Given that records executives are scouring the country for the next Adele, it’s no surprise that music fans are going to be hearing quite a lot from the point of view of the twenty-something English female. An unexpected side effect of this process is that some of the bands are actually pretty good. Take for instance, Hannah Thurlow, who, with her sister Colette, started the band 2:54. The duo posted some videos to the Internet and then recruited a rhythm section, Alex Robbins and Joel Porter. The hype started from there, particularly when audiences realized that the sisters weren’t pushing a reheated “Rolling In The Deep,” but textured and surprisingly heavy tunes that trace their origin back to Queens of the Stone Age and the Melvins. Hannah Thrulow called Prefix super early one Saturday to talk about adding to the band, hitting the United States, and her fondest rock and roll dreams.
You recently had your coming out party in the states at SXSW. Did you have a super amount of fun?
It was really incredible for us. We played a couple of shows on the West Coast and then went to Texas, so it was really our proper introduction to playing in the States. And the vibe at SXSW incredible- the crowds are all welcoming and really excited to see a new band. That isn’t always the case.
You’ve said before that you’re trying not to be terrified when you play. How did you handle that while playing what could be very important shows?
We try to focus exclusively on the show; everything else just kind of bubbles around it. There are nerves before any show, but they seem to go away once you’re on stage. The worst part for us is the anticipation. Once we got on stage, we just kind of went for it, and it seemed to work- we got a really warm response from the crowd. That was wonderful, especially being so far from home.
Was this your first time in the United States?
We actually played a couple of shows before Christmas, just a couple of small ones. That was kind of our first taste of the States, but we’re coming back in June for a more proper tour.
What was the best part of the United States?
On one level, there’s the pure adventure of it- seeing a new city and being able to explore. On another, it’s very important for bands to come and play in the United States. That means something- coming from London to play shows in the United States. We can’t wait to come and do it again.
Was there anything that didn’t live up to your expectations?
Honestly, no. Everything about those shows exceeded our expectations. You might think you know what it’s going to be like, but it turned out to be so much better. We just kept having the best time.
What are you most looking forward to when you’re back in the States?
We’re really excited about the drive. We’ve heard all kinds of stories about the epic drives that you do between shows in the States. You’re able to stop off in the mountains and just travel in the wild American landscape. We’ve been to hardly any of the cities that are on the tour, so we can’t wait to see the vibe in all of these new places.
Are you getting a van?
Yes! We’ll be getting a van. It will be a proper adventure.
If you’re excited about driving in a van, the tour is going to be a breeze.
Ask us at the end, and see if say the same thing.
Your first record is dropping at the end of the month. How does putting your art out permanently into the world compare with playing live?
I think the emotions are very similar. We can’t wait to have the record out there; it seems like it’s the right time to have it out. We took our time with it, and were sure that these were the ten songs we have to have out there representing us. Added to that is that we want to be out touring with the album released, so people that are at the shows are familiar with the songs and can see how the band brings them to life. It’s nerve wracking on so many levels, but we’re ready to just have it be over with and focus on the next steps.
If you were going to pick one song from the album to introduce your band to new listeners, which one would it be?
They really all do in equal measure. These ten songs seem like a family, so it would be too hard to pick just one. I love them all equally- I couldn’t break up the family. I don’t think I could choose one.
Speaking of family, you’ve expanded your musical family by half. Was your rhythm section with you on the recording of the album?
Joel and Alex joined us quite early on in the process. We were fortunate to meet them in the early days of the band, because we never wanted to be a duo- we wanted to give the audience the full live experience. The songs couldn’t reach their full potential live without them. Although Colette and I write all the music, they are very much full members of the band. It wouldn’t be 2:54 without Alex and Joel.
Did the songs that make up the album pre-date Alex and Joel?
Colette and I are pretty much constantly writing, especially over the last two years. When we cut demo tracks, I’ll do all the instruments and Colette will do the lyrics and the melodies. Once we finish a song, it’s very much finished. Then we took them to the studio and recorded them in a professional environment. That’s pretty much how the process always works.
Have you noticed the songs evolving at all with the addition of the musicians or with the recording process?
I think the great thing about playing with Alex and Joel is that they already hear the songs in much the same way we do. We have this instant connection. They know what the band is, so it isn’t so much an evolution as a realization of what’s already there. The recording process just underscored how well each of them understood where the band was going, and that they knew almost instinctively how the songs should sound.
Is this the final lineup of the band, or would you consider making another addition?
Oh no, this is it. It will only just be the four of us.
Let’s talk for just a second about your band’s name. You took it from a Melvins’ song?
We took it from one of our favorite Melvins’ songs, which is “A History of Bad Men.” Colette and I are very interested in moments in songs, and we get quite obsessive when we’re listening to them. It’s been that way since we were young. As far as the band name, we just love these certain moments in songs, and that was one of them.
How did a couple of teenage girls in England get into The Melvins?
We grew up in a musical household. Even though our parents didn’t play instruments, there was always music playing- The Band, The Pouges, Rory Gallagher. It just kind of evolved. As we grew up we became really interested in finding new music. We’ve always been into heavier bands. I think it started with things like Metallica and Deftones in our teens, and that led to discovering bands like the Melvins, Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age.
Have you met any of these bands in your travels?
No, we haven’t met any of them yet. It would be interesting to meet them, but you never know. It would be wonderful to meet one of your influences, but we just haven’t been in the same places yet.
As you look forward, where would you like the band to be in five years?
I think at this point we have the album coming out, which is a major milestone for the band. Immediately, we want to get out and tour and play our songs. That’s the most important thing for our band to be doing right now.
But pie in the sky, what is it? Leeds? Reading?
We grew up going to Reading, so that would of course be a big honor. There are just so many wonderful festivals. There’s Coachella. That’s something bands have to just dream about. Maybe someday for us… fingers crossed.