We caught up with Hands Off Gretel in association with Mophie at the Isle Of Wight Festival, where the band played the This Feeling, scotts and Pirate Studios stage.
Hands Off Gretel are a four-piece Alternative Rock/ New Wave Grunge band formed in 2015 and hailing from South Yorkshire. The band consists of Lauren Tate (vox), Sean Bon (guitar), Becky Baldwin (bass) and Sam Hobbins (drums). Their first album “Burn The Beauty Queen” was released in 2016 and after playing the launch party in Camden, Kate Nash commented “Hands Off Gretel are my new favourite everything”, while Garbage singer Shirley Manson tweeted “Lauren Tate is a superstar”.
Fast forward to 2019 and the band have just released their second album ‘I Want The World’ which was recorded at Monnow Valley studio in Wales via the band’s own label Puke Pop Records. The band was also awarded funding for Emerging Artists from the PRS Foundation to also support the independent release. The band have completed 4 headline UK Tours and played major festivals including Download, Isle of Wight, Rebellion (main stage), Camden Rocks Festival, Great British Alternative Festival and headlined Loud Women Festival in London. The band has also toured Germany and the Netherlands.
You’ve just played on the This Feeling, scotts, Pirate Studios stage at IOW Festival! How was the set?
It was so good, two years ago we played here, but our tent was tucked out of the way, whereas this time we were bang in the line of traffic, so you see people walking past and they hear the music and come in which is brilliant! An insanely good line-up too on this stage, so we have enjoyed watching the other bands and hanging out backstage and getting to know them, which is something you don’t always get time to do at gigs. We did some fun stuff with Pirate Studios this afternoon too on one of the rides, so keep a watch out for that!
You’ve just released new single ‘Freaks Like Us’ can you tell us about the song?
The songs about me at school, because at school I had a really shit time. It’s an anthem for the outcasts, about saying ‘screw you’ and just be yourself. So many people want to see you fail and it’s about standing there, doing your thing and showing them what you can do.
The singles from the album ‘I Want The World’ does the album take the same theme?
Yeah, throughout the album the theme is around being isolated and feeling lonely. I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom writing this album, but it’s basically me saying I don’t fit in, I never have, but I will find a way to shine anyway and everyone should. When I was at school I needed music the most. I used to lock myself in the bathroom at school, sometimes I’d just run away but then other times I couldn’t, so I’d sit there with the door locked and my headphones in listening to P!nk. She was with me in that toilet, I closed my eyes and she was there, her lyrics spoke to me, she understood and I knew I wasn’t alone. All I want is for my music to be there for others.
A lot of your songs centre around topical issues such as veganism, teenage angst and sexuality. What advice would you give to a younger Lauren or to someone who’s reading this and feeling isolated?
If I was talking to 15 year old me I would probably tell her to dump her boyfriend at that point! I was always so shy and so insecure about everything and I was too scared to admit it. I’m not just a singer I’m going to be a famous singer and I’m going to be fucking massive. (haha) My boyfriend at the time was always in my ear saying you can’t do this, you can’t wear that and calling me weird and I stayed with him for a very long time and wasted so much of my time believing what he said… so, I would definitely dump him and find Sean (guitarist of the band) and go out with him earlier, he has done so much for my confidence. I’d start playing the guitar sooner because I hated guitar lessons they were so boring. I was focused on my voice more when I was younger, but I’d definitely focus more on songwriting.
You said on stage you want the world? What’s HOG’s message to the world?
I think most of us in this band has been victimised and bullied at some point in our lives, so I’d just have to say just appreciate everyone exactly how they are, support each other unless they’re a dick of course…
This Feeling picked you up in their #Bigin2019 list, how helpful has that been for you?
The team at This Feeling, Pirate Studios and Scotts have been fantastic, putting us on festival line-ups and supporting us with album and video/single releases. They are really respected in the industry, so it was great to be added to their ‘Big in 2019’ list. We are completely DIY, we have no label and so just to have someone else fighting your corner has been really helpful. We were trying to get on their radar for a while, but the Northern Exposure’ In Music Festival’ competition helped to open up a few doors. It’s great to see them really getting behind some heavier and alternative bands, it’s a great platform for unsigned bands.
What bands and artists give you the most inspiration?
Lauren: For a long time I just listened to a lot of women, P!nk, Linda Perry, Courtney Love, Brody Dalle, L7 and lots of 90’s grunge bands, which probably comes through in my music. More recently, I enjoy listening to Slaves, Idles, Die Antwood and we all just discovered Saint Agnes at Camden Rocks Festival. It’s brilliant to see bands like Saint Agnes going mental with a guitar because it’s exactly how I feel.
We Are at the Isle Of Wight, have you any more festivals lined up?
Yeah! We are really excited to have been chosen by BBC Sheffield Introducing to play their stage at Tramlines in Sheffield from thousands of entries. We have been trying to get on there for a couple of years as its just down the road from where we live and we have finally done it!! We also have Y-Not, Kendal Calling, Amplified, Tramlines, Rebellion, Loozapaloza and Blackthorn Music Festival. We have done so well with festivals this year, but we still have the really bid ones on our wish list! We’re currently on a 17 date UK tour and quite a few dates are already sold out, which is brilliant. We’re doing a lot of dates so check the website.
Hands Off Gretel are currently touring and embark on their European tour on the 3rd of October, tickets and info here: www.handsoffgretel.co.uk/tour
Check out Hands Off Gretel at the following:
RACHEL BROWN & BRADLEY FOSTER
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This Feeling: https://www.thisfeeling.co.uk
Pirate Studios: https://www.piratestudios.co.uk