One of the great joys, and great challenges, of writing a blog like SonicAbuse is that you are inundated with music. To cover it all would probably result in several nervous breakdowns and reviews roughly one sentence long, and so we have to pick and choose, almost certainly missing out on some fantastic and deserving bands in the process. How we pick and choose is no exact science, but as huge fans of physical music formats we’re always drawn (like Moths to the proverbial) to impressive artwork, whilst press releases (so often prone to hyperbole) can help to encourage our attention.
In the case of Last Hours, the first thing that attracted us was the amazing cover which, being both dense and arty, did much to reflect the music found within. And boy, are we glad that we took the time. Last Hours are a rare gem of a band that recall the blistering alternative rock of the mid-nineties. Fiercely independent and original, you’ll hear shades of Fugazi, The Jesus Lizard and early Nirvana amidst the music, but you’ll never doubt that Last Hours have their own thing going on. Having reviewed the EP (and you can check out both our ecstatic review and a sample track here) we thought it best to get in touch with the band themselves and introduce them to you…
First of all, could you introduce Last Hours to us – how did the band come together in the first place?
We formed Last Hours after our previous band had dissipated. As rhythm section for the band Grandfather, Tyler and I (Phil) immediately locked in and shared a taste for heavier and more aggressive music. Being a drummer who also plays guitar, I’ve always wanted to contribute more in song-writing. We started our own project and decided to record and mix on our own, with the ethos of following our instincts and avoiding boundaries. For our live line-up, we recruited bassist/vocalist Kurt Applegate (Family, Beast Modulus) and guitarist Bowen Salkin (Wool Over Eyes).
Before you even get to the music, there’s the issue of the amazing artwork that you used for the cover – could you tell us about who did the design and how involved the band were in the design process?
I found an artist named Ani (@an1art) and was blown away by her work. I told her the name of the band and we briefly discussed some of the themes of the EP. She listened to it and finished a hand drawn piece titled “Hora” in about 24 hours. She wanted to do an alternate version, but we loved it right away and felt it complimented the music perfectly. She’s an excellent artist, check her out!
So far, it appears the EP will only be available digitally? Is there going to be a physical copy at any point and how might people get hold of it, if there is?
We hope to put the EP out in all formats in the near future, but for now, we just want it to be easily accessible.
The EP sounds amazing – how long did it take to develop from initial ideas to the recorded final versions?
Thanks very much, it took about two years or so. Shortly after writing the songs, we tracked drums in a studio and everything else was done in our practice space, all on a pretty low budget. There was some trial and error in recording but also a lot of focus on getting the right takes, rather than over editing or relying on technology too much. We followed our vision and it felt great not having any filters or constraints in the creative process. Our biggest setback came when we were about to start tracking vocals and Tyler’s brother passed away unexpectedly. This was obviously an extremely low period for us and it took a while before we felt ready enough to finish recording and mixing. Some of the vocal takes give me chills, the energy and emotions are very raw. Ultimately, I think it was cathartic and we’re really proud of the recording. We were fortunate to have Carl Saff master it.
Do you jam on songs as a band, or do one or two members write the tracks and bring them, more or less complete, to the others?
It goes either way, but often times it will start with Tyler and I jamming on guitar/bass and drums. I bring riffs and demoed songs to the table for the band to mould as well. However it begins, the goal is always to keep it organic and instinctual. We try not to overwork ideas, it either sticks or doesn’t.
It’s incredibly challenging now to get music heard as all the band members have experience from previous projects, how did you approach getting Last hours out to a new audience?
We’ve met a lot of great people and fellow musicians playing in our previous bands. We’re lucky enough to be in a thriving metal scene here in Brooklyn, NY and we hope this spirals out from here. There are no gimmicks with this band, we want it to grow naturally and gain fans who genuinely appreciate the music. Blogs and news outlets like SonicAbuse are great for an unknown, independent band like ours to gain exposure.
What do the band look for in terms of subject matter inspiration – is there any particular area that informs the songs?
We try to let the music be a reflection of the world around us and the current mind-set or mood we’re in when writing. It’s hard not to be agitated by this slow, downward spiral it appears humanity is on, what we’re doing to our environment and the religious and political oppression that looms. The lyrics also touch on addiction, death and self-preservation. This music is a positive outlet for us to get this kind of energy out and we hope it will be the same for our fans.
With the EP due out in October, what are the plans for the band? Are you contemplating a tour in support of the record, video clip or any other activity?
We plan on playing as many regional shows as possible, with the end goal being bigger tours. We have a full-length record mostly demoed and hope to record and release that in the near future as well. We’ll also be releasing a video for our debut song ‘Awaken.’ Look out for that soon.
Any final words for UK fans?
It’s common to hear that fans in the UK and Europe are open-minded, enthusiastic and really support of heavy music. We can’t wait to see for ourselves. It’s a huge goal of ours to play festivals like Leeds or Reading someday. Thanks for listening and sharing the music, we appreciate it!
Last Hours’ Self-Titled EP is currently available for pre-order via Bandcamp here. It is set for release on Oct 3rd.