Formed in London back in 2010, 2:54 are Colette and Hannah Thurlow, two sisters who specialise in shoegaze-esque alt-rock that falls somewhere between Warpaint and Esben and the Witch. After two years on the road, opening for the likes of Wild Beasts, The Maccabees and The xx, the duo are now unveiling their self-titled debut.
We caught up with Colette about the history of the band, the making of the album and their experiences working with producer Rob Ellis. Read the interview below.
Hi Colette, can you explain the history of the group and the inspiration behind your name please?
Hannah and I have been in the band for over two years now and we met Alex and Joel – our rhythm section – pretty early after we made ‘Creeping’.
The name “2:54” refers to 2 minutes 54 seconds into our favourite Melvins song, ‘The History of Bad Men’ on the album A Senile Animal. In the band, we find ourselves obsessed with particular moments in songs, going, “I like that bit, have you heard it?” So for us it was that particular moment in that Melvins track.
Did you and Hannah grow up in a musical household?
Our parents don’t play instruments but we’re from a music-loving family. There was always music on in the home, and hearing stuff like The Band, Rory Gallagher and The Pogues was definitely very influential. It ignited that first passion for music.
Who would you cite as your main influences, musically, and why?
Bands I love are people like Fleetwood Mac, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man… The first album I saved up to buy was Pearl Jam Vs. but I was also massively into R&B. I really loved, and still love, artists like Aaliyah.
How long did it take to write and record your debut?
Over the last couple of years, Hannah and I were constantly writing – she’d send me the track and I’d do the melodies and the lyrics, and we’d restructure/finish the song together – and it reached a point where we’d arrived at the family of songs that we wanted to make up the album. We had two weeks to record it in Monnow Valley in Wales, which is this incredible isolated studio in the middle of the countryside. It was a really great, immersive experience.
Your debut was produced by Rob Ellis, who has a really impressive track record with female artists like PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi. Is that why you chose to work with him? And what do you think he brought to your sound?
Certainly. He has such an incredible musical heritage, and we’re inspired by the work he’s produced. We first met him when he worked on the B-side for the Scarlet EP and we got on really well, so it seemed a fitting choice to work with him again for the main body of the album.
We went to Rob with complete songs, so we weren’t going into the studio to explore anything or embellish anything; we were there just to learn what a professional recording experience is all about. Rob taught us loads about the science of sound: y’know, how to get sound out of a room and all these things we never knew about before. The whole experience was a privilege and we learned a lot.
What were your musical and thematic reference points for the record?
We don’t really have any pre-conceived ideas about the sound and we were just focused on making the songs for ourselves. I guess you write the songs because you’re compelled to, not for any other reason. Maybe it is cathartic but there wasn’t any influence other than we just wanted to create something.
I think lyrically I’m really inspired by the music – I respond instinctively to a track when I hear it. I never try to analyse it too much.
Is there a track you’re most proud of on the album?
I’m proud of all of them. They just feel like a unit so I’m reluctant to isolate one, sorry... (Laughs) We’re happy for people to listen to it however they want, but it feels like a cohesive body of work to us; it goes on a particular journey.
You’ve toured extensively with some incredible bands. If you had to invite one of them back to open for you, who would it be and why?
Oh god, I’d have all of them (laughs)… Er… Oh god, I don’t know! We’ve been fortunate enough to have been touring from day one and touring with incredibly supportive bands. I think we’ve learned something from every band we’ve played with.
They’ve all been quite different as well: touring with The Maccabees and touring with Wild Beasts, you get very different crowds. And being fans of the bands and being able to watch their show every night, it’s just all really educational and you find yourself aspiring to that level of confidence and prowess.
Are you going to be touring for most of the rest of 2012, then? And what can audiences expect from your live shows?
I believe so (laughs). Yeah, it kicks in. We’ve got a London show in June and then we head to America for three weeks. We went to New York before Christmas, and to SXSW recently where we did a few dates, but this is the first proper stint, so we can’t believe it – it’s really exciting.
Our live show? It’s big and loud and energetic, and I hope it’s got soul: it has for us.
Touring is a notoriously intense experience – do you think it makes it easier doing it with your sister?
It’s all I’ve known so I don’t know. We’ve always been close and we’ve always hung out but getting to play music together all the time… It’s the best, y’know? It definitely helps having your sister with you on the road.
Ok, aside from your record, what album should we be most looking forward to this year and why?
I’m really looking forward to The xx album. I’m really excited for their return and I can’t wait to see them play.
And finally, what are your ambitions ultimately for the band?
Being able to do this as a job is amazing. But we just hope to tour a lot more and be a great live band. And record more albums, hopefully!