Outfit

Moments of Potential

Oct 23, 2013 Photography by Andrew Ellis Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT
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I've just finished one of the most disgusting jobs I've ever done in my life," says Andrew Hunt, vocalist/ guitarist for the Liverpool art-rock five-piece, Outfit. In the weeks leading up to the release of the band's debut LP, Performance, Hunt has been spending time in New York with his girlfriend, who lives in Brooklyn. While they were away for a week, a neglected trash container in her flat became a breeding ground for flies amid a heat wave. "I got back and the bin was completely infested with maggots," Hunt explains. "I've never spent so long trying to get rid of something so gross."

Both Hunt and drummer David Berger work as technicians in art galleries, jobs that have them traveling frequently. Hunt is based in England but makes his New York visits about every three months, ideally during times when Berger is called away for work. Since its earliest days, Outfitwhich also includes Thomas Gorton on vocals and synths, Chris Hutchinson on bass, and Hunt's older brother, Nick, on guitarhas carried on through periods of being scattered. In February 2011, they played their first show in Liverpool and posted the first song they wrote together, "Every Night I Dress Up as You," to SoundCloud. The track, with its skewed mix of eerie atmospherics and double-tracked lead vocals, garnered attention while the band members went their separate ways for two weeks, Hunt traveling to Japan and Berger to his native Switzerland.

"It was really crazy, because as soon we put stuff online, we had a lot of people emailing us and trying to write about us and asking us if we had managers," Hunt says. "It was strange and certainly not in any way expected. It was quite confusing for all of us."

The band formed through mutual friends while Hunt was studying music at the University of Liverpool and living in a 20-bedroom house called The Lodge, which before long served as a practice space. Initially, the band members wanted the music to stand on its own, as opposed to having their faces or personal backgrounds associated with it, almost obligatory when doing press. That was a factor when Gorton, who shares songwriting credits with Hunt, chose the name Outfit. Their mutual love for groups such as Magazine, Talking Heads, and Television pointed them toward a similarly deadpan name.

"It didn't really give away much about the group, and it was stark and neat," Hunt says. "So, in the absence of better names, we went for that."

Outfit released its debut EP, Another Night's Dreams Reach Earth Again, in May 2012. The same month, Hunt and Gorton began writing and demoing songs for an LP. Six months of relentless recording commenced in the fall of 2012, with the band producing themselves. Roxy Music's eponymous debut was a touchstone for them, as was Radiohead's Kid A for its scope, and Portishead's Third for the beauty of its raw synths. In a concerted effort to eschew overproduced drums, the band incorporated field recordings and found sounds, such as people walking through grass (as on opener "Nothing Big") or skateboards hitting the deck. Lyrically, Hunt and Gorton aim for a feeling of melancholy pitched against optimism, while expressing a fascination with identity and the ways in which personality is adopted from others.

"We tend to write about points of change in your life or moments of potential, because they're the most powerful," Hunt says. "Where you're dissatisfied with something and you have the opportunity to change it or make a decision. That moment of potential is quite empowering and exciting."   

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's October/November 2013 issue.]

 

 

 

 

 



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