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The Reign in Spain: Hinds Are High on Excitement

This week on Noisey Next we spend one night with Madrid's hottest export

All photos by Rebecca Miller Squashed in the back of a blacked out Uber, Hinds are hollering. “Blow a kiss! Fire a gun! All we need is somebody to lean on,” they shrill excitedly. “Eh ooh, eh ooh, eh oooooh!” The driver’s eyes keep flicking from the road to the rearview mirror, grinning at their spirited rendition of Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” We’re speeding through Brooklyn en-route to Palisades, a divey venue where Hinds are celebrating the release of their debut album Leave Me Alone. Just a few months before they headlined the nearby, 550-capacity Music Hall of Williamsburg, performing a set that climaxed with a chaotic stage invasion. Like seasoned pros, they continued to play among the flailing limbs, pawing hands, and frantically aimed kisses from boys and girls alike, but tonight they’ve opted for a grubby spot that can accommodate under half that crowd. The plan is to play a show peppered with guest appearances from their friends—Shamir, Neon Indian, Public Access TV—followed by a second set of Hinds karaoke where fans can get onstage and sing along as they play backing band. An hour before doors, the line is coiled around the corner, stretching into the chilly distance. They received over 2000 RSVPs for the show; after that they stopped counting. Because the girls know the majority of these patiently freezing fans won’t make it in, singers Carlotta Cosials (24) and Ana García Perrote (21) slip outside to say hi and take pictures before the show. They tell the soon-to-be dumbfounded queue, “We want to share our love with you, we love your city so we're going to do a little dance. Are you ready?” before linking arms, kicking up their heels chorus line style, and breaking into an impromptu rendition of “New York, New York.”

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“I really love doing these things,” Carlotta will tell me the next day in her sing-song Spanish-accented staccato. “Like doing what the fuck we want!”

"We're practically the same person," says Ana (right) about Carlotta (left).

It was barely four years ago that Carlotta and Ana decided to pick up instruments for the first time. The pair met through their now ex-boyfriends and became inseparable after a road trip along the Spanish coastline. It was during this period that they began to plot their musical partnership, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2014 that, as a duo called Deers, the girls posted two songs, “Bamboo” and “Trippy Gun,” online. People kept pressing play and they scored a couple rapturous write ups. Lo-fi and cutesy with a garage pop fizz, they sounded like girls who’d been chasing shots with cheap beers. Girls who decided to ditch the boys they’d been hanging out with and just head home for a giggly slumber party in their parent’s basement. There’s a good-time camaraderie to these songs that’s underscored by their infectious and sometimes slapdash delivery, both live and on record. In a savvy move, the girls submitted their music for a local music competition and won. The prize? A slot to perform at the Make Noise festival Malasaña (a performance which ended up being their first ever show), plus the opportunity to record a single in Berlin. They convinced their friend, 23-year-old Ade Martin to drop guitar and pick up bass, recruiting drummer Amber Grimbergen via Facebook—at 19, Amber’s the youngest and quietest member—she was a fan whose profile boasted a picture of her playing drums.

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The quartet’s live debut took place in Madrid on April 26 2014, their fourth show was in London and their fifth in Berlin. Now signed to Mom + Pop in America and Lucky Number in the UK, last year Hinds played 135 gigs, 16 of which were at SXSW. They said yes to every offer logistically possible because they were excited, sure, but also because they had the sense that this might all end in an instant. Plus, what else are you gonna say when barely out of your teens, you and your best friends are being offered one endless, globetrotting party?

“It was the best mess,” says Ana of their very first show.

“The best mess you can imagine!” echoes Carlotta, both nodding vigorously. This is how Ana and Carlotta tell stories, one sentence reinforced by the other’s swiftly incoming rejoinder.

“Our story is cool but at the same time it's like, people have watched us grow up,” says Carlotta.

“Like puberty!” laughs Ana.

“Yeah exactly, it's like puberty,” agrees Carlotta. “The most embarrassing parts of your life, we have shown that to the world!”

Clockwise from top right: Ana, Amber, Ade, and Carlotta Backstage at Palisades is a graffitied sliver of a room where, post-soundcheck, the girls eat pizza and crack open cans of beer. Friends huddle in the bathroom for an illicit cigarette or five. A wide-eyed kid spots John Eatherly, singer of Public Access TV, and asks for a picture. “Well, he’s a local celebrity!” he gushes, iPhone poised. John looks bemused. Meanwhile the girls are super low maintenance: a slick of plum lipstick, hair whipped up into high ponytails, one XL t-shirt swapped for another, sneakers, and loose-fitting jeans or overalls are the band standard.

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By the time they grab their instruments over an hour has elapsed since their expected set time, and the walls are slick with condensation from the number of breathing bodies craning for a glimpse. Those clustered at the front alternate between dancing and gleefully shouting along, and bracing themselves as they’re pushed over the lip of the low stage. The record’s still two days away from release, but the diehards sing along to all the singles. John is yoinked onstage for the candied back and forth of “Between Cans,” and Shamir plays a mint colored guitar during “Garden,” one of their earliest, slurry-pop singles. Neon Indian—also part of the Mom + Pop family, who they met at a festival in Hong Kong—chats with friends while waiting in the wings for his guest spot, cowbell poised.

“I sometimes feel like we don’t deserve you guys! I’m serious!” yelps Carlotta to the giddy crowd, clearly overwhelmed by the response. “This is not a gig, this is not a show, this is a party!” Backstage the wide-eyed kid leans against the doorjamb peering at the chaos and exhales to no one in particular: “This is so cool.”

With the exception of Ade, the girls flew from Madrid to see in the New Year in NYC, alongside their buddies, East Village mainstays Public Access TV. Hinds first met PATV in London in the fall of 2014, forming a fast friendship, which solidified when they invited the boys along for tour support on a month-long jaunt across America this past October. This February they’ll spend another three weeks in each other’s pockets touring the UK. Although both bands are in their early 20s, John tells me PATV can barely keep up.

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“We have a problem because we really want to do everything,” explains Carlotta, her words tumbling out. “Like, I mean, everything is important to us because fuck! We're in Cleveland, how am I not going to party with these dudes that are so nice to us? And the night you are in these cities, is the last night you're gonna be there, and you don't know when you’re gonna come back! Everything is so intense because of that. Having a Friday every day that is the last Friday in that city—it’s too much for us! You can't go home. Like, seriously.”

“You cannot,” finishes Ana, before conceding. “Until your body tells you this is the limit, you're gonna die. That's like the point when we decide, OK, maybe tonight we're not going out.” For Ade it turns out that point where your limbs flat out refuse to play ball is tonight. As their set clatters to a triumphant close, Ade’s looking pale under her light freckles and unsteady on her feet. She’s ushered out by a member of Mom + Pop and taken home to bed, which leaves John to step up and play bass for the Hinds karaoke portion of the show. Ana and Carlotta scooch in and mouth the chords to help him out while audience members scuttle up to fall about onstage and half-shout the lyrics into the mic. Much later when the gear is packed up, the girls and John and assorted pals decamp to Loren "Ted" Humphrey’s warehouse and home studio (he’s part of the band Guards). More cigarettes, more beer. Ana and John plink the keys on an upright yellow piano. It’s 3 AM and the vibe is mellow, but happy. “You only release an album once, so we wanted a celebration, we wanted something to remember,” reflects Carlotta. “We were more relaxed than any gig we've done. I want beer, I drink beer…”

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“Ade, our bass player, has to leave, she has to leave, it's fine, we're still gonna play!” continues Ana.

Carlotta adds: “Nothing could stop us.”

Carlotta teaching John the songs

Shamir soundchecking with Hinds

The next day I meet the girls at Mom + Pop’s HQ near Madison Square Park. Carlotta and Ana come in first. If they’re hungover, they don’t show it: They’re as clear eyed and sheeny haired as ever. Amber and Ade slope in an hour later, at the tail end of our chat. Ade’s still looking wan, downing bottles of water sitting on the floor, back pressed to the couch. “My brain was working all right, but my body wasn't,” she says of last nights unexpected leave of absence. “It was like explosions of energies in different parts of my body. I was in the taxi with Julia [from the label] and I could chat but I was delirious. I don’t know what I was saying.”

For the rest of 2016, Ana, Carlotta, Amber, and Ade’s days and weeks are meticulously mapped, every chink of time allotted. After I say goodbye, they’ll board a plane to Spain, where they’ll play the same day they land. The next day they drive from Madrid to London and play two shows on arrival, before heading to Paris to kick off their European tour. Then it’s back to the UK for three weeks. Come March they’ll return to the States before heading to South America, Australia, and Japan. And then it’s festival season. They may well surpass their 135 show personal record. This is what it takes for a band to make it and make a living. Hinds don’t seem remotely intimidated by the prospect. “I mean, our religion is to tour as much as we can and to go everywhere that people want us to go,” says Ana definitively. Last year seems like bootcamp.

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In the hours before they fly home, the girls ink their names on a box of fresh from the factory CDs, while Carlotta sits at the computer editing together candid footage for a YouTube video entitled, “god, finally an album.” Shot mostly via a webcam, the clips capture the girls sitting on floors, in beds, on front porches, in their PJs in the garden—wherever—just playing their songs through. In the early days, this is how they remembered the chord progressions. In one frame Ana’s using a pencil and a couple of elastic bands as a makeshift capo. Hinds are not polished musicians, and they really don’t care. What’s important to them is the spirit their music conveys. Recorded in the port city of Cadiz on the southwestern tip of Spain, Leave Me Alone is a raw record, much of it tracked live, with laughter and the occasional mistake left to lie. Intimate ditty “I’ll Be Your Man” was captured with Hinds sitting on the studio floor gathered around one mic.

“When I see this album I imagine ourselves so alone, four girls doing their first album as they can,” says Carlotta. “I love it, and I think it's super brave and I'm super proud. We made it with our blood.” She pounds her fist into her left palm for emphasis. “You know what I mean? With our blood.”

“We wanted it to sound pure and just real,” explains Ana. “It's very weird, very messy, and we like it because you really can tell whenever we’re singing we were feeling exactly that way.”

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As the key songwriters and founding members Ana and Carlotta don’t just finish each other’s sentences: Increasingly they’ve found their life experiences surprisingly synced—falling in love and breaking up and sifting through the emotions from the fall out—which of course helps when you’re pouring your everything into lyrics. Case in point, “And I Will Send Your Flowers Back”—the album’s somber centerpiece edged out with girl-ish rage. Keen to capture the emotion they felt during its composition, the pair delivered their vocals simultaneously while watching each other in separate recording booths; they both sang themselves close to tears.

“I think for the first time we felt this wrong feeling about love,” says Carlotta. “Like, you usually fall in love and it's a cool thing, you feel happy and you feel great, and it was sincerely the first time in my life where I was like, ‘Oh my God, I feel like I'm falling in love and it's the worst idea ever.’ You know what I mean? And Ana kind of had the same thing.”

Hinds backstage at Palisades

Carlotta discovered the catharsis that music could offer relatively late in life, and, surprisingly, in the internet era, completely organically. “You're from America and you have music in your spirit and in your culture and everywhere, but it's not that easy in Spain,” she explains. "Like most of the people, they don't go to shows.” She says it would take the local record store two weeks to order in a copy of Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days. I resist the urge to tell her she probably should’ve utilized Amazon. These days they’re buddies with Madrid bands Los Nastys and The Parrots, and the girls are truly enamored by artists like The Strokes, Black Lips, and Arctic Monkeys. Still, for most of Carlotta's life she was pretty much oblivious to rock 'n' roll, focusing her time between school and dabbling in a career as a television actress. At 18 she was helping teach theater class and on a whim decided to attend the show of one of her pupils. The show date happened to coincide with her high school graduation, so she showed up alone and drunk from the afternoon celebrations.

“Now it's crazy to tell it—but I entered into a venue and I just freaked out—I was in this small place where people were dancing and jumping,” she recalls. “The band of my friend was a shitty, shitty band, but the band that played after him, they were the coolest guys I've ever saw—like Bob Dylan, jean jackets, and sunglasses. And I was like, ‘What the fuck is this, where I am? This is not Madrid at all!’ We started to go to more shows and more shows and we realized that that was the best thing about music: the freedom and the euphoria you feel at a gig, I mean, it's the best!”

That attitude hasn’t changed; she’s just connecting with more people who share it. Hinds are a gang who make music that’s the soundtrack to a good time when emotions are unfiltered and riding high, and they want to party with you. They’re fresh and utterly unjaded. They still remember the innocent, damp-palmed excitement of being a fan ready to wriggle and duck and weave their way to the barrier, to get just a little closer to the people making the music they love. “You know, for so many years we’ve been on the other side of music, we’ve been the people in that queue, so you can imagine how much we understand these people,” says Carlotta. “Seriously, we love what we’re doing and we love it so much sometimes it feels like we are going to explode!"

Kim Taylor Bennett is an editor at Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.