Interviews, Music | by — July 20, 2005

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by Joanna Orland & Isla MC

Shimmery, summery, poppy, smiley, sunny. Just some of the words that spring to mind when listening to Hal. They have just released their debut self-titled album, whose sound is reminiscent of classic sixties groups such as The Beach Boys and The Byrds, especially with those delicious harmonies. We hooked up with bassist Paul for a chat. Well actually, we didn’t really get to do much talking. We asked our first question and he was off! What a lovely, cheery, chattery chappie! And he was Irish. Everyone knows how much I love those Irish boys! Woof.

To start off, Paul was dead impressed with our recording equipment. For anyone who’’s interested we use a microphone attachment that plugs into an Ipod. He thought this was well cool and seemed to be considering getting one of those bad boys for himself to record song ideas. There we go again – Loose Lips is continually changing the face of the music industry!

Guilfest is Hal’’s second festival of the summer, the first being one just outside of Dublin in County Kildare. Paul admits they were pretty nervous playing to the home crowd. He says their exact words when they walked into the tent and saw the thousands of people waiting to see them were ““Fucking”” and “”Hell””.

They are writing new music all the time and seem refreshingly unjaded (is that a word?) by touring. “”It’’s still like a hobby for us. We can’’t believe we get paid for doing this. We’’ve got so many ideas, and the ones we didn’’t use on this album we can explore for the next.””

We asked Paul about the record label a&r showcase they held in their dad’’s living room (Paul is the brother of Hal’’s singer and guitarist Dave). “”We thought nobody’s going to come if we have a gig because nobody knows us, so we might as well have it in the house! With a few beers!””

Rough Trade spotted them at a showcase they put on as a proper gig and signed them pretty much straight away. Hal luuurrrve their record label. “”They’’re so easy-going. The album took a long time to record but they were so relaxed. They gave us our own space and time to do whatever we wanted. They wanted us to make the best album that we could make and said that as long as we were happy with it they were happy with it.”” Er, hello? Aren’t bands supposed to hate their record labels? Even Hal’’s relationships with the bigwigs are sunny and rosy! Is this the happiest band ever?

Actually, we think that the real reason for this love fest is that Paul gets loads of free records now that the band are signed. “”I’’ve got a little guy who puts away all the limited edition stuff in a box for me. Every time we go over I leave with a bag full of records!””

And if Paul could sum up Hal in one word? “”My favourite word. Fantastic!””

So that was pretty much the end of the sensible conversation. From here it disintegrated into natterings about dance routines, home cooking and metal heads. And I’’ve just realised from listening to the audio that even when Paul wasn’t speaking (which wasn’t very often) he was still giggling away! We love Hal!

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