The Hat

A maverick raconteur collective

Four military cues happening at the same time

How should we describe The Hat? It’s decidedly tough to settle on a concise way to describe their mix of musicality, story telling, improvisation and an eclectic mix of multi-instrumentation beat boxing and… well anything they can imagine really. They uniquely approach music making like a kid in a super sonic sweet shop.

“Yeah, we do loads of improvisations, you can’t plan it really, we listen to each other a lot”

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“Yeah, we do loads of improvisations, you can’t plan it really, we listen to each other a lot,” says Dave, the band’s eloquent and excitable multi-musician. “If someone takes off (musically) you can just go with it and support each other.” Crucially they’re able to contain and change it, or just stop if it’s not working. Dave explains further “…and laugh at ourselves, it’s nice, it keeps things really fresh so when someone goes with an idea they’ve got all our support, that’s what it’s about really, the rest of us behind the idea, pure sport, it’s about supporting the vibe.”

The Brighton-based band formed organically as a kind of maverick raconteur collective, their first outing at Bestival having the daredevil audacity to busk through a set without knowing if it would even work. I’m glad to say it did and the band didn’t fade like a smoker’s last match in a hurricane. There new release, ‘The Hat EP’, is well constructed and refreshingly directional with a total disregard for the fashion-music that fills pubs, lifts and the rhythm of the iPod next to you on the bus.

I guess if you had to pinpoint one unique feature of The Hat, it would be the use of story and plot. I know, you’re probably thinking, here we go, another The Streets, Lily Allen, Jamie T kinda thing. But you’d be wrong; those artists come from a line of great British life-observing commentators. This is much more character led, as Dan, the man behind the words explains: “I think it’s the bonus of working with stories, you can lead an audience through something that musically is quite structured. When you have a story leading you through with character you’re like OK, I can go there…” Somewhere you might not expect, somewhere that, in the confines of what we expect in music, is challenged and blown out the water as a rule. “The music is ushering you through a story. The music plays a supportive role to the story.”

The result is a sound that has filmic quality, not restricted lyrically by rhyming couplets or any other simplistic pop expectation, or driven by individual ego. “We try and be flexible about the arrangement, not stick to the same instruments, not try to enforce our personalities onto a track so much as try to find what the track wants, we work really well like that, it’s a nice way to work,” says Dave, like democracy in music? “We’re like four military cues happening at the same time,” he laughs.

It all sounds refreshing, but when does a band with such an open playing field know when a track is finished? Or when it goes from a jam to a record? How the hell did they agree on the forthcoming EP?

Dan explains how The Hat nurtures their children: “Some ideas just stick I guess, you wake up the next day and they’re still there, or the next week and they’re still there.”

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