Altered Hours‘ debut album, In Heat Not Sorry, is out now on Penske/Art for Blind. Ahead of its release I got to chat to three-fifths of the Cork-based band, co-vocalists Cathal and Elaine, and guitarist Kevin, for the TPOE podcast. You can listen on Soundcloud or iTunes (you can also subscribe to both so you never miss an episode). I’ve transcribed a little bit of the interview after the jump.
On finally recording and releasing their debut album
Cathal: I have a lot of reverance for albums because they have helped me in my life so much so that’s why I find it scary to add to the pile of albums in the world. I just have a lot of reverence for the format and the long play idea and didn’t want to imagine that I could just do it whenever I wanted… I never expected that it would be easy in the first place or that you’d be rich or successful or anything, I always visualised the journey of a band to be challenging to a degree, both internally and externally, with the world, with the music industry.
When did you think about starting to record the album?
Kevin: I think after we recorded ‘Sweet Jelly Roll’ we had the idea of going back to record with our producer Fabian again, and we just did that as soon as possible basically, once we had enough songs and the funds to do it. … We do get along [with Fabian] pretty well. He is a strange, strange man but we’re probably pretty strange too, good chemistry. [Fabian was Anton Newcombe’s engineer]
Cathal: We decided to go back to him because there was something interesting in the chemistry and also some friction. We were drawn to that. He’s passionate about music and he was passionate about our songs so I guess when someone comes along like that who has great skills as an engineer like him, we appreciated that we had come across someone who was interested in what we were doing and that’s worth it getting involved with people in that way and not just take your money.
Kevin: We also had access to a really good room in Berlin, a really good studio, for the drum sound, which is such an integral part of the record, so we jumped on that as soon as we could.
Friction with recording, is that Fabian telling you not to do that, do this instead?
Cathal: When you write the song it always ends up different to how you imagined it in your head for many different reasons, and you hope better. [Fabian] just tried to bring out a more honest sound to all the songs, whereas I would be more inclined to lace things in effects or hide a lot of vocals, submerge them in guitars more. I was interested in the way he was viewing our songwriting where the vocals would be mixed above the guitars and very clear and you can hear what the song is and is about.
You’ve been together as a band for about five years. Has that given ye, individually and as a band, a tonne more confidence?
Elaine: I suppose it gives you a familiarity with the process, but I think it never feels like a final point is reached, for me anyway. I don’t feel like, OK I’ve done it for five years, I’m completely comfortable in what I do, but it gives you experience, even being in the studio, it allows you to take criticism – I certainly take criticism easier now than I would’ve at the start – or I know my limits and see where I need to push myself more in that time, but yeah the journey has been a part. Pain is a strong word but feeling that journey is something I really like. I don’t think we like things to float by, we want to feel in them, changed by them, part of the process timewise… I like a good story and I think we like to make this band a story.
In terms of development?
Elaine: Yeah in terms of development, in terms of the adventure, the challenges, the personal change that occurs, confidence, knowing yourself, being pushed – it’s a good realm for those sort of things to happen.
Have ye ever thought about moving away from Cork?
Cathal: It would be a lot logistically. I think I would’ve thought it when I was younger more, thought that that would help. But all I need is a microphone and a guitar, and I can do that here, and I can travel there and enjoy. I have thought about it, we’ve all probably thought about moving a million places, just for our lives as well, not just for the band. Ireland is pretty dismal a lot of the time – there’s the grass is greener thing – but I like to think that it’s just we’re in our studio right now, we do all our work, and we can do that anywhere. We get to tour around Europe later this year so in a way it doesn’t make a difference. I think I thought it would’ve years ago but I think that was me being overly idealistic about moving somewhere that would affect me more. You’d be afraid it might distract too. It could be cool to have all this external influence and this new place and all this nightlife, and you meet new, interesting people, but also I’d be afraid it’d do the opposite then, that you would just get long amongst the noise. That’d be cool too, but I just enjoy writing songs and doing that too. It’s very basic what we’re looking for.
Kevin: And there’s that thing of if you’re living in Berlin there’s something to do every night. It’s probably hard to get any work done.