A full time job, a college degree and an average age of 21, our Ents Editor Áine O'Connell sat down with alternative pop duo Little Hours, and spoke about their hectic schedule, their EP and their upcoming show in The Sugar Club.
I’m the last in a long line of interviewers meeting Little Hours on a grim Dublin afternoon. Sitting relaxed and happy in the ornate surroundings of Dublin’s Central Hotel, the Donegal duo is gearing up for their big headline show in The Sugar Club on Thursday. It’s been a massive year for the pair – Ryan and John, aged 23 and 19 respectively, went from performing in cover bands in their hometown to coming together to write and record an EP back in March. Add this to a full time job, a college degree and an average age of 21, I have to ask – “lads, are ye not exhausted?”
“Not at all! We never get to talk about the band”, Ryan (23) says excitedly. He’s got a day off work to speak to the press and despite the effort that this must take, he’s visibly excited to talk to me. Ryan is the more outgoing of the two, certainly, and is happy to fill me in on the band’s back story.
“When we were in studio [recording their debut EP] we didn’t have a name for the band. We had just started”, they admit, perhaps a touch self-consciously. It seems everything has landed in the band’s lap, but the question I ask is if they have had time to worry about it? “Not really”, they admit. “It’s just been crazy”, playing gigs around Dublin and Galway while promoting their EP, with no time for much else.
Despite their hectic life, everything the duo mention to do with music is tinged with exuberance, even if it’s something that would horrify most of us. “Electric Picnic was our first gig ever”, they exclaim joyfully, when I notice their wristbands. It was their first time at the festival, and they considered it a “very weird experience”.
Winners of the Oxjam “Play the Picnic” competition that ran over the summer, the band played to hundreds of people and recorded a video of their gig. Playing just before Hozier was a surreal moment for them; Hozier, once he’s brought up, is cited as a big influence on the band, someone who has opened the door for artists to incorporate new genres into popular music. Having played covers for years, the two take their influences from everywhere. On 98FM they covered Ariana Grande, but also cite Bon Iver as a big influence on their music.
Folksy, experimental pop is Little Hours’ bag; but there are lots of bands like that. What makes Little Hours different? A folksy sound blended with pop sensibilities; a sound that James describes as, “very intentional…and sometimes too much on the folk side…but we make it accessible.” Sounding like James Vincent McMorrow with a poppier side, the duo’s influences are clear but diverging; and they promised me that their new material will be different again. “Thank god that someone is here to open that door, so we can get away with doing this [folksy] stuff.”
The pair, originally from Killybegs in Donegal, have relocated to Dublin for college or for their career. A DCU graduate, Ryan now works in Engineering, and John (19) is at BIMM School of Music. Does studying music help or hinder him? “I love it”, he says, and sees a massive amount of talented musicians pass through. I mention The Academic and John lights up; they were in the year ahead of him, and are now on the verge of something big. Hope for the future, one might say.
They do credit their “isolation” in Donegal as helping their songwriting process – away from the thriving music scene of Dublin, they managed to carve their own niches. But now that they’re in Dublin, the question must be asked – is there a “grand plan” for Little Hours? Apparently, it’s a helicopter. “If we have a helicopter, we’re pretty much sorted”, they laugh. No grander plans for the future, then? “We need to handle things as they’re coming into us”, they admit.
Feedback from the EP, a few gigs and more promotional interviews…the band don’t have time to plan out the next few months, it seems. The plus side of this is that they aren’t worried about the future; EP reviews and gigs don’t seem like a huge concern for them. “If we had time to stop, we’d just melt and freak out…but keep it coming”, they grin at me.
Their enthusiasm is infectious and they’re obviously massively dedicated to the music they’re creating, especially juggling work, college and a fledgling career. How do they manage? “I don’t know”, is the consensus between them, echoing their repeated sentiment, “it’s been crazy since we started.”
Little Hours may only be beginning, but it seems that their combination of sweet-as-honey tunes, dedication to music and affable personalities when interviewed is a winning one.
The band play The Sugar Club on the 27th November, and tickets are available at ticketmaster.ie. Their self-titled EP is available on iTunes here.