INTERVIEW: The Handsome Family

INTERVIEW: The Handsome Family


The Handsome Family5

Fresh from their success with “Far From Any Road” which was recently used as the theme tune for HBOs “True Detective”, The Handsome Family are touring the UK, and I caught up with Rennie from the band ahead of their Swansea show.

You must be pleased with the reaction to “Far From Any Road” and being handpicked for the mesmerising opening credit sequence of HBO’s “True Detective”?

Correct. It’s been a wonderful thing for us. Very helpful in finding us some new fans and reminding old ones to return.

What was it you think that seamlessly blended your lyrics and music with the narrative of the series?
Mystery, sex, death. Strangeness just under the surface of the everyday. A shared emotional landscape.

Rennie, you write the lyrics whilst Brett writes the music, who do you write for? Is it each other, the audience or is it more personal than that?
I write for the song. I just think about trying to create a beautiful object that hopefully resonates with emotion. I have to ‘feel’ something. So I guess I write for myself.

With that in mind, how did you approach the writing and recording of your latest album “Wilderness”?
Same as always. Lyrics first, music second then a lot of trying things on the computer. I wanted to write about ‘ugly’ animals that are actually beautiful and heroic in my mind. Eels, for example.

Despite having been together for over 20 years with some 10 plus albums to your name, are some people still confused labelling you anything from alternative country to Gothic balladeers? And if so, does it bother you?
People are always going to want to describe bands by using such genres, but they’re usually not that accurate. I think we’re more Magical Americana or Hysterical Country, perhaps.

Obviously you have toured extensively in the last 20 years both at home and abroad. How do you think America has been perceived in the past, and has the “Obama” effect changed this?
Everyone seems pleased to see Obama in the White House. Of course it is a milestone and I voted for him both times he ran, but I don’t feel he’s created paradise on earth. We’re starting to get some health care reform, but we’re still dropping drone strikes on innocent people in Afghanistan.

When you’re not writing, recording, touring, doing press etc….how do you both spend your time?
Brett puts together the same model telecaster over and over again with slightly different necks, pick ups, finish. I am a pet portrait artist.

What does the future hold for The Handsome Family?
Who can tell? I hope that we can continue working on making little objects of beauty to add to the known universe a bit of spark.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.