Words by Naomi Kensall
Himalayas finish their eight-gig UK tour with a homecoming gig at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff.
The indie-rock band formed in 2015 and released their debut EP ‘Ecstasy’, in 2016 with a highly positive response. They have grown rapidly since, establishing their own sound over the last three years. Made up of Mike Griffiths on lead guitar and vocals, Joe Williams on rhythm guitar and vocals, Louis Heaps on bass and James Goulbourn on drums, the four are emerging as some of the strongest musical talent in South Wales and have already graced the stages of big UK festivals, including Reading and Leeds and Isle of Wight.
The bands energetic and harmonious sound can be compared to the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood (with a bit more edge), which complements the intimately lit venue with the band playing on a low stage only at arm’s length from those watching at the front. Bold guitar riffs and raunchy bass playing is supported by fearless drumming, creating a fluid and massive sound. The young songwriter’s lyrics are reflective and catchy with some dark undertones fitting to their generation. They are still growing and experimenting with their sound and are on their way to becoming not only an indie rock band but artists.
I discovered Himalayas in 2016 whereas my two housemates who came with me had only listened to one or two songs of theirs on Spotify an hour before the gig. Nevertheless, by the third song, ‘Sigh On A Hurricane’ (my personal favourite), we all have a real sense of the band and are dancing to the rhythm of the song whilst singing (others may argue shouting) the lyrics.
Looking like they’ve just walked out of Cardiff City Centre’s vintage shop, Hobbos, the boys certainly look the part, and by their presence on stage they no doubt fit the part too. The band interact well on stage together, with the three at the front frequently going to the back of the stage to play to James on drums. Joe is particularly endearing to watch as he stares moodily at the audience like a true grunge artist, he skilfully stands on the drum kit towards the end of the gig whilst playing which we later discover he’d never done before but may have to make his signature move.
The crowd later hold Mike up in appreciation whilst he plays and sings to what we’re told is the last song of the night, ‘Heaven Knows’, as he crowd surfs. The applaud of the audience shouting encore is almost deafening before the band run back on stage to finish the gig on a high note with the first track they ever released, ‘Cheap Thrills’. This is a song that much of the audience will be very familiar with as I notice the bandmembers smiling and laughing at people in the audience who appear to be not only long-term supporters, but friends and family.
The band were generous enough to give me an interview backstage after the gig which is when I really got to see the banter between the four who are very approachable and likeable characters.
Here is what they had to share with us:
Last year you got to play on great stages at some big UK festivals which is amazing, how does playing at home in quite an intimate venue compare to the big shows?
Joe: I always preferred hometown shows, we’ve played some really good venues and to a lot of people, but you never get the same noise as what you do at hometowns and it almost deafens you, you go to sleep and you still hear it. We hadn’t played Cardiff in a while and had kind of forgotten how good the gigs are here, it’s great to come back and see so many people we actually know.
Does the band have anything exciting lined up for this year?
Everyone (in unison): South by Southwest Festival in America!
Joe: The potential of an album could be next year. For this year the big one is to go to America obviously but then to come back and play another UK tour is the big one for me personally, because every time it gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and better. We’ve gone from playing at small 60 cap venues to playing 150 cap to 300 cap venues and selling out.
James: Around the UK we’ve sold out at four I think now, and the rest are close.
What’s the current goal and direction for the band?
Joe: Number one album
Mike: For me, it’s number two album (everyone laughs at the obvious joker of the group)
Joe: I think to just keep doing what we’re doing but to get bigger and better and hopefully in the most modest way possible to make this a more full-time thing. But, ideally, record deal, number one album, things like that.
Whereas neither myself or my housemates were able to call ourselves true fans when we entered the venue, we left humming their songs with a sense of genuine excitement to see what the future has in hold for the South Wales band.