If you’re a band releasing your first single you might have certain ideas about how it will go: a launch show with hundreds of people spilling out onto the streets dying to hear the hot new sound, maybe a national tour to back it up followed by invitations from media outlets around the country for live sessions of your groundbreaking new song. As none of this is possible it might seem like a risky time to be throwing a totally new project out into the world but this is the path that The Hive Society have chosen. On the 10th of July their debut double A-side single will be out on their new label venture, Airdriver Records.

Hive Society was born in Manchester as a casual writing partnership between housemates, Rishi (lead vocals and guitar) and Jasper (bass). After testing the water with a couple of small gigs they decided this was a project they wanted to take forward after graduating. Fin (synth and production) joined the project around this time, “I’d seen Hive Society ticking along through Jasper and I’d actually heard loads of the demos and stuff that Jasper had shown me and always thought, I quite fancy a piece of that but it was a bit difficult being in Leeds. And then one day Jasper said ‘oh yeah we need someone who can do synthy productiony things’ and I was like ‘Oh my god, I’ll do it.’”

The first official outing of Hive Society was two shows at Glastonbury as a result of a connection Rishi made in a previous project. “Technically it was a marquee?” says Jasper, “It was an amazing experience, our drum and bass player came up to Manchester for three or four days and learnt all the tracks, the next time we saw each other was on the farm. So there wasn’t much practice at all.”

Eventually we were like ‘fuck it – we don’t know what to do let’s just go a bit Brian Eno on it’

The two sides of this single release, The Exchange and Warped, were mostly recorded during quarantine. Having put down the drums just before the lockdown started the band then spent weeks developing the songs, live streaming their logic files to each other over skype calls. “In a way it was a really good way of doing it,” explains Rishi “After the tour we were toying with the idea of heading into a studio, paying a lot of money and smashing it out in three days just to kind of get it down. But then lockdown happened and it forced us to work in a new way. It’s really helped us to find our sound. Because we’ve had the time we’ve constantly revised the songs and thought about how this first release can encapsulate the sound we want going forward.”

Find their sound they did, this is particularly apparent on The Exchange, which moves from psychedelic indie to a tighter more dance music inspired outro that developed as a result of the protracted recording process. Fin explains, “We were wrestling with it because we had this way of doing it live that built and built into this rocky maelstrom of sound and that’s fine but… when we came to record it we weren’t happy with that. Eventually we were like ‘fuck it – we don’t know what to do let’s just go a bit Brian Eno on it’ and just chuck everything out the window and do something completely different. It actually came together in one evening.”

The Hive Society are most easily described as an indie band and indie boys from Brighton could be a genre in itself. This is something that Rishi isn’t entirely comfortable with “I find it so difficult, on BBC introducing for example, when we’re uploading our songs and it’s like “name your genre” and the only one we can put ourselves into is rock and indie but that comes with so many connotations.” Fin adds “We’re desperate not to be just another turn of the mill, indie rock band. That is dead and we’re trying to do something a bit more interesting.”

This first single is being released on Airdriver Records, a new DIY label and monthly event series that the band are setting up which is launching with the new single on the 10th of July. “It’s a new Brighton based collective, we’re hoping to be more than just music so music visual arts. The idea is to create a scene in Brighton around airdriver where we support artists from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life” explains Fin. “We’re lucky that Brighton is our base because it really is a fantastic place to start a label. There’s such a thriving scene here and everyone is so passionate. Obviously trying to start a label and event series in London is a fucking nightmare.”

The focus of Airdriver is quality music but without a genre specific focus it can be hard to work out what sets the project apart from others. Jasper goes on to say how the aim of Airdriver is to become a collaborative project which is set apart by collective that makes it up, “I think what makes us unique will be this team of creatives we work with and that anyone who wants to be part of the Airdriver scene can collaborate with us and we become a community in ourselves. This means we don’t have to be genre specific as we have this mentality where we help each other out and boost each other up.”

Photo by Louis McAllister

The virtual launch party for the first single is being hosted by the Hope and Ruin on their socials and is in support of the Music Venues Trust #saveourvenues campaign. Despite the massive investment in the arts announced on Sunday it is still unclear how far this will go towards saving grassroots venues like The Hope and Ruin from closure in the near future. The venue is vital to the Brigthon music community. Fin, “You look at interviews with artists and they all say that the hope and ruin, or ‘The Hope’ as it used to be called, is THE place.”

Appearing at the online event will be Junodream, Hive Society, Gene Pool and Cousn. The events are looking to bring together live and dance music elements to create a different kind of night out as Fin says“I think it probably frees you up a bit more than trying to curate a couple of hours of live music, it just puts and event into a different space when you have DJs playing and you’re opening it up to a whole different realm.” Rishi adds “We don’t want it to be a gig where people leave after one act, there’s nothing more depressing than that – we want people to stay for the night basically.”

Come Friday, both The Hive Society and Airdriver will have released music into the world for the first time. As it stands things are as uncertain for the band as they look forward as they are for the rest of us. There are plans for incorporating more visual elements into their live shows and they are working on the next Airdriver event and, Fin adds, “Rish has been saying he’s really looking forward to updating his hinge profile, so that’s definitely one to look out for…”

By James Ward, all photography courtesy of Louis McAllister

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