We can’t complain too much, it’s quite odd being a band where our most successful period has been during a worldwide pandemic. In short though it’s been rehearsals, YouTube binging, trimming my bonsai tree and then forgetting to water it."
You’ve just released your debut EP Reporting Live From The Living Room Floor. Tell me more about its writing and recording process. When did it begin?
"Most of the EP was written during the early stage of lockdown. We’d just went into Ford Lane Studios to record Modern England and so we began thinking about releasing a body of work off the back of that.
"There were ideas kicking about the Hallan bucket for a while, but the first lockdown gave us plenty of time to crack on and write something substantial.
"I was also planning my last year uni project at the time which cosmically aligned with the EP, hence all the visuals and the zine."
It’s the band’s first foray into concept material. What are the themes running throughout it?
"We tend to write from an observational point of view, sometimes quite bluntly. This time we had the idea to blend together some outrageous exaggerations and fictitious elements in our writing, creating a larger-than-life version of ourselves in a way.
"The EP represents where we’re from and the people who live on our island, especially the local music scene. The dystopian and wild world we created within the music and the artwork isn’t too far from the reality of our lives, but it’s abstracted enough that we won’t be getting into anyone’s bad books. I think?"
You're from Portsmouth. What's the scene like there and how has it moulded you into the band you are today?
"We’ve been part of the local music scene for a few years now, playing every venue left in the city. I like to think we pride ourselves on sticking it out and lasting as long as we have done.
"When we started it felt like we were outsiders within a bit of dying scene but over the past couple of years Portsmouth’s alternative music community has started to liven up I think.
"We’ve played many a gig in our town with the room being pretty barren but I like to think that did us a favour. We’ve been trained for the worst so we’re ready to get out on the road now and play to hopefully busier rooms in other friendly cities."
When did you get together?
"It all started a couple of years ago when the four of us crossed paths at an all-inclusive relaxation retreat. We’d all had enough of our busy and bustling lives in the city, so we’d fled to an anonymous country for some peace.
"Just out of sheer luck we happened to all be in 4 neighbouring cabins. There was a common room type area where we were having a few drinks and a fan came loose from the ceiling and knocked me on the head.
"Luckily, I was okay but I came around with the word Hallan repeating over and over in my head. This is where I discovered a sort of clairvoyant ability. I knew from that moment that we had to form the band and make it back home to share our musical skills."
Back in May you were given a Twitter shout out for your track Orwell's Idyllic Future by film star Robert Carlyle. What was that like?
"That was a bit of a surreal moment. He’s a good lad and cheers to him for shouting us out. We grew up watching him in movies and just like most kids of a certain age revered him in Trainspotting.
"Now it’s great to know that he’s not just a great actor but also someone with impeccable music taste."
Who are your main influences – either musically or personally?
"We’re quite varied in our musical tastes. Some of us are keener on louder, punkier stuff whilst some of us prefer the gentile tones of 12 string acoustic guitars.
"I was raised on a lot of classic punk from the 70s so that’s definitely under the Hallan surface. I think a couple of us are largely into a lot of 60s bands at the moment but that will probably change next week.
"Admirable and influential non musicians include George Mallory, David Lynch, Aleksander Rodchenko and Hannah Hoch."
You've had a host of support from the likes of Rough Trade and BBC Radio 6 Music. What's it like having that backing at an early stage?
"It’s great! We never expected to really get this far with our off-kilter riffs and funny yelling but it’s good to know other people are enjoying it.
"We’ve always had a lot of love from BBC and all the way up from our local station to the big 6 they’ve had a hand in supporting us.
"There’s such a lot of good music coming out our homeland at the moment so to be singled out and admired is quite lovely. Rough Trade and other independent record stores stocking our EP is also quite nice to hear about.
"Everyone should be going out and supporting those places and what’s not to love when you can do it by buying one our records."
You're part of this incredible charge of guitar bands coming out of the UK and Ireland. Do you feel a sense of excitement being in a band right now?
"There’s tonnes of great bands making noise at the moment. If people say they’re lacking, then they definitely aren’t looking hard enough. It’s definitely exciting just to be able to get out into the country and play to real life people in real rooms.
"All the bands we’ve met within the guitar band scene have been lovely and it’s nice to know there’s still a lot of love and support between bands even in this digital age."
You've already supported the likes of Sports Team and Porridge Radio. What did you learn from those shows?
"Those shows feel like a lifetime ago nowadays. We’re a million miles away from the band that played those shows but we wouldn’t be who we are now without them. We spent a lot of time finding our sound and it took a lot of playing and shows to find our identity.
"We’re a lot more confident and certain of ourselves now, so I suppose those shows helped us get over any nerves and worries younger bands have."
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You're touring the UK this autumn. How much are you looking forward to it? What can we expect from a Hallan show?
"After all this time locked in our little houses it’s safe to say we’re thrilled to be leaving the island for a bit. We always pride ourselves on our live performance so it’ll be nice to get out there and share it with all the new fans we’ve brought on board since our EP release and singles.
"Definitely expect yelling, a bit of sweat, perhaps a small chance of possible tonsilitis, and a rogue tambourine. It’ll be a good time that much is certain."
What's next for Hallan? Do you have an ultimate goal?
"We’re probably going to knuckle down and get some more material written and recorded. We’re constantly writing and with one and a half years of lockdown you can imagine there’s quite a back catalogue to pull from.
"We shall see where the cosmic winds of the world take us, but we’d like to play more shows and see more of our lovely, green country. And I’ve only left the country once, so if any of Europe is willing to take us, we’re down for that as well. I think whatever comes next will be something special, that’s certain."
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