INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Stoke-on-Trent five-piece The Hiding Place are known for a sound that, in a positive way, is difficult to define, as they draw from a comprehensive range of genres to create something that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who listens.
The success of the band’s 2014 debut EP ‘So This is Home’ enabled them to get out on the road, supporting the likes of We Are The Ocean and Funeral For A Friend and winning over many with energetic live performances.
Just before their headline gig at The Underground venue in Hanley, run by vocalist Dominic Webber, I chatted with the quintet about their journey so far, and what they have planned next.
How did the band get together?
DOMINIC WEBBER (vocals): We’ve been a band for around six, seven years. Myself, Joe and another guy, Jonny, were the founder members. We kind of only got serious with the band about three years ago, when Phil Ward, our other guitarist, joined.
We wrote and recorded an EP named ‘So This is Home’, and released it with a video called ‘Guts’. For the next couple of years, we toured off the back of the EP, covering a few line-up changes along the way.
Ant has recently joined us on bass, and tonight will be his first proper gig with the band.
ANT HUME (bass): First ever interview, as well.
How did The Hiding Place come about as the band’s name?
DOMINIC: Basically, we were kind of spitballing for ideas for a name, and it kind of came from, when I was younger, I really enjoyed ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ by William Blake.
What I loved about that was the two different sets of poems and how they reflected both the innocence and the darker side, so what I wanted to try and come up with was a name that I thought could seem both innocent and sinister, and The Hiding Place seemed quite fitting.
JOE BARBER (drums): The name also seemed different for a band like us. We didn’t want to do the same thing that everyone else does.
How would you describe your sound?
DOMINIC: We always kind of find it hard. Without sounding cliched, we don’t like to pigeon-hole ourselves. We have kind of changed a lot over the years. Other people have called us post-hardcore, which I’m not opposed to. Some think we show more of a punk side, others pick up on the British indie side, but as long as people like what they hear, we don’t mind too much.
I would say our newer material is a bit more on the melodic/atmospheric side.
JOE: Yeah, definitely. I think when you’re younger and stuff, you tend to write more aggressive music, it kind of just comes out, you know. We’ve become more interested in harmony, melody and things like that.
What are the band’s main musical influences?
DOMINIC: How long have you got? (laughs) We do all have kind of like different influences, it’s quite diverse in terms of what comes together for us. I know the ones that we all really like are Circus Of Five, Thrice, He Is Legend, there are a few like them we all really like and take influence from, but at the same time, we do bring in our own sides. I know Joe likes a lot of more technical metal stuff, whereas I, as a vocalist, pull in things from… (JONNY enters) That’s Jonny, our guitarist, who has just entered. He doesn’t want to be left out. As a vocalist, I love singers like Morrissey, Glenn Danzig from Misfits, so yeah, it’s quite a mixed bag.
JONNY WOOD (guitar): I’m influenced by so much. Everything, really. I was brought up listening to stuff like Black Sabbath and I took my own influences from them, and same as Dom really, I like The Cure, The Smiths, as well as a lot of the newer stuff. When I say newer stuff, I mean early Nineties rock. That’s what I listen to the majority of the time, anyway.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
JOE: We always do it together. I don’t know if that’s unusual, because I’ve only heard from some other bands, but it is always a group thing, it’s never somebody walking in with a song and telling everyone else to build around it, it’s usually someone has an idea, and we kind of…
DOMINIC: It’s collaboration, isn’t it?
JOE: Yeah, we kind of work together to build it. Sometimes, it flows really easily and we can end up writing two songs in two months, or we can get stuck on one song for six months. You know, it either flows or it doesn’t.
DOMINIC: We will get in a room together and ideas will start flowing, but everybody has at least some input to what is being written. I can’t play a guitar to save my life, but if something on it isn’t fitting right, I will say to Jonny: “Can you mix it up a bit? Could you make this section longer?” I will then start throwing ideas around, vocal melodies to begin with, the lyrics often following later.
Dominic, you are a key figure on the Stoke music scene, what with the band and running The Underground venue. What is your opinion of its current state?
DOMINIC: I think there’s a lot of great talent around here. I really want to see more of the bands harnessing their talents, breaking out of Stoke and going around the country getting their music heard, because I think a lot of people sometimes enjoy being a big fish in a small pond, and it’s great to see bands pushing themselves, an example being Black Coast.
That’s what I want to see happen with the Stoke music scene, more bands pushing themselves and getting nationally, maybe even internationally, recognised.
The band recently played with Mallory Knox at Keele University. How was that for you all?
DOMINIC: We actually did some of our first gigs with Mallory Knox, and they’ve obviously become massive in the last couple of years, so it was really fun to see them all again.
We used to bump into them all the time at festivals, so it was quite nice to get to play on a big stage, not so big for them. It was their crowd, so we got to play to a lot of people who hadn’t seen us before, and we got to hang out and have some beers with them afterwards.
What have you got lined up in the near future?
DOMINIC: (laughs) Yeah. We’ve got a new single which we’ll be dropping soon. We’ve had a video shot for that and everything. Hopefully, we’ll be able to share some more info on that in the next few weeks. We’re also going back into the studio and record the rest of the EP at the end of this month.
When will the EP be released?
DOMINIC: By the time the EP’s finished and we’ve got things in place, it will probably be towards the end of this year. We’re also touring at the end of this month with Dream State, and we’ve got some things in the works for September and October. We’re trying to keep as busy as we can.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
DOMINIC: None of us are starry-eyed kids, expecting to become the biggest band in the world. It would be nice, but it’s just as important for us to enjoy what we do. We want to tour as much as possible, because we love the experience of doing it. We would really like to get out of the UK and get into Europe.
I would say, in terms of long-term aims, just getting to do it as long as we can, as long as we enjoy what we’re doing, as long as we’re relevant, you know what I mean?
JONNY: Yeah, I definitely agree.
JOE: You know, if you love doing it, you just carry on and that’s all we want to do, tour, work hard, play, record and release more music.
DOMINIC: It’s kind of hard to imagine a time where we wouldn’t be doing this, so I guess that’s really where we’re at with it. We want to keep on going.
FURTHER INFO ON THE HIDING PLACE CAN FOUND AT THESE SITES:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: thehidingplace.bigcartel.com