On their big debut
Rishi Shah
14:39 26th May 2023

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Six years of relentless riffs and raucous live shows have led up to this point for Himalayas - that long-awaited debut album. Indeed, the record - titled From Hell To Here - ends this steady train of anticipation, hype and refining their craft for the Cardiff indie-rock quartet, who have stuck to their guns and built up a dedicated following through tried and tested methods. Frontman Joe Williams sat down with Gigwise to timeline the band’s evolution and shed light on their mission statement of a debut album.

“We’re super happy with what’s come out, so I’m glad we waited” Joe beams over a Zoom call, reflecting on the album that feels like it must have been out years ago, testament to the longevity of Himalayas’ place in the scene. “We talked about it for quite a while. I think we were all so young, so we didn’t want to make anything sub-par. We wanted to make something that we were really proud of, and continually proud of.” The result is a twelve-track rock behemoth, polishing off a signature sound that Himalayas have showcased with flying colours over the years.

This sound, reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood, is pushed in all sorts of new dimensions on this record, Joe describes. “We all land on rock music, but we can all bring touches of different sounds. We love riffs - all the bands we love do a similar sort of thing, but hopefully people will be able to hear a touch more of something else. There’s still a load of the belted vocals and the snarly thing that we’ve done previously, but hopefully there’s a bit more shade and colour with that. There’s a song called ‘The Mirror’ which shows that softer side to the band.”

Straying too far from this core sonic identity was never an option for the band, opting to evolve and diversify it over time. Despite the gigantic success of 2017’s ‘Thank God I’m Not You’ - which currently sits with a pretty 36.7 million Spotify streams - eclipsing those numbers was never an added pressure for the record, Joe explains. “With ‘Thank God I’m Not You’ happening so early on in the band’s career, I think we’ve never been too worried about matching it or succeeding it - as long as we thought it sounded better. It’s not our favourite song, if that makes sense, the stuff on the album now is. We’re never too worried about the numbers, it’s more about who will find this album great. So far, I think we’ve managed to keep people interested - I hope!”

"We wanted something timeless that in three, four or five years, we’ll still be really proud of."

Tasters from the record so far include dirty headbanger ‘Leave This Place’ and moshpit rager ‘Alone’, yet some of these tracks go back further than you could possibly expect, Joe tells Gigwise. “There are songs on this album that were written earlier than ‘Thank God I’m Not You’, some that were written in early 2017. ‘Somebody Else’ and ‘The Mirror’ were written prior to that, and they’ve evolved more and more as time’s gone on.” From Hell To Here really does encompass a broad lifespan, owing to the band’s perseverance with these golden oldies. “We had to be really ruthless in the end. I think time helps a touch with stuff like that, when you sleep on it and it still feels good. We wanted something timeless that in three, four or five years, we’ll still be really proud of. If we’re not like that after a month, it’s probably a worry!”

A Reading & Leeds return is on the cards for Himalayas this summer, who are hellbent on taking their live show to the next level, whilst still catering for their much-loved back catalogue. Joe is excited at the prospect of taking the album out on the road, a process which is currently coming together behind the scenes. “Some of the venues we’re booking in now feel like a step up. I think we’ll be able to make it even more of a show. Especially over the past year, we’ve been concentrating a lot on the transition from being a touring band to a show that we see a lot of our favourite bands produce. We’ve updated some of those earlier songs to make them feel even better, and hopefully more mature. On that album tour, we’ll happily play every song we’ve ever done if that’s what people want! But we equally want to make this about the album.”

It’s felt like Himalayas are just getting started for a number of years now, and From Hell To Here sets a marker for a bold catalyst along the road to the top. Joe is conscious of the bigger picture, especially when it comes to their hometown. “The way people invested in us early on before the singles started to do well, when we weren’t necessarily playing outside of Wales. We still had support in Cardiff - and I think that’s something we’ll forever be grateful for.”

Himalayas’ debut album From Hell To Here is out now.

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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