Interview With Altered Hours, first published in Downtown/The Evening Echo 2013-10-31



Cork based psychedelic rock band The Altered Hours have had a very busy year and are gearing up for their final Cork concert of 2013, the band’s two singers Cathal MacGabhann and Elaine Howley met with Ronan Leonard after a well-received concert in De Barras in Clonakilty. Reflecting on the band’s success both contend that regular touring has been paramount, as Elaine put it, “it feels good to be playing the music regularly as its always different depending on where you are and the crowd, it definitely hasn’t got old yet which is a good thing! With Altered Hours alone (Cathal is also in Grave Lanterns, who play The Pavilion tonight/Thursday 31 Oct, whilst Elaine is in Morning Veils) we’ve played 54 gigs already in 2013. All the gigging has been a great opportunity for us as performers, there is a certain learning that only happens at a live show and that makes us hungry for more!”

Cathal continued on that point as he tried to pinpoint the Altered Hours progress, “I think it’s been the result of relentless work and effort, just getting to places, which I think is the only thing to do.” The band have made steady progress throughout Europe, I wondered if they had any idea what had opened those doors for them, Elaine suggested that “it’s a mixture of the work, the fact that we went elsewhere to record, and that we are signed to A Records, a label that has bands that other people would be following so they’d be likely to check our music out too. We haven’t had a whole lot of PR or marketing put into us; every time we play a gig, even it’s a small crowd, we reach someone and if someone likes something enough they do talk, that’s what I put it down, so it’s the music doing the work!”

Cathal teased out the chain of events that led to the band being signed, “it was pretty organic, we were playing in the Pavilion and someone who saw us is friends with Anton Newcombe (the lead singer of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and head of A Records) in Berlin, he organised us to go over and record with him over a few days, and then we just put it out. I was a big fan of his work anyway so I was attracted to the idea as soon as I heard it was remotely possible.”

Elaine enthused about the experience of recording outside of their hometown, “being extracted from your everyday life really helped because you are in this completely new environment that you only know as a creative space’ we were living, eating, sleeping there so it became quite a bubble and that was a really good thing for how much we got done is such a short space of time.” Cathal carried on the point, “When you are in a more uncomfortable space, you hang on to the things that are more familiar to you and in our case it was music and we leaned on it more.”

While they are not ones to rest on their laurels, we spoke about their highlights of 2013, “it’s been a great year for us, we released our first vinyl, that was something special for me as a record collector! In terms of concerts it was being invited to the Liverpool Psychadelic Festival and playing at 2am on this great stage. It was really late, really strange and really good! We had to go straight to airport afterwards to fly home!”

The Altered Hours play The Pavilion on Saturday 2 November at 9pm with support from Documenta.