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Interview: The Hunna’s Daniel Dorney on New Album, Returning to Their Roots and Justin Bobby

Ahead of the release of their fourth studio album, self titled The Hunna, Music Existence spoke with The Hunna guitarist Daniel Dorney. Catching up before their gig in Manchester, England, Daniel reflected on the creation of their newest album, strides they’ve taken regaining control as a band (after well-documented label issues,) their fans unyielding support, and returning to the road. The 13-track album chronicles the progress of their new optimistic outlook and finds them returning to their garage band roots. The three-piece, composed of Ryan Potter (vocals/guitar), Dan Dorney (guitar) and Jack Metcalfe (drums), are now signed to independent label Believe, and as a result have reclaimed their own power, autonomy, and level of concentration.

Encapsulating a wide range of emotions and attitudes, the album plays like a series of nostalgia, reflecting back on snapshots of life, while still moving forward. Dorney is all smiles and his perspective on the band’s current status is infectiously confident. Despite the turbulent road they have taken, The Hunna have landed on two feet and are prepared to take off sprinting.

A Conversation with Daniel Dorney of The Hunna.

Your new self titled album comes out this Friday and you are under a new label and new management. What was your process in creating new music?

With the new management, they’ve been incredible. They’re Raw Power Management. They look after bands like Breaking Benjamin, My Bloody Valentine, The Mars Volta, and so on. They got us as people and we get on really well. The whole writing process they let us crack on and do what we wanted to do without any pressures. They let us do what we do best, which is write rock music. Tracks like “Trash” for instance is a really hard hitting track that’s not exactly commercially friendly, but it just felt like something we had to do. It was a way to express ourselves through that kind of track, about the industry and labels and being forced to do things we didn’t want to do. Our management are good friends with Gil Norton who produced our new record. He’s worked with Foo Fighters, Pixies, so on, so it was just kind of perfect. He’s an absolute legend. Everything just fit really perfectly. It was nice to get back to our roots and play rock music and record with a rock producer. We’ve had a really great experience recording all the songs on the new record really.

You can really hear in the music that you guys are having fun with it.

Yeah, exactly. That’s what we wanted, as well. We wanted to be us and write what we wanna write, say what we wanna say, and sound how we wanna sound. It’s been brilliant. We’ve been actually playing the album across the tour start to finish before it’s out. It’s been really, really cool. At the end of the set we play about 35 minutes of Hunna classics and stuff, so we give them the best of both worlds. It’s just nice to play the new album and see reactions, and afterwards people are just like blown away and can’t wait to hear the record. It’s been amazing.

That’s a great way to get fan reactions and also get them hyped up for the actual release of the album as well.

Exactly, it’s super cool. And it’s quite ballsy, but we’re a ballsy band and it’s going down super well.

Is this the true Hunna? Would you say this is the music you’ve wanted to be making all along?

Yeah, I mean we love our album one, two, and three, it’s just naturally genres sometimes change and you kind of adapt to what you’re influenced by at the time. We love every record and every record is our baby. But we’re just at that age now where we’re experienced and this record is the record which we are so happy with and it’s exactly where we want to be.

You’ve said your last album was your take on righting wrongs and reintroducing yourself to people. You’ve really cut your teeth and embarked on quite the ride since then. Where do you go from there? How does any new music pick up from that point?

Yeah, the third record was more us, especially Ryan [Potter] lyrically, having a lot to say and coming out our old management. We had a really rough ride and a really hard time on our first management and label. He was the biggest crook in the industry and completely fucked us over. Leaving from that, we felt like we really wanted to express ourselves and put it into that kind of record. At that time it felt right and it felt good. We did it in LA with John Feldy and had a lot of guest writers like Pete Wentz, Joshua Dunn, Travis Barker, and phem, and loads of people. It’s from that period until now though, that we’ve just kind of become more positive and optimistic and back on track doing what we love doing. Ryan’s really a writer and writes lyrically about experiences and how he feels. He doesn’t like to write pragmatically, ‘cause he says he needs to feel something. He needs to enjoy singing what he is singing about. I guess we’re quite emotional musicians.

That’s what makes it such a compelling listen. It allows people to relate to it, even if they haven’t been in your exact situation, but you still touch on a lot of universal emotions.

Yeah, that’s good. That’s what we want though.

On your last album, you mentioned how you worked with a lot of bigger names like John Feldman and Josh Dunn. Did those experiences carry over into this new album at all? Were there any tracks you had worked on then that didn’t make the cut, or anything of that sort?

No, not really on. With those guys it was really in the moment. We were just kind of writing with Feldy and it was super awesome. Feldy is so crazy, he’ll just pick up the phone and like, Pete Wentz will be there. We’ve learned a few bits from them. I kind of guess when you’re writing songs with people you’ll pick up techniques from one another.

Did you work with any other writers on this album or was this solely just the three of you guys?

It was pretty much just us three. We kind of locked ourselves away in Jack’s studio and just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. We compiled so much music together. We wrote pretty much everything together. Some people brought some ideas in, and obviously when you have an idea, it evolves, you put some drums down, the rhythm might change, but yeah… mainly just us three, this one. That’s really why we say we’re going back to our roots and back to how we first started when we’d rehearse every week and use up our last bit of money to book a rehearsal room to write music and just jam together. We always feel like that’s what works best for our band.

It’s organic and true to you. How has coming out of the pandemic affected how you make music together?

It was difficult at the time. We tried to do everything we could online and we did a lot of writing sessions and meetings and live stream gigs and stuff. It was just really, really weird. I think at first people were like ‘Oh this is fun! This is amazing! You can do this, and that’ and then eventually it kind of hit a hole. Like I said, we really need to be in a rehearsal room together, and jam and write with our instruments live. We work best doing that kind of stuff. And we are also at our best when we are doing live shows. That’s our forte. I know Tiktok took off during Covid, and the backlash of that became like, artists getting signed through Tiktok, being Tiktok stars and all that. That’s cool, to each their own, but there is just something as a band that you want to do and you don’t want to do.  From our old experience and from the old people we worked with, the recommendations of what we should do on Tiktok and how we should be, ya know it’s just not what we wanna do. It’s not who we are as a band. We love getting on stage, playing shows, and rocking out. So yeah, it was a bit of a weird one, but it really taught us a lot. It’s just really great to be back on tour, hitting the road and playing shows again, seeing fans. It’s just awesome, I’m happy to be back.

You guys are known for taking risks and making music on your own terms. This album really reflects that. Is there a song you think most embodies this spirit on the album?

Oh that’s tough. Every song is our baby and they all have a certain emotion. As a whole, all of them together as an album just relates to how we are now. I can’t pick just one, I’m really sorry!

The song “Fugazi” is a really fun and unapologetic track. I’ve enjoyed listening to the lyrics because each time I pick out something new I hadn’t heard before. I noticed that you name check some people like Justin Bobby and Miley Cyrus. What’s the story there?

I’ve only watched The Hills like once. I didn’t really know who Bobby was. But Ryan and Jack love him, they think he’s a bit of a legend. It’s like a Justin Bobby, free on his Harley kinda thing. There’s some cool references. And obviously Miley is a badass and she’s killing what she’s doing. So Ryan just thought it would be quite a funny, cheeky thing to put in a track. Funny thing as well is that we might have a little video coming out soon with one of them in it.

Oh that’s exciting! With the singles you’ve released from the album, “Fugazi,” “Trash,” “Untouched Hearts,” and “Apologies,” they each touch on different elements and show different sides to you as a band. “Apologies” is a softer track, compared to say “Fugazi,” they are sonically very different. What was it that made you pick these as singles? Did they stand out more on the album?

They just felt really, really good to us. Kind of taking it back again, to like the early 2000s, “Apologies” is like our Weezer kinda track, we wanted to throw it back, be more organic. It was just a really catchy number. So it’s cool to have a really catchy hook in those choruses with that sonic garage band, raw rock and roll sound. That’s kind of same with “Fugazi,” it’s kind of like a fun, throwaway track, live in the moment, live your best life vibe. We wanted to put that kind of positive energy vibe out there in those selections. Like you said, there are lots of different emotions and vibes, that this time just felt really good to put out.

Absolutely. And the album kicks off with an instrumental track, “The Storm”. Why did you chose to start the album off with that, opposed to “Trash” being the official opener?

I think it just felt right. The guys had the really cool spacey, turnstiley track at the time. It just built really well. The rhythm came in,  Jack and Ryan on the kit and guitar, then I put the cool lead over. That same lead I’m ending the track on “The Calm” with, so it felt cool. We’ve been influenced before by bands that have done stuff like that. Bombay Bicycle Club, one of their albums, with the same melody acoustically, we thought it would be cool to do something we’ve never done. Like the calm after the storm, but being reversed.

Really cool. It kind of catches you off guard when you first begin the album too, because like you said, it is different from anything you guys have done before.

Yeah, definitely. It’s even been really cool starting our sets off with it. It’s really dope, really atmospheric. We have like the giant 3D cherry symbol hanging by a chain and it flashes on, we come on, the band comes in. It’s a really magical moment live, it’s lovely. It’s almost like it was meant to be a live intro track, it works really well.

What in your career to date is your proudest moment? Is there anything particular that sticks out for you?

There’s been so many, we’ve been doing this for a while now. There’s been so many accomplishments and there’s still gonna be more. It’s just crazy. There’s been amazing things like playing Reading and Leeds main stage, playing Australia, so many amazing places and things. And this tour is amazing, getting to album four is amazing. The list is endless to be honest. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself. We’ve done so much but there is still so much ahead, it’s pretty gnarly.

Do you feel like you guys still have anything left to prove?

Just want to be the best band ever, man. Just to keep prevailing, keep being true to ourselves, keep writing music that means something to some people. Like some people on this tour have come up to us and said ya know, we’ve like saved them or given them a reason to live, in so many deep level ways. It’s just amazing, that is such an accomplishment. Changing someone’s life or saving people from the music you create with your best friends is just such a good feeling. That’s what it is all about really.

You have a really strong fan base that have stood by you all these years. You’ve done a lot to give back to your fans as well, like during the pandemic you hosted fan listening parties over Zoom and things like that. Now being back out of quarantine, has this changed your relationship with your fans at all? Or how you begging to consider how to present or create your music at all, with the fans in mind?

It’s always about the fans. At the end of the day we wouldn’t be here without them. We try to give back as much as possible and we’ll always put ourselves out there to do as much as we can for them. On this tour, we’re going to the merch stand every night straight after we finish our show. We want to meet as much of them as possible and do photos and share stories and all that kind of stuff. We don’t want charge for it, or be like that. We’ve always just tried to be there for them because they’re always there for us. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. So if it’s for instance lockdown, we’d do listening parties and we try to message back and comment back and DMs on all platforms. We’re very grateful for the fans and being in the position we are in. It’s the perfect harmony, working relationship really.

Now that you’ve been playing the songs live for the fans, is there any particular track that has gotten the best fan reaction?

“You Can’t Sit With Us” is going pretty crazy. I think it’s ‘cause it’s such a fast rock number, people have been opening pits and crowd surfing and stuff. But then “Untouched Hearts” has been going down really well. It’s kind of cool to see the crowd move in a different way, they’re kind of swaying and bopping and loving it. “Sold My Soul” people are kind of quite nostalgic and looking up. That one live is really vibey and we kind of go hard at the end. So those three are going down really really well, to be honest with you.

That must make it more fun for you guys to play them too.

Yeah definitely. Their reaction kind of picks us up. Sometimes you’re tired and have been moving so much, then it’s like the people in front of you are going hard and you’re like shit, let’s go, rocking out. Their energy gives us energy, that’s for sure.

What should fans look forward to in the future?

You can pre-order the album if you haven’t already. That would be really awesome, really helpful. America, we will be back next year and we are stoked, and we’ve missed you.

You can listen to The Hunna out everywhere now via Believe.

The Hunna Online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube | Spotify | Apple Music 

About Emma Furrier

Boston-based music writer and reviewer. Passionate about rock and roll, vinyl collecting, and any dog I’ve ever met.

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