Leah Hamer || June 2016
You know you’re a Stokie when you tell touring bands about oatcakes. Find an oatcake shop, tell them Leah sent you…I don’t know what that will get you…but still, have an oatcake…This is pretty much how I introduced myself to my new obsession, The Hunna.
Tottering up The Sugarmill stairs, I follow the Hunna Mumma (their tour manager and the loveliest human alive, Caroline) on to the glowing roof terrace. Sunshine is reflecting off four sets of shades- frontman Ryan (Valentino) Potter‘s, lead guitarist Daniel (Bandana Dan) Dorney’s, drummer Jack (InstaKing) Metcalfe’s, and photographer Katy-Rose Cummings’s Ray-Bans. Stood by them is squinting bassist Jermaine (The Prince) Angin, who didn’t get the memo.
Having returned from Paris simply hours ago (by van), the band and crew are all suffering, but they do not whine and throw tantrums, instead it is hugs and Hunna love all around as talk turns from oatcakes to life on tour. And it is clear within seconds that being on the road would be even rougher if it was not for the wisdom of Caroline.
Dan: She’s incredible, she’s so resourceful. On our first tour, I forgot my belt, so she made me one out of duct tape. When we get colds, she cures us. She taught me that thing where you put Vicks into a bowl of hot water and a towel over your head and you breathe it in. Never did that before until Hunna Mumma came into my life.
Ryan: Hunna Mumma can I book in an appointment for one of those?
Dan: She taught us how to smoke properly in a hotel room too.
Ryan: You get a wet towel under the door. And a condom over the fire alarm/sprinkler. Or a sock. But preferably condom.
A condom is a bit more rock and roll.
Dan: Yeah, sounds more badass.
Yeah, a bit more lads on tour.
Ryan: Lads, lads, lads. Bit of lad cake. LAD CAKE.
Lad cake and condoms is the Hunna way.
Ryan: Ooh, that sounds good, that sounds like a nice little coffee shop. We should open that.
Well all bands do need a plan B…
This is what the majority of my interview with these four lads is like. Laughter, banter, and a careless joy that reflects their friendship and enjoyment of being on this ride together. Their nicknames are a further indicator of this, they have about ten each, most of which came from times they were stoned together. Ryan’s Valentino is the only name that comes from a legitimate and sensible story, he was born on the 15th February, but had he been born a day before, his parents would have called him Valentino. But it does not stop people from thinking it’s his actual name. The nicknames have spread beyond to every member of the team, their producers Duncan, Lee, and Tim are now D-Milly, Mad Dog Lee and Uncle Tim.
As well as finding time to invent these names, The Hunna have been producing their debut album, The 100, and touring across the UK and Europe, with show after show selling out. The past six months have been colossal for the boys, and I had to wonder what the highlight has been so far…
Jack: Selling out our first UK headline tour…the response we got was incredible.
Ryan: It was our first time in Paris for me, when it was our first time out of the UK and there were people there waiting for us.
Dan: But then its things like Adidas sponsoring us. It’s so weird because it’s something we’ve always talked about, and literally the day before we were talking about how great it would be, then the next day we got a call from our manager saying Adidas want to meet with you.
True to form, they are all repping the Adidas this evening, including Caroline and Katy, and half of their fans queueing outside.
Fans of The Hunna have been dubbed as The H-Squad, and they are not treated as ordinary folk. Instead they are cherished and adored by the band who treat them like their own family for whom they would give the very shirts off their backs to show their thanks…literally.
Jack: I swapped the t-shirt I as wearing in Paris for this girl’s Led Zeppelin one.
Ryan: But there was a girl who stole my shirt as well. We were doing signings and I took it off and put it on the table. She literally grabbed it, and I looked at her like are you gonna give that back? Then she just ran off. She didn’t even post it on Instagram or anything.
Jermaine: They’re great though. I signed a girls arm and she said make sure you sign it neat because I’m going to get it tattooed, and I was like are you sure?
This is the attention that The Hunna rightfully deserve after spending all of their lives chasing the dream.
Jack: We’ve always done our nine-til-fives with music on the side, and you know which one you want.
Dan: We’ve worked so many jobs, we’ve worked in bars, construction, sales, catering, clerks…selling everything we own…
Jermaine: I tried to do normal things, I studied computer science at uni but I dropped out. I was like what am I doing here? Computers? Where’s my bass? These aren’t strings!
Ryan: There’s nothing else we could do.
Jack: I always love sport growing up too, but at the same time it was always music. Watching other musicians live and listening to bands like Queen made me want to do this even more.
Ryan: Yeah, I thought I wanted to be a professional footballer, but I kind of missed the boat on that. There was actually one time, when I was about fifteen, when I was running down the pitch and I was actually singing. And I was like, what am I doing with my life?
Like a Billy Elliot moment?
Ryan: Literally like Billy Elliot! Then I stopped that and went into this.
Jack: As soon as we got together as a four piece we knew…
Each member met each other individually throughout school and college, and found themselves interconnected without even realising. Then after spending some rehearsals together, on one hungover morning in Tesco’s buying some orange juice, the name was born. When I first heard it, I thought it was some rare plant, especially because they sing about the hunna tree.
Ryan: It’s a real tree!
What like a real type of tree?
Dan: Well, no. We just named it. It’s a tree we used to go and hang by and smoke.
Okay, so it’s not a type of tree, but their name does have a lot of meanings. Growing up with the influences of rap and hip hop, the boys use the word in the same way that I use ‘sound’.
Jack: If you had a good night out, you’d say last night was one hunna. Or if a chick looks good, she’s one hunna, or you want a spliff? One hunna… And yeah we just put ‘the’ in the front of it. I never thought I’d be in a ‘the’ band. But it works with ‘the’.
But then it’s not just a catchy word, it is a way of life…
Dan: We put one hundred percent into everything we do.
And judging by their gig that evening, I know full heartedly that they do. They oozed charisma and electrifying energy, whirling around like trapped fireflies across The Sugarmill stage. Climbing on top of the speakers, collapsing across the floor, hugging and shaking hands with their loyal followers, they each exhausted every functioning cell in their bodies. I didn’t need much convincing to join the H-Squad, they had recruited me within about four seconds.
You know you’re a fan when you start picking up band slang. The Hunna = one hunna.
Their album, The 100, is out on the 26th August.