HIMALAYAS releases their debut-album 'From Hell To Here' via Nettwerk.
Back at the tail end of 2019, everything was falling into place for Cardiff quartet HIMALAYAS. They were making huge strides forward: a rabid following was forming off the back of their thrilling live shows, which had taken in appearances at SXSW and Reading and Leeds festivals, Radio 1 had got on board and a host of promising early singles suggested a new rock force was emerging, songs that showcased HIMALAYAS’ blend of razor-sharp hooks, muscular, melodious riffs and urgent, rhythmic propulsion. Something about the captivating anthems being created by Joe Williams (lead singer and guitarist), Mike Griffiths (lead guitarist and vocalist), Louis Heaps (bass) and James Goulbourn (drums) was beginning to connect in a big way. Their 2017 single ‘Thank God I’m Not You’, which has had over thirty million plays on Spotify (where the band have almost 350,00 monthly listeners), had laid the groundwork and now the band were getting ready for a big step up.
But nothing about life has been straight-forward since then, has it? It certainly hasn’t for HIMALAYAS, who have had to contend (like everyone else) with Covid forcing them to take a pitstop but have also overcome personal turmoil too. As 2019 was winding down and the group were plotting their next move, Williams collapsed after a show and fell into a coma. He made a full recovery but the experience has imbued the band’s debut album with a new-found sense of purpose and defiance. HIMALAYAS, whose sound mixes a love of classic songwriters like Prince, Iggy Pop and Bowie with a steady teenage diet of rock dons such as Queens Of The Stone Age and Royal Blood, make rock music that makes you feel more alive. “It was a lightbulb moment for me,” says Williams. “You have to make the most of everything.”
But first, let’s go back to the start. Teenage school friends who bonded over a love of Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes and The Libertines, Williams and Griffiths cut their teeth playing covers in Cardiff pubs, sprinkling their sets with a few of their own early compositions to see if anyone noticed. Playing in rowdy boozers was a vital education for them. “We can handle it if someone gives us shit and have a bit of back and forth,” says Williams. “Yeah, cos there was always some old miserable git in the corner who didn’t want to hear us playing,” laughs Griffiths.
They recruited Goulbourn, who had relocated from Dubai to Cardiff and was in the year above the other three, and the line-up was completed when Heaps, who worked with Goulbourn in a coffee shop, joined as bassist. Between the four of them, something started to stir, a sound that was uniquely theirs beginning to emerge. “James is a big Zeppelin fan and he encouraged us to get heavier,” says Griffiths. It was the song ‘Ecstasy’, an expansive, stomping epic released as a title track to their 2016 EP, that set them on the path. “It’s the heaviness and the psychedelic vibe and the atmospherics, the way the rhythm section plays against each other,” remembers Griffiths. “There was something there to develop.” It was the song that made them realise there was a great rock band in them to coax out. That was the music that felt vital to them. “There’s a youthful energy to a guitar being plugged in,” says Williams.
Capturing the spirit of being young and trying to make sense of a world that sometimes feels like it’s spinning too quickly is at the centre of the quartet’s debut album, due for release next year. In the wake of Williams’ coma, there is a new-found sense of making everything count in their approach to music. “If things had turned out in a different way, then I would’ve been disappointed that I hadn’t seized the opportunity,” says Williams. “It was a heavy driving force for some of the lyrics, how you’re happy just to coast along rather than make the most of everything.”
After overcoming everything life has thrown at them, Williams says that listening back to the record for the first time was a joyous moment. “We’ve dreamt about hearing our own album since we were teenagers,” he says. “It made listening back to it for the first time so surreal and special.” Now they just want to get it out into the wild. “We’ve always spoken about making something that feels timeless, something we can be proud of for the rest of our lives,” says Williams. “If we hadn’t have had to wait and things hadn’t changed and we hadn’t had to adapt, I don’t think we’d be as happy with it as we are now.” “There’s a confidence and an assuredness to it,” adds Griffiths. “It’s got attitude and swing.” The sky is the limit for HIMALAYAS, a band who have overcome the ultimate tests and emerged stronger for it. Music doesn’t have to be a matter of life and death, but it means more when it is. HIMALAYAS have put everything into making their debut album. They’re only just getting started.
Listen to 'From Hell To Here', The HIMALAYAS' debut album here.