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Hudson Taylor made for Christmas

Alfie (right) and Harry came to London to make it as musicians when they were still very young and in spite of the advice they were given.

Alfie of Hudson Taylor tells David Hennessy about the band’s festive single, how they survived after coming to London as teenagers with the single-minded aim of making it in music and what it is like to be in a band with his brother. 

“It’s kind of come out of nowhere,” Alfie of Hudson Taylor tells The Irish World of the band’s Christmas song, How I Know it’s Christmas. “The song had been kicking around for a while. I think maybe five years ago I started writing it in Dublin and then every Christmas I would be reminded of the song and write another few lines or another little section to it.

“Earlier on this year I played it to Harry and he was like, ‘Look, that’s great, let’s try release it for Christmas’. Then we recorded it in the height of the summer when we were over in the states, 32 degrees in Nashville: Absolutely roasting recording Christmas songs. Then we made the music video at Halloween.”

Hudson Taylor is made up of Alfie and his brother Harry. Their debut album Singing for Strangers was released in 2015, reaching 3 in the Irish charts and 24 in the British charts. The follow-up is due early  next year.

The Christmas number is accompanied by a fun Christmassy video that features Alfie’s girlfriend, Gabrielle Aplin: “She accidentally starred in it. She was just coming to hang out but of course she’s beautiful and a wonderful actress so we said, ‘Please come join us’.

“I’ve done my fair share of videos for her as well so I had to have her in there. At the moment we’re both releasing albums so it’s really nice, she releases a single and we release a single the next week or she does a video one week, we do a video the next week. It’s nice for myself and herself to be busy at the same time and going through a lot of the same things.

“Hers is on a completely different scale, she’s a superstar. We’re buskers. She’s the queen of Christmas, she’s very busy this time of year.”

This is hardly true anymore but Harry and Alfie did started by busking on Grafton Street and the boys will be back in Dublin for the festivities, playing six nights in Whelan’s in the lead up to 25 December: “One of my favourite things on Christmas Eve is just to go to the local pub where me and Harry grew up.

“It seems like the whole neighbourhood, the whole area, all come and have a pint on Christmas Eve in this one bar. I’d be hoping to get involved in a busk as well on Christmas Eve on Grafton Street.

“That’s what the song’s about. It’s about Ireland at Christmas time. There’s something so special about it. There’s just something magic. People are a lot nicer around Christmas time I find. There’s a lovely feeling and spirit in the air. I’m especially excited to be home for Christmas now. This song was an easy write in that respect because it was just listing off things that remind me of home at Christmas time.”

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The brothers have come a long way since they packed up and came to London as teenagers with the sole intention of making it in the music industry: “Luckily there had been lots of bands and lots of people who we had met and we were going in their wake, so that had made it a little bit easier but also we had some family in London. That always helps as well so we had places to stay the odd time if we were really stuck.

“It was tough. I’m not gonna lie. The first two years, I don’t know how we survived in hindsight now off like £30 a week, we were living in London: Crazy stuff but an amazing experience for us. We had family, friends, teachers at the time saying, ‘It’s a bad idea, don’t do it’.

“We managed to get through somehow. I don’t know what happened, we were just very lucky. We got offered loads of great gigs, we worked hard and met some nice people.

“But out mum brought us up to know we could do whatever we really wanted to do. We loved doing music at the time, still love making music now. I’ve learned so much in the process and so happy we made that decision. London really got us out of Ireland in a nice way for a couple of years and made us appreciate what we have.”

What is it like to be in a band with your brother? “Unlike maybe a friend or someone who isn’t related to you, Harry is going to be my brother tomorrow whether he’s really pissed off with me or I’m pissed off at him. We’re still gonna end up at the same Christmas table next year.”

So there is no chance of this pair ending up like the Gallaghers? “That’s what not to do. Maybe they were like the first huge brother group in the 90s. We were huge fans of Oasis. Okay, they didn’t find it easy so we’re not going to find it easy. But then again every band is so different, every situation is so different.”

How I Know it’s Christmas is out now. The new album Loving Everywhere I Go is out in February.

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