Sprawling alt-rock outfit Social Haul’s debut album is out now. Fronted by TRAAMS bassist Leigh Padley, the band’s record is a collection of heavy, raucous, and snarling tracks covering all manners of musings and perceiving negative aspects of character from the POV of an unnamed protagonist. Clash went deep on their record, and talked to the band about what inspired their sound.
“We haven’t played with TRAAMS since about 2017,” begins the frontman. “We hit it a bit hard on the touring side after supporting IDLES and Car Seat Headrest, so we wanted a break. After a while, I kept thinking I wanted to keep making music and ended up forming a band with some mates just to do it. There was no particular plan, it was just something to do. Suddenly, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to record an album.”
The idea for Social Haul came to Padley in summer 2018 during the World Cup. “It’s strange because I feel like this project is bookended by two big footy tournaments. It began during the last world cup watching England in the pub, and now the release is the same week the Euros start. Initially, we were looking for a vocalist to front the band, but it didn’t quite work out, so we decided to stay as a trio and I gave the frontman thing a go. When writing, I’d think of melodies in my head and then work them out on guitar. We’d then practice them with the band once a week, and after practice I’d go down the pub and listen to the demos. I’d listen to them, then take time to just hear other people’s conversations in the pub and they’d inspire the lyrics. There wasn’t much quality control, but I feel like that worked out well.
“We finally managed to get it recorded in January 2020 over in Dublin,” Padley continues, “and after it was done the world fell apart. If we didn’t manage to get it recorded at that time, I’m not sure this project would’ve even happened. Now we’ve sat on the record for over a year, we’ve had the time to build our confidence about it.”
Social Haul loosely depicts a protagonist challenging perceived negative aspects of character, particularly in others. But who is this protagonist? “Since this is my first time as a frontman, my way to counteract my lack of confidence about it was to utilise characters as a guise.” answers Leigh. “I feel like I don’t have a lot to say myself, so I use characters that do. The inspiration for these characters was people in the pub whose conversations I would hear when writing which filled up the lyrical content of the melodies I’d have in my head. I’d hear someone say something I’d like the sound of, then I’d imagine what that person’s character might be like in my head.”
Musically, Social Haul’s roaring and electrifying sound seems like an amalgamation of post-punk, pop-punk, and garage rock. Think Joy Division meets early Weezer. “The punk rock stuff sort of came naturally to us since we’re all used to playing loud and fast. We didn’t try to overthink our sound, but in our heads, we were leaning towards a more power-pop sort of style. We listened to a lot of 80s stuff too, that kind of inspired the conversational type of song writing. Ultimately though, we went for something that just came naturally to us.”
The alt-rockers are heading on their first tour across the UK in September, something which they’re looking forward to as they’ve only played live together a handful of times. “I really don’t know how a crowd is going to react to us. We’ve still got some preparing to do, but we’re really looking forward to getting the record on the road just to get a proper reaction. We’re currently getting the setlist together, but one thing we’ll have to address quite soon is the fact the album is 23 minutes long, so we’ll definitely need more material, but we’re figuring it out. We’ll probably have more musicians too to make it sound grander live. After that, I don’t really know what’s next. I definitely want to do another album, but I want to make sure we don’t make the same album twice. There’s nothing set in stone yet, but I would absolutely love to do more.”
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'Social Haul' is out now on Fat Cat Records.
Words: Kieran Macadie
Photo Credit: James Kendall