2:54’s story is, in many ways, the indie rock dream. Less than a year after posting their demo “Creeping” on Garageband last fall, the band was touring with Warpaint and the Big Pink. Fast forward a few months, and they’ve released their highly anticipated self-titled debut on Fat Possum Records (out May 28th.) From here, there is no slowing down.
We chatted with the brains behind 2:54, sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow, to discuss the origins of the band, working with the legendary Alan Moulder, touring with Chelsea Wolfe, and the value of aestheticism.
You’re both sisters. How long have you been playing music together?
Colette: We've been making up songs together for fun, forever. Hannah taught herself guitar in her teens and then showed me some chords, we took it from there.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Hannah: While our family don't play any instruments, there was always music in the house growing up which was really influential in igniting that first real love of music. Bands like The Band, The Pogues, Rolling Stones.
I’ve read in a few interviews that you both used to be in another band—The Vulgarians—as described as a punk outfit. How is that different from 2:54? And why the departure in sound?
C: Vulgarians was our first band experience, no song lasted longer than 2 minutes, Hannah shredded and I tried shouting. We played maybe 10 shows, it was fun! It naturally ran its course and some time after Hannah started sending me more meditative pieces of music that formed the basis of 2:54.
You just got off tour with Chelsea Wolfe in April. What was that like?
C: We were lucky enough to play 2 shows with Chelsea Wolfe in Bristol and Brighton. We're huge fans, she has the most incredible voice, and their sound is haunting, beautiful. The four of us, with Joel and Alex our rhythm section were front-row geeking out every night.
The video for “Scarlet,” the title track of your heralded 2011 EP places you in a desolate Danish forest – a series of truly powerful, dark images. How important are visuals to you? Do you consider 2:54 a very aesthetic-driven band? It’s easy to describe your band as being “moody,” but steering clear of “melancholic.”
C: The visuals are very much a part of the whole thing. We were fortunate enough to find a Director, Jeppe Kolstrup who could make it happen. We're big into wild places, a forest seemed the perfect setting for “Scarlet” as the song has such a specific atmosphere.
That EP had some impressive people behind it. You get compared to PJ Harvey frequently and Rob Ellis produced “Scarlet.” What was that experience like? How hands on was he?
H: Charlie Hugall produced the track “Scarlet” and Alan Moulder mixed it. Rob Ellis produced the three B-sides which was really great. We have a clear idea about what we want to achieve with the recordings, the songs are complete before we head into the studio, so the rest was learning from Rob and Alan about professional recording experiences.
Not to mention, Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Ride, Jesus and Mary Chain) mixed the EP. How was working with him?
C: Incredible. He really got us and the sound. It was a dream come true.
You dropped the “You’re Early” 7” with a B-Side featuring Wild Beasts’ remixing the single. What’s your relationship with the band?
H: Wild Beasts took us on tour twice last year, we're friends, it happened naturally. We're huge fans of the band.
It’s an interesting decision; do you consider the 7” to be a spilt? Or a different form all it’s own? It definitely isn’t a spilt in the traditional sense.
C: We just see it as a single with a beautiful remix..
You both write all 2:54 material but you expand to a full band when touring, with Alex Robins on bass and Joel Porter on drums. Do you consider the gents to be permanent members of the band? Have you ever sat down with Porter and Robins to write a 2:54 song? Does it ever feel like you have to rework the songs to fit the additional members?
C: We're definitely a band, a four piece. We met the boys really early on, through a mutual friend, so we've been a gang this entire time. We still pinch ourselves that we met them! Not only are they incredible musicians but they're beautiful boys. Who knows in the future about song writing, I think the prospect of the four of us writing together is really exciting.
You’ve signed to Fat Possum for your debut self-titled album, out in late May. How did that relationship form?
C: Through conversation, it's amazing to be signed to Fat Possum, we're huge fans of the label.
I understand you were born in Ireland and raised in Bristol. What’s the music scene like there?
H: We left Ireland when we were very small but we spent every Summer there as children so grew up listening to all sorts.
What’s in store for the future of 2:54?”
H: We're releasing the album on May 28th which is so exciting, then our American tour starting June 8th, we can't wait!