By Jon Milton
Home Counties got themselves noticed when they released their excellent debut single Redevelopment in March this year and have certainly drawn more attention with the release of new single Dad Bod, its title inevitably bringing wry smiles to the faces of many, including yours truly!
Newly signed to Alcopop Records, home to Ditz, Gaffa Tape Sandy, False Advertising and many more, the band will be releasing their debut Redevelopment EP on digital and (cream vinyl) physical format in early September. With a second EP already written and planned, I caught up with Will, Connor and Barn from the band to chat about Dad Bod, their (re)development and how they are starting to establish their true identity...
First things first – is that a recorder on the track?
What was the inspiration behind writing Dad Bod?
Will: Lyrically? It started more jokily – Dad Bod sounds quite funny in a low voice, and I came up with this verse which rhymed stereotypical middle calls Dad things that sounded quite funny with wordplay, and the chorus obviously didn’t take much lyricism just repeating the word Dad Bod over and over again, but the second verse is a bit darker, addressing a more sinister side to middle class masculinities. I didn’t intend it as any mission statement, which it has been portrayed as in the press. It just started off as funny and ended up serious, as a lot of the songs I tend to write go!
Leading on from that, is the Dad Bod a physical state or a persona?
Will: The songs not really about the shape of someone’s body at all – it’s about a cultural association, gentrification and maybe about a sense of cultural superiority. Part of the lyrics talk about different gender relationships and power dynamics - not saying that everyone that’s a middle-class man is poaching or anything though, but it’s a song that references stereotypes and is an exploration of characters.
What reactions have you had from those with Dad Bod’s in the music industry?
Will: We had a reaction on a Bristol radio station, BBC Bristol where the guy thought it was hilarious
Connor: He laughed for the next 30 minutes about it…
Will: He said he couldn’t stop laughing at the way Dad Bod was said, the way the recorder was played – I think most people take it tongue in cheek – it’s obviously not the most serious song ever, and that’s represented in the music of it, it’s all wonky and silly. I think people have received it well generally
Barn: there’s not been much lyrical backlash, they tend to talk more about the instrumentation.
Connor: talking about when they were 5 years old learning to play the recorder
I guess as a name its always going to pique people’s interest and get people talking.
Will: Yes, it’s very much a buzz word of our time isn’t it? It’s another of these made up cultural phenomenon, interesting to pick it apart, even if the lyrical matter is somewhat detached from the specific meaning of someone’s body shape.
Redevelopment was a great way to introduce the band – how pleased were you with its reception?
Connor: Immensely - it was such a redevelopment (laughs) from our previous project, with people snatching interest, and it was very flattering that people wanted to get in touch with us and find out more, and that there was a positive reaction to it.
And the front cover, where is that?
Will: Aylesbury. I did my dissertation at Bristol Uni on town centre redevelopment in Aylesbury and I had all these old photos that I loved, so grainy and so beautiful and depressing which I thought worked pretty well. We haven’t released the cover work for the EP yet, but it’s a similar type of thing.
Connor: also Aylesbury!
Will: I’ve become quite obsessed with redevelopment in Aylesbury. I don’t think anyone’s ever thought of Aylesbury’s redevelopment as much.
What made you pick Aylesbury?
Will: Its where we grew up. People hate Aylesbury these days, talking about how the town’s changed for the worst and how the sixties ruined it, but I love all the sixties stuff in Aylesbury. That’s what Redevelopment is all about, people’s fake sense of nostalgia, an imagined past they never actually lived.
Dad Bod and Redevelopment both seem observational – is that a standard approach to song-writing ie detached from your own personal life?
Will: Yeah – I’ve never tended to write emotional songs, although they sort of are emotional. I like taking things that are mundane, picking them apart and making them interesting. I think that with Haze (their previous band) it was a lot of social commentary which was more outwardly left-wing which makes me cringe a bit thinking about it. But with Home Counties the lyricism’s very..
Barn: …the insights are more subtle.
What are the other songs on the EP about?
Barn: ‘That’s where the money’s gone’ is about tax havens, and about the British media’s perception of tax, Europe and the EU.
Will: Its more about language – it’s fun and playful rather than serious and grating. A very simplistic summary of the debate around referendum.
Connor: It was written around the time of the General Election
Will: Chugging is about London
Barn: About the gentrified culture of drinking in Shoreditch
Will: Similar to Dad Bod actually – the double standards of people, giving off a good impression of themselves, and just talking shit. Raoul is about Raoul Moat, and the 2010 media representations, about how the press portrayed him as this Rambo like figure, this masculine hero, Ray Mears even, which is bizarre because if he wasn’t a white guy he’d be portrayed as a terrorist. Addressing how the media represented that and how it was seen in the public’s imagination.
How did the deal with Alcopop come about?
Barn: they reached out to us
Will: ..after Redevelopment came out and were really excited about it and wanted to do an EP. We always had this idea that we were going to have this EP called Redevelopment. We wanted to drop it in January, but we’re glad we didn’t now. But they got on-board and came up with a whole plan of releases and we liked the sound of it so we joined up. And Jack who runs it is so lovely, the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. So enthusiastic, a real clear vision about things should be.
Barn: We’ve gigged a lot with Ditz which I think has helped the relationship. That’s probably how they heard of us.
You were in a band prior to this, can you tell us more about them, why they came to an end?
Connor: we came up with the Haze project when we were 14, and now we’re in our early 20s we’ve just evolved as people, and we had Barn and our new bassist Sam join, so it felt right to leave that behind and start something completely different. And as Will’s been saying the song-writing has changed and is less explicitly obvious and more tongue in cheek
Barn: It was very ramshackle and punk as well
Will: We were very loose…
How have you found the process of launching a band just as lockdown has kicked in?
Barn: It’s worked quite well – we’d recorded before, and now’s pretty much the ideal time to release because a lot of people are listening to music, so to have that while we’re not gigging has been quite fortunate. We’ve had loads of time to write and think about the band more, about what we’re going to do, plans and stuff.
Will: I’ve liked it – I haven’t had to work as I’ve been furloughed, so I’ve been able to write songs and jam with friends, and we’ve come up with the next EP already…
Barn: …which we probably wouldn’t have got around to doing if we’d been working. It’s been quite well timed as we’ve been building the aesthetic of what Home Counties was, so there’s quite a lot of inspiration and a lot of new ideas. We’d only just understood what a synth was as lockdown was happening.
Will: Our next EP is going to be more defining of us, the band we are now rather than the current EP. Redevelopment as an EP is very much January and the music we were making in January. It feels like a different band now. The next EP will be more coherent in a way.
Connor: This is very much a transitional EP from Haze to Home Counties – there is still elements of who Home Counties is in there.
What is the sound of Home Counties then?
Barn: More Talking Heads and less Parquet Courts!
Will: It’s a lot dancier, lyrically tongue in cheek and more democratic in terms of the collective process. In Haze I wrote everything. Now everyone comes up with songs and singing duties are dispersed a lot more. It feels like us as a group of people
Barn: The songs are written more with a studio vibe rather than for the live environment.
What’s next? Is there a big plan?
Will: We’re taking it as is comes and just enjoying making music
Connor: we don’t take ourselves seriously and I think our music reflects that – I don’t think there’s a ‘we’re going to be headlining Glastonbury next year’ vibe
Will: I don’t think that’s healthy – it kind of sets you up for disappointment. Its good to be optimistic though, we’d like to progress.