Image Source: Lots of Hands on Spotify

Last week, I was lucky enough to sit down with Bill and Elliot, two members of the U.K. based band Lots of Hands. Experts of creating music that defies the rules of just one genre, this ambient, DIY, lo-fi influenced band gave me a deep dive on their creative process, influences, and experiences during our interview. 

Can you guys introduce yourselves and who you are as a band?

B: I’m Bill.

E: And I’m Elliot.

B: And we are Lots of Hands. We make DIY music in Newcastle.

When I was looking at your guys’ page online, I saw a bunch of members. Is that just the two of you touring and having people join to play live with you?

B: Kind of, yeah.

E: They’re definitely part of the band but when it comes to pretty much anything else besides live performances, it’s either just me or Bill.

B: When you have so many ambient sounds on Logic, it’s just inevitable that you’re going to invite 4 or 5 people onstage. It keeps growing. We keep adding different sounds. We’re going to have a whole orchestra soon.

I noticed that you guys have a live saxophone player in one of the photos. Is that a regular thing onstage?

E: Amy, yeah, she’s amazing.

B: She hadn’t played saxophone ever, until she joined our band. 

E: Yeah, not til she joined.

B: She was our flute player. I showed her Black Country New Road and different bands with saxophone and she just learnt. She plays her sister’s saxophone. It’s a bit squeaky.

E: Has a bit of auto tune on the record.

How did you guys all meet each other? How many hands are actually in Lots of Hands?

B: I supposed 10 hands. We have 5 members. I started it as just an ambient soundcloud demo page and then I went to college for music performance and met Elliot. We met a few other musicians and played shows with them but they’re not in the band anymore. So it started as just me and Elliot. I met Amy on a dating app actually. We mainly met people through gigs and speaking to people. We had a bassist for a while, who was just the funniest person. I met her when I was working at a rave. She told me she played bass and I was like “You should join my ambient band!”. 

The band’s song writing process has been an interesting one, using tools available to pretty much anyone to create their own distinct sound. During our conversation, I got to explore the unique elements of their music that defines their music. 

There’s this high pitched voice that I’ve noticed in most of your songs. I’m wondering if you sample it? Whose voice is that? Is there a reason it’s in so many of the songs?

B: I think when I started making music in Logic, I tried as best as I could to try to mask the vocals into the rest of the song because I’m not a great singer. And I especially wasn’t a great singer at the start of college. So it just was pitching it up. But then it turned into switching the narrative, just having a child-like vocal. Having two different parts. We’ve got this vocal pedal that we use live now that has the high pitch vocals to add some harmonies and stuff. I thought it sounded cool. You hear it in a lot of Melaina Kol and Alex G songs. It was just an influence, I guess.

As our interview unfolded, we examined the band’s influence of lo-fi projects such as Teen Suicide and the DIY community that shapes their sound. Bill and Elliot shared their thoughts on the DIY scene in the U.K.

Bill, I know you have a Teen Suicide tattoo. It’s the album “dc snuff film / waste yrself”?

B: (a bunch of laughing) How do you know that?? Yeah. I do have a Teen Suicide Tattoo.

What about that album is special to you?

B: I proper bashed that album during high school. That was kind of like my emo music and polished midwest music, pop punk music. I like DIY and soundscape stuff that uses tape and analog techniques. I really like that album. The singer, I used to message him on Twitter. Every time he’d reply I’d celebrate.

So I’m assuming you take a lot of inspiration from that album and put it into the music that you make now?

B: Yeah. I’ve gotten a nice group of lo-fi artists that I speak to. During my soundcloud days I was in a groupchat with loads of lo-fi people, with Elliot too, and we would bounce that style around to each other.

I know in San Diego I feel like I’ve been involved in bands and music and art and DIY stuff since I was in high school. Is that a big community in the UK? Are there a lot of people that you find yourself collaborating with? 

B: I wouldn’t say it’s big enough.

E: Bill has moved but originally we’re from Newcastle. In Newcastle, there’s not really that much, especially music. The music scene isn’t huge. But it’s better, at least. There’s more our style of music.

B: I mean you go to London and there’s loads of art rock bands and post punk bands. But I think a lot of it comes down to just opportunity and money. We’re in a not very appreciated area, especially in the UK. It’s hard for the arts to thrive as much as they should. Which is where the joy of lo-fi comes in to be fair. I live with Mage Tears at the minute. She’s able to meet all the different lo-fi musicians in America. It’s just this year I’ve started to meet a lot more and talk to a lot more people. Before that, it did feel like there wasn’t a lot. Especially in New Castle. Not to talk bad about New Castle. 

The genre of Lots of Hands is hard to define, as they take influence from a wide range of music. Similar to bands such as Deadharrie, Alex G, Helvetia, and other bands of ambient, lo-fi sound, Lots of Hands walked me through how they navigate the boundaries of genre. 

The other day I was trying to describe to someone your genre of music and I didn’t really know how to describe your guy’s style. I wanted to ask what you would define it as.

B: We’ve struggled putting our finger on it. We got a review the other day. It said “Slacker Rock” and I quite like that. But I’m not sure if that fully applies. Maybe slacker rock with some ambient drone?

I feel like genre boundaries are so hard to define. I think art is so subjective in that way. Would you say there is one particular genre that you take the most influence from? I know you’ve talked a lot about ambient and lo-fi stuff.

E; There’s loads really because we keep coming across new stuff. When we write songs. If we wrote a couple songs 6 months ago and then we write some today, there’s a difference. I wouldn’t say it’s completely different but there’s definitely new influences all the time. 

I know you guys talked about how it’s mostly you two that create the songs for Lots of Hands. What does that usually look like for you? Does one person usually come up and bring it to the other

B+E in unison: Pretty much.

B: Since I’ve moved to Leeds, it’s a lot of iMessaging. Or he’ll send me some chords and I’ll be like “write down the tuning for that!”. 

E: And then we come down to Leeds and go through and work on it together.

B: And try not to play too much Fortnite while doing it.

T: Where do you guys see Lots of Hands going in the future? I know you just went on tour. Do you plan on going on more, maybe to the US?

B: I don’t but we get a couple comments each day asking us to come to L.A.

E: Yeah. There’s no way we’d be able to afford for even one of us to go to America so that answers it. Maybe one day.

B: It’s definitely a goal. I just want to get out of the UK. We were thinking about the Netherlands in a couple years. I really want to go to Australia.  Before the Russia-Ukraine war started, Russia was our number 1 source of streams. But America’s a goal. We get so many messages asking. I would if I could! We look at our Spotify stats and it says “94% of your listeners are from America” and I’m like “Why? I’m on this tiny little island!”. I think just because it’s so midwest influenced. Like Alex G is the most Philadelphia man you will ever meet. I’m not sure why though because where I’m living at the minute, there’s quite a lot of good folk. Maybe it’s just a network? We have a lot of fans here in the U.K. but America’s so big.

If you ever make it to the US, our doors are always open. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today! I’ve been a fan for what feels like so long. And if you ever want to send those unreleased songs you’re sitting on, you know who to send them to! 

Lots of Hands is not simply a band, but is the perfect example of exploring the boundaries of genre and endless opportunities of music. With their roots in DIY techniques, Lots of Hands is adding their own voices and techniques to the scene, pushing the definitions of genre and creating a classic distinctive sound. In a world filled with ever-evolving music, Bill and Elliot are leaving their mark on the bounds of creativity, and KCR cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. Thank you to Lots of Hands for the interview!