AS THE Saturday of last year’s Great Escape festival drew to a close, there was only one band on the lips of music lovers.

HMLTD, the flamboyant, eclectic group fronted by Henry Spychalski, were set for a high-profile late night slot at The Prince Albert. And the queuing punters were not disappointed as the band justified the hype and delivered a memorable performance.

An HMLTD show is an electrifying and occasionally disorientating affair, a jumble of flailing limbs, elaborate costumes, spiky guitars and electronic breakdowns. It’s little wonder that they’ve been described as one of the most exciting new acts in the UK by the music media. According to Henry, entertainment is always at the forefront of the band’s collective mind.

“There’s nothing I hate more than seeing a band and not feeling like the people on stage are recognising the audience,” he says. “I think it’s extremely, extremely arrogant.

“If you’ve been given a platform like that you owe something to the people who have come to watch you. It takes an incredibly brash and solipsistic attitude to just stand there and play guitar. We would never do that.”

Henry met his bandmates a week after moving to London to start a philosophy degree – although studying was only ever a means to get a student loan and make music. “A lot of the time you have these wild dreams and try to plan them out, but I stumbled into exactly what I was looking for in London,” says the singer.

You wouldn’t know it from Henry’s frenzied stage persona now but he struggled to find the courage to sing in HMLTD’s first practices. The group were called Happy Meal Ltd back then but a lawsuit threat from McDonalds put pay to that.

“When I first got asked to be in the band I had never sung before but I’d always known it was what I wanted to do,” he says. “But I was just extremely scared. I turned up to the first rehearsal and didn’t sing or say a word into the microphone and that continued for about three months.

“I wasn’t doing anything, I was just stood in the corner. It took a very long time for me to come out of my shell.”

The singer says it was sheer desire to perform that eventually gave him the impetus to overcome his fears. Since those fledgling sessions HMLTD have established themselves as a band of great breadth, often incorporating various elements and genres into one song.

It may take a while to get accustomed to the group’s varied sound, but, once you do, it’s intoxicating. This eclectic approach, says Henry, is down to the group’s mixed influences. The frontman says he barely listens to out-and-out rock music.

“If we were six people who all had the same tastes I think the music we made would be very boring,” he says. “I’m personally grateful for the fact that none of us agree on anything.”

In some ways HMLTD – with all their diversity – are the perfect band for the digital age, where playlist culture has overtaken traditional albums in listening habits of the youth.

“The notion of the album is dying,” says Henry. “It’s an irrelevant medium and nobody really cares about it. All music is coming from the same place anyway – that emotional realm. That’s what really matters.”

Of course, trying to do something original in music brings its own complications; such as exaggerated media attention. Henry says he never reads anything about HMLTD online and uses a horse racing analogy when talking about the hype – “you have to look forward like a horse with blinkers”.

He adds: “It’s impossible to be oblivious to it [the hype] but if you’re start paying attention to what people are writing about you, you’re screwed.”

If Henry ever does find himself being distracted by external factors outside his music, he can always rely on the “zen” experience of live performance.

“When you’re on stage it’s impossible to think about anything else but the show,” he says. “In that sense it’s almost meditation – it’s the perfect form of therapy."

The Haunt, Brighton, Tuesday, February 13,