ONE SONG IS PLENTY TO LAUNCH A CAREER
The Internet has done wonders for aspiring musicians. Whereas once, the only way to get noticed was to doggedly gig your tits off and spend penniless hours stuffing envelopes with demos and timidly hopeful covering letters, now all you seem to need is a social networking profile with an uploaded mp3. Consider the case of 2:54, two sisters whose sole track was instantly picked up and reposted by the likes of Gorilla Vs Bear, VICE, The Independent and The Fader, the lattermost of which pointed out that the girls ‘look like badasses’, which indeed they do, in their black threads, their rock’n’roll tattoo-peppered arms lifting sweating pints of lager in a dim corner of an understated Dalston boozer (they’re locals).
Colette is draped in a loose shift dress, leaning to one side as though the dense London heat were leaning on her, trying to share her chair, while Hannah is inexplicably ensconced in a black leather biker jacket and looking cool in every sense of the word, despite the oppressive temperature – definitely badass! Both seem a little bewildered (though not unpleasantly so) by the snowball of attention their music has collected. The infamous track ‘Creeping’, from whence the media interest sprung, is a gorgeously abrasive dose of shoegaze, with a backbone built on harsh, metallic guitar crashes, coupled with sensual, deep and drowsy Mazzy-esque vocals and a stung, swollen bass line. There’s an intriguing darkness to the music, and a weight, which is beautifully counterbalanced with an effortlessly nimble, punk-tinged drive. Where did this hybrid of sounds come from?
“I don’t know, it just kind of came out,” says Hannah. “I mean, we listen to a lot of stuff but I don’t think we took much from it.”
“Yeah,” agrees Colette. “There was no plan, Hannah just started writing pieces of music and sending them to me.”
The sisters used to be in a punk band called Vulgarians, who were quite a hardcore outfit – “fast and loud”, as Colette describes it – but split up round about Christmas time. At that point they both dropped their guitars and didn’t touch them again until May, when they started sending each other bits of tracks, eventually meeting up and finishing the songs together. The end results were drastically different to their previous output with Vulgarians (or ‘the other band’ as they refer to it) – “Completely different!”, the sisters laugh.
Both Hannah and Colette play the guitar, and Hannah also took up bass and drum duties for the recordings they’ve made. But how the hell does that work when they play live?
“Oh, we haven’t played live yet,” says Colette. “We’ve done everything in our bedrooms, that’s just how it’s been, we only started a couple of months ago.” She explains that they don’t want to play gigs with a backing track and a drum machine, and their main method of playing and recording has been bedroom sessions with Garage Band, waiting for one or the other’s flatmate to go out – as Hannah puts it, “so we can make a racket in peace.” Now they have a proper rehearsal space and have found a bass player and a drummer to complete the live band. That’s what the girls have been up to today, they’ve been in the studio rehearsing (without the newly recruited boys), and the plan is to lock themselves away in said studio until October, working on the body of work they’ve come up with thus far, getting it ready for a live set. So is this it, ready to rock and roll?
“This is it,” says Colette confidently “the Real Deal!”
“We want this to be a life,” agrees Hannah.
“That’s the dream, for making music to be what we do,” Colette continues. “There’s no set plan, but we’d like to make a really special record – a collection of songs.”
This rough plan sounds vaguely familiar… Talk to anyone in a band that’s still finding its sea legs and they tend to fall into two categories: Hell-bent on world domination within the next fortnight, or playing it by ear, keeping the game plan vague, and focusing on making good music. For now, 2:54 reside in a sub category of the second option, the Hang On, There’s A Piece About Us On Which Website? category. Again, not outrageously out of the ordinary, thus is the power of the net that all you need is a MySpace and an uploaded track and the blogs are falling over each other to give you a shout out and re-post your mp3. In theory. It also helps to be making the right kind of music at the right time, and that’s exactly what 2:54 are doing, albeit completely inadvertently. They admit that there are a lot of female voices about at the minute, “There’s commercial stuff like Florence, then there’s bands like Beach House,” says Colette “but I don’t think anything that’s going on at the moment bears any reflection on what we’re doing.”
“As far as how we write,” Hannah explains, “I don’t think we pay much attention to what else is going on.”
“Of course we’re wary of being lumped in with something,” concedes Colette “because there’s definitely a new breed of female fronted bands, or all-female bands.”
Hannah: “But I don’t think that will affect us too much. I think we’re just… well, we’re just writing songs.”
“We’re just doing our own thing,” they both say, almost in perfect unison.
The big hope is not to get lumped in, and they consider themselves to be very lucky to be in a position to be able to shy away from marketing schemes for now. “You have to already have a reputation as a band,” explains Collette. “Part of it is going to be us getting slightly more public, then getting press, and it’s just what happens, we’re going to get categorised and that’s fine, as long as people come to the shows, like the shows and like the music, it’s fine.”
Hang on, ladies, intervention time: You do have a reputation as a band, and you do have press (among other things, you’re in the middle of an interview) thanks to ‘Creeping’ going ever so slightly viral. Didn’t you have anything to do with that? Sending it round?
“People just grabbed onto it,” says Hannah, still sounding a bit mystified by the whole thing. “I don’t know how.”
“Word of mouth,” says Collette. “Gorilla Vs Bear got hold of it and that was it, just…dominoes.”
They’re clearly both pleased that so many people like the song, but there seems to be a catch. “We are ferociously independent,” Colette firmly states. “For as long as we can just do it ourselves, we will do.”
One last thing, care to explain the (let’s face it, pretty odd) name of your band?
The sisters named themselves after a moment in their favourite Melvins song. “It’s at two minutes and fifty-four seconds, the calm before the storm,” explains Colette. “A lot of choral singing, good build up,” they laugh.
Hannah and Colette are really into the Melvins, a classic example of the ‘lot of stuff’ they listen to from which it’s debatable they have taken any influence. Listen to those biting guitar licks though, and try to convince yourself those heavy, buzzing jabs haven’t been saturated with a love of post-punk by way of stoner metal… “There must be a Melvins song in us!” There so is, and when you’ve recorded it, do us a favour and post it online.
By Polly Rappaport
Originally published in issue 20 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. August 2010