Published on October 30, 2018 by
  • NOWNESS


For avant-garde outfit HMLTD—formerly known as Happy Meal LTD—music isn’t meant to make you comfortable. The London-based sextet’s live shows are a spectacle of B-movie gore and S&M strutting—imagine a group of Hammer Horror surgeons undertaking an autopsy on the underbelly of popular culture, and you get close to what pop’s outré outsiders are up to. Enter filmmaker Joseph Delaney and producers LEZ Creative, who followed the band on a helter-skelter tour of the UK in order to create this surreal document of a group of artists for whom every day is Halloween.

Delaney explains that he was “unable (or willing)” to bundle himself into the back of a tour bus. Instead, he “caught up with the band on a few dates throughout their 2017 UK tour.” What emerges is haunting, hungry, and a whole lot of fun. “The project is basically a Frankenstein’s monster of my memories of this tour,” explains Delaney. “Some memories were recorded, and others replayed and reimagined.” A helter-skelter succession of twisted takes bombard the viewer, shot with an abundance of gory glee.

The shows captured on film take us from Birmingham to Brighton and, eventually, the Electric Ballroom in London (it’s impossible not to look for a pattern with all these ‘B’ locales). Starting off in England’s North, the band and Delaney travelled to a quiet neighbourhood where, “as night fell,” a “host of weird and wonderful characters appeared from the shadows, dressed in everything from Tudor ruffs to full suede catsuits.” Brighton—next up on the tour—is the jewel in the crown of the UK’s queer nightlife, and saw the band’s risqué performance bleed into the next day: “The spot designated for me to sleep turned into the centre of a party, as the balcony door that had earlier been blown from its hinges let sea air leak into the room, and beat against the remains of my (by that point) thread-thin mental stability,” opines the director. Later, in London, Delaney observed HMLTD’s desire to “create an environment with a clownish kind of fun free from judgement.” Beneath the face paint and pulsating lights, the band fulfil their quixotic destiny as crucifiers of good taste and tight-lipped respectability. And in this way, there’s nothing limited about them.

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HMLTD: Hell is a Place on Earth | NOWNESS

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