German Band Hundreds Talk About U.S. Debut + Evolving Their Music
Hundreds take synth-rock to a whole new level with dark undertones and a raw sound that will make you feel like you're wandering around the German countryside. The Hamburg-based sibling duo, composed of Phillip and Eva Milner, has already become immensely popular in Europe and are now poised for a breakout in the U.S., their first performance of which was at this year's CMJ Music Marathon in New York City -- which has already launched them into the industry's spotlight.
Their latest, sophomore album, 'Aftermath,' was released on May 27 via Sky Council Recordings and its pop consistencies and "less-is-more" synth approach has been garnering good vibes around the scene. If it serves as any testament to the band's progression and what is to come from future releases, consider us excited. We had a chance to chat with the band's lead lady, Eva, about their past, present and future plans for the band.
Where did you come up with the name Hundreds?
The name came from a dream I had where my brother Philipp and I had multiplied. When I told him about it, I described how he and I had been playing a game where suddenly there were "hundreds" of Philipps and "hundreds" of Evas all around. I remembered it reached the point where I didn't even know which one I was. Shortly after the dream, Philipp suggested we use the name Hundreds.
Where did the darkness of your first record come from -- did it reflect your attitudes at the time?
Yes, indeed. I was kind of heartbroken at the time, but that didn't influence the entire sound. I think our whole approach was more melancholic and deep. That, and we've always enjoyed darker textures. The songs on the first record were developed over many years so its overall feel is a combination of style and our emotional states at the time.
Does it make it easier or harder to make music with a sibling?
I think it is much easier, because you can fight and argue and nothing gets destroyed between you. Also, when we first started playing live it was a great comfort to have my older brother with me onstage. I knew nothing would go wrong because he was such an experienced performer. Phillip made me calm, even when I wanted to throw up right before our first shows. I was so excited.
Who were your parents' favorite child growing up?
That's a first on that question! I think to answer it would get one of us in trouble, so I better not. Sorry!
How did Hundreds become a force to be reckoned with in Germany? Does your music just speak for itself or has it been an uphill climb?
As we all know, the music industry has changed a lot over the last decade. It would be a lie to say that it's been easy for us. But when we released our first album and performed our first shows, we quickly learned that people were connecting with our music. That really encouraged us to keep on doing what we've been doing. Ever since, our audience has been growing and growing and we really enjoy the people attending our shows. We feel understood, which is great.
Is there much of a language barrier when it comes to getting your band recognized in the U.S.? What are some of the ways that you overcome that difficulty?
English is not our first language so naturally that can create a barrier. What I've heard from native speakers is that our lyrics are kind of quirky and strange. Not necessarily wrong, but you can hear they're not written by someone whose first language is english. I personally really love the English language and I love playing with it lyrically. To me, it sounds fresh and clear. That's why I chose to write in English over German.
After making the trek to NYC and performing at CMJ, how would you compare Germany's music scene to the U.S.?
I don't think that we've had a full sense of the U.S. music scene yet. So far, Hundreds have only played shows at industry events like CMJ, SXSW and Musexpo. The people in those audiences are mostly music professionals and not your typical audience of fans. However, we have still received positive feedback from even those crowds. They've listened intently and have been focused. We would really love to tour in the U.S. in the next year. Our management and U.S. label are working on putting that together so it will be interesting to answer this question again after we have that experience.
The production on 'Aftermath' is noticeably more organic, almost as if we can feel the German countryside in which it was recorded. Tell us how that came about.
Definitely the countryside and the silence out there had something to do with it. Also, we felt like we needed some air in our songs. Silent parts, dynamic parts, so the music can breathe better -- every beat, every note has more space.
Has this new sound changed the way you approach your live show? You seem to blend the earlier more electronic songs with the new 'Aftermath' songs flawlessly.
No, it didnt change that much. We make much of an effort to create a great live experience for our audience, so we change all of the songs a lot or just a little bit. We want the people to dance, to listen and to let their mind run free. Thats why we bring our own light and visual show. At CMJ, we played songs from our two albums -- we wanted to give the U.S. audience a little summary, so they can have a big picture of Hundreds.
Eva, you have made this last U.S. trip without your brother Phillip, even though his parts are performed wonderfully by the band. Has this been difficult?
Not really, because Sascha, the pianist, who is substituting Philipp here, is a great musician and we rehearsed a few days in our studio. After the rehearsals I felt very confident about our shows in New York. I feel a bit sad, because Philipp can't see this beautiful and inspiring city. But I took a lot of pictures to show him!
What can we expect from Hundreds for the rest of 2014 and into 2015? More touring in the U.S.? Any new music?
Definitely! We would love to play a tour in the U.S.! Maybe now that we're done with CMJ, we can find some people who want to book that for us ... Also, we will start on new music in the next few months. We want to make a new album as soon as possible!