Boys by Girls are pleased to present to you, British alternative rock band The Heartbreaks. Making up the band; Matthew Whitehouse, Joseph Kondras, Ryan Wallas and Christopher 'Deaks' Deakin who have caught the eye of many, from Morrissey, Hurts and Bono in music to Hedi Slimane and Christopher Bailey in the fashion world.
Shooting on location in one of London's famous cemeteries (which in true rock and roll style we were later kicked out of) this place spoke to the boys: a prominent back drop of the shoot reflecting the theme running through their new album "We May Yet Stand A Chance" perfectly. Symbolizing the death of everything the boys hold dear.
After the shoot photographed exclusively by Cecilie Harris for our issue 6, "The Truth About Boys", which you can buy here. We sat down with the boys to find out some of their own truths, about themselves, as a band, their fashion choices and what advice they can offer to the world.
Who are The Heartbreaks?
Deaks: Who are The Heartbreaks? That's four very confused, sad individuals, from the North West of England, by the names of Matthew, Joseph, Ryan and Deaks.
How does your story start?
Ryan: A long, long time ago, in a place very far away.
All: In the North.
Joseph: It started with boredom and it started with frustration and it started with a love of Phil Spector, girl groups and it started with a love of The Smiths and it started with a love of The Clash and it ultimately brought us here. To this park. Via an album and many tours.
Today has been quite magic.
Joseph: It has.
Deaks: It descended into madness.
How would you describe your sound?
Joseph: Our sound has developed on this record to something quite different to what I think people have come to expect from us. On the first record, I don’t think we expressed ourselves as truly as we would of liked to. Whereas now our sound has grown into something a lot darker in places, a lot grander, a lot more epic. It's a wide screen. It’s still rock and roll though.
Talk to me about your upcoming album.
Matthew: The album, was very different. The last one was done very sporadically, whilst this was recorded in a more confined block of time. We went away for eight weeks and we kind of lived together and you know, slept near one another and ate together. It feels like a real Heartbreaks record, you know. It feels really cohesive, like we were all on the same kind of wave length and we’ve made a record of how we were feeling at that time, and what we wanted to say. Musically it was a feeling of detachment from anything that's happening at the moment in the charts.
Matthew: Have you seen our album cover?
I have it has a coffin on it. I love it!
Matthew: Oh thank you, we are really proud of it! It was something that came about a year ago, just after we had finished recording the record. And it seemed like a really perfect metaphor for the themes of it, you know, the album as I was saying to you earlier, it deals with the death or the loss of many things you know, be it the homogenization of the high street or the commercialisation of football or the miss use of the English language. And this coffin seemed to represent all of these things that we hold dear. Disappearing and we’re there pulling it and saving it. And just the four of us together, yeah we’re really proud of that cover.
I was quite drawn to the album cover and was curious to talk to you guys about the message behind the coffin.
Matthew: Well the coffin you can read into it what you want, it can be whatever you feel is being lost I suppose. I like the idea that it invites further questions. It's not the most obvious thing on first viewing.
BBG is always exploring the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and for me the coffin was a good representation of what you leave behind as a child and what you want to take with you into adulthood.
Matthew: That's kind of what this record feels like I suppose. As Joseph said the first one hinted at things and there were ideas that weren’t fully realised upon it you know for whatever reason and this time it feels like we’ve made the record that we really wanted to make all along. We were left to it, it was the four of us and the producer, in this womb like environment for two months. We were able to make what we wanted.
What are your plans for this album now that you’re able to release it to the world?
Matthew: I suppose you hope people will take it to their hearts and love it as much as you do yourself. That’s the hope that it connects with people.
Tell me the truth about The Heartbreaks?
Deaks: We’re not all bad. Really.
Matthew: The think about, The Heartbreaks is definitely a true band. We met in school, and have never done anything in a career sense you know. Any changes that have taken place within our music have been a natural transition. We’ve never tried to change to be fashionable or to be trendy. We’ve always just made music that we want to make.
Joseph: We had a chance to do that with this record. We could have swayed slightly to fit in more, but we dug our heals in even further. Cut ourselves off even more from what's going on at the moment and I’m really proud of that.
What personal experiences are you drawing on from in this album?
Joseph: It is a really personal album. A combination of things that have actually happened and feelings we just have about things, and about stuff like the homogenization of the British High Street and things like that. It is the combination of the two, and what I quite like about the album is that a lot of the lyrics can be perceived in different ways. There is an ambiguity to them, which someone picked up on quite recently. You know that it could be referring to a romantic relationship, it could be perceived politically or apply to the band the band itself. I quite like that.
Where does your name The Heartbreaks come from?
Joseph: That man over there (points to Ryan).
There wasn't a girl that broke your heart?
Ryan: No. But it's the reasons for why it sounds good, that I’m more interested in. Like it sounds like a girl group from the 1960’s.
Deaks: Sounds like four black girls from Detroit. Which we are.
Joseph: It doesn’t sounds like four lads from Morecambe.
Ryan: And it doesn’t sound like one of those shit modern names. It’s a very classic sounding name. Timeless.
Joseph: It's classic. I think it’s quite representative of who we are. We are a classic band, and that's what we’ve always wanted to be and set out to be. It implies a sense of sensitivity, which is good.
Ryan: And a boldness. A masculinity. It’s almost confrontational, how effeminate and pastiche it is.
What do you think of the British music landscape at the moment?
Matthew: There isn’t really one at the moment I think. I think it’s quite homogenous. There are artists that I like but, it doesn’t really fall into chart pop I suppose.
Deaks: The radio isn’t reflecting everything that's happening, is it. You have to kind of sound a certain way to get on the radio. I like music that means something.
Ryan: It’s just a swamp of shitiness really. You’ve got to wade through, but there's some good stuff out there. Once you’ve wadded.
What do you guys dream about and wish for?
Deaks: Just so I don’t have to move back in with my mum, more than anything, no disrespect to her.
Joseph: That literally is the dream.
Deaks: I’m too old.
Joseph: Our mums are very nice.
Deaks: Just to mean something.
Ryan: It’d be great to prove that you can be successful without doing all the things that we’re purposefully not doing.
Matthew: Like altering your sound to suit the masses.
Deaks: To stick to your guns as well, to feel a bit of vindication. Like Ha! I fucking told ya’. We were right all along, you were shit. Validation.
Do you guys feel like rebels in anyway?
Deaks: Well, most days, yeah, but not intentionally. We’re just doing what we do, trying to express our art.
You said a lot of things today, they were all beautiful. I love how you guys are dressed today by the way. Did you plan it?
Joseph: No, no, no. Honestly this is how we dress. When I came out of the room today I was like "Oh, we all look quite similar!"
I look at you and you guys fit together quite naturally.
Matthew: It’s not a conversation that we have. We look like this when we’re going to buy a pint of milk.
Your next album where can people buy it, find it, get it, listen to it, etc etc etc.
Matthew: All the usual places, we’re gonna have another single before the album comes out called "Absolved", which is very good. The album "We May Yet Stand A Chance" is out May 25th.
Do you have a Website and Social Media places people can find you?
Joseph: We’ve got one. Somewhere.
All: Ha! Ha! Ha!
Matthew: Website, check. Twitter, check.
Deaks: Add us on MSN to have a chat.
Deaks: We’re all on Tinder, too.
At this the boys fell about in fits of laughter, so pause interview.
What else do you guys want to say?
Deaks: Just be nice to your mothers.
Ryan: Be nice to everyone.
Deaks: Try to be sound for God's sake.
Joseph: Apart from Tories. Don’t be nice to them. Don’t take that shit.
You have given us some life advice, and we talked about your mothers.
Deaks: Don’t get beards either really.
Joseph: Every fucker has got a beard now.
Matthew: Don’t get a beard, don’t vote Tory and be nice to your mother.
Excellent advice. Thank you boys. We loved being kicked out of cemeteries with you. We can't wait for your new single "Absolved" out 25th May and we are too excited for your album "We May Yet Stand A Chance" out May 2nd June.
Images and interview by Cecilie Harris.
Assistant and words by Cat Wilding.