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Baker's Dozen

The Business Of Forever: Theo Hutchcraft Of Hurts' Favourite Albums
Simon Price , October 6th, 2015 12:04

The lead singer of classy, continent-conquering synth duo Hurts, about to release their third album, Surrender, goes from Phil Spector to Nine Inch Nails via UK hip-hop and Bulgarian folk songs as he picks his top 13


Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
It's strange that this is not heralded, outside of a certain circle. It's always classed as one of the best metal albums or best rock albums, but it should be one of the best albums full stop. Firstly what I love about it is the extremity. It's so intense. I love music that's extreme. I love artists who push the boundaries. Artists like Diamanda Galás, who I was going to put in here. And this record is as dark as it gets. There's no Cannibal Corpse record or Marilyn Manson record that's as dark as this. It's visceral, and it's horrifying in parts, and I find that so invigorating. The only other album that's come close, for me, is The Drift by Scott Walker, which is terrifying, scary to listen to.

People never seem to 'get' Nine Inch Nails, somehow. From around the same time as The Downward Spiral, The Holy Bible and In Utero are dark, but there are ways into Manic Street Preachers and Nirvana. The Downward Spiral is more alternative and abstract. There are routes into those bands but there aren't many routes into Nine Inch Nails. I think what The Downward Spiral also has are production values that are unparalleled. The production is out of control. The way Trent Reznor experimented with sound, and the way he made the sounds in that house, the Sharon Tate murder house on Cielo Drive, with all the tape recorders and TVs and weird stuff like that, was insane really.

And I find it weird that it's classified as a metal album, because it's an electronic record really. It's as influential and important as a Kraftwerk record. He manages to be an artist that people think is a metal act - "Oh, it's like Marilyn Manson, oh, it's like Pantera" - but he's not. He's an electronic act. He likes Prince as much as I do. 'Closer' could be a Prince song! Which I find so weird. 'Closer' reminds me of that side of the world where strippers wear leather and there are people from Killing Zoe, the heroin addicts and bank robbers, that sort of disgusting but also alluring world that he creates. There's a sound of pain, too. And I can't listen to it every day. You've got to be in the right frame of mind. But I love 'Ruiner', which is just an insane barrage of noise. And 'Reptile' is one of the sexiest songs I've ever heard. Despite how dark it is, it's really erotic, in a real way. You can smell and taste the sexiness in it. It's weird, for one of the darkest albums of all time to have one of the sexiest songs of all time. And also one of the most tender, in 'Hurt'. How do you arrive at those moments? Then you've got something like 'March Of The Pigs', which is just full-on, just a noise, like, "Aaaargh!" It's a very human record, that's what I like about it. There's lots of real sound, lots of analogue textures in it. And that's what makes it all the more painful and intense. And 'Hurt' is just extraordinary, a song that any of the world's greatest songwriters would be proud to have written, an all-time classic. Just as a song, a piece of music, the chords, the melody. But the way he delivers it, and the fact that it is as impassioned as it is, takes it to another level. In a way, it could be melodramatic, but the way he delivers it and the way he means it makes it so destructive, if you know what I mean. It just tears you to pieces. No, it wasn't the reason for the name of our band! We could have been called The Pigs! When I found out no one else had been called Hurts, I was like, YES!