Home > Featured > Addressing themes of toxic masculinity and tokenistic gestures

Closing out a benchmark year for the band, the alt/folk three-piece have teamed up with celebrated Australian director Matthew Thorne on a gripping visual narrative to accompany their latest single “Thumbs Up”.

Filmed in an ex-coal mining commuter settlement in the heart of the Rhondda Valley of South Wales, the video follows the story of a young man and his struggles with, and love affairs with, small-town life. 

Intended as a partner story to the short film for The Howl & The Hum’s sensational “Boy Racer” (which Thorne also directed), the video explores themes of brotherhood, fatherhood and masculine connection. Framed against the backdrop of a dead-end town with characters of a vividly real nature, the “Thumbs Up” video bristles with all of the intensity, interconnectivity and drama that comes with living in a close community.

Speaking about how the video came about, Sam Griffiths of The Howl & The Hum says: 

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“I approached Matthew with the song saying we could approach the video with a lens on mental health, masculinity and silence, and he almost immediately answered with this idea encompassing the Rhondda valleys, where serendipitously both of our families are from, so there’s a bunch of odd connections there (family members living on the same street etc).”

While elaborating on the narrative behind the video, director Matthew Thorne says:

“It’s a story of everything that we all know in different shades in the pattern of growth as a young man. A story of late night takeaways (and the fights they cause), of watching Dad who never spoke about his feelings cry as he sings in the Men’s club, of watching your friend wipe the blood from his knuckles after he beat his hands against the brick wall of the Pub after his missus left because that’s how he watched his Dad do it, of Uncles who protect you, and Aunties who throw you out the door. Images of Grandma’s knitting set against porno, early loves, blow ups with close friends & facing fear.”

A one-off single that takes its cues from the works of Jeff Buckley to early Radiohead, “Thumbs Up” is a track of quietly resplendent folk/pop with an aching sense of melancholy. A cathartic confessional that seeps from the soul, it finds singer Sam Griffiths addressing themes of toxic masculinity and tokenistic gestures in the wake of personal tragedies. “This song was written in the silence after suicides of friends, during depressive episodes, and over non-existent conversations about how we communicate our feelings: our highs, our lows, our loves and losses,” he says.

Reflecting on that momentous gig, Griffiths says: 

“After a year of silence, a year after releasing an album that we couldn’t tour, a year of becoming frighteningly familiar with our furniture, probably the most immediately validating thing we’ve done was play the Minster. It’s the symbol of the city that we call home, it’s staggeringly beautiful, and even though the audience wore masks and weren’t allowed to sing or cheer, there was an energy in the room that gave us a chance to bring the unplayed songs to life.”

After a rapturously received tour of the nation in Autumn 2021, which included a two-date residency at Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club, The Howl & The Hum look to kickstart 2022 with a string of intimate dates listed below. 

12 Apr – EDINBURGH, Sneaky Pete’s
13 Apr – DUNDEE, Beat Generator
Tickets on sale now:


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