Cattle & Cane – the interview


The beautiful, catchy and natural sound on Cattle & Cane’s debut album ‘Home’ manages to bring elements of different genres together to keep their songs unique from anything else out there in the same genre just now.

Helen Hammill, the five-piece folk-pop band’s vocalist, spoke to Student Rag about playing in a band with her three brothers, the upcoming gig in Edinburgh’s Electric Circus (on February 15th) and about the new material they’re working on. Here’s what she had to say…..

What was it like playing King Tut’s a few months ago?

It was amazing. We’ve played King Tut’s a few times actually. I remember we’d only been to Scotland and done a Scotland tour just once before that and we went back to King Tut’s. It was just amazing, the response we had, everyone was so lovely and so into it, we just spoke to loads of people afterwards. I remember coming home from that show at King Tut’s. It was just amazing. Especially for somewhere that isn’t your home, it felt like home, it was surreal, it was really nice.

 Glasto CandC

Did you get to explore the city?

We did, we always get a bit of time before. We went out for a few drinks and a meal. We love Glasgow.

You’re playing the Electric Circus on February, is that a venue you’re looking forward to performing at?

We’ve played Electric Circus before, is that the place with the karaoke? I remember that was our dressing room, we just did karaoke all night, it was great! We love Electric Circus, can’t wait to get back there. And obviously Edinburgh is just beautiful, a beautiful place.

You played T in the Park way back in 2010, what was that experience like?

That happened when we first started really, we put our song on BBC Introducing, and we were put forward by our local radio presenter, Bob Fischer, for T in the Park. That was amazing, we loved it. Such a good festival. It was one of the first festivals we did outside our hometown as well, so for that to be our first one was really good.

Did you and your siblings in the band all grow up in a really musical environment?

There’s actually nine of us all together, nine siblings. Not all of us are musical but five or six of us are and we’d always done music when we were younger. Me and the lead singer Joe, we’d always jam together. We thought we wanted to start a band and what better people to have in your band than your siblings? Especially when you get on. Well, not all the time! We do try and it happened like that. It was a very natural thing to do.

Is there any music you grew up with that you think influenced the sound of the band?

Definitely, we were brought up on The Beatles and ELO, a lot of Irish music and country music. We definitely take influence from all that. It was a very musical house really that we were brought up in. We just take a bit from everything.

The sound of the album is very natural, but also modern, is that a sound you set out to achieve?

We didn’t really necessarily have a sound in mind, we just put the songs on the table. Obviously, it took us a while to do the songs, Joel was at University, I was at college. A lot of things were in the way so it did take us a while. We had so many songs from over the years that it probably wasn’t really any continuity, and a lot of different genres. I think we always do try and sound quite natural, just go with the flow and go with what you’re feeling with each song.

It’s quite soon after the autumn tour that you’re back on tour next month, are you looking forward to getting back on the road?

It’s quite soon actually, but we love being on the road. That’s my favourite part of it really, I love recording, I love doing the album, but playing it live and having people there, and watching people’s reactions, you just can’t beat that. We wish we could do it all year round really.

Is it at all challenging travelling with so many siblings?

Yeah, it’s horrible! No, it’s allright actually, we try and get time by ourselves and take a breather, obviously we have arguments, like any siblings. But it’s probably easier with siblings, because you can’t hold grudges, you just get over it straight away, you have a fight then you’re like ‘do you want a cup of tea?’ so it’s much easier I think.

Spotify seems to be the measuring stick for popularity now, so what does it feel like when you see that ‘I Will Rise’ has 1.7 million streams on Spotify?

It’s amazing actually, that was part of a playlist by Spotify, I think that’s why it had the exposure, and the amount of streams that it’s had but it’s been amazing. We never thought that would happen and every time we look it keeps going up and up and up!

The band posted a picture online of writing in the studio, does this mean we can expect new material soon?

Yes, definitely. Because it took so long for the first album, it just seems natural that we have got so many songs for album two, which is great because we’re trying to narrow them down which is always a good place to be when you’ve got too many songs that you want to put on. We’re working hard at that and loving it, it won’t take as long as last time and I think we’re going to go away to record the album, we know a few producers in Belgium so it’s quite exciting. We’ll obviously be playing the first album when we’re touring but there will be some new songs in the set as well.

Do you think the band will sound different on the second album, or is it just like you said, songs coming naturally?

There will be a little bit of a change, not drastically, there will still be harmonies, that’s the main thing with our songs we try to stick to, but I think it will be a bit more upbeat than the last one. Obviously there was upbeat songs on the first album, but there’s a lot more of that to come in the second album.