Interview: Hidden Mothers and Copse
Definitely getting on a festival like Arctangent has boosted both of us no end and hopefully people turn up to these shows off the back of it.
Six months after triumphant debuts at Arctangent Festival, two of the UK’s finest post-black bands are heading out together on a four date tour through southern England and Wales. Gary Davidson caught up with Luke Scrivens (guitar/vocals) and Liam Knowles (bass/vocals) of Hidden Mothers along with Ryan Westwood (drums) and Phil Vernon (guitar) of Copse to chat through the formative years, Arctangent, their next releases, playing Scotland and Edward Gibbs!
E&D: Liam in a previous interview with Echoes and Dust you mentioned Hidden Mothers formed in a pub with the aim of playing Arctangent. Did you all know each other from the local scene?
Liam HM: No, Steff our original vocalist knew all of us individually but none of the rest of us knew each other, so he sort of gathered us up and then we went from there.
E&D: Copse how did you tempt international vocal superstar Ed Gibbs to join, what started as, a lockdown project?
Phil Copse: I am so glad he is not on the call.
Ryan Copse: Ed’s a prick.
Phil: Me and Ryan have both known him for probably the best part of 20 years. I know him more through Jonny Renshaw (Mahumodo/Devil Sold His Soul guitarist and Bandit studio owner) who I’ve known since I was four years old as I was best friends with his brother growing up in school. Jonny took us to all our first gigs and whenever Devil played I’d meet Ed. When my friend Tom, Jonny’s brother, moved down south he met Ed from college. That’s kind of how it happened really and he got in the band and we have done bands with him in the past.
Ryan: I toured with Devil, I think I did seven or eight tours with them doing merch and tour managing and everything else and well Ed’s a prick.
E&D: I am going to make “Ed’s a prick the headline”.
Ryan: He will be expecting it anyway.
E&D: You have both had releases on some great UK labels (Hidden Mothers via Surviving Sounds and Copse on Church Road Records) how have those deals come about?
Liam: Well Surviving sounds is just because of Frenchie (Chris French, label owner and PR Trail boss) being a legend. He was just always there when we started and I don’t think we even considered putting it out anywhere else. He really latched on to that first single that we released ourselves and I think he’d released one or two things on Surviving Sounds before. It was their first vinyl release and I feel like it was the thing that made them step up and have a proper go at being a label. So it was as much an unknown quantity for them as it was for us but it seemed to work out pretty well and he still is a big supporter of the band despite the fact that we haven’t done anything with Surviving Sounds since.
Luke: (Laughing) We haven’t done anything with anyone since.
Phil: The first release was always going to be independent because we thought no one knows us and we’ll just put it out and see what happens. Then for Old Belief | New Despair we actually initially contacted Surviving Sounds and they were super into it from the demos but it just didn’t quite work out. Then we managed to get it in front of Sammy and Justine at Church Road Records. I used to be in a band with Alex and Nate from Going Off and they managed to recommend it to Sammy and luckily they bought into it pretty quick and we’re pretty stoked on it, so yeah that was lucky.
E&D: Hidden Mothers has a new album nearing time for public consumption, is there anything you are allowed to spill on the details for that?
Liam: Oh I wish there was, I wish we had some information. We’ve have just had the first mix of the full thing back, so label conversations are being had but nothing is set in stone, no sort of time frame as of yet but it sounds pretty fucking good.
E&D: I guess for Copse it takes you a while to write those long 15 minute tracks?
Phil: You’d say that but the thing is our other guitarist Will is an absolute maniac and a writing machine, I don’t know how he does it he just seems to be churning stuff out. We have got five ready in quite far stages of demo, they’ve got no vocals on yet but kind of front to finish they’re pretty much structured. Far too many guitar parts for a two guitar band but yeah. Those five tracks come up to about 40 minutes so far. We still don’t know what we want to do, whether we want to put it all in one basket and put it out as an album or whether we split it up.
Ryan: I absolutely love hearing the drums that Phil and Will chuck on there as well, one of the tracks having, what was it, 252 bars of 200 BPM blasts? Absolutely not happening.
E&D: In 2023 you both featured at Arctangent to sizeable crowds, how was that experience?
Luke: It was insane for us, I remember talking before because there is that joke we say that we are the band that released something like 25 years ago and we’re still playing the same stuff. We just had no idea how we were going to be received in terms of whether people were actually going to show up. The fact that the tent was full pretty much and that people actually looked like they were enjoying it was just insane. The band really could have split up the next day and it would have been like we did what we wanted to do by playing Arctangent.
Ryan: I mean it was amazing, same as Luke, that was probably the gig that we all wanted to play. We all go every year, Phil has been every year since it’s started and just getting that email and then Phil put it in the WhatsApp group. I think you just mesaged “fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuuck” and then posted the picture and I was on a call in work I couldn’t actually read it at the time but yeah it’s incredible. Was nervous leading up to it and then Saturday morning I think everyone was just buzzing to get on stage and like looking out and seeing how many people were in the tent as well and obviously seeing Hidden Mothers the day before and how full it was for them it was incredible and everything we wanted it to be.
E&D: Hidden Mothers have played with some big names in the past, how will it feel to add Copse to that impressive list of gig companions?
Liam: I just don’t see how it can get better, it’s all just going to be downhill from there. Phil and I haven’t played a show together since about 2007 so I feel like this has been a long time coming and I can’t wait. We’ve been talking about this for absolutely ages and just fannying about, because we are all a bit older and we’ve got jobs and kids and stuff we can’t just jump in a van and fuck off for a couple of weeks like we used to when we were 18 or whatever. So when we can do things like this I want to do it with cool bands that my friends are in and that I like the music of and I can’t think of a better pairing personally than us two.
Phil: Our first show was meant to be with Hidden Mothers in Bristol but it got canned at late notice, two days before, because Liam had bad guts.
Liam: I was really, really hoping this would come up because there’s nothing that I love more than talking about my bowel functions.
Phil: It didn’t quite work out so finally two years later or whatever it’s yeah finally happening. I think it’s in a much better situation now so all going well some people will turn up!
Liam: Off the back of Arctangent I think has been the big thing to getting it sorted to be honest. We don’t have a booking agent, it’s all done ourselves and when I used to try and book shows it was a bit of a slog. I put out a thing saying “two Arctangent bands looking for shows” and I had the whole thing booked in like three days. Definitely getting on a festival like that has boosted both of us no end and hopefully people turn up to these shows off the back of it.
E&D: As well as being two well matched bands for a tour the local support bands on the dates are also superb, did they come from promoters or yourselves?
Liam: So that’s mostly been the promoters. It definitely seems like the promoters on this one have like made a point of really tailoring the bill to be interesting and varied and I don’t feel like there’s any sort of “oh this is the band that supports every heavy show in this town” sort of vibe, it seems more curated than that which is really nice and I’m really looking forward to seeing some cool bands and making some new friends.
E&D: Neither band has made it up to Scotland yet and I was just wondering what the main barriers are, is it logistics, cost, having to get shows in between?
Phil: Yeah a bit of both. For us coming from Bristol obviously it’s a long way, we’re trying to negotiate with Liam about trying to sort out a Leeds show which is barely halfway. If we’re gonna do it we probably need to get another show to make it worthwhile and when you have limited time it makes it more difficult but I’d love to go. If we could find a local band to share backline with that would make it easier as it’s straight forward to get a flight from Bristol but it would feel very proper flying to a gig wouldn’t it?
Luke: I think we do plan to go, we just haven’t had the chance yet. We’ve done quite a lot of stuff around England. Now we want to try and get out of England.
Liam: Well we’re finally getting into Wales! Scotland is something we 100% want to do but it’s just tricky, like Phil mentioned time is the big issue. We’ve not really been north at all yet, so I think what we’ll probably end up doing at some point is going to Newcastle and then going to Scotland and trying to explore the top of the map a little bit more. We’ll do Scotland before the end of the year, 100%
Luke: We will definitely do it this year or if not this year next year.
Phil: Get that in writing Gary.
E&D: Don’t worry it’s on record…
You can catch Hidden Mothers and Copse on the following dates: 15/02 – Brighton, 16/02 – London, 17/02 – Cardiff, 18/02 Birmingham