2:54 is a rock band which formed in 2010 in London, England. The band consists of Colette Thurlow (vocals, guitar), Hannah Thurlow (guitar), Joel Porter (bass) and Alex Robins (drums). Drawing comparisons to Warpaint, My Bloody Valentine and being added as the opener for The XX, has caused quite a stir in the industry. In face, their debut record is one of the best we’ve heard this year.
We caught up with Colette about the history of the band, the making of the album and their experiences working with producer Rob Ellis.
TDOA: The sound on your album is fantastic. Can we start by getting technical with you? First, can you tell us a bit about the amps, guitars and effects pedals that you used on this record?
CT: Thank You. We recorded the album in Monow Valley, Wales. There was a huge live room which was great to track drums in. For the main body of guitar work we used a Fender Jaguar reissue and an old Telecaster. Both running through a vintage Fender deluxe, Fender DeVille amp and also running though an old vintage Ampeg bass amp. Great tones! I love experimenting with different pedals, I’m an avid pedal collector so I brought a lot with me.
We also discovered some incredible reverb sounds using the rack gear that was in the studio.
TDOA: I’m intrigued with the fact that you worked with Rob Ellis in recording your early work and the first album. I loved him as a drummer with Laika and wonder about his influence on the rhythm tracks on the songs, given that you’d already recorded demos of the songs. Did his background lend much influence in the finished product?
CT: Working with Rob Ellis and David Pye was such a educational experience for us. Colette and I had very clear ideas of how we wanted the songs to sound going into the process, so it was very exciting to see how we could capture the songs/sounds in a professional studio with Rob and David. Learning with them about the science of sonics was really interesting! Rob is also an incredible drummer, he was able to set up some amazing kits and sounds.
TDOA: And then you enlist Alan Moulder to mix the album?! Do either of these guys make suggestions on the arrangements of the songs (adding verses, extending bridges, etc.) or were they more focused on the “sound” of the record?
CT: Very sound focused, as we had the structural elements down prior to recording.
TDOA: How did you get all of these amazing folks to work on the records?
CT: Rob came to a few of our early shows and a relationship developed from that. He worked on three tracks from our Scarlet EP. Alan had heard a few of our demos and that also just developed naturally into working together.
TDOA: Jeppe Kolstrup made a stunning video for Scarlet. To what extent do you get involved in this part of the process? Did you come up with the concept for the video, help storyboard it, or did you give Jeppe freedom to come up with the images?
CT: We were very involved in the whole process for Scarlet. It was great to work with Jeppe and his team as It was a very open dialogue throughout. We’re inspired by elemental places so it seemed right for our first video to be in the thick of a magical forest.
TDOA: You have a tremendous reputation as a live band. To what extent do you use the same equipment live, as on the records?
CT: Thanks! We use pretty much exactly the same gear live as on record. Though my pedal board has grown substantially since recording. We do as much as we can with four people in the band, we’re very happy with how we replicate the sound live but it’s still a case of adaptation depending on different venues.
TDOA: You’ve played in a punk band, you’ve cited bands like the Rolling Stones as early influences, yet you have been pegged as having shoegaze tendencies. Genres aren’t terribly important, but how do you feel about comparisons to Lush, Cocteau Twins, etc.?
CT: I’m a big fan of those bands. We think of ourselves as a rock band, but like you said genres aren’t important to us. Our family listened to a lot of Rolling Stones so growing up we heard those guys and always loved Keith Richard’s swagger, but it’s Queens of the Stone Age that we always return to, their guitars always sound like the future.
TDOA: In less than a year, you’ve gone from playing SXSW to playing Reading/Leeds. Do you find it difficult to connect with the audience as you play to bigger crowds?
CT: We love playing to all sorts of crowds, small basements to festivals all hold the same appeal for us. Having said that, we do enjoy a big stage, having room to move and for the sound to take over. Mainly though we just love to play!
TDOA: Based on reading articles about you, I suspect most of the songs on the album have been around for a couple of years. That leads to the obvious question about new music. Have you had an opportunity to work on new songs and can you describe their sound in comparison to what we’ve heard on the debut album?
CT: I’m always writing, that’s an ongoing thing I love to do in my spare time. It’s been an very busy year, so we’re looking forward to staying still for a little while and getting properly started.
TDOA: Who are you listening to these days?
CT: Swans, St Vincent and David Byrne, QOTSA