“That was crazy!” grins a beaming Harriet Hyde as Hammer grabs her for a chat soon after she’s done rocking the Camden Underworld to bits
Regularly will you see a young band being heralded as the one to “unite the tribes”, “bring us all together” or “bridge the gap”, but in the case of this plucky five-piece, there really does seem to be a “something for everyone” reception to their delightfully executed mix of desert-bred riffs, grungy grooves and straight-up poppy hooks. As Harriet herself is quick to explain, it may well come from being a linchpin in a late-00s Leeds scene that was bursting with heavy, energetic and varied bands.
“It’s a matter of attitude,” insists the singer when asked about what was brewing in the water up there. “The thing I love about Leeds is its open-mindedness. Because it’s very supportive, you’d get metalheads at shoegaze gigs, hardcore punk fans at dooms gigs, etc. When you’re influenced by stuff across the board, it produces quality music.”
Wherever they sit – and, despite their fast-growing and dedicated fanbase, that still seems very much up for debate – quality music is what Black Moth undoubtedly have to spare, and in Harriet they could hardly ask for a better frontwoman and spokesperson. Energetic and effervescent onstage, off it she’s fun, talkative and thoughtful in her responses; the kind of artist that you don’t want to prod for revealing stories and enticing soundbites so much as take down the pub for a few pints while chatting about how brilliant Alice In Chains are.
Is she even aware that people are trying to nail terms like “sultry” and “sexy” to her simply for being a confident young woman in a metal band?
“It’s inescapable!” she laughs, wearily. “In many ways, I’ve tried to resist it. I’ve gone through phases of thinking, ‘Fuck, do I need to look better?’ Or it would send me the opposite way where I’d actually dress down on stage, trying to divert the attention. But I’ve just got to be myself and let it all wash over me, and the more women who can keep that attitude, the better, because it diffuses the nonsense and sets an example.”
Ask her how that attitude has affected her as a musician when dealing with a music press ever hungrier for interesting characters, and she’s similarly level-headed.
“Originally, when I was younger and people used to ask me, ‘Which singers do you want to be like?’ I wouldn’t even admit that I had any female influences,” she admits. “I thought, ‘Why should I say I want to be like women?I want to be like Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger.’ But in later years I’ve changed my attitude, because I have a massive amount of gratitude and respect for the women who have carved a path for me to be able to do what I do. And it’s not been an easy process, I can see that. I love Iggy Pop, but I love L7 and PJ Harvey as well!”
So, then. The attitude is there. The songs are most definitely there. And, it seems, the fan base is there too. Are Black Moth really the band to bring all of metal’s bickering siblings together under its vast spectrum?
“We’re not really a band that contrives to a certain direction,” ripostes Harriet with typical sensibility. “We live a lot more in the present than that. We’d love to reach more people, but we’ve been doing this for 10 years and we’re not going away yet. We’d love to play some exotic places and spread the Moth word, and I’d love to make us as big as we can possibly be, but until then, we’ll just keep on keepin’ on.”
Black Moth are clearly ready to spread their wings. Don’t bet against them eventually flying very high indeed.
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