W.H. Lung, seemingly bursting out of nowhere in 2017 armed with the seven-minute behemoth of a track ‘Inspiration’, has led them to the release of their debut record of Manchester-made krautrock and taken them to places they’d never been before—despite working on numerous projects together for years.
Joseph E, Tom S and Tom P from the band, whose name was taken from a Chinese supermarket, sat down with us here at Far Out to discuss the last two years and the making of their debut record and the long road that came to creating Incidental Music .
Turning the attention back to the monster track, ‘Inspiration!’, a song which catapulted the band into the ears of an audience who wholeheartedly bought into their mysterious (lack of) appearance and sound. The track was released before the band had even played a live show in their current carnation, Tom S shared his reaction to the success of their debut single stating: “We honestly didn’t expect a huge amount to happen as we’d put out music before in different projects so it was quite exciting to see people liked it. It’s through releasing that song that we met Melodic (Incidental Music producer) and without them we wouldn’t have been able to do anything we’re doing now. I think musically it was also the start of a new direction for us and we knew it was the best thing we’d done to date at that point.”
He added: “The festival offers came in whilst we still only had two songs and we’d also confirmed a headline Manchester show which was our first show. As well as writing and seeing how the songs translated to a live setting – we were also figuring out a lot of the new equipment we now needed to use which was also really fun.”
As the name of the record, Incidental Music, suggests there is no grand plan at the heart of W.H. Lung or lofty ambitions to become Pyramid Stage headliners. The joy, for them, is in the art of creating music which bonded the friend in their teenage youth. “I never seriously thought in grand narratives or invested in a particular idea of W. H. Lung,” vocalist Joseph E explained. “We were always hopeful that good stuff would happen, yes, but mostly it’s been about finishing the song we’re writing at the time; constructing a routine and carrying it out with patience and diligence. I’m happy to be playing the next show and grateful to have the opportunity to keep writing.”
Playing live is secondary to spending time in the studio for the Mancunian’s which is unusual for a lot of bands, especially given the ‘DIY’ touring ease of music today. That said, W.H. Lung aren’t in this for a quick buck as Tom S expands: “We had absolutely no intention to rush and play as many support shows as possible for the sake of it. It was also very liberating in-terms of writing as we didn’t even have to think about how we’d recreate things live. ‘Nothing Is’ was the first song we wrote in this way and it is completely different to anything we’d written before. I remember James Murphy talking about the difference between recording and playing live for LCD and saying that the live band is just the best LCD Soundsystem cover band going, which I thought was a really funny but interesting way to look at it.”
Tom S then explains why studio time is so precious to the group adding, somewhat proudly: “Working in the studio is amazing and being able to spend a long time narrowing in on specific sounds and the structure of a song is always going to be enjoyable even if it’s excruciatingly painful at the time. Time absolute flies by every day we are in the studio. There’s also not much better than the moment when everyone realises you’ve written a bit of a banger.”
As earlier mentioned by the band, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is clearly a figure who has undoubtedly casted a spell-bounding influence on W.H. Lung’s sound. Bonding over their love of the genre of music as teenagers as Tom S, says: “When we made a mutual discovery of krautrock as teenagers, it definitely had a big impact on mine and Tom’s song writing but I don’t think this is a particularly original story.”
He continues: “I feel like I have an innate enjoyment of motorik stuff and I will listen to the new DIIV or whoever, but it’s not really something I think is as overtly referenced as much as people seem to think; maybe ‘innate’ or a less pretentious substitute term is exactly what it is.”
The record was a long and drawn out process, taking two years to complete with the band rehearsing in Leeds in the evenings following a day’s work in Manchester. With the members all sharing a house during this time as well, living and breathing all things music in any spare time they had. Tom S looks back on this time with a fondness, saying: “We had a room in the house where everything was just set up ready to write and record demos and so it was really easy and convenient to just write whenever. We very much wrote into the computer for this record apart from with ‘Inspiration!’ and then we’d take the demos into the studio with Matt Peel where we basically re-recorded the songs, from the drums upwards.
“We’d track the drums first and then spend a lot of time on the electronic elements of the tracks in a room full of synthesisers and drum machines. None of the tracks were really recorded live at all. The process was really refreshing at the beginning but writing into a computer can also become a bit limiting. Having all the ideas recorded as demos to keep listening back to and scrutinise also meant we chucked a lot of things away, but whilst it can be frustrating at the time, I think it’s definitely a good thing.”
Take some time out of your day and let Incidental Music transport you to another world for 50 minutes: