Hudson Taylor, on accidentally opening for The Rolling Stones
September 6th, 2018
Interview by Hector Castro
Hudson Taylor is a folk duo from Dublin, Ireland. From busking, to performing to 50,000 people unexpectedly, Hudson Taylor has grown from two 15 year olds (brothers Alfie and Harry) into an entire band. With each performance more highly anticipated than the last, they’re certainly gaining traction, but as popular as they’ve become, they still project a humble, grounded attitude. Hudson Taylor are currently on tour with Hozier, hitting up sold-out U.S. dates as this article is being published, but don’t fret! They’ll be performing their own headline shows on the side! So make sure to stop by and meet these amazing guys. “Bear Creek To Dame Street” (their new LP) dropped on the 21st of September, so make sure to grab a copy at your local record store.
Hudson Taylor, formerly known as Harry and Alfie, How are you guys?!
Alfie: We’re very good!
Harry: Yeah! Though, to clarify, our names still are Harry and Alfie. We started out as buskers on the street, and we had no idea what to call ourselves. We probably came up with some really awful band names, so we decided just to go with our first names [chuckles]. But now that we’re getting a little more serious about music - not that we’re too serious - we decided to change our name. Again, we were coming up with some pretty awful band names, but we ended up with our second names.
How exciting is it feeling to embark on your second round of dates all around the US with the man himself, Hozier! Are you intimidated? Any nervous breakdowns?
Harry: Yeah man, I’m so stoked and thrilled to be doing this again! Especially with Hozier, our fellow Irishman. He’s someone we really look up to, and I had the pleasure to see him play live last night in Dublin for a rehearsal show before the tour, which was amazing. It was good to get a taste of it. In terms of nervous breakdowns… I’m really just excited! Maybe the nerves will kick in onstage for the first show. Or, I think the shows with most pressure will be in New York and LA, where there might be some important people [both chucle] in the audience or something. But I don’t think we’d be too nervous. In our experience, we only have about 35 minutes to play. And that goes so fast when you’re onstage.
From busking up in Italy at a beach, to opening for The Rolling Stones in front of 55,000 people. Nothing can top the Rolling Stones right? Did you get to talk to the boys?
Harry: You make that sound very cool! Probably cooler than it was! So, we were originally playing on a different stage [to The Rolling Stones] at Hyde Park, in London.
Alfie: Yeah, it was a big big gig because it had something like 50,000 people there, but we were only playing to around 400 people for our set? It was a great gig, and we loved it. But as it turns out, this promoter was there, watching out set. And something happened after – one of the artists got sick, with a chest infection, and he’d been supposed to play the main stage before the Stones. But because the promoter had seen our set and really liked us, he put us up on the mainstage before The Rolling Stones, and we played for 50 000 people!
We only found out 35, 40 minutes before we had to get on stage. And it was our drummer’s first day drumming with us! It was such a crazy experience. We didn’t get to meet the Stones, unfortunately, but we got to introduce them up on stage on these big screens. You’ll want to see the smiles on our face in that video!
Is busking still fun? Do you have some advice for aspiring buskers out there?
Alfie: We absolutely love busking! It’s still our way of approaching music, and it taught us a lot of songs and how to perform, and took away most of the nerves we’d have about performing. Plus we make a little pocket money on the side! We’ve done it from the age of 15/16, and we still busk to this day. It’s just a great way to figure out who you are and what you like to play.
Harry: Yeah, I think when we were starting out, it was really cool to be able to build confidence in our performance. We’d play covers, which was fun, but we’d always get a good reaction playing our own songs. We’d get some sort of reaction, and then we’d go back to our drawing board and figure out why that was. It’s made our songwriting better.
Now, when we go busking we tend to just play our original songs and maybe one cover. Busking’s become so popular in Dublin now. They’ve had to bring in a lot of licensing rules, when for us it used to just be a free for all. Now, you have to audition, get a license. But I’d say for anyone starting out in any type of music – acoustic or electric – just do it on the street, because it’s a great way to gaga how well you interact with people. Ultimately, none of those people walking by know who you are. If you can stop them for a few minutes, get their attention, maybe you can get a few coins and a social media like out of it. It’s a great way to build up your following.
Harry, you mentioned in an interview with Atwood magazine, “There’s a danger that some people might get into music for the seeking of fame — which isn’t the best headspace to go into anything with. No matter how successful you are, it’s still going to be difficult.”Could you elaborate on that? I found it very interesting and insightful, as it’s truly a real symptom of the arts.
Harry: Yeah, I mean that comment references any form of art really. If you’re not doing it for yourself or for the love of it, then ultimately it’s going to skew the whole thing. It’s great to be driven, of course, but making your primary focus fame or money just sets yourself up for disappointment, because it’s so very difficult to actually make a living out of music. You’re so much better off just doing it for the love of doing it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. And you’re not going to set yourself up for disappointment. I just think you should do it because you love it, which creates a better headspace, too.
Once you moved to England for music production back around 2010, were you shocked at how technical and business-like the music industry is? Was it hard to grasp as an up and coming artist?
Alfie: I think we came over to learn about this. We were just two lads from Dublin, putting our songs up on YouTube. We started doing shows and writing songs, and had a bit of interest. People started asking if they could manage us – they’d say, “We’re a record label!” or “We’re an agent!”. We didn’t really know what any of that stuff was, and all of that interest was coming from London. That’s why we started going over there, though it wasn’t a quick move! We spent two weeks there, then a month, and then eventually moved over because there were a lot more opportunities. A lot of Irish bands have gone to London as a sort of make or break thing.
Harry: There’s an awful lot of people smoke in general and you have to be aware of that. A lot of people are just telling you you’re great and all, and it gets to your head. You have to trust your instincts on people, because especially when you’re younger and more naive, there’s a higher chance that you’ll be sniffed out by someone trying to make easy money of you. You start to realise which people are worth your time.
Why should people care about Hudson Taylor?
Alfie: [laughs] Good question! What an ending Hector! I suppose, we just love what we do. We try and we stress and we write songs about our lives and our stories. We just sort of hope people can get something of it and relate to it.
Harry: Yeah, I guess that’s what we’re all about. We like to involve people in our songs. You’ll just have to come and see us at a gig!
Make sure to check out Hudson Taylor on one of their tour dates, listed below:
HUDSON TAYLOR UPCOMING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
(with Hozier, unless indicated)
Sept. 18 - Montreal, Canada - L'Olympia
Sept. 19 - Toronto, Canada - Rebel Complex
Sept. 21 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
Sept. 24, 25, 26 - New York, NY - Beacon Theatre
Sept. 28 - New York, NY - The Loft at City Winery (Hudson Taylor headlining show)
Sept. 30 - Boston, MA - Haymarket at City Winery (Hudson Taylor headlining show)
Oct. 1 - Boston, MA - House of Blues
Oct. 2 - Washington, DC - The Lincoln Theatre
Oct. 3 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore
Oct. 4 - Washington, DC - Songbyrd (Hudson Taylor headlining show)
Oct. 8, 9, 10 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern
Oct. 12 - Los Angeles, CA - Hotel Cafe (Hudson Taylor headlining show)
Oct. 14 - Tempe, AZ - The Marquee
Oct. 15 - San Diego, CA - The Observatory North Park
Oct. 16 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre
Oct. 18 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre
Oct. 19, 20 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre
Oct. 22 - Vancouver, Canada - Orpheum Theatre