Since we talked last with Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle of King Hannah, they had recently released their debut EP, Tell Me Your Mind and I’ll Tell You Mine, and their music was just starting to receive well-deserved critical notice. Fast-forward a year and they’ve returned with the stunning and self-assured full-length, I’m Not Sorry, I was Just Being Me. Currently on tour throughout North America and Europe, the Liverpudlians discussed their recording process, going autobiographical, and realizing the power of restraint.
You just released your debut album. How long did it take to put this suite of songs together?
Hannah: It took around nine months in total to make the whole thing. That includes writing, recording, and producing it.
Craig: Mixing it and mastering it.
Hannah: Yeah, which is short. It’s actually quite very short for us.
How did the recording process differ between the LP and the EP?
Craig: With the EP, there were a lot of things that we did that we knew didn’t quite work. With this album, we tried to create a sense of space by having fewer instruments and tracks and layering – fewer things on the music. Maybe it was a lack of confidence thing, but with the EP we overpopulated the songs with synths and different guitar lines and stuff. On the album, we tried to be more confident in the parts and the sounds to give the songs more space and more room to breathe.
Hannah: We the album, we tried to please ourselves with the overall sound and songs, more so than pleasing other people. You always want other people to love your music, but there are so many people involved, sometimes you’ve just got to be a bit selfish with it. In a good way.
Craig: When we were making the EP, we weren’t signed, so we wanted to showcase everything we could do. It was too big. We wanted to show that we could do everything. With the album we were very much like: we want to sound like this; this is how we want to present ourselves on our first album.
The songwriting on this album feels much more autobiographical and revealing. Was that intentional?
Hannah: It’s partly a reflection of the artists that we listen to, Bill Callahan and artists like that. And like Craig said, this is our moment, this is who we are. You’ve got this whole open thing to prove yourself. You’ve got to throw yourself into it.
You guys have always had a formal – almost stately – sound to your music. This time around, you seem to be having a lot more fun. Did you loosen up a bit?
Hannah: We have fun! We love our job!
Craig: I think that’s probably true. Like with [album track] “Go-Kart Kid” when I do the interjections. We definitely don’t hold ourselves back when it comes to trying weird things. Again, going back to the people we listen to – Bill Callahan, Silver Jews – they incorporate a sense of humor a lot. I think that definitely seeps into it.
What’s the meaning behind the album title, I’m Not Sorry, I was Just Being Me?
Hannah: It’s definitely a statement. We took a while choosing it. We wrote down loads of lines from the album that stuck out to us. The title is a statement and it’s inviting the listener to engage with us. It’s us saying: “This is us. This is what we sound like and this is who we are, and we’re not sorry about it.”
Last question: You have one song to hook a listener, what song are you choosing?
Craig: I’d probably play them “Go-Kart Kid.” It has a bit of everything in it and sounds exactly how we want to sound. It’s got Hannah’s lyrics, which are phenomenal. And it still also has the bit of fun and nostalgia and sentiment. But then Hannah has the big-
Hannah: Huge ending.
Craig: The big noisy ending. I’d say that encaptures how we want to be.