She'll steal your heart

Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny will steal your hearts. Given the chance, they’ll come back for the rest of you.

Beth Jeans Houghton is talking about her obsession with crazed Sixties murderer Charles Manson. “I don’t love him,” she clarifies. “I don’t agree with what he did; I’m just intrigued.” Well, that’s alright then. So, what is about the violent ‘Family’ sect leader that so intrigues her? “I’m intrigued in the sense of all leaders who did bad things, like Hitler - how the hell did he brainwash everyone? That’s fascinating.” Hitler now? Really?

Miss Houghton may sound like she’s flirting with danger, but the pervading subject of influence is one she’s becoming more accustomed to. Topping this issue’s chart of new talents is just the first step in what will be a memorable year for the Geordie lass - you’re going to be hearing a lot more from her in the coming months. But not for doing bad things!

Clash first introduced you to the charms of Beth and her accompanying Hooves Of Destiny back in 2009 when she was nineteen, and batting off any suggested associations with the then-exploding folk scene. The Hooves were newly formed, and a slew of support slots and festival appearances were sharpening their sound and refining the songs that would eventually become their debut album, which is finally released this month on Mute Records. That time in between was well invested - not only are the band older, more experienced and tighter, they have fortunately escaped that often fatal overdose of attention that can befall breaking bands who catch a glimmer of scrutiny from the media. “I think that good and bad things have happened since then,” Beth reflects. “I think we’re all very happy with where we are now, so even the bad stuff is fine. I’m happy now, which is all that matters.”

And happy she should be. Following two gorgeous EPs (‘EP’ in 2008 and ‘Hot Toast Vol.1’ a year after), their debut album, ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ has been filling the Clash office with heavenly hues for weeks now. Houghton’s angelic voice is draped in Spector echo, while the Hooves build a kaleidoscopic wall of psychedelic-folk, all marching drums, plucky banjoes, delicate bells and sweet violins. You’ll have heard the enchanting ‘Lilliput’ all over the radio - Beth’s haunting and honeyed tones reverberating out the speakers like molten gold - and the album lives up to that single’s promise, tenfold.

Ahead of its release, the group are in London for a warm-up date (ironic, considering the temperatures outside). The day is spent with Beth in a freezing studio in Hackney - she has her face painted blue, wiped, and then coloured a more natural shade, before the keen Vogue reader immerses herself completely in an hour of stylish shoots. That evening, Clash sits backstage in an East London venue to speak formally with the band. The boys decide to draw straws to see who’ll join Beth - but, due to the lack of straws, they use carrot sticks instead. Drummer Dav Shiel pulls the shortest stick; the others (bassist Rory Gibson, guitarist and trumpeter Ed Blazey, and violinist Findlay Macaskill) make a sharp exit.

As we begin by asking how relieved they are that ‘Yours Truly...’ is finally arriving, Beth explains she’s already thinking about the bigger picture: “It’s not so much like I’m not focusing generally on this album’s release, but just the start of our career as a band as far as it goes, like ten albums down the line. It’s the beginning of all of that happening, and the future in general. It will be nice when it’s out, but it’s just the first step really.”

Read our full interview with Beth Jeans Houghton in the latest issue of Clash magazine. Read more about the issue.

Words by Simon Harper
Photo by Billy Ballard

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny - Sweet Tooth Bird

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