HMS Morris are a Cardiff-based art pop-rock duo who’ve received coverage from the likes of She Makes Music, About Sound, Travellers Tunes, London Cafe, and Clash Magazine. We asked them about their newest single “Babanod”, their influences, their 2021 theatre show, and more.
COUNTERZINE: How are you today?
HMS Morris: Snotty!
CZ: Tell us a little about HMS Morris.
HMS Morris: We’re based in Cardiff. Heledd is originally from Carmarthenshire and Sam’s from Denbighshire. We’re a two-piece who also like to play with a drummer sometimes.
CZ: Who would you consider some of your foremost influences, musical or otherwise?
Heledd: Chairlift, Kate Bush, Lady Gaga, Martha Wainwright, lots of 90s guitar bands, also the work of Diane Arbus has really stuck with me.
Sam: Zappa, Jeff Buckley, YMO, Radiohead, Neil Young, Antonio Gramsci.
CZ: If you had to list a signature quality or qualities that define the music of HMS Morris, what would it/they be?
HMS Morris: It’s always quite layered, with textures generally synth-y and punchy-guitar-y. We gravitate away from ABABCB-type, although there are no rules really. Hopefully the meaning of a song gets to dictate its development.
CZ: Your new single “Babanod” is noted to be inspired by “the awkward moment in your friend’s wedding when someone feels compelled to reassure you that “you’ll be next”” and pushing back against the idea of the “graduation to marriage to parenthood” lifestyle progression. Was there a specific incident that fueled this topic? Will the person/people in question read this interview and know that “Babanod” is about them?
Heledd: It happens all the effing time! So if you’re reading this and you’re someone that’s said something to me at some point: Ha! Shut your face! Don’t do it again! Seriously though, you never know what someone’s going through, you need to be pretty certain that you know what’s going on with them before you go up and make some inane gesture. I guess the saving grace is that the person generally is trying to make someone feel better, but they should realise that they could easily make them feel worse instead.
CZ: “Babanod” is the first in a series of 2020 singles you have planned. Can you say anything about them: when the next might be coming, titles, if an album or EP comes at the end, etc.?
HMS Morris: The next one is coming out at the end of March. We’ve already filmed the video, so that’s being edited at the moment. There won’t be an album, but we might put the singles together in some kind of neat little package they end up feeling like they belong together.
CZ: You’re also working on a theatre show right now planned to be ready for next year. What can you tell us about that?
HMS Morris: It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. We’ve worked a lot on the concept, and we brought some bits of it to life in a little show in Japan at the end of September. We’re hoping to work with some Japanese artists that we met while we were there to give some depth to the future culture in which it’s based. At the moment, we’re conceiving of it as an immersive theatre piece with live music, dancers, and bears.
CZ: Any shows coming up?
HMS Morris: We’re playing in Swansea for Dydd Miwsig Cymru tonight (the 7th), then we’re playing next weekend in Tiny Rebel, Cardiff, then we’ll be heading up to Wrexham for FOCUS Wales in May. We’re trying to leave plenty of gaps to work on the theatre show – but then again we do enjoy a good festival in the summer!
CZ: What are some of your favorite acts you’ve played with?
HMS Morris: When we played with Songhoy Blues in Clwb, that was a great gig. Also Jane Weaver in Timber Festival was cool. But probably our favourite is when we get to play with our friends and labelmates at Bubblewrap Records. It’s nice to be reminded how talented your friends are sometimes.
CZ: If there was just one thing you wanted everyone to know about HMS Morris that hasn’t been covered, what would it be?
HMS Morris: Cats, green dragon rolls, flannelette sheets. In that order.