Other Half: Play It Like You Mean It

Other Half: Play It Like You Mean It

Since first hearing them a few months ago, we’ve become obsessed with Other Half and their unique and atmospheric brand of loud, abrasive, post-hardcore, post-punk, alt rock. We recommend you add Other Half to your playlist now! 

Self-confessed purveyors of nasty music for nice people, the band has carved a niche for itself with a sound that is somehow both nostalgic and innovative, evoking early Pixies orNada Surf, yet adding a fresh perspective.

Beyond the dissonant guitar riffs and pounding drums is a world of poetic storytelling, shot through with wry, sometimes dark, sometimes puerile, humour. Trust us, the richness of their lyrics, coupled with their proficiency as a band, rewards repeat listening.

The Norfolk-based trio – Sophie ‘Soapy’ Porter (bass, vocals), Cal Hudson (guitar, vocals), and Alfie Adams (drums) - released their acclaimed second album ‘Soft Action’ back in December.

Other Half post punk band

We got to meet guitarist, songwriter and shouter Cal for a giggle and a chat about the band, the album, and oh so very much more. Read on.

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Hi Cal. Please introduce Other Half.

CAL HUDSON  Other Half is Soapy, Alfie, and me. Soapy plays the bass, sings and screams, Alfie hits the drums, and I play guitars and shout a bit.

We make nasty music for nice people. Post-post-something dirge about the ugly things people do in search of a little belonging. 

Honestly, for better or worse, I don’t think we really sound like anyone else in the UK at the moment. That’s not blowing smoke up our own arses, just an indication of how infinitely uncool we are.

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So self-deprecating! You guys are very cool. How did the band start?

In the fall-out of my last band’s demise, I wanted to try something new and play some catchy, singy, riffy songs in the vein of Dinosaur Jr. I think I was madly in love with both Soapy and Alfie at the time, idolising what they were doing musically, so asked them if they wanted to start said band.  

We played catchy, singy, riffy songs for a few years until we realised we were much better at heavy, goofy, shouty ones, and that’s when Other Half in its current guise took off properly.

That was 2013. We celebrated 10 years as a band this year, although we didn’t actually do much of anything those first 7 or 8 years. But Facebook tells us we had our first practice together in 2013.  

Tell us a bit about your bands before Other Half.

I first started a band at about 14, when it became glaringly obvious that I wasn’t much of a sportsman. We were called Louis & the Sci-Fis and we played music I still can’t categorise. That’s not to say we were making challenging avant-garde music, but instead that none of us had a clue what we were doing.

Then I joined a Gallows rip-off band called Softbodies, followed by emo-revivalists Manbearpig, and a brief stint with my sad-sack solo-thing, Curves & Nerves. Then both me and Soapy did a few years adjacent to early Half stuff, touring the world with folk-punkers Ducking Punches.

Both Soapy and Alfie have also been in loads of bands, including, but not limited to, Maths, Rest & Relaxation, Reno Dakota, Punch The Vicar, etc, etc, etc. 

Please tell us some of your Other Half highlights.

We’ve had quite a few. Obvs having both albums released on labels we adore is nice. Gallows were one of the first bands I idolised, so for Lags to want to put our first record out on Venn Records really did make me giddy.

Big Scary Monsters have put out some of my all-time fave bands - Cursive, Meat Wave, Bear Vs Shark, Big Success - so it was another heart-warming moment when they approached us about the second album.

The nicest moment though was probably when Matthew Caws from Nada Surf came to see us in Cambridge. Nada Surf are a really important band to me and the fact that Matthew came by himself, watched our horrid noise, and then said lovely things about it afterwards was a dream come true. Being in a band is so nice.  

Which do you prefer, writing and recording, or playing live?

We get our best reactions live, and that still proves to be the most magic thing. When someone maybe doesn’t know who we are but then comes up to us afterwards, beaming, to say something nice, or to say how much it made them want to start a band, that’s just the best feeling on earth.

Other Half post punk band

Is that what you love best about being in a band?

That and getting to see the world and finding common ground with people you’ve never met before, just because you happen to have made a habit of driving a really long way to shout at people for half an hour at a time.

I have so many people I know and love, in different cities around the world, just because I started a stupid punk band. That’s brilliant. 

What’s the dynamic in the band? Who takes charge?

Alfie is mother and does all the things that mean we actually function as a band: drives, books stuff, doesn’t drink. Soapy is very good at saying hello and chatting to new people, and also very good at losing things.

I mostly just drink beers and hope for the best. Both Alfie and Soapy worry too much, whereas I don’t worry enough. It’s a perfect symbiotic relationship.

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Where did the band name come from?

Long story short, at a party we all attended as teenagers, Soapy downed half a bottle of white wine through a beer bong to prove a point to a room full of boys.

The whole room then chanted ‘Other half! Other half!’ and she dutifully necked the remaining half, then spent the rest of the night being violently sick in the backseat of a parked car, hallucinating that she needed to pick up some mic stands for someone. The rest is history.

That’s one of the more colourful origin stories we’ve heard. How do you handle songwriting duties?

I’ll usually hash out a song myself, actively trying to emulate another band I like, but getting it just wrong enough that it sounds like Other Half. Then I’ll bring it to Soapy and Alfie at a practice. As soon as they get their hands on it, it instantly becomes something unrecognisable.

In my head the drums and bass would just ape the band I’m trying to pull from, but because both Soaps and Alfie have such different musical chops, they end up playing something completely alien over the top.  

That’s the secret to good music, I think, everyone pulling in different directions to make something new.

We’re loving the album. When and how did you record it?

We recorded ‘Soft Action’ in more than a little bit of a rush early last year. BSM had gotten in contact about putting out our second record and, as it stood then, the album was just forty-odd half-baked voice notes on my phone.

I’d written a lot over lockdown and, because we couldn’t practice as we usually would, we had to tackle the glut of songs all at once, once restrictions had cleared. That was kinda daunting and made for a slightly more difficult writing and recording process than we’re used to.

We whittled them down, eventually, and settled on sixteen to record with our long-time producer Owen at Sickroom Studios.

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Did you have a vision for this album? Did it turn out the way you thought it would?

The first album had a narrative that ran through the entire thing and I was keen to carry that on; but, with the nature of how many songs I had written for it, and how we cut a good chunk of them, it became clear that I would need to be a bit broader in my approach this time round.

It ended up being more of a thematic thing, addressing apathy in general and using that as a device to tell stories using characters from the first record. I was definitely worried about the results when we were recording, with some of the songs being so fresh that we had barely had time to write final vocal parts for them.

But as soon as Soapy started adding her vocals, and we drenched everything in a load of guitar feedback, the songs just fell together. That was such a relief and, with a bit of distance, I now think they are the best songs we’ve ever written.

Which are your favourite tracks on the album?

I think ‘Jollies with the Boys’ is my favourite song I have ever written. It’s nasty and heavy, but also kinda goofy and does that stop/start thing that we just lap up. 

We nearly didn’t put in on the album because we recorded it at such a stupidly fast tempo and I fluffed most of the guitar parts, but ultimately it felt too important to axe. 

The line in the chorus, "Play it like you mean it,” has kind of become our band mantra, and it’s always nice to be reminded of that mindset, even if it is followed by a line about my balls.

My second favourite is ‘In My Wires’. That one was elevated as soon as Soapy put those ethereal Kim Deal-esque backing vocals over the chorus. I smiled ear to ear when I first heard those back.

I think the song distils all the things we do best. It’s dissonant and spindly, then chunky and rocking, a bit singy, a bit shouty and a bit lame. I love it a lot.

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in music?

If you’re doing it for any reason other than having a daft laugh with your mates and making something you all give a shit about, then stop immediately.

Just enjoy yourselves and, fingers-crossed, some other people might enjoy you too. Play some gigs, have a laugh. That’s about it.

Give us 3 albums everyone should own.

Maybe I’ll go with three that were really important and eye-opening to me: Pixies’ ‘Doolittle’, Pavement’s ‘Slanted and Enchanted’, and ‘The Lonesome Crowded West’ by Modest Mouse. They taught me that you can be scrappy, hooky, heavy, weird, cynical, and earnest all at the same time and still make perfect sense. 

What do you like doing when not making music?

I like making stuff. I do a lot of design work for other bands. If we’re talking about relaxation though, there’s nothing that fills me with more joy than eating toast in a supermarket cafe with Soapy, or going to watch back-to-back films at the Odeon with Alfie. Limitless card holders, baby.

Cheers, Cal, we appreciate you answering our questions today.

It’s been a pleasure. It’s lovely to see anything where young people are doing something off their own back and making stuff for the right reasons. In the current hellscape we live in, that’s no mean feat, so big up everyone at TEN OF CLUBS.

Thanks, dude. What’s next for Other Half?

We’ve got some festivals coming up over Summer, including Arctangent and Truck Festival. Then it’s mainly gonna be writing for the third album. I think we’ve got like 6 or 7 solid songs so far, so it’s starting to feel like a palpable thing. 

Where can people go to support and follow you?

You can find us on all the usuals - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook - and 'Soft Action' is streaming everywhere now.

Any final words or a message for your fans?

We love you.

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► ‘Soft Action’ by Other Half is streaming now on SpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music and elsewhere.

📸 Gig pics by Patrick McNaught. Band photo by Matt Wilkinson.

 

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