They want the world, and Hands Off Gretel will stop at nothing...
Blending the pop nous of Gwen Stefani with the riffs of prime ‘90s grunge-rock, things should be looking up for Hands Off Gretel.
And back in March the Yorkshire-based band released their second album, I Want The World, to rave reviews.
But thanks to their involvement with online crowdfunding site Pledgemusic, it nearly never happened as the band was left on the verge of financial ruin.
At the start of 2019, without warning, Pledgemusic began failing to pay acts the money pledged to them for their projects. It has since gone into adminstration leaving dozens of bands thousands of pounds out of pocket.
For a band like Hands off Gretel who pride themselves on their DIY ethic, it came as a huge blow.
Bassist Becky Baldwin explains: ‘It was a huge shock because this band, and also in my previous bands, had used it very successfully to launch albums, we’d hit our targets and the platform had been great.
‘We couldn’t have seen it coming. We trusted our own experience and went for it, it just went so wrong and our fans have really taken a hit on it, and I guess we have as well.
‘When we had the campaign live and everything was going well, it was great, and we hit the target – what could go wrong?
‘Everything could go wrong.’
‘It just doesn’t make any sense – and there doesn’t seem to be any regulation to these companies, they’re holding everybody’s money and when it all goes wrong like this, they’ve ripped people off and there seems to be no-one they have to answer to.’
Fortunately, their loyal fanbase understood it wasn't the band’s fault and that has helped carry them through.
‘It was a huge hit for band morale, and we felt so sorry for the fans. The hit was ultimately shared by the fans, but it could have totally crippled the band.
‘The support didn’t dwindle after that and we set up crowdfunding on our own website.’
Becky is the new kid on the block. She filled in for the band on tour back in 2017 after their previous bassist left and became a permament member last May.
‘My old band I Destroy and another band I’m in, Triaxis, we’d been touring on the underground punk and metal scene for a while, and we shared bills with Hands off Gretel a couple of times, which is how I first met them.’
So she was a natural choice for a substitute while the band looked for a full-time replacement.
‘I got to know them better and we talked more about the future of the band, and I said I was actually interested in joining. They were actually advertising for someone else, but I was busy with other projects. I kept on seeing the ad, and thought, actually, I do want to do that… I don’t want someone else to do my job – it’s my job!’
And it was their work ethic and attitude that helped convince her to step up.
‘When I started playing the songs more, I was getting really comfortable with them, but mostly it was getting to know them as people, seeing how dedicated they were and how much work they put into the band – surely these guys are going to get somewhere.
‘None of them have a plan B, this is it, and that’s how I’ve always approached things with my bands, putting my all into it, and it would be so nice to have everyone else matching that effort.
‘Surely if we all work together, this could be a great thing?’
The band was founded by frontwoman Lauren Tate in 2015, and Becky’s relishing playing her part.
‘I’ve been in bands where I was the only woman, and bands that were all female, and this is a really nice balance, I think it’s cool to have this dynamic.
‘It’s nice not to be pigeonholed, like you can do with an all-female band. it’s sad I have to say this, but people really do make assumptions about you if you have a certain number of women in the band.’
• Hands off Gretel play The 1865, Southampton, tomorrow (Saturday, June 22, 2019) the1865.com