No one ever said international rock stardom was easy, but The Hunna have often made it look that way.
Their rise to global success has been meteoric: formed in 2015, their 2016 debut album, ‘100’, went gold and shot into the UK Top 20. The 2018 follow-up, ‘Dare’, climbed even higher, as The Hunna built a golden reputation for crafting instant rock anthems.
Live, they’ve always been one of the most exciting bands on the circuit, with an insanely devoted fanbase guaranteed to turn every gig and festival appearance into an unmissable event.
But, while things might have looked simple from the outside, behind the scenes they were often anything but. Having dealt with some well-documented issues with the management and record label behind their first two records, the Covid-19 lockdown tested them like nothing else – until a back-to-basics approach helped The Hunna deliver their greatest and most ambitious album yet.
When the pandemic engulfed the planet in March 2020, Ryan Potter (vocals/guitar), Dan Dorney (guitar) and Jack Metcalfe (drums) already had their excellent third album, ‘I’d Rather Die Than Let You In’, pretty much in the can. But it wasn’t actually released until October, when the live music blackout hit the band’s supreme ability to connect with their fans.
“We had our biggest ever tour planned,” sighs Ryan. “We were going to Asia for the first time, it was going to be a huge campaign – and then we had to release the album from our bedrooms and not do any of that!”
As the world moved online, the band’s team pushed them to do the same by embracing TikTok and working with outside songwriters who supposedly had their fingers on the streaming pulse.
“Everyone lost it a little bit because of Covid,” says Ryan. “Especially in the music industry; no one really knew what was working or what to do. We got passed around lots of different people to write songs for the album but, after a while, it just felt like we were being pushed and pulled all over the place. We weren’t feeling the songs, so we took the decision to change that situation ourselves. On this record, you can hear us taking back that control and the confidence coming through.”
So, after the band finally returned to the road in late 2021 to a delirious welcome, the three of them locked themselves away in Jack’s home studio, shut out all the outside voices, dug into their original ‘90s and ‘00s rock influences and stripped things back to The Hunna’s awesomely anthemic rock origins. They emerged with their best-ever set of songs and the belief to change things up.
So they cleaned house, switching to the UK’s premier rock management group, Raw Power (home to the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and You Me At Six), and signing a global record deal with French super-independent Believe Music. And, crucially, as Dan points out, the new team allowed the band to “focus on the music and concentrate on what we do best”.
As a result, their new, self-titled fourth album bristles with the pent-up emotions that lingered through that long lockdown. Starting by giving the music industry both barrels on lead single, ‘Trash’.
A potent blend of anger and savage dark humour, it finds The Hunna taking pot-shots at the execs who told them “TikTok, TikTok or else you get dropped” and “Just don’t be yourself, ‘cos that’s wack” in the Beastie Boys-esque verses, before the punk rock chorus screams: “All they want is fucking money, money, money/They don’t care if hands get bloody, bloody, bloody”.
“We had so much fun writing the lyrics,” recalls Ryan. “All of us were together, joking around and letting loads out. Even though it has got an angst to it, we don’t take life too seriously, we’re just having fun.
“We’re not calling anyone specific out, it’s just overall industry suckiness. It highlights things we’ve experienced in the industry over the years and things we see going on and hear about now. There’s a lot of bad shit that still goes on in the industry and a lot of it gets swept under the rug. But we’re in the position where we’re on our fourth album, we feel refreshed and confident and this is what we’re going to say. You either like it or you don’t, it’s cool either way. We are who we are.”
And who they are, ‘The Hunna’ confirms, is one of the UK’s great modern rock bands. Produced by the legendary Gil Norton, it’s an album to sit comfortably alongside some of the classic records he’s worked on, from Pixies’ ‘Doolittle’ to the Foo Fighters’ ‘The Colour And The Shape’ and Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Futures’.
“We wanted to make a record of that calibre that would stand the test of time,” enthuses Dan. “Nowadays in the music industry, a lot of people put out songs just to jump on a trend for a quick minute. We wanted to do the opposite of that; really take our time to craft an album. Gil understood that vision and it’s come out beyond even what we envisioned.”
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