InStyle caught up with syntho-pop sensation Hurts. Think the sound of 1980s super-groups like Tears for Fears sound mixed with a touch of boy band emotion and melody. We can’t get enough.
As Mancunian-born Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson’s chart domination is about to begin with the release of their new single, "Wonderful Life", and upcoming album Happiness, we chatted to lead singer Theo.
Stylish, uber-talented and, ladies, down right charming, Theo told us about writing a love letter to Kylie, the power of white shirts, and the search for happiness…
How are you dealing with all the new found attention?
It’s a great thing when we’ve got a record that we put so much work into so that we could be happy and content. Everything that comes after is just a bonus really. The worst thing would be to finish it and think you could do better or you rushed it but it’s nice now because we can just sort of take it all in.
You have a 1980s synths sound. Are you inspired by that time?
When we started bands like Depche Mode and Tears For Fears were quite important but we quickly moved away from that and we listened to bands like Coldplay and even Take That, which sounds strange but it was that world of interesting pop music that appealed to us. It was a lot more from the 1990s as well because that’s the time we grew up and had a connection with music
So you are proud to be pop?
Yeah – we pride ourselves on the fact that we make it and that we make emotional music And also the important thing is to do it in your own little way because that’s when pop is the best – when it’s got some individuality to it.
You’ve worked with the queen of pop, Miss Kylie Minogue on your new album, Happiness. How was that?
What an amazing end to an album that we thought was finished! Once we finished it we listened to it a few times and said, ‘wouldn’t it be great to get a girl on there?’ And we said, ‘Why don’t we get someone who sounds like Kylie because that voice would be perfect?’ Then we just looked at each other and said, ‘Why don’t we just ask the Kylie? So we just wrote her a little love letter that said, ‘Hello, we’re two boys from Manchester, you’re the queen of pop.’ Two weeks later she got back to us.
What was she like?
She’s so beautiful, so graceful and also the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She knew all about the band which was really nice. We spoke for a while and then we sung a song together.
Did you have a crush on her?
Not really – I was always fascinated by the music. And she’s essentially soundtracked my whole life. She broke in 1986 when I was born. The whole time she’s always been present. And she’s got such a soft but powerful voice- I think there’s something really special about that.
What’s the dynamic between you and Adam?
It kind of thrives on the fact that we’re very different I. We are similar in a lot of ways but we have distinct differences musically and in our personalities that are so useful for the music. That’s why it works so well because whatever the differences are, we never tend to argue, we just put them to practical use.
Is it true you met during a fight?
We were outside a nightclub and our friends were fighting each other and instead of joining in with the pent up male aggression, we decided to talk about peace and about Prince!
Is it also true that the first version of the video for your new single Wonderful Life was shot for £20?
Yes, and it all went on the lovely dancer. We put an advert in a corner shop window in Manchester and it said ‘Dancer wanted for pop video. Must wear black’ We had our little studio and we thought no one was going to come and then for 5 hours no one did come! Eventually, this graceful little girl just turned up at the door and I asked her to start dancing. I found her dancing fascinating. So we filmed it and afterwards we walked her to the cash point. We were only getting £45 a week because we were on the dole and we said, ‘half a week’s dole money alright?’ And fortunately she agreed.
Does she star in your new video?
This is the thing! We never thought anything of it and then as the band grew and grew, everybody started to ask us about the video and her. Everybody was asking, ‘who’s this girl?’ And we said, ‘we don’t know but we’re going to try and find her!’ Then it got to 18 months later and 2 million views of the video later and we wanted to make the video we always had wanted to make i.e. not for 20 quid, but we could just not find her! We’ve still not found her!
Is that why there is a picture of her in the new version?
Yes - the new video is in tribute to this girl. I don’t even know if she’s seen the video or knows she famous! Here’s the strangest thing – we went to Greece to film this music awards and there were 11 thousand people there and we turned up and there were 15 dancers dressed in black like her, doing the exactly same dance!
Tell me about the Hurts look?
It comes from a time when we were on the dole for 3 years, and it was a bit depressing to say the least. It’s really demoralizing when you’re fighting for your dream. Everytime I went to the job centre, I used to put a suit on. If you go in a suit or you go in looking incredibly smart, you feel like you’ve still got some pride and some dignity left. And then it started to transfer to real life because the world’s a better place when you dress smart I think.
The band and the videos have a very strong aesthetic.
Yes. It’s really important to us. You can create your own world by how you dress and look. It’s like living in a film. It’s a means of escapism. When you’re in a crap situation, you want take yourself out of that situation and you make another world in your head. And that’s what music has always done for me. I come from a village of 100 people – music took me out of that world.
Are you going to wear expensive suits from now on?
The thing is suits don’t need to be expensive if you go to the tailors. They can do anything! I often wonder round and say to myself, ‘Just buy something new for God’s sake!” I treasure clothes too much. If you’ve got something that only you’ve got, then it makes you feel nice. I’m ridiculously sentimental about these things.
Any other style essentials?
All you need is white shirts. A white shirt can get you out of any situation. You can save the world, you can run a marathon, you can get money out of a bank, you can buy bread from a shop, you can drive a taxi, you can fly a plane. You can do anything in a white shirt!
You’ve been playing the festivals this summer. Do you have a festival essential?
Asides from a white shirt?! Here’s the thing with a festival; the smarter you dress on the first day you get there, the longer it takes you to fall apart. I might look ridiculous on the first day sure, as I’ll be over the top, but by Sunday I’ll look normal! Also a comb is the perfect thing for a festival, and in life. A comb and a white shirt – you can’t go wrong. Little things that do big things.
Do you iron all theses shirts?
I hate ironing. It is the bane of my life – I have to do it everyday! All the time! Pain and pleasure. If it stresses me out ironing but by the time I’ve put the shirt on I’m a happy man.
You’re both from Manchester. The city has such a great musical heritage. Are you proud of the city?
Yes, I’m proud that we’ve had the chance to come out of there and people have taken notice of us. Because it’s a great place and we couldn’t made the music anywhere else I don’t think..
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t in Hurts? Any other ambition?
I don’t really know. I did go to uni and I studied acoustics – the science of sound at Manchester University. That didn’t get me very far but I finished it all. So maybe I would have been a scientists and invented creaseless shirts!
Your album, Happiness is out in September. What is happiness to you?
Do your best and knowing you’ve done your best and couldn’t have done anymore. Have no regrets. Happiness came to us very quickly. That’s why we called the album that. Alot of the album is about trying to find it which is often quite a sad road
If the first the album is about finding it – what happens once you’ve found it?
Let me paint the picture. Imagine that happiness is a broomstick but without the broom on the end - just a long stick. Right now I’ve got one foot balanced on that stick. At any point that piece of wood is going to go! But I could always pick that piece of wood back up!
By Marisa Bate