Updated: Dec 23, 2021
The Howl and The Hum's frontman Sam Griffiths talks about releasing a debut album in the middle of lockdown, how he stayed sane and the potential of new, experimental sounds.
York-based indie band The Howl & The Hum have managed to keep their fanbase growing throughout the uncertainty caused by a global pandemic. Tackling prevalent societal issues such as technology's place in modern relationships, their discography, to date, covers a vast array of stories and emotions in a very distinct style. Defined by the manipulating of guitar sounds and Griffiths’ emotive vocals their songs frequently carry poignant and poetic lyrics. The Howl & The Hum are growing rapidly in the music industry, yet with tours being cancelled and the country coming to a standstill it appears that they spent lockdown almost stereotypically, frontman Sam Griffiths was quoted saying
‘I gained about 14lbs over the last two weeks as I’ve been in isolation. Otherwise, wasn’t the true gain the friends we made along the way?’.
Ever the optimist, but I think it is safe to say he’s one of many.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Sam Griffiths (pictured left) about enduring the global pandemic as a musician. As expected he stated that he had felt uninspired and ‘sort of gave up writing (music) at the start of lockdown’. Instead, Sam found himself taking up the same hobbies as the rest of the world; meditating, cooking and exercise’ as well as making ‘weird spacey sounds on a Boss ME-80’. The singer described these activities as ‘hippie-ish’, but Sam noted that he was not alone in turning towards the arts to ease any anxieties caused by the pandemic. Acknowledging that’ the arts, in general, are vital to how we as a species, and as a country, deal with day-to-day life and that music has ‘a special power to do that: to inspire, to comfort, to heal and soothe’, Sam’s own experiences are reflected by the public's increased consumption of music, television and other such arts.
‘We’ve been lucky enough for some of these songs to reach out to other people and let them relate in their own way and hopefully send out the message that they are not alone’.
Sam stated that writing and performing music is cathartic for him. The Howl and The Hum's single 'Hall of Fame' is underpinned by that same catharsis as it explores
the themes of ‘relationships, people, memory and time’. Underpinned by a sense of longing and nostalgia this single remains fast-paced and upbeat and ultimately gets you singing away any troubles too.
‘Hall of Fame’ features on their accidentally ironically named debut album ‘Human Contact’ released in May of this year, it had been named prior to the national lockdown. The title track highlights the societal divisions that can be caused by media and technology as they contrast ‘bodies on bodies and fingers on phones’ resulting in a sense of separation from the world as if looking out at the ‘world…through glass’. Through utilising music as a space to ‘vent’ ( as Sam put it quite aptly) and relay stories The Howl & The Hum have created a beautifully crafted piece of art containing songs that their fans can relate to.
After years of work crafting the album, understandably Sam states that he will ‘always be a little bitter that we (The Howl & The Hum), and other artists’ whose albums came out this year, won’t be able to experience what a true debut release is like’. Although they may not have experienced the typical album campaign or celebrated its release with family and friends The Howl & The Hum have rescheduled their tour dates and look forward to touring the album in 2021. Sam optimistically notes one silver lining to the pandemic as he has ‘managed to glean a few nuggets of songs and ideas' that have:
‘come naturally from being alone with acres of time to play with sounds, new music software, keyboards, old guitars, strange tunings etc.’
Hopefully, there is a return to normality in the near future as there is undoubtedly some exciting stuff in store from this band, they are definitely ones to watch!
‘Human Contact’ is now available to download on Spotify and Apple music.
You can find The Howl & The Hum's tour dates here.
(All photo credits in this article belong to Tess Janssen)