An Interview with 2:54.

17 03 2016

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Last February I finally got to interview a band I had been wanting to talk to for quite some time. A band that hold a wealth of importance to me. Besides, any band that references the Melvins in their name is bound to be great, right? I’ve written about 2:54 many times. There is something about their music that just makes me want to write about it. When I listen to their music, I notice things I hadn’t previously done or certain emotions come out. They’ve always struck me as a band you listen to in the dead of night, through headphones whilst the world sleeps. If any band or singer can give you that, then you’ve found something to treasure for life. In an ideal world, I would have typed this interview straight away. I didn’t. I lost my dictaphone, moved house, and thought it was lost forever until I found it in a box under my bed whilst looking for something else. Sometimes I am a world class tool.

I started off by asking Colette and Hannah how their music should be listened to. As I mentioned above, I set the scene for myself- but is that how they want their fans to take in their music? What are the perfect surroundings to listen to their music, or just music in general?

Colette: “All my favourite music I listen to on the move. Train journeys, in the tour van. That’s what you want from a band or record you love, you want it to be transported. And I like that feeling of motion as you listen to it.”

This led onto my fixation of finding bands that are ideal to listen to at night (maybe that’s why I love going to gigs) and I asked them, what it is like to play during the day at festivals like SXSW (who put them on at 2:54 in the afternoon.)

Colette: “It is one of those things that absolutely changes the atmosphere. You can see people more and you definitely do feel more exposed. You can feel more self-conscious than you would normally but then those kind of challenges are exciting even if they are scary. It’s what being in a band is all about, it toughens you up a bit. And at festivals, not everyone is there to see you so there’s that dynamic as well.”

The first time I saw 2:54 live was at the Union Chapel, and I saw them again at St Pancras Old Church. St Pancras was more intimate and was just after The Other I came out, and I’m pretty sure they did most of the record. They came onto the stage with Tender Shoots playing out of the PA and it was so captivating as it echoed through. It felt like something was calling out to us. I’ve seen a few gigs in churches, and it is something I do enjoy. It feels sacred yet strange. What changes when you play in a church? I’m not religious, but the respectful side of me wouldn’t start yelling a string of swear words in there. Obviously 2:54 haven’t got the mouth of a sailor on stage, but you still have to be a like cautious I suppose.

Colette: “We were playing on the graves, which I found a little unnerving (St Pancras.) At the Union Chapel we had a sound monitor that we couldn’t go above.”

Hannah: “And you can’t have too much reverb! In churches, you can’t play too loud as the building can start to crumble.”

I’ve been to a fair amount of gigs in this country at various venues. I sometimes think I’ve worked out which venue is my favourite, but then I go to a gig at a new venue and I fall in love with it. I think it might be impossible for me to pick one place as my favourite venue. Is there any way a band could pick their favourite place to play? What does a venue need in order for a band to feel that they have just set foot into their favourite venue? Some may regard the sound, so may think of certain shows they have played there that gives it sentimental value. When a band based in London are asked this question, you automatically think “Bet they say Brixton Academy!” Fortunately this time, this wasn’t the case.

Colette: “For me, the Brudenell Club in Leeds. It has all my favourite kind of elements. It definitely has that social club vibe that we grew up on. It has that faded glamour, the layout and it’s so warm and welcoming.”

I guess that’s the North all over!

When I listen to a band I always seem to make a beeline for the lyrics first. Some people connect with a sound more than words (and there are some that I feel this way about also) but for the most part- it’s the lyrics. I did my dissertation at university about Punk and Poetry and it seems that sparked it all off again. Words are powerful, and when you find a band or singer that can make your mind expand on all that you see, feel and think- that’s when you know you’ve found something. I remember hearing Orion from The Other I and immediately thinking about when I first heard Siouxsie And The Banshees for the first time. It was dark, otherworldly and magical. I’ve always felt that 2:54’s lyrics are exceptionally sacred. You have to listen very closely to pick up on golden lines that will stay in your head for an age. Easy Undercover once summed up how crap I was being to someone once (more than once) and Blindfold helped me get out of a job that was making me ill. You make these connections and use it as armour. Their first record came out when I was living at home, and I used to take long walks listening to it. The darkness of the songs fit perfectly as I walked through quiet streets cloaked with fog. It fit the songs perfectly, and it killed time. So of course, I had to ask them what their favourite songs/lyrics were to The Other I.

Colette: “Blindfold and Glory Days. It was really cathartic writing Blindfold. And I love that it has a dance melody, a pop melody almost. And the lyrics are full of loads of questions, and anxiety really. I like that all of my favourite songs from the 60s have that- that melancholy.”

Prior to the tour last February, 2:54 did an interview with Rookie magazine (http://www.rookiemag.com/2015/01/theme-song-254/) and there’s a part towards the end of the interview where Colette mentions Horses by Patti Smith (she also mentions her and Hannah’s love for At The Drive-In and The Distillers which is bloody great!) Horses is probably THE most important record of all time, but that’s just my opinion. When I first heard it, I knew I had found something and someone who was going to change my life. I have my records on a few shelves in my room, and Horses is the first one I see every day. It’s a knowing nod on how to get on through life. Horses was the record that spurred on my love for music and poetry. There are moments on Horses that define greatness. Greatness that no other could compare to, greatness that will never happen again. I watched her play the record in full last November and I have never felt that way during and after a show before. It did something, something that stuck with me- much like hearing Horses for the first time. I don’t know many people who hold this amount of love for Patti, and I had to fit it in somehow after reading the Rookie interview. I asked Colette if how Patti writes is an influence.

Colette: “The poetry and the Punk elements- there’s a fearlessness about it that gets me every time. Such a strong sense of self that is completely seductive. I just find her the whole package, and when you first find out about her- it always seems to be at the right time. I first found out about her when I was supposed to be revising for my exams, and my friend had mentioned Horses to me and I just sat there. I was struck by it.”

I think anyone who has listened to Patti, or to Horses can really understand where Colette is coming from. When you listen to Patti you are in awe of what you’re hearing, and it just stays with you. Her live shows are out of this world- and whatever she sets out to do and to make the people feel, she does it. Live shows are a huge thing for me. I love going to gigs and there is nothing better than making sure I am at work well before 9am so I can bring on a panic attack whilst trying to buy tickets. This was shown in all its glory 2 weeks ago when trying to buy tickets to see The Kills. I failed. We don’t talk about it because it makes me and my friend sad. Next time, right? After the anxious feelings pass when you’ve bought tickets, the day slowly comes around where you get to see the band in question. I always want to know what bands want fans to take from their shows- do they want them to go start a band, if anything? Whenever I’ve seen 2:54 I’ve always left wishing I could drum like Alex or play the guitar like Hannah. Anyone I’ve dragged to see them has always said the same thing. There are a handful of bands that I’ve seen that always make me wish I was musically talented, 2:54 are one of them.

Hannah: “We want people to hopefully connect to the performance. We very much do feel like a tight gang on stage and we like being able to share that.”

Colette: “Growing up when we went to gigs, we always wanted to emulate that unifying feeling. I hope for connection, any potential connection is what I hope for.”

As generic as it is to ask- I asked the band who their influences were (not just settling for music based influences.) When I listen to them I can pick up on sounds from bands I love such as Garbage, Sleep and elements of Fugazi. Colette’s voice is gentle but tough when needs to be (like Shirley Manson) Alex’s drumming always takes me back to hearing Fugazi for the first time and the heaviness in Hannah’s guitar playing reminds me of Sleep and Rowland S Howard, but who influences them?

Colette: “I think it is the need to get something out of you – a release.” I think this one line sums up 2:54. The urgency in their songs- the words, the music. It all comes alive when you see them on stage and what better influence to have than that. The need to pull something out of you, and cast it into the unknown. It’s powerful, terrifying and inspiring. You don’t always need a list of bands, singers or writers to be cited as an influence- sometimes it is just the urgency to get it out there and I think that’s the most powerful influence anything can have over us.

I chose to end the interview with a question that, if I was asked would probably cause a mental block but is fine to ask others (especially if they are musicians.)

With a knowing nod, after asking what the favourite line from any song is, Colette answered with the always fitting and forever apt “Jesus died for somebodies sins but not mine.”

 

*At the end of the interview we shared what the first records we bought were. Colette’s was Pearl Jam which led on to a discussion about the Now compilations. There was one that had Enigma (the monk song!) and Enya. Those were the days. And if you must know, the first one I bought was Always & Forever by Eternal. From Woolworths. On cassette.

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