As they scramble the seven steps from green room to stage at Toronto rock club Lee’s Palace, the members of Madrid-based four-piece Hinds pause to gather in a circle, each plunk one hand in the center like jocks before a football game—a nightly ritual—and yowl out, passionately, unabashedly: “Go pussies!” Forty seconds later they’re roaming deep in jangly garage rock songs like “Trippy Gum,” an early single originally posted to Bandcamp that creeps up like a slovenly Nirvana b-side.
“It all started in America,” says Hinds singer and guitarist Ana García Perrote, recalling a woman tour manager whose presence came as a surprise to the band, having mostly worked with men on the road. “‘Go pussies’ is a mix between a joke and what's happening to us right now. We never started this band with a goal of fighting for women’s rights or something, we just wanted to do music and share it. We wanted to avoid, in all aspects, the fact that we were girls. But little by little we are realizing that women are extremely fucked in this world.”
The night of their Toronto show, the band’s first time headlining in Canada, Hinds are in the middle of a make-or-break North American tour. The evening prior they’d been in Cleveland, where they stayed up until 6 o’clock in the morning. Their hangovers are merciless, compounded by a long travel day that required them to cross the Canadian-American border. But they soldier on.
It is one of the first nights that Toronto feels properly like fall—not so much the endearing pumpkin spice idea of fall, but actually like fall. It is mucky and raining and gross. Everyone crowds beneath awnings with their hoods up to shiver and smoke and go back inside to sound-check with mascara clumping at the ends of their eyelashes. The band has requested that we do something “Canadian,” but we don’t have much time. After standing outside in shitty weather—an authentic Canadian pastime—we walk to a nearby restaurant that serves bespoke poutine. Our table is beneath a wall-mounted television on which a hockey game plays. It is also Drake’s birthday, a milestone the band seems unphased by as they excitedly choose the ingredients for their personalized poutine dishes.
Huddled together in a chilly cigarette circle on the way into the restaurant, I observe a Nardwuar pin on Perrote’s jacket. The band may not care for Drake, but Nardwuar they recall with joy. (The quirky Canadian music journalist had recently interviewed them in Vancouver.) Part of Nardwuar’s shtick is that he comes bearing gifts for his interviewees—rare records and music memorabilia meant to dazzle visiting musicians by way of his magical research prowess and ability to track down wildly obscure albums. For Hinds, Nardwuar offers up a signed Strokes record. They literally jump up and down squealing, unhinged by pure and jubilant fandom.
In the same segment, Nardwuar shows them The Dears album Thank You Good Night Sold Out, which the band grumpily kicks onto the floor. Hinds’ original moniker, Deers, despite being spelled differently and meaning a different thing entirely, earned them a lacing from the Montreal band’s legal team in early 2015.
When I ask them about the name change, singer and lead guitarist Carlotta Cosials replies with a sense of resignation. “Deers was a beautiful name, but Hinds is too,” she says. “We wanted one word, and something easy in Spanish and English. A deer is a good animal. It’s loyal and strong, like us.” The band received an email from The Dears’ lawyer threatening to sue. “We went crazy,” she recalls. “We tried everything, but it was impossible to fight. We just had to choose a new name and keep walking, man.”
Having spent hours making conversation with four tired—albeit courteous and friendly—women who’d rather be napping off a hangover than doing press in a Canadian poutine place, I am struck by how immediately the band lights up on stage, and how deftly and alertly Cosials handles the almost constant flirtatious heckling lobbed in her direction, despite nothing in Hinds’ act inviting it.“Keep walking” indeed. The audience is mostly male, and so are both bands who open up for them. Three songs into their set there’s a crowd surfer, four songs in there are several, at least two of whom get kicked out by security for being aggressive to other fans. A guy in the crowd yells out something about the Blue Jays, Toronto’s baseball team, who had lost their spot in the playoffs the day before. "I don't know what you're saying!" Cosials snaps back with a grin. Later she hisses “shhhh” before launching into the band’s last song.
In November, Cosials and Perrote—who met as teenagers and founded the band in 2011, initially as a two-piece—told NME that since starting to play music professionally, they’d encountered more sexism than ever before. “How you sing, how you pose, how you dress, how you write songs… We have to fight a lot. We still have a lot of work to do,” said Cosials. Added Perrote: “It’s not weird to be a woman on stage!”
We’re at a moment now in music reporting where at last a band comprised of all women might escape the tired “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” query. Simultaneously, we’ve reached a point where discussing what it is like to be a girl in a band is a conversation many women in the industry are finally able to have. From Nicki Minaj’s commentary around the underappreciated pop culture contributions of black women to CHVRCHES singer Lauren Mayberry being vocal about the sexism and threats of violence she’s faced, “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” is both an antiquated inquiry and a crucial topic.
I never ask Hinds the question outright. As Perrote said, the band did not form with intentions of protesting the patriarchy, and I don’t want to suggest that they should have to. But on tour, they find themselves doing it anyway. I can’t help but notice how thunderously baritone the crowd sounds even as the audience sings along with good intention, not meaning to usurp the power of four women on stage, but trespassing on their auditory property nonetheless. “Touring is the best thing in the world”, says bassist Ade Martin. “But sometimes I feel down and want to go home to my mom and my cat. That's when you learn the most. I feel like those weak moments are teaching me more than anything else.” Drummer Amber Grimbergen continues: “I hate being on tour and I love being on tour. It’s hard sometimes…[but] this is the most incredible experience of my life. We love each other. That makes everything good.”
At sound check, the friendly audio guy quips that they’ll sound even better when the room is full later that night. “Impossible!” Cosials, a former actor, replies. At dinner, she tells me that she used to experience debilitating stage fright, but has learned to talk herself through it.
After the show, the band run around snapping photos with fans and logging time behind the merch table. They chat with every fan who wants to chat with them, their Cleveland hangovers having disappeared completely, just in time to drive an hour outside Toronto to the only hotel that could accommodate the whole band plus crew and their two opening acts so that everyone could stay together. “We are fans too,” says Cosials. “We’ve been on the other side of music for so many years. We do the kind of music we'd love to listen to, we give the kind of gigs we'd love to watch. We seriously love our fans. They get our jokes and our way of living and I think they know we love them. Sometimes they speak to us like if they were our friends or something. It's nice. It’s pretty natural for us.”
“We prefer to sing and to communicate in our broken English than in Spanish,” she continues. “English is universal. Plus it’s the only way our moms won't understand the lyrics when we sing them. That would be so embarrassing.”
Hinds’ songs are righteously flirtatious, tender without relinquishing agency to love interests. “I want you to call me by my name when I am lying on your bed,” go the lyrics of “Bamboo”, released via SoundCloud in 2014. On the brand new Leave Me Alone, “I could be your babe, but I’ll be your man” (on “I’ll Be Your Man”) recalibrates the expectations of gender roles and lays out the ground rules for how the women of Hinds demand to be treated. They’ve got their work cut out for them.
“We really wanna fight to make this music world a better one now,” says Perrote. “So yeah. Go pussies.”