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WPGM Interviews: Habitats – Diamond Days, Working In Basingstoke And Making Music In New York

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From bedroom recordings in the suburbs of Hampshire, to studio sessions stateside, Basingstoke quartet Habitats are pushing their indie-groove twang into new grounds. Set to release their second EP in the coming months, Habitats will be making some big leaps with a record they said will be the “most fine-tuned version of what the band has always been”.

Habitats have a distinct funk, a unique bounce intertwined within their guitar twang that’s gaining attention. It’s a fresh and soulful take on indie, a high tempo dash of chopping beats overlaid by coarse vocal harmonies, that cry out with the passion of a tropical beach party under brightest of full-moons. They’ve have fast been making a name for themselves after the release of their debut EP Diamond Days, in early 2015. It showed what they have to offer; fast paced, feel good guitar music that makes you want to dance without giving a s**t who’s watching.

Standout track from Diamond Days is the gloriously crisp “Peace of Mind” which has enough shuffle to bring a smile to even the cruelest of dictators. Along with tittle track “Diamond Days”, which has so many hooks that it could fill out an entire record alone. Joe Payne, vocalist and guitarist, talks modestly about Habitats debut EP: “The whole idea of the ‘Diamond Days’ EP was completely random. We just put it out with no backing or anything and luckily it started getting loads of plays. And we were like ‘fucking hell this shit’s crazy’, we couldn’t believe it. It seemed like people liked it”.

Now with management behind them and producer Oliver Chasten (Moby, Jay Z), Habitats stepped across the atlantic to record their second EP, which is so far as yet-untitled. The small town band were dumped into altogether different turf when they moved over to Hudson, New York. They took part in 14-hour days of recording in a converted church turned studio straight from the suburbs of the home counties.

Backing vocalist and guitarist Michael Lawford explained the experience: “We were recording from literally day one, there was no getting over jet-lag. The guy we worked with was just super intense, so knowledgeable about s**t”. Lawford goes on: “We don’t really know much in terms of music theory or production, so he was on key with that side of it. At the beginning we just basically said ‘look man, we don’t have a f***ing clue, we’re just gonna play you some stuff and see what we can do’”.

Needless to say, the variation between recording an EP in your home town and then setting up shop with a full production team in New York state (in a massive old converted church turned studio), is otherworldly. “It’s eerily quiet there and pretty isolated. Hudson is a weird city because it’s starting to become kinda like a hipstery place to go. Like the people can’t afford Manhattan so they’re coming to Hudson. You’ll walk down the street and see a really flash mustang go past, but then there’s still parts of it that are really shanty town”, says Lawford.

The EP is now in the process of being mixed with all the recording done. Habitats came across as pretty chilled guys. The whole naming of tracks and records is not even a big deal to them. Joe talks of maybe adding some sort of Hudson influenced artwork, but they’re not sure and explained their attitude to giving titles to tracks: “We usually leave it until the last minute, we’re so indecisive just over a title. We haven’t even named all the songs on the coming EP”.

Habitats are back living and working their day jobs in Basingstoke and continuing to play shows at any given opportunity. Recently performing at The Great Escape and Gold Coast Oceanfest. With plans to tour England again this October, kicking off in Brighton on October 15 and wrapping up in London on October 22, you can also expect their upcoming EP to be released by the end of the summer. Keep tabs on Habitats on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Words by Oscar Nicholas

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