For a moment it sounds like a phone call from either inside a washing machine drum or perhaps a parallel dimension but it’s just the preliminary stages to a transatlantic call with Hinds co-founder Carlotta Cosials. The band is somewhere in France when we speak, having left Madrid in the morning for a tour that will wind this way and that across the continent before the group returns to the U.S. late in the spring. Cosials is in a van with longtime friend Ana Perotte, who performs guitar and vocal duties alongside her in the band, plus bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen.
It’s part of the plan for the band, a group that has roots going all the way back to 2011 but is just now getting its real legs, to stay on the road as much as possible in this coming year. There’s a new album to promote, a debut record that has momentum behind it. Titled Leave Me Alone the record features 12 songs, all of them shining with hints of garage-inflected delighted but a pop sweetness that’s hard to resist. Some of those songs, such as “Fat Calmed Kiddos” and “Bamboo” sound like they’re transmitted directly from a transistor radio from a Spanish beach sometime in the late 1960s to this moment in time.
The band has been compared to groups from that era almost since anyone heard them but the music the duo of Cosials and Perotte drew from was a little more contemporary: the Vaccines, the Black Lips, and the Strokes. They got their start performing under the name Deers and were off to a fairly good start back in 2011. But Cosials dismisses the idea that the band was fully active back then.
“That’s when we first had the idea to start a band,” she says. “We didn’t have bands before that, we didn’t go to music school. So it was very important, that moment when the idea of having a band popped up.” It was during a road trip and somewhere in all that, the budding musicians found themselves playing a Bob Dylan song. Dylan presents difficulties for speakers of any language so it’s perhaps remarkable that Cosials and Perotte had success working up one of his tunes. “He’s the kind of lyrics, so it was kind of difficult to remember everything,” Cosials says. “But we sort of fell in love with doing a cover, trying to make somebody else’s song ours.”
It was summer and the pair quickly decided that they’d do a gig before Christmas that year. “We did that one gig, only playing covers and it was a good one,” she remembers. “It was amazing. Our friends came. It was so nice. We were really a band! Then we were about to do our second show and it was a huge mistake because we chose songs that were much more difficult.”
Cosials laughs about it now and says in a lowered, dramatic voice, “The second gig was bad. Totally terrible.” She adds, “Everything went wrong and for two people that hadn’t been on the stage it was so bad that when we got off the stage we didn’t want to leave and see anyone we knew. We were so ashamed of what we had done. And we stopped the band.”
The friendship between the two women continued even if it would be about two years before there was a hint of a band again. “We never, ever talked about the band,” says Cosials. “It was like a taboo.”
That changed one day when the two started watching videos of their more successful moments. “We were feeling nostalgic,” she says. That nostalgia propelled the two into writing their own songs and by 2014 there was a Deers demo out in the world.
And the songs came together fairly quickly. Cosials says the process of writing songs is something she and Perotte revel in. “I love figuring out what I feel and then putting it on paper is, I think, one of the most beautiful things in the world. For us, it started to become like a game or something, figuring out how to put it all together.”
The pair writes in English which presents its challenges. “We look for the right word in English, really look for it and then we try to express it to each other in Spanish and discover that it doesn’t make any sense,” she says with a laugh.
Of course she and her bandmates have had plenty of time to hone their English skills in the last year. The quartet did a run of dates in the U.S. in 2015 (just months after switching over to the Hinds moniker). How did they like coming across the ocean?
“I love that question because I feel like I can confess my real, real love of that country. We have so much fun there,” she says. “We have a lot of young people coming to our gigs so it seems super cool to see this new blood becoming part of the music scene. The gigs are always amazing and people are super wild; people dance until they sweat.”
Hinds remains unique in being a band from Spain that has left Spain to go to other parts of the world. Spain remains one of the countries in Europe with a vital music scene that doesn’t have many exports, something that the group is well aware of.
There is a thriving scene in Spain and especially Madrid and if Hinds can lead the way then perhaps others will follow. “I think that for a long time people thought that no Spanish band could go out of the borders,” Cosials says. “We have friends in other bands and their dreams were always about playing inside of Spain.” Musicians from Madrid might set their sights on playing Barcelona or maybe a festival here or there and that would be it. “Nobody thought that someday you could go to America and play there.”
Cosials is aware of her band’s role in breaking that new ground, even if not everyone around comprehends the magnitude of the situation. “We were going to do a late night show and my mom said, ‘I feel like my daughter is famous,’ and I said, ‘Mom, we’re seriously making history right now. We’re doing things that nobody has ever done before.’ It’s like when Penelope Cruz won an Oscar. We are acting like an international band and it’s so much bigger than, ‘My daughter is famous.’”