Brisbane’s Hungry Kids of Hungary came smashing onto the indie rock scene with their debut album, Escapades, that was littered with catchy singles both new and old.
The life cycle of that album was a long one with some of the songs released on EPs a few years earlier and despite the album seeing the light of day in 2010 in Australia, it wasn’t released in Europe until late 2011. It’s a testament to the quality of the songs the four-piece wrote but even frontman Dean McGrath was absolutely ready to move onto a new (ish) sound with their most recent album You’re A Shadow,admitting he’d gotten a little sick of the Escapades tracks. “I also don’t think Escapades had a specific sound either,” says McGrath. “It was so diverse and the songs were written over such a wide expanse of time and in such different headspaces, and this time I wanted to do something different. I wanted to approach it differently and make it so it’s interesting for us as well as for the audience.”
While You’re A Shadow has enjoyed a mass of critical acclaim, there was a time when the band needed to convince those on the inside that what they were doing was going to work out. “Our label were kind of freaking out,” McGrath says. “We were like, ‘It’ll all work out, don’t worry, people will like it and they’ll accept it’. We like it, so other people will surely like it. That’s kinda the thing too, for the last [record] there wasn’t anyone telling us what we should do and it got licensed to the label after it was already made, so we were like, ‘Well, it worked that time so let us do it again that way’. We said from the outset that this wasn’t going to be Escapades; we weren’t gonna do that again.”
This year has seen Hungry Kids play a host of local festivals, The Great Escape Festival in the UK as well as their first headline tour of Britain. The upcoming Australian tour will be their only one this year, although they “might be somewhere on New Year’s Eve,” according to McGrath. “We basically were over there to shop [the album],” he says of their stint in the UK. “We’re there to kinda show people that we’ve got this album, ‘Please release it and play it on the radio.’ ‘Sharp Shooter’ has gotten a far bit of play. Overseas is just one of those things, you really have to knuckle down and kinda put yourself there for an extended period of time. In Australia we’ve been going for six or seven years, touring so much and chipping away at it, but over there we’re still really new.”
McGrath makes an interesting point about making music in general, with a self-deprecating and humorous take on the whole journey. While the band wanted to make You’re A Shadow stand apart from their previous releases, he knows that first and foremost they’re there to entertain an audience. “I think it’s fairly naïve to not realise that you have an audience that you have to in some way cater for. It’s pretty self-indulgent to think you don’t give a shit if anyone else likes it and you’re just doing it because you wanna play music,” he says, beginning to laugh again. “Writing music and playing in a band is already the most self-indulgent career you can have – doing the most fun thing as a job and being the centre of attention – it’s such an arrogant thing to do. But you might as well not leave the lounge room or garage if you’re not going to try and make something to be enjoyed by other people. We’re lucky, we’re a pop band and that’s inherently about making music to be enjoyed.”
BY KRISSI WEISS