I'd Rather Die Than Let You In

I'd Rather Die Than Let You In

Though the third record from UK rockers The Hunna was largely written and recorded in sunny Los Angeles, darkness reigns throughout. “We like to call this album our own Hunna horror story,” guitarist and lead singer Ryan Potter tells Apple Music. “It’s about our experiences of the last two or three years—being lied to and betrayed, overcoming that, and all the bits in between.” But do not mistake I’d Rather Die Than Let You In for an exercise in wallowing. Though forged in the fires of real pain (specifically, the fractious management dispute that precipitated an unplanned 2018 hiatus and a swift change of record label), these 12 tracks play like a wail of emancipated triumph; an expansive brew of punk, electronica, and hip-hop that adds urgent themes and new sonic textures to the signature larynx-straining good-time anthems of their first two records. “It was a real rebirth for us,” adds Potter. “The first time that we’ve really been able to be ourselves, experiment, and just be free with music.” Much of this can be credited to producer John Feldmann, the pop-punk survivor who helped loosen the creative shackles and corralled a roster of LA-based guest stars (including blink-182’s Travis Barker and a writing assist from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz) that only add to I’d Rather…’s blockbuster feel. Yet, Potter and his band deserve credit—particularly on “I Wanna Know” and the California-wildfire-inspired epic “Horror”—for using their private turmoil to explore bigger ideas. And for pushing through that scorched darkness towards some light. “Our mindsets have changed a lot, both about ourselves and what’s going on in the world,” he notes. “So the album was really cathartic.” Here, he lays out their comeback, one song at a time. One Hell of a Gory Story… “This album starts and the first thing you hear are those synths. To us, we thought that would be an exciting thing, because fans might expect to hear guitars. We liked that it kind of threw people off a bit. The idea for this was as an intro to the story, setting up the atmosphere for the album and this comic-book-style horror. The line ‘Facing a damn dirty villain possessed by blood, lust, and greed’ is referencing our past with the old label. The inspiration was Samuel L. Jackson’s speech in Pulp Fiction, and the original plan was to get someone crazy, like him, to read it out, rather than me. I met Evan Peters from American Horror Story in LA, he was really into it but he was away filming for months at the time. Maybe we can revisit something with him in the future.” I Wanna Know “This one really opened the door and set the tone for the album. In May of 2019 we went to LA for the first time, met Feldy [John Feldmann], and I think he was the last session we had before coming home. We were pretty hung over—and we’d managed to already get two amazing songs—but then, right at the end, we played John some ideas. We literally had 20 minutes left of the session. But it was just, ‘Right, a few shots of espresso,’ and away we went. It was born on the spot, right there. And the sound on it is just relentless, isn’t it? We played it on our UK tour last year and people were always like, ‘What is that song? It’s amazing.’ Even when we came out of the session, I remember me and Dan [Dorney, lead guitarist] were just saying, ‘That’s a hit.’ There’s not a lot of bands, especially in the UK, creating a sound like this right now.” Young & Faded “It's a defiant song; an anthem for the misunderstood and the disenfranchised. I wanted the lyric, and message of it, to almost feel a bit sarky as well. Young people in the song are saying to older generations, or whoever misunderstands them, ‘Yeah we're young and faded, but we're fucking proud of it. With every generation there is negative stuff, but I feel that, perhaps because of their relationship to technology, people really misunderstand the young and view them negatively. But if you look at a lot of the awful things that have been done in the past, it’s the young people sorting them out. Look at Greta Thunberg, or Jaden Smith helping to fix [the water crisis] in Flint. I think there's a lot of younger people standing up for really positive things.” Dark Times “I wouldn’t say we’re a massively political band, or that we’re going to go into the House of Commons or anything, but this song is probably the first time we’ve said what we feel about what’s going on in the world. Everyday life is hard. You turn on the news and it’s filled with negativity; we’re all fighting for the same things, but it's almost like we can’t quite get there. In terms of the music, we had the riff to this for ages—it’s a kind of like The Hunna meets Zeppelin. But whereas before we might have just kept it as guitars and drums, this time we embedded it with synths. I think the other stuff just gives it a real modern, different energy. Josh Dun, the drummer from twenty one pilots, was in to play on it too, which was dope. And it just kind of builds up into this massive moment.” One Second Left “John obviously has a lot of big-name friends, and he would just bring them in. When we were writing and recording this one, we were maybe halfway through the session, and then the door opened and just right in my face walking through the door was Pete Wentz. He just looked at me, smiled, we said hello, and then I just cowered in the corner for a minute trying to compose myself. I grew up listening to Fall Out Boy, have seen them so many times, and even had his bass guitar. So having him help out on the writing of this was a hell of an experience. The song itself has got a hip-hop feel to it; a Post Malone feel. We’re massive hip-hop heads, and we were probably kind of constricted at our old label when it came to messing around with other genres. This time there was no holding back.” Lost “My biggest influences as a singer are probably R&B artists like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, or The Weeknd. I think you can hear The Weeknd on this. There’s Auto-Tune as well, which is something that has been used on so much music that we listen to and love that you could probably say it’s overused. But I think if you do it in the right way, and it makes sense, it feels right. Vocally, this album is a lot different to the last two records, because a lot of the time I’d go in the booth and just say what I was thinking. It can be tough, being that honest. But it was a good experience and, I think, showed a new side to me and the band.” One Day You’ll Thank Me “Throughout those last two or three years, with everything that was going on, there were some real low moments. For six months or so, we were in limbo with music. We were still technically in the deal, trying to get out of it. So it was emotionally and mentally draining to be in that situation. It's hard to not get consumed by that. There were times where you didn't even want to get out of bed. It’s hard to find motivation to get your head out of that. Lyrically, this song is kind of about that period and that feeling. There were dark times and times where we didn't have much else to do as a band. So we were sad and down and we'd have people over to have lots of drinks and god knows what else. It got to, not quite a self-destructive point, but just a feeling like we were in a bit of a rut.” If This Is Love (feat. phem) “This is like the gem of the album, we think. I had been listening to [LA-based alt pop singer] phem for probably about a year, and I just loved her music and the really different way she sings. We’ve always wanted to do tracks with female artists but have never been able to. Then, we went to Halsey’s Halloween party in LA last year—as you do—and Dan met her in the smoking area. He came and told me, it came about that she loved the band already, and so it was a real, natural, amazing thing. It was the first time we’ve collaborated with another artist. And, really, the whole trip [to LA] was just us doing things we’d always wanted to.” Anything Is Better Than Nothing “This one was really about the whole situation [with our old label] and realizing it was taking a big toll on me. Kind of like: I need to not let this bastard beat me. I know that other people have definitely felt the same way, even if it’s not the same situation. I definitely knew that it would resonate with people. It was mainly just sitting there with a guitar and coming up with an idea, there and then, that reflected what I was feeling. The first line I had was ‘I just want to feel something/Because anything is better than nothing.’ Then the rest of the song stems around that. It’s about me getting to the point where I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to actually be present.’” Cover You (feat. Travis Barker) “We had just flown back to LA to do the phem feature and then all of a sudden John started FaceTiming someone. Travis answers and is like, ‘Yo, just got out of the shower. I’m coming by in two minutes.’ Like, shit, OK. So Travis Barker is coming in now as well. He’s just a very cool dude. Very skilled, very confident, and to watch him drum—as one of the greatest rock ’n’ roll drummers ever—was wild.” Horror “The first week out in LA for the album, I actually had like the worst flu of my life. I was exhausted. So I stayed at the Airbnb trying to rest and get better, and I got this alert on my phone saying there were wildfires in the area and about evacuating. I managed to stay in and it didn’t get me, but you could smell it in the air. It was horrible. Another time at the studio with John and the guys, there were literally two fires either side of us in Calabasas; we went outside and ash was just falling from the sky. It was like the end of the world. And so this one is about that. It was weird that we went into this record knowing it would be a lot darker, but then things like this happened, and we just knew we could sort of project that atmosphere onto our story.” I’d Rather Die Than Let You In “This comes from that saying: ‘I would rather die than let you inside.’ Or let you affect me, get inside my head, or bring me down. We just felt that was an idea that really summed up the album and the fact that it’s about overcoming adversity. It's such a powerful way to finish it. And the sound of it makes me think of Emarosa and other hardcore bands that we used to listen to. It’s triumphant, relentless, almost like a dog with a bone. The message is that we’re through the other side of all that craziness but it’s still not over. We had a lot of tracks to choose from—I think we had around 100 song ideas going into the album—but this was just the perfect note to end on.”

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