‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players’, wrote Shakespeare, and he should know. It seems, to Andrew Hunt, lead singer of Liverpool band, Outfit, that The Bard’s theme is still relevant today.
“My girlfriend got invited to a party where we were given characters that we had to play and act like for the whole evening,” says Andrew. “It’s like real life, when you meet someone you have certain assumptions already, the process of meeting someone is very similar.”
Debut album ‘Performance’ examines human characteristics, the art of emotional interplay and how people act within personal relationships. Andrew says he takes inspiration from this as he tries to create a feeling of identity:
“Lyrically, it’s a search for the soul among noise, basically a person performing a personality”.
Recorded in a disused block of flats in Liverpool, Outfit’s debut album, ‘Performance’ was recorded and produced by the band in complete creative isolation. Previously used as a refuge for asylum seekers, a studio was set up in an old dining room which, Andrews says, provided an ideal location to record the album.
“It gave us the ultimate time and ultimate space. That freedom gave birth to sonic exploration. We spent a lot of time working with synth sounds, recording hand claps in halls, the sound of skateboard wheels landing.”
Andrew feels that a formal studio setting wouldn’t have been right for the band, and that it is the mistake of many newer electro-pop acts to confine themselves in a studio.
“Rather than a studio, we wanted to do it this way for a number of reasons: economical, logistical, it gave us the space where we can make sounds we can chop up and use and make the record sound different.”
Another reason why the album is called ‘Performance’, Andrew says, is the way the album was recorded.
“We didn’t work in the sense of us all playing live at the same time. We’d work on it together and then think of the things we can do to make it human. We try and make it stylistically free, varied and engaging. We wanted to nail down a sense of atmosphere and coherence.”
It is clear Outfit have wealth of influences, with Andrew particularly a fan of 80s “perfect pop music”, but also “progressive songwriters”. He reels off a range of artists often unfairly ignored by contemporary acts. He ranks Brian Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ highly, but Scritti Pollitti (he “can’t stop reading about Green Gartside”), Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears and Brian Wilson are also championed. Holding Portishead’s album ‘Third’ in high regard, Andrew declares it an “imperfections master class” and of important influence.
Already looking to new material, Andrew says work has already begun on the next album, as they have “sat on this [album] for a while”, with “a lot of songs already there”. He say they will “keep the process the same” as the band look to increase the use of “real instruments” and “build drum tracks”.
Towards the end of the interview, I could feel a hint of impatience in his voice. Andrew wanted to get onto the real question, the important stuff. Sensing this, I asked him the question that I was really here to ask, the question he was really here to answer,: ‘If you were on a first date and had to wear a hat, what hat would you wear, Andrew?’
After some serious soul searching, and a brief moment where he sought clarification – would they know he was going to be wearing a hat? – would it be inside or outside? – he calmly answered:
“A big sombrero, to keep the rain off.”
Outfit’s debut album, Performance, is out now on Double Denim records.