Iain Cook and Craig B., former members of Glasgow alternative/post-rock band Aereogramme have formed another band, called The Unwinding Hours. To merely call their music beautiful, fragile, melodic, passionate and heart-wrenching wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface. TDOA writer Amy attempts to unfold the beautiful origami of The Unwinding Hours.
TDOA: What do you think makes your music different than Aerogramme? Clearly different sound, but what makes it fundamentally different?
Craig: I think The Unwinding Hours aren’t that far removed from Aereogramme’s last album “My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go” so I just see it as a natural progression from where we left off. I personally feel I learned a lot of lessons from my time in Aereogramme and although I’m very proud of the music we made in that band, I think that The Unwinding Hours are less schizophrenic in a musical sense as Aereogramme sometimes could be. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that four people were writing in Aereogramme where as it’s only Iain and I writing this time around. We are much more relaxed about the writing process this time around as well. There are no goals other than trying to enjoy ourselves.
TDOA: You mention on your website that many of the songs on the record are about relationships and their various states. Why do you think relationships make such good fodder for music?
Craig: It’s the one thing everyone can relate to I guess. You have good and bad relationships with all the people you interact with on a daily basis and it’s also something I feel I can be honest and genuine about. I can only write songs about personal experiences and so relationships are always the things that i come back to. Writing these songs is a very cathartic experience for me and I know that I have found a lot of enjoyment over the years when someone else has expressed an experience or an emotion in their songs. In fact, I was ranting at my co-worker today about this very point. I find it very interesting that millions of people find “you’re beautiful” by James Blunt a good song. It’s an awful song and yet it sold millions because of the power of the simple fact that expressing such a basic idea can have such a powerful effect on people. I wish something so banal didn’t sell so much but that’s nothing new in the music industry.
TDOA: Which track on this album is most illustrative of your sound? What, musically, did you want this album to get across?
Craig: “There are worse things than being alone” is quite a good example of what we enjoy doing. The first part of the song is just voice and acoustic guitar backed up by a subtle string arrangement but the second half of the song was intentionally written to be pretty uncomfortable. We wanted it to be heavy but without resorting to the usual tricks so it builds slowly and swells until it starts to collapse and break apart and generally express the intention behind the lyric “Get me out of here”. The two sides to that song illustrate the dynamics that we enjoy working with and hopefully you get a sense of that listening to the whole album.
TDOA: How do you think the contrast between slow-burn, quieter type songs and wall-of-guitar sounds contributes to the overall feel of the record?
Craig: I think they just back up what we hope the emotional impact of the song needed. “Child” is a very bitter song and so needed a much darker sound than say, “Little One” which is far lighter and relaxed. “There are worse things….” needed to be uncomfortable and claustrophobic and “Knut” needed to feel like an escape from something. We worked on the individual tracks without worrying about an overall feel. We do realize that the next album needs to have some faster songs on it though so we don’t repeat ourselves. I need to stop writing in ¾ so much as well. Our audiences want to dance sometimes but they can only waltz!
TDOA: What do you think The Unwinding Hours is doing differently than any other indie band in the industry? What makes you guys unique?
Craig: I’m Scottish. We are terrible at selling ourselves. I could write you an in depth description of bands that I love, but I can’t write about myself because there is a wee voice at the back of my head that says “You sound like a dick”. In fact, I just wrote a paragraph and instantly deleted it. I guess the only thing I can say is that I genuinely think we don’t fit into any specific category. I know some people put us into the “post rock” genre but that is a very lazy tag to put on us. I certainly don’t think we are unquantifiable though. It’s not that weird.
TDOA: When I initially listened to Knut, I was concerned whether or not my speakers were working. That being said, what do you think that quietness lends to the record?
Craig: Hee hee. We wanted Knut to go from the very quiet beginning to a massive ending and then just when you think it has reached it’s peak…..it takes one more step. I think music is far more powerful when you have dynamics like that. Albums that do the one thing from beginning to end lose their appeal very quickly to me. I love heavy music but I much prefer the bands that fluctuate and try different ideas instead of just hammering the same idea over ten songs. Converge do this very well, I think. By the end of “Jane Doe” or “Axe to Fall” you have experienced a very brutal album but made all the more exciting by the other things they try instead of just repeatedly kicking you in the balls for 45 minutes. Metaphorically speaking, of course…..
TDOA: What do you think the strengths of this debut? Lyrics? Sound?
Craig: Again, I just couldn’t write “lyrics” as that wee voice would be calling me a “wanker” if I did. I think one of the album’s strengths is that we took our time writing and recording it. There were never any goals or deadlines. We were just happy taking our time and writing the music we genuinely wanted to make without worrying who would like it or where we would fit in. So i would hope that there is a sense of honesty and genuine passion for music that comes across because that was the only thing we were driven by.
TDOA: If you could choose only one song from the album for TDOA readers, which would it be?
Craig: I would probably say “Peaceful Liquid Shell”. It’s the one song that people always seem to mention whenever they happen to be talking about the album. One reviewer mentioned that some of the guitars near the end of the song sounded like a human scream. We took that as a compliment.
To learn more about the band, visit their website at http://www.theunwindinghours.co.uk
Catch the band live:
Oct 17 2010 Oran Mor – Glasgow Glasgow, Renfreshir, UNITED KINGDOM
Oct 24 2010 Ekko Utrecht, NETHERLANDS
Oct 25 2010 lagerhaus bremen, GERMANY
Oct 26 2010 Forum Bielefeld, GERMANY
Oct 27 2010 Club Schocken Stuttgart, GERMANY
Oct 28 2010 Hafen 2 Offenbach, GERMANY
Oct 29 2010 FZW Dortmund, GERMANY
Oct 30 2010 W2 Hertogenbosch, The Nether, NETHERLANDS