It’s as if Hinds just stepped off the set of one of their music videos. We meet at a coffee shop near Grand Central Station in New York, and after introductions it’s clear that these four have a camaraderie that you can’t get without being best friends. Amber, Ade, Carlotta, Ana.
Four years ago it is just two girls in Madrid, Ana and Carlotta, with two mics, four amps, and a hi-hat that they use to keep tempo. Sometimes they just have to clap. Around 1 a.m. the diners are finally clearing out of Carlotta’s Aunt's vegetarian restaurant as the girls push aside tables for one of their first shows.
Today they look back on their early days fondly—at that point their goals simply consisted of the basic next steps for any aspiring band: write a few more songs, play a couple more shows, and then see how things go. One video for "Bamboo" later and those two girls quickly turned to four. Two guitars and a hi-hat turned into a full rock outfit.
Then, a demo tape turned into a couple of years on the road. The road is something Hinds talk about a lot now. Specifically, the disconnect they’ve felt while constantly being on the move—a strangely disconnected lifestyle defined by performing and the necessity to be “on" at all times. Although they were thrown in at the deep end, Hinds haven't missed a beat.
Hinds' effervescence and humor is often mentioned in writing about them, but it is really more of an attitude of loving combativeness that these four friends embody. This is something that you notice when you actually read lyrics like “I don't wanna disappoint you now with my persona, I just wanna know it's over” or glance at the titles of their albums: 2016's Leave Me Alone and their upcoming record I Don’t Run.
We’re about 30 minutes into our conversation when I ask them where they’d like to go on vacation. A silly question in retrospect, seeing as they’ll probably be on tour for the next two years. But as they sit in pairs facing each other across the table, it’s like watching doubles tennis. Ana and Carlotta lob long answers back and forth, while Ade and Amber jump in to interject or crack a joke.
It’s a passionate and honest conversation—an openness that can be heard on their new album. I Don't Run is contemplative and often dark, yet their liveliness and spirit always shines through, and it sounds even more self-assured than when we heard them last. The first single is entitled “New For You,” and it’s a warm invitation into an album that doubles as a diary of their last few years. Grab a beer and don’t run from the truth.
Do things feel different this time around, now you're on your second album?
Carlotta: I think we feel much more secure than the first record. The sensation of listening to it afterwards... I think it’s going to go [motions up with hand] BOOM. Maybe that’s horrible to say because musicians often are not satisfied with what they do, but we really love it. It’s so different than the first album. When we left the studio after Leave Me Alone we were like, “Ah I don’t know! Have we crossed the line of being too brave?”
Ana: We didn’t know exactly what we wanted, it was our first time doing a record and it was our first time even in the studio. We didn’t know how to explain ourselves to get to what we wanted. It can be really confusing. Mixing for example—we had no idea what a mix meant. It really blew our mind because with the mix you can really do anything with a song, the recording almost doesn’t matter. We were so overwhelmed with the first record and having that behind us made it so much easier for us to make things sounds how we wanted.
What's it like writing in English, which isn't your first language?
Carlotta: It’s challenging but beautiful. We have the process pretty automatic at this point. It used to just be a tornado of feelings. We’ll talk in Spanish, Spanish feelings, Spanish, Spanish, Spanish, then when it gets put onto paper it’s in English.
A Spanish rough draft and an English final draft?
Ana: In a way, but we just write feelings. On this record we did almost everything in a couple of months. So we come together and say that we want to talk about this in a song, that in another song. Then once we have the music we realize that this feeling really fits here, or we’re missing this feeling there.
Reading your lyrics, they seem extremely personal. You mention using feelings in your writing but how often are you talking about specifics?
Ana: 100%. Everything is really specific, so concrete.
Do you ever have exes hitting you up asking, “Are you writing about me?”
Ana: No because no one reads our lyrics! When people listen to songs and lyrics I don’t think they usually think what our experiences are. They reflect themselves—they’re already thinking about their own situation and reality. I think it's just laziness.
The last track “Ma Nuit” feels like a breakdown of the whole album, a wrap-up of all these feelings of love and disappointment you have been singing about.
Carlotta: It’s a breakdown of touring actually. When we started to tour two years ago, we started to realize that in all the music that we listen to, when musicians talk about home and talk about the road, they’re literally talking about home, and the road.
Ana: It’s not a metaphor.
On “Ma Nuit you also use a couple of different languages. Is there a point in recording when you decide something is going to sound better in Spanish or English?
Ana: We don't overthink about that. It's also such a raw and sad song that singing in Spanish makes sense. Its radically different for us to hear as well. When I hear Carlotta singing in English I think, "OK it's Carlotta from Hinds," but when I heard her singing in Spanish I felt, "Wow this is Carlotta, this is my friend who has been struggling." It became so much more real. It really helped show the feeling of the road and having your heart being in parts.
How is the road, and how have you all grown individually and as a group because of it?
Ade: We love touring but one tour is never like this. [Ade motions in a straight line with her hand] Day one you’re having the best time of your life, day two you’re missing home, then the third day you just feel OK.
Ana: You can’t have a pause. It's not like work where you can go home and watch a movie with your best friend or boyfriend. It’s all the time, constantly. Reality changes and things that are important you forget are important. It feels like you’re in a little world that’s going in the opposite direction of the real world.
What defines you when you’re at home, off tour?
Carlotta: We hang out all the time. So many times we arrive from the plane and that same night we hang out together in our favorite bar. We’ll just come off a long tour stuck together and we can’t handle two hours apart.
Your music has such a spirit, even when you’re singing about sad, dark, or romantic things. It’s never hiding away, there’s this defiance.
Ana: It’s about making our reality richer. The reality is half and half. Women make up half, so we’re actually singing how half the population is thinking. I’m not saying that everyone thinks like us, but even just saying "him" or "he" in songs.
We grew up listening to music mainly saying “Oh girl.”
Ana: Exactly, it’s totally changing the rock and roll rules.
Carlotta: It’s always been “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah.”
Do you see a lot of girls following in your footsteps in bands, in Madrid or in Spain for example?
Ana: Yes all the time, but not Madrid especially. It’s happening all over the world, after our shows we always try to meet our fans at the merch table and almost every night we have girls coming up and telling us, “We started a band because of you!” While we were in Chicago our tour manager was making a video and she wrote: More girls on stage = more girls in the crowd more girls on stage = more girls in the crowd. It made so much sense because in Chicago the whole first row was girls jumping around and having fun.
Was that always the case or were there more guys when you first started performing?
Ana: It always has been super equal, which is cool too, because we don’t want to come across as only music for girls. No, it's music for everyone that is made by girls, you know?
Have your feelings about coming to the U.S. changed with Trump in office? Do politics affect you and your music here or in Spain?
Ana: We grew up in our teenage years in the middle of a big crisis in Spain. In our youth we saw how you could go from more or less being a good country to all the sudden everyone talking about the crisis, everyone talking about politics, everyone complaining all the time. We were living seeing the changes; we saw how it changed things. So we took the decision of avoiding politics, because a lot of people in bands talked about it and it was a bit overwhelming. We knew everything was bad, but if you want to just talk about bad things you will never stop, you will never run out of things that are going wrong. It’s always going to be good to talk about love.
I went to Madrid for the first time this summer and a lot of people mentioned that they don’t move out of their parents' home until much later. Is that cultural or a byproduct of the crisis?
Ana: Cultural. We don’t move out until we’re 23, 24. It’s so different, even from the rest of Europe.
Ade: I just moved, she just moved, and still we’re early. Also school is so much cheaper and degrees take longer in Spain. You’re never going to move until your time in university is over.
So if we you weren’t doing Hinds you would be in school?
Carlotta: Yes, medical school.
Ade: I was doing architecture but I will never go back to that.
Ana: I was doing business, advertising, and PR but none of it really... I mean we did study, we started, but then Hinds happened and it saved our lives. Thank you Hinds! Hinds University!
Hinds' second album 'I Don't Run' is out April 6. Buy/pre-order here.