Who is Lawrence, and is he dead? Sitting astride, engulfing in relaxation article spreads while lending a grammar radical earlobe to the ‘60s, ’70s and ’90s inspired psychedelic approach of the harmonious Diamond Munch EP, Is Lawrence Dead. The Hickeys, a sweet and naughty daydream of 4 o’clock murmuring strangers birthed through at variance sections of northern Spain; a rock ‘n roll ticking time bomb accompanied by their respective musical instrumentations and indifferent personalities, is Marta Kunitsa (guitar), one of their more dark and bruising hickeys, Ana Erice (guitar), Martina Gil Compairé (bass), and their down-to-earth sweetest hickey and opportune bridge that linked across this four-piece diamond in its fearfully molded beginnings of endless partying and stage dumping, Maite Barren (drums). This daring and well-mannered gathering of smooth solitary broken-in English Senorita’s of mystique, unveils without revealing too much about the marked man in question named Lawrence, “We kill him every day. It’s a daily struggle.” I had the opportunity to speak with, and showcase in a time of COVID from both ends of our social distancing computer, the unapologetic trio, the Hickeys.
The Hickeys is made up of a four-piece diamond. How did you girls get started as a band?
THE HICKEYS: We met at university so we were friends before.
How did the dark and bruising name, the Hickeys come about?
THE HICKEYS: It was a funny story in Australia.
What made you want to be in a band?
THE HICKEYS: It wasn’t the initial idea; we just wanted to have fun playing instruments together. Then it started to get real.
What are your names and what respective instruments is each of you in charge of playing?
THE HICKEYS: Martina Gil Compairé: bass; Marta Kunitsa: guitar; Ana Erice: guitar; Maite Barrena: drums.
How did you decide on roles for the band?
THE HICKEYS: It came naturally, some knew their instruments before and others learnt them because of the band. In the beginning, we tried a more chaotic set where some of us changed instruments, but it just didn’t work and we stuck to what each of us play now.
When you first formed as a band, what were your ambitions and expectation, and was it a fearful beginning?
THE HICKEYS: We loved hanging out together and jamming with the few instruments we owned. Never really thought of what came later. I guess no one starts a band thinking that they will achieve certain things. Things grew up fast, we were hired to play at the FIB and we wanted to hold down to that opportunity and the ones that arose afterwards.
Did you feel there was going to be a Hickey movement out there to fall in love and support you?
THE HICKEYS: The first fan was our neighbor, then our friends and now it’s beautiful to see that people you don’t know support you as well.
Is the term lead singer relevant in the group or does everyone has a role to lead singing?
THE HICKEYS: We all sing and have different styles.
Are you all sisters, cousins, or best friends?
THE HICKEYS: We are best friends, almost sisters after all the time we spend together.
What had begun this dynamic formation of friendship, and how does it feel working alongside one another?
THE HICKEYS: We cannot imagine working with anybody else. We’ve come to a point where we are musically and personally aligned.
What did you want to be while you were at school?
THE HICKEYS: Probably something coerced by the stupid capitalist ideals that we learn first as kids and then as teenagers, a period when we are forced to study, when teachers and acquaintances tell you to enroll on a university degree so that you get a decent job to pay your bills, and that’s what you hope. It doesn’t really matter because you later see the fallacy that all those beliefs hide, and how your life is nothing but uncertain.
Are all of you originally from Madrid, Spain?
THE HICKEYS: Martina is the only one from Madrid. Marta is from Gijón (Asturias), Ana is from Donosti (the Basque Country) and Maite is from Pamplona (Navarra), all Spain.
Is there anything different in your country that you’ve read in American media that has surprised you?
THE HICKEYS: We heard that the President of the United States recommended drinking bleach to fight against coronavirus.
How are the four of you holding up, creative wise during this pandemic?
THE HICKEYS: We’ve been recording demos of our new songs. It was more difficult not seeing each other but we also had more time to compose.
Did you have a set of tour dates lined up before everything transpired?
THE HICKEYS: We had some summer festivals in Spain (Primavera Sound, Vida Festival and many others) and also some dates in Norway, Portugal, and the UK.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
THE HICKEYS: Post-punk.
How would you describe your fashion/music style?
THE HICKEYS: Sober but elegant. We love black and white.
You each make a point to distinguish yourself, with similar but quite not the same blonde streaks in your hair styles. However, only one of you has dark red hair. What for?
THE HICKEYS: We change our hairstyles, too. We haven’t always been the same and it is not something deliberate.
Who’s the dark one out of the group?
THE HICKEYS: Marta.
The debuting EP was named, “Diamond Munch!” What inspired the title of the record and who came up with it?
THE HICKEYS: It was like a contradiction and a mixture of ideas and feelings: the artwork, the title and the songs. Like a vomit of everything we had inside.
When you made Diamond Munch, how did you cope after its release to the public?
THE HICKEYS: We were anxious to release our music and we felt that the audience’s response was very good and encouraging. We just wanted to keep making more music.
What are you trying to achieve with Diamond Munch?
THE HICKEYS: Diamond Munch feels very far away now. It made its point back then, as a presentation letter, but we are now focused on our upcoming debut album.
Do you have other musical contemporaries who are emerging in the music industry such as yourselves? If so who, and how do you feel about them?
THE HICKEYS: In Spain there are several bands that we like and are our friends, such as ‘Carrera’ or ‘Dharmacide’. We also admire ‘Blood’, in Texas (USA) who we met during last year’s SXSW.
What has the progression of your 90s post-punk mix and lo-fi sound been like while producing the EP, and where does the sound stem from?
THE HICKEYS: When we recorded the EP it was our first studio experience so there are things that we would do differently now, obviously. Then, our sound was influenced by the bands we liked at that moment.
What’s the songwriting process like? For example, the Sex Pistols used to get in all kinds of controversy and then introduce it into their music. Now we have artists who get themselves into relationships just to purposely get their heart broken for a hit.
THE HICKEYS: It depends on the song: some come out of jams and others are formed after an idea that one of us brings. We flow very nicely together. In terms of lyrics, there’s always one of us that is more touched by a particular experience or feeling and wants to express it through the writing.
What do you write about?
THE HICKEYS: We write about matters that concern us, which worry us, which displeases us. We write about the uncertainty and dimness of these moments in which we exist.
Did you always want to write your own songs?
THE HICKEYS: Yes, we want to decide what we are communicating to the world.
Who is Lawrence, and is he dead?
THE HICKEYS: We kill him every day. It’s a daily struggle.
I’ve listened to Is Lawrence dead from the EP, and it reminds me of a song that came out of the 1960s. What inspired the sound on this record, and where does the creative process of your lyrics come from?
THE HICKEYS: We approached a more psychedelic side of our sound. We also changed our producer so the difference was clear. The lyrics were written by Martina and Marta in different moments but with the same feeling.
Another one of your singles has a 1970s hard, glam; punk rock flow is Hickey Hickey Bang Bang. How did the song come about?
THE HICKEYS: It’s the rawest song. A direct message and straightforward instrumentals; a song that just felt that way and we naturally captured. Also it’s very fun to play.
The EP is filled with 60s, 70s and 90s sounds. Can you tell us more about that?
THE HICKEYS: It was an organic result of the sounds that we liked and the ones we thought we could achieve given our control of our instruments at that point.
If the Hickeys were around those three eras, which one would you like to be a part of, and why?
THE HICKEYS: Can’t we choose the three of them? We could divide our time and spend one or two years in each era.
When critics listen to the Hickeys, they might think a false narrative and say you’re of naught and misbehavior, but what are you all about, misbehavior, manners or a mixture of both?
THE HICKEYS: We’ve never been told to be naught or misbehave. We do think we are reckless/dared but with very good manners.
What makes this project stand out in terms of projecting to the audience to make them want to listen and want more?
THE HICKEYS: We try not to filter ourselves and just be natural with what we want to communicate, what we are and how we feel.
What was the recording process like creating Diamond Munch?
THE HICKEYS: The idea was to capture the essence of what we were at that moment. Quite raw and inexperienced but filled with attitude.
What was the first album you ever owned, and how did you acquire it?
THE HICKEYS: Maite: I think it was my mother’s discography of The Beatles and Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms”.
Martina: I guess it might be one of the CDs my father made for me based on a main genre (power-pop, doo-wop, soul…) to listen to in the car, in my room or in my Discman.
Marta: Not sure, but perhaps La Oreja de Van Gogh “El viaje de Copperpot”. When I was a kid I thought it was going to be my favourite band forever but I certainly failed in my guess.
Ana: Avril Lavigne “Under My Skin”.
What is it about the ‘90s that inspires you all?
THE HICKEYS: The nostalgia of being born and belonging to that generation but not exactly, as we have lived our teenage years and identify more with the 2000s.
What were your favorite Nineties bands?
THE HICKEYS: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nirvana, Radiohead, Sonic Youth…
Who were some of your music inspirations growing up? Did you have female artists who you looked up to or did you become the inspiration that you wished you had as a kid?
THE HICKEYS: We didn’t really think of the musicians as men or women.
What is each of your favorite moments as a band?
THE HICKEYS: When we are on the stage, performing.
What are the best things about having an all-female band?
THE HICKEYS: The best thing about the band is that we are best friends.
How has the band been treated in the music industry?
THE HICKEYS: We’ve always been supported by promoters and audiences in Spain and once we got to go abroad we felt very welcomed too. Our agency ‘Holy Cuervo’ also trusted us and believed in us.
Being an all-female band, what kind of hurdles has the band encountered?
THE HICKEYS: It’s not about real obstacles but more about the comments and reactions of some people, who think they have the authority to tell us how to be or what to do, or even doubting if we deserve to be where we are. We were once told that we got to be where we were due to our genitals.
What negative connotations and assumptions have you faced as an all-female group?
THE HICKEYS: We are forced to prove our value all the time. We also feel we are the target of more offensive criticisms about our appearances, what we do or say or how we move. We keep saying we are a music group, not a female group. We don’t know why ‘female group’ is used as some kind of music division, like another genre.
Are there any stories of bias regarding treatment or pay differences?
THE HICKEYS: If pay differences ever happened, we didn’t know.
Is there any sort of difficulties in an all-female band that all guy-bands don’t have to deal with?
THE HICKEYS: I guess if you are an all-man band you always know you are where you are because the promoter/festival/whoever likes you and your music. In an all-woman band (or just a mixed band) there’s always the possibility that you’re hired to fulfill the agreed/ordered percentage of women on stage.
There aren’t many female music groups that make it big or are out these days. Why do you think that is?
THE HICKEYS: That is changing. There are lots of women doing music and art in general. Maybe we had less role models or visibility.
So what is the music industry missing right now, a group like you?
THE HICKEYS: The music industry is undergoing a very difficult situation so right now it’s missing almost everything.
Have you been on tour yet? Where to?
THE HICKEYS: Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and the USA.
What cities and scenes impressed you?
THE HICKEYS: We loved Brighton and London.
Any crazy touring or concert experiences you can share with us?
THE HICKEYS: Would be too long to explain; and maybe complicated to understand in written words.
Did you guys ever play as a warm-up act for another main artist and or band?
THE HICKEYS: Yes; for Peach Pit or Waxahatchee, for example.
What do you hope the audience gets from your shows?
THE HICKEYS: Not just one thing, but the distinct feelings that each song evokes. It’d be great for the audience to leave the show differently than the way they entered.
Once this pandemic over, what do you have planned for touring?
THE HICKEYS: For now, we know we are going to play in London and we will also play the postponed festivals next summer.
On stage where it seems, a performance at the Hole in the Wall, the Hickeys performed a Jane’s Addiction style flow and there was a line in terms of, “Don’t smoke inside the USA.” Is that an original song or a cover?
THE HICKEYS: It’s an original song but it doesn’t say that exactly. I guess someone must’ve got it wrong. It says “No smoking time in the USA”.
What’s the title of the song?
THE HICKEYS: Smoking Time.
Do you each choreograph your stage movements or is that something that naturally comes due to being in the moment?
THE HICKEYS: Absolutely not. We move as we feel.
Does the band ever have problems deciding which issues to publicly agree on and support?
THE HICKEYS: Not really, we have very similar political ideals but if we ever find anything too controversial, we just put the name of the one that says it.
You know, years from now looking back on the genre you created called, glitter-punk; the other generations are going to see fit to nod you as female trailblazers. Has that ever crossed your mind?
THE HICKEYS: Not at all. If we ever get to that point of significance in the music history, that’d be extraordinary.
How did glitter-punk come about?
THE HICKEYS: It was like a soft but handy punk and we also used to go to the stage covered with glitter so it just came up.
What are your hopes for the twenty-twenty decade?
THE HICKEYS: We hope we’ll be able to play live shows as we know them again. We are going to keep writing and composing.
Tell us about the experience being on the issue of Vogue (Spain) you were profiled on recently?
THE HICKEYS: It was a surprise that they wanted to interview and photograph us and the experience was wonderful. It’s great to work with talented photographers and stylists. Also, when the issue came out, our friends thought it was Photoshop.
When you’re not creating music and raising all kinds of hell on stage, what other activities do you each do in your spare time?
THE HICKEYS: We all have our respective jobs. We love cinema, reading and beer.
Are you working on anything new? What are you going to mark on bruising next?
THE HICKEYS: We are recording our first album. We’ve come out darker and tougher. ‘Alegría Di Vision’, our latest single, is a sample of it.
Lastly, if you had one message to give to the Hickey fan base, what would it be?
THE HICKEYS: Thanks for the support so far, we hope you evolve with us into this new sound.