Interview 2:54: ‘We Have A Really Clear Idea Of What We Want’

2:54 give Harriet Jennings the 411 on their debut album.

2:54, also known as Colette and Hannah Thurlow, have safely set themselves up as one of the bands to look out for in 2012. Recently signed to Fiction, home of The Cure and Crystal Castles, the sisterly duo are about to release their debut album to a flurry of expectant fans. We caught up with Colette ahead of their biggest headline slot to date to hear how the pair pieced together their LP, with the aid of some extra special production talent.

Obviously you guys have known each other a long time, being sisters and all. How do you think that relationship helps and hinders you?
Hannah and I have just always made music together, prior to 2:54, and we always will. It’s only ever been a strengthening thing for the band.

Did you always know what sort of a sound you wanted to create as 2:54, because you were in a band together before, weren’t you?
Yeah, we were in a little punk band, sort of a band-by-numbers. We were just discovering playing live so we tested it out with that band. Hannah started writing pieces of music and I started writing melodies and lyrics to them. It all happened quite naturally, there were no preconceived ideas about it at all.

Is that the same writing pattern that you still work with now, or has it changed over time?
We work quite separately actually. Hannah will make the entire track, drums, bass, all the guitars, and send me a complete track. I’ll do the melodies and the lyrics and then we’ll meet up and structure it, making a song.

With the album, your press release says that “expectations will be obliterated” - what does that mean?
I guess you’d have to ask whoever wrote it! I don’t know what anyone’s expectations are of us. I know that we’re incredibly proud of the album we’ve made and that’s it, that’s all we can really say.

Will there be something on the record for fans of the older material?
Absolutely, I think ‘Scarlet’ and ‘You’re Early’ are big indicators of the way the album sounds but we wanted each song to have its own little world and each song to stand on its own as well. I feel there’s a thread between them all but I feel they’ve all got their own little atmosphere.

When putting together the final tracklisting, was it difficult to work out what of the older material to keep in?
‘Scarlet’ and ‘Creeping’ are on the album, they just felt right. I see it as a family of songs and it felt like the best fit so that’s why they stayed.

Do you think the album comes across as cohesive, if some tracks are older than others?
For us, it absolutely works as a whole. We wanted to take our time and make something that felt complete and representative of our sound at this point in time.

When did the writing process begin? How much of it changed in the studio?
We don’t write in the studio. Basically, when Hannah and I are satisfied with our demos, we go and replicate them in a professional recording situation. We certainly don’t use recording time to expand or embellish on tracks. We have a really clear idea of what we want.

You recorded with Rob Ellis, didn’t you? Did he have much input, if you were very set on what you wanted?
I think because we worked with him on the EP and Rob’s heritage in music is massively appealing to us and he’s an incredible drummer, he found us some incredible drum sounds for the album. He found some things that we didn’t even know about or know how to do. That was fascinating for us. But like I said, we had a very clear idea of what we wanted so we went in and we made the record.

Was he always who you had in mind to work with?
Yeah, it just felt like the natural choice. It worked for the three tracks that we did with him before.

I read that you guys are self-taught on guitar, is that right?
Yeah, Hannah taught herself the guitar when she was a teenager. I don’t even know how she did it. I think just by listening to songs. Eventually I asked her to teach me a few chords and so she did and that was it really. We’ve never had any formal lessons… ever.

Do you think that shaped the album at all, not being tied down to any formal rules or traditional regulations?
Potentially. It’s all we know so I wouldn’t really be able to tell!

You’ve toured with quite a wide range of musicians in the past, from The Maccabees to Wild Beasts to Warpaint - whose fans did you feel you fit in best with?
We’ve been fortunate to have good responses from most of the crowds we’ve performed in front of, as much as a support band can, really. There have definitely been things that match better to our sound - like Warpaint, there’s a lineage there - but overall it’s been a warm response.

Do you prefer your own headline dates or bigger support slots?
We’ve played so few headline shows, we’ve only played two or three so it’s completely new terrain for us. It’s exciting to headline, it’s something we hope we can do more of but it’s also incredible to experience different venues, different places and different support bands as well. I think being a support band has been incredibly educational and fundamental in our development as a band.

Do you have any plans for a headline tour this year?
We’ve got a headline stint coming up with Chelsea Wolfe and Deaf Club, which we’re really looking forward to because we’re really big fans of both bands, and then a few festivals in the summer, I think.

Do you have any goals for the album or anything you’d like it to achieve?
We’re really proud of it, the four of us, Alex and Joel, the boys too. We just want it to be out in the world now. We just want to let it go and see what happens.

2:54’s self-titled debut album will be released on 28th May via Fiction Records.

Taken from the May 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

Tags: 2:54, Features

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