Who The Hell Were… Naomi Hates Humans?By Craig Smith • Aug 27th, 2012 • Category: Features
This is a first for Webcuts, in the sense that between asking a band to appear in a future ‘Who The Hell Are…?’ and publishing said feature, the band broke up. Our recent hiatus, which was unfortunate but you know… whatever, allowed Naomi Hates Humans to pass into the great rehearsal room in the sky un-championed by us, especially after having given one of the best responses to our questionnaire ever. This just could not stand, so the feature has been appropriately re-titled and like naughty puppies, we are very remorseful about our ineptitude.
As a little bit of a history lesson, London-based Naomi Hates Humans began as a solo project for Naomi Scott in 2006, expanding to a 3-piece band for 2008’s Pipe Dreams And Lullabies album and 2009’s EP, and then a 4-piece to play those songs live. Our recollection of the latter (found in a pile of promo cds dating back to the ages) when stood side by side with the “My Love”/”Death of a Party” 7″ (the final release for the band) revealed an astonishing progression in approach, instrumentation and (wall of) sound which promised much, much more.
The video for “Death of a Party” appears below. It seems (and sounds) sadly apt in hindsight. Copies of the single are probably still available to purchase from their website/itunes. We suggest you do both.
01. Who are you?
Right now we are Naomi Scott, Lewis Young, Daisy Fretwell, Emily Barnett, David Somerset Barnes and Imelda Maguire. Seemingly we only enlist band members with fantastically middle-class first names. Many many years ago I (Naomi) was in a band called Morbo Hates Humans (with David Thair from Ice, Sea, Dead People), the name evolved from there.
02. What do you sound like?
This is always a toughie. Right now we’re going with “A Phil Spector-y, multi-harmonied, folk-y rock unit.” It makes about as much sense as any other attempt we’ve made.
03. What do friends say you sound like?
Strangely this isn’t something I’ve really discussed with friends. People used to mention PJ Harvey quite a lot, and I am a fan, but I think that’s kind of just lazy short hand for ‘girl with guitar’. Someone said I sounded like Jessica Rabbit once. He got a high five.
04. How did the band get started?
I started playing under the name ‘Naomi Hates Humans’ in about 2005, as somewhat antifolk-tinged solo project. After playing shows absolutely anywhere that asked (pubs, parties, youth clubs, squats) for a year or so I enlisted Lewis and Sagar Patel (now of M Y S T Y R Y S ) to fill out the sound for my first album. Sagar left after the second release, an EP in 2009, and Andrea Andriano (who’d recorded the EP) came on board as the new drummer, joined by Josh McCartney (of Legionnaires) on 2nd guitar. The incarnation was a lot more rocky and loads of fun live but everyone involved was in at least one other band and it was getting very tricky to get everyone in the same room. The band was an ex-band for a year or so and I went back to the drawing board in that time, coming up with a completely new sound and songs to go with it. Lewis came back on board playing bass and I roped in David, who’s a good friend of mine and a professional cabaret performer/singer, to handle backing vocals. David introduced us all to Imelda who joined to add more harmonies. As the percussion was entirely built around a floor tom, I realised I didn’t need a drummer as such, more an enthusiastic individual with a good sense of rhythm, so I persuaded Emily to give it a go. She’s a natural. The final piece of the puzzle was Daisy who came in to play toy piano and melodica and provide some added backing vocals. It was important to find someone who could not only play the toy piano but wouldn’t feel silly playing, what is ostensibly a child’s toy, on stage.
05. Give me your five band-defining albums?
The sound has evolved quite a lot over the years but I’d say 5-albums that have inspired how we sound right now would be:
Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Retrospective
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Beach House – Teen Dream
Zola Jesus – Stridulum II
Esben and the Witch – Violet Cries
Mind you, if you wanted to know albums that bonded us together with a shared love it would probably be more along the lines of Eternal – Always and Forever and the best of En Vogue. Except Lewis, he mainly just looks bemused and a bit upset when we all start nerding out about 90s girl groups.
06. Current band highlight/lowlight/amusing anecdote?
A few years ago we were playing The Good Ship in Kilburn and after the set a highly inebriated Rhys Ifans lookalike was following us around being a pain in the arse. On the plus side, he wasn’t having a go, he was trying to express how much he enjoyed our set, but he was doing so in a very loud and obnoxious manner. After about 10 minutes of this he asked what we were called. He listened intently to my answer and then walked over to a pristine white wall by the stage and in huge letters wrote “Naomi H Siemens” with permanent marker.
07. Tell us about the last song you wrote?
“My Love” came about because Lewis challenged me to write a big summer hit along the lines of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks”. I nicked the title and some vague lyrical references from Dr Who. I just really liked how River Song would address the doctor as ‘My Love’. I am a nerd.
08. Who would be some dream collaborators?
Most of our dream collaborations are either dead or in prison.
09. You’re making us a Naomi Hates Humans mixtape. What’s going on it?
The Ronnettes, The Crystals, Ike and Tina Turner, Darlene Love, En Vogue, Eternal, Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Zola Jesus, Bjork, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley, Bruce Springsteen, Liza Minnelli.
10. First time listeners, where should they start?
Our brand new “My Love”/”Death of a Party” 7″! it is unequivocally the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s available from naomihateshumans.com