One Hunna From The Hunna
Leah Hamer || September 6th
Valentino. Bandana Dan. InstaKing. The Prince. These aren’t characters from Beano or some straight-to-DVD superhero movie, these are the four names that are going to be printed across the cover of magazines and the backs of teenager’s t-shirts throughout the next few months. These are The Hunna.
A year ago, if you had said this band name to me, I would have asked ‘What’s a hunna?’ Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days later, I use hunna in my daily vocabulary purely because of those four names (it’s short for one hundred, or one hundred percent, for all of you that aren’t up to date on your slang). They recruited me into their fan base, entitled The H-Squad, earlier in the year when I saw their performance at The Sugarmill on the 23rd May, and since then I have patiently awaited the arrival of their debut album, 100.
Sixteen short, catchy and bright tracks filled with optimism, passion and an untameable self-belief, 100, is everything that a young band’s debut should be. I had the pleasure of speaking to frontman Ryan Potter (Valentino) who thoughtfully guided me through each track.
100 sets alight instantly with Bonfire, the first song that they ever released together as a band, which follows the confusing limbo of a failing romance, ‘It’s about the in-between stages of a relationship, when it’s coming to an end but you can’t quite let it go.’ Ryan’s voice clutches you immediately, then as the sparks flicker in the bridge, he unleashes the roaring light of the chorus. Then the tempo drops and builds up once again to a tense middle eight, with Ryan’s stunning a cappella, before it explodes once more.
Next comes the angst-filled power ballad, We Could Be. ‘It’s about managements and people in the industry we met before we finally got singed and all the setbacks we went through to get to this position. We wanted to show our fans that no matter what people say to you, as long as you believe in what you do, you can do anything.’ This is a middle finger up to the rotten apples of the business, its one that needs to be chanted and yelled. In the second verse, the lyrics smartly reference Bonfire, appearing as an ode to their success. Ryan sings We could be on top if it weren’t for shit like you- but the thing is, these boys are on top now. So to anyone that pushed them back, unlucky folks.
Fan favourite She’s Casual follows, ‘Whenever we play it live everybody sings it so loud, to hear your song being sung back like that is insane.’ Centred around a young love fantasy, She’s Casual is relatable and honest with lyrics like Every time I hear her name/It’s a disaster which is timed to fit perfectly to the drum beat, giving it a marching rhythm. It is then joined by another live action number, You & Me (Hunna Tree). ‘Back home there’s this amazing tree, kind of like the tree in The Lion King, we named it The Hunna Tree and we used to go there with our squad and chill. So it’s a look back on those days and those people.’ It is the song that represents their identity- a pure enjoyment of life and being young. It is simple and short with grinding solos and pulling stop-starts which are the key directory moments for you to start moshing.
Potentially the next single, Alive, then manages to capture the fearful happiness of butterflies and early romance, ‘It’s about the first stages of a relationship when it’s all new and exciting and you just want to forget everything and be with that person’. The rush, the buzz, the possibility- these are the memories that it leads you back to. There is an endearing quality in the lyrics and a peacefulness in the winding, wispy ending.
The next two tracks reflect the difficulties of new-found fame. Piece by Piece although upbeat, revolves around the strange new beginnings of being a band and adapting to life on the road. It is the most commercial and poppy track, a repetitive little head bopper, whereas Never Enough is about the tensions that one goes through in the later stages of touring. ‘Not being around all the time, and the person that you’re with being frustrated by it all… it’s hard.’ A synchronised guitar and drum combination lead the track, banging and slamming together in a charging battle call.
Waiting inspires the movie score composer within Ryan, ‘It’s got a kind of a film feel, and we’d love to write music for movies one day so we had a video concept for this. It’s a story about a guy and a girl in a relationship, and she’s totally dependent on him. It’s got a Sin City vibe, I love that film, if there’s a third one we’re on it.’ Cool reverb and silky guitar, it is mature and clever. All it needs is a film noir music video.
Emotion strikes next with the song inspired by a nightmare. ‘Brother I wrote the lyrics for when I was eighteen after I had a dream that Dan [lead guitarist Dan Dorney] died. It was pretty crazy, I woke up like Whoa, maybe I’ll write a song about that. So I started writing and trying to remember what happened in the dream. At first Dan was like what the hell, why you dreaming about that?!’ Listening to it with the knowledge of its origins, it is apparent that Ryan is letting us dissect his most inner fears and worries- losing his band member, his best friend, his brother. As he cries brother again and again, and the instrumental fades slowly to just the light tap of the drum and the quiet flicker of the riff, until he begins to call out again, it is frank and brave.
World Is Ours is another ‘Everything’s going to be alright’, power to the people anthem, filled with inspiration and a determined drive to chase your dreams, no matter how difficult it may be. Carefree and fun, Ryan sings The world is ours tonight, and it is. The vibe swiftly changes with the next acoustic track, Sycamore Tree. The hum of bird song and Ryan’s melodic, caressing voice, the backing has the glimmer of a waltz. It’s one for a first dance. ‘It’s a very special song because it was my mum’s favourite.’
A playful take on loud and quiet appears in Still Got Blood, which sways back and forth from grungey guitar in the chorus to soft gentle runs across the strings and feathery drums in the verse. Its inspiration is taken from a conversation Ryan had (‘With a girl again’, he laughs) about struggling to maintain a relationship in the crazy world of touring. This idea, however, is reversed in Bad For You, written from a female perspective. ‘It’s about that girl saying that no matter what happens or where you go or whatever time it is if you need me I’ll be there.’ As their heaviest track on 100 it’s riled up passion reflects that inner craziness you experience when you’ve got it bad for someone.
Coming Home is another movie track, ‘It’s about the epic story of a guy who is like a Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling and something major has happened and he is travelling far and wide to save the damsel in distress. We like a good epic film, where something really bad happens and there’s just this squad boss trying to fix it. Save the girl, save the world kind of thing.’ Coming Home has the pace of a movie climax, the hero speeding down a road with this picturesque background, chasing the girl who’s about to hop on board a plane.
The final two tracks maintain a similar easy-going vibe. Be Young is a surfer campfire track about being free and open-minded, experiencing the best and worst that life has to offer. Then Rock My Way is a cheesy, fun track with an old school, eighties, leather jacket rock style. Are you gonna rock my way/Are you gonna roll my way- the chorus is a perfect cliché, but who cares? They’re young and they’re in a rock band- there’s no need for politics and pretentious opinions. It ends the album with a burst of life, leaving the listener pumped and ready to take on the world.
The last time I reviewed this band my final line was ‘The Hunna = one hunna.’
Now, however, I will say, The Hunna, 100 = one hunna.