The Orielles are one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their debut album Silver Dollar Moment came out to a wave of critical acclaim last month, reaching the dizzy heights of number seven in the official vinyl sales charts, while their live show has seen them amass a devoted legion of fans up and down the land thanks to some dazzling showstopping performances.
Last weekend saw the trio - Esme Dee Hand-Halford (bass/vocals), her sister Sidonie B (drums), and Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar) - headline the second night of Heavenly Recordings annual weekend bash in Hebden Bridge. It's here where we caught up with Halifax's finest post soundcheck at the legendary Hebden Bridge Trades Club.
DiS: Silver Dollar Moment came out last week and got to number number in the vinyl charts while your live shows have also been getting bigger and busier. I guess it must be an exciting time to be in The Orielles right now?
Henry Carlyle Wade: Definitely. This last tour has been very overwhelming. To see so many people believe in what we're doing is really nice.
The first time I saw you was at last year's Heavenly Weekend event in Hebden Bridge and since then you've gradually amassed a loyal following nationwide. Was that something you initially set out to do?
Esme Dee Hand-Halford: We've always been really invested in the idea of a steady climb rather than getting hyped and going from being small to massive, so I think it's great that we've steadily built our way up. The venues are getting a little bit bigger each time and it's pretty surreal to see so many people getting behind it and supporting us so much.
Sidonie B: I think an important part of being in a band is playing the shit venues and small places because when you do eventually play bigger venues it makes you appreciate them so much more.
Your hometown of Halifax was recently labelled "the Shoreditch of the north" in The Guardian. What's your take on that?
Henry: It's better than Shoreditch! It was beautiful to read about our hometown being spoken about in that way. It's very exciting to see such a small town like Halifax get a name for itself; the quality of bars and shops that's come in has got so much better.
Sidonie: I read a comment from Hookworms on Twitter saying it's a shame that Halifax has to be constantly compared to southern places for it to be recognised. It should just be considered as Halifax, as its own place. They shouldn't have to put a label on it.
Esme: It was quite a hard place to be starting a band in but I think over the past few years I've noticed a bit of a scene developing with the likes of us and Hookworms, so I'd like to think it's a bit easier for bands wanting to start out now.
Are there any other Halifax bands you'd recommend at this moment in time?
Henry: There's a band called Working Men's Club but they're not from Halifax, they're from Hebden. Liberal Violence are on the way up as well. Aside from that, I've not really seen that many bands from Halifax recently but I'm sure there are some.
It was quite a bold move leaving some of your early singles off Silver Dollar Moment, particularly last year's breakthrough 45 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt'. Was it difficult arriving at the final tracklisting for the album?
Henry: We had lots of thoughts about releasing an album and one thing that we've always hated is when bands release songs you've already heard over and over again. So we wanted to deliver as many new songs as possible. We've been asked many times why 'Sugar Tastes Like Salt' was left off and it's purely because we'd rather have three new songs on there instead. It's just a rip off when you buy an album with all the previous singles on, especially when some of those songs were first recorded two years ago and it ends up sounding worse than the original.
Esme: I think there a few people out there disappointed that 'Sugar...' isn't on it but I quite like that in a way because they missed their opportunity when it was first pressed, so why try and jump on the bandwagon now?
How many songs did you consider for the album? Are there any left over which might be revisited at a later date?
Sidonie: We had a few recorded which we liked and then we realised the album was too long so we had to take them off. We also have a few demos that we did which never made it to the studio.
Esme: A lot of them were rewrites of really old songs as well so we ended up transforming them into new songs like 'Blue Suitcase'. The original demo of that is completely different to how it sounds on the album.
Henry: You really wouldn't be able to tell it was the same song.
Will there be any more singles off the album?
Esme: There will be another single soon but it's probably going to be a track that was initially recorded for the album but didn't make the cut. Now when we reflect back on it how much we've changed musically we'd like to go back and change that song. There may be something else off the record too but we're not really sure what.
The live set has also changed quite dramatically over the past twelve months. Do you still find people asking for some of the really old pre-Heavenly songs like 'Space Doubt' and 'Joey Says We Got It' at gigs?
Henry: Yeah, all the time! The oldest song we got asked for recently was 'Sliders'. That was from our second CD EP which wasn't released with anyone. Now we've got an album out I don't think people can come to the shows expecting to hear old songs. They should be excited to hear the new ones.
Do you feel being on such an established independent as Heavenly Recordings and having such a prestigious back catalogue to live up to creates extra pressure for the band going forwards?
Sidonie: They've been really supportive so far. Everything we've taken to them they've agreed with but at the same time, they've also pushed us harder so we couldn't really ask for a better label. We like hanging out with them as well. It's more like a family than just a record label.
Your tour schedule is getting busier by the minute with festivals booked throughout the summer and a run of UK headline shows in the pipeline later on in the year. Do you prefer playing live to working in the studio?
Esme: It changes depending on whatever situation you're in. We love working in the studio so much, but then when we've finished writing new songs we can't wait to get out there and play them live so I don't know. Some people say we're better live, others say we're better at recording, so I guess its somewhere in between.
Henry: For me, the recordings should make people want to see the band play live then when you get to the gig it's even better and different in some way to the recording as well. ,
I'd agree with that. A lot of your songs sound different played live, almost improvised in places. Is that something you've always done right from your earliest shows?
Henry: We always aim to do that live.
Esme: Someone once paid us a backhanded compliment in the nicest way. He said when I watch you guys live it reminds me of stuff like ESG and A Certain Ratio, because I like to see bands who are still making messy music. That's so true. To see a live band where it's a bit messy but also quite genuine.
Henry: Keep making messy music is now our slogan!
Were bands like ESG and A Certain Ratio a big influence on your sound? I can definitely hear it in the guitar riffs. Early Happy Mondays too.
Henry: You could probably fill a book with our combined influences between us. Especially the number of songs we listen to. Mark Day from the Happy Mondays was certainly an influence on the album. There are certain pieces of his work I aspire to.
Sidonie: I met John Maher from the Buzzcocks in Glasgow last night. He flew all the way from a little island on the Hebrides just to see us play. He gave me a signed record and it said, "To Sidonie, I have your first record, now here's mine." It was really nice.
Henry: That was so emotional. This past year's been full of silver dollar moments like that. It has literally been one long silver dollar moment. Last night's gig at Mono was put on by Stephen Pastel, which is another really surreal moment because The Pastels are one of our favourite bands.
There are quite a lot of parallels between bands like The Pastels and yourselves, certainly the whole DIY aesthetic and both originating out of fanzine culture, albeit from different eras.
Henry: We've totally missed our time!
I'm not sure I'd agree with that, although if certain parts of the music industry were to be believed, guitar music is pretty much dead and buried as things stand. How do you respond to that?
Henry: A lot of guitar music now is very commercial and very clean. It never starts clean. It gets clean because you have to conform.
Esme: It goes two ways, doesn't it? Because of the political and social landscape today, half the scene's creating music that's punkier and more in your face. Ours has a message to say. Whereas the other half are creating more passive, consumerist music for people that just want something to escape.
What's interesting about The Orielles sound is it crosses so many different genres and boundaries it becomes almost impossible to pigeonhole.
Henry: That's perfect!
Esme: That's what we like to think. That we have our own scene within itself because it crosses over so much different stuff.
Henry: I find albums that sound the same from start to finish not that exciting. It should take you on a journey from the first to the last song.
What advice would you give to new bands just starting out?
Esme: Be nice to all the bands you play with and the venues you go into and the people doing your sound. Just don't be a dick. There are so many bands we've played with in the past who've given us a bad impression, and that first impression makes such a big difference.
Henry: Those bands that were dicks are long gone, cos we've been around that long. Play music that you want to play and that you'd want to listen to, then eventually like minded people will listen.
Sidonie: Just be persistent. We've been knocked down so many times because of our age and spoken to so many bands out there who've had similar issues. Issues with gender as well. So be persistent because if you really want to do something you'll do it.
Was there ever a point where you considered putting the band on hold and going into full time education or getting traditional jobs?
Henry: There were moments where we thought it might not happen because of logistics. But I've never had a moment where I didn't want to do it.
Esme: That's why it still exists because no matter what the logistics are we still have the push and the drive to be in this band.
Henry: Going to Uni meant we had to travel further and have less practices but then absence makes the heart grow fonder!
Silver Dollar Moment is out now via Heavenly Recordings. For more information on The Orielles, please visit their official website.