Interview: Hot Little Hands lead singer Tim Harvey chats with Elize Strydom about touring, singing Japanese…

Hot Little Hands   Interview: Elize Strydom

Hot Little Hands are hard to pigeon-hole, much to lead singer Tim Harvey’s delight. Take a little old soul, a generous helping of electro, four part harmonies and you’ve got…concrete/jungle/samba? Well, they are the genres the band checks on their Myspace page, anyway. Perhaps you’ll just have to see ‘em live and draw your own conclusions.

Life Music Media (LMM): You’re fresh from a tour of New Zealand. How did it go?

Tim Harvey (TH): It was amazing. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much. The countryside is mind blowing and the people are gorgeous and so friendly. We played about seven shows. We were kind of freaked out because the first night we got there we played a party and the band that went on before us, when they finished a song, nothing would happen, no one would clap. It was really weird! But when we got on the claps started filtering through.

LMM: I saw on your Myspace page there’s a pretty persistent guy from Japan who keeps asking you to play over there. Is that something you’d like to do?

TH: Yeah I think we are going to Japan, later in the year. We’ve just done two Japanese language singles, actually.

LMM: Really? You speak – or should I say sing – Japanese?

TH: This punk guy from Japan who was really famous there in the 90s, we got him to rewrite the lyrics of some of my songs and record them and then he sent them to us and I re-recorded them, kind of copying him. I had a lyric sheet in front of me with what words make what sounds. I still don’t know what I was singing though! When I listen back to it it’s like, who is that?

LMM: Your album Dynamite in Black & White was released last year. Had the band been kickin’ around for a while before that?

TH: Yeah, about three years before that we got together and started playing parties and gigs and supports. I’d been writing songs for a few years before that. We recorded the album once but then kept working on it and then we took the best bits and re-recorded lots of stuff and got the best bits of both. That process took about a year. So we did about two or three years of full time stuff, apart from full time work, earning money, of course.

LMM: Damn work, gets in the way of life doesn’t it? And of course you were busy with Clare Bowditch, you’re part of her Feeding Set. Are the other members of the band involved in other projects?

TH: Raph (trumpet, keyboards and vocals) studied jazz and is playing in a 50s and 60s rock ‘n roll kind of outfit. Brigitte (keyboards, percussion and vocals) is playing in another band – one of our favourites – called Teeth and Tongue, they’re amazing. So, yeah, there’s a few things going on.

LMM: Was it hard to find time to get everyone’s schedules to meet up?

TH: It’s getting harder. It started out pretty easy. We just used to jam on a Saturday. But life gets complicated as you lose brain cells.

LMM: I saw you play last year when you were supporting…ahem, yourself (ie: Hot Little Hands supported Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set) but it was only you and Raph. So obviously I haven’t seen the band in full flight. Are your live shows oceans apart from the recording or pretty similar?

TH: Yeah, it’s pretty similar. We try and keep most of the elements. On the record there’s maybe five or six horn players and a couple layers of us singing so the scale of our live show is a bit leaner when we play live. Leaner but meaner. It’s a bit more exciting!

LMM: You’ve started a four-date Australian tour but what’s next for the band?

TH: We might be going back over to New Zealand to play a festival around New Years. We’re definitely going to Japan; it’s just a matter of when. We’re going to try and do a showcase and try and wow them. I’ll still be playing with Clare, as well. She’s working in a studio in Berlin that David Bowie and Brian Eno used for Low. So she’s over there having a whale of a time. Her new stuff is really amazing; it’s sort of a little more dance.

LMM: Wow, that’s a new direction for her! What about the Hot Little Hands sound? Do you think it will change with subsequent releases?

TH: That has created lots of problems for us! It seems to be that people have a hard time getting their head around the breadth of our sound. It’s pretty much like a mix tape or listening to the radio. We kind of take each song to its logical conclusion. So we play a bit with genres. That seems to create weirdness! It’s hard to nail down one particular genre but that’s the way we like it.

Hot Little Hands will play:
The Troubadour, Brisbane on August 22nd 2009

the Northcote Social Club, Melbourne on August 27th 2009

the Rocket Bar, Adelaide on August 28th 2009

Dynamite in Black & White is out now through Rubber Records.