The Hours
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The Hours

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Narcissus Road - 2007 (Album)
Ali in the Jungle - 2006 (Single)
Back When You Were Good - 2007 (Single)
See The Light - 2008 (Single)



Why is the second album by The Hours called See The Light?

‘It means loadsa things, don’t it?’ fires back Antony Genn. Which is how he says most things: fires them back. It’s also how he sings his poetic, rousing, carousing lyrics: fires them out. ‘It’s a message to me personally,’ the Sheffield-born singer continues, alluding to a past with more than its share of (self-induced) difficulties, ‘and it’s a message to everyone. We’re living in dark times. The song See The Light is about hope; it’s a plea to hold on in times that are difficult. I think it’s important that we all look for positive things.’

‘And then,’ he adds, warming to his theme, ‘it also means: see the light, everyone, The Hours are fucking back and we’re hear to stay ‘cause were a proper fucking band that means what we say.’

Antony ‘Ant’ Genn is not the messiah, he’s just a very passionate man, a quality he shares with his partner in The Hours, Lancashire-born Martin ‘Slatts’ Slattery. Like rock’n’roll Zeligs, they’d both been round the houses in other musical outfits – from Robbie Williams to Grace Jones via Black Grape and Joe Strummer and the infamous onstage nudity-at-Glastonbury-with-Elastica incident (yep, that was Genn) - before coming together in 2006 to write for and by themselves. Their enthusiasm, and their way with a punchy chorus and a crunchy piano riff, and their desire to craft lyrics that mean something, made Narcissus Road a roaringly brilliant debut album – one crafted by two men in a draughty former dairy in northwest London. Few who heard pull-yourself-up-the-bootstraps anthem Ali In The Jungle remained unmoved by Hours-power.

Now they’ve done it again, with See The Light. Only this time, with the help of legendary producer Flood and a full band, and aided by the art, inspiration and support of old pal Damien Hirst, The Hours pair have created a bigger, bolder, better record. It’ll blow your ears off and blast your heart. It’s that good.

Take first single Big Black Hole, a soaring pop anthem whose golden melody belies its dark roots.

‘It’s actually a song about alcoholism,’ says Genn. ‘It’s about a friend of mine who is an in-denial alcoholic. Hands up, I’ve been there myself.’ Genn, who’s never less than blisteringly honest, has also been a heroin addict (he was partial to many other drugs too) and has the false teeth to prove it. ‘Particularly when you come from the north, and in British culture generally, that manly macho drinking culture is everywhere.’

As one of the lyrics puts it: “we were surrounded by so many real men that thought their weakness was a strength, how wrong they were”.

‘I’ve seen people, scaffolders, big strapping geezers, on the liver ward in Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, going insane and yellow with jaundice and liver cirrhosis. It’s pretty heavy lyrically – it’s telling someone something they don’t wanna hear.’

‘But it’s got a good tune,’ Slattery chips in dryly. ‘We’d be fucked if that didn’t exist.’

Oh aye it’s got a good tune. See The Light’s got good tunes by the skipload.

The pre-history of The Hours #1: 1995, Metropolis Studios, London

Slattery: ‘I was in there playing keyboards with Black Grape. Robbie Williams comes in to meet our producer, Danny Sabre. He’s got his flatmate with him, this incredibly enthusiastic musician of the kind you never really meet in London – everyone’s super cool. And that was how I met Ant. Sabre and Robbie already had their musical thing going on, the tried and tested way they did things – but me and Ant, right from the start there was no agenda, there was no “thing” that we did. He’s like, “jump on that synth, let’s get this mic!” It was a crazy affair that, even then, at the very beginning, worked. It was exciting to meet a guy who was up for anything.’

The pre-history of The Hours #2: 2003: the final album by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

Genn: ‘Being in The Mescaleros with Joe was an amazing thing on loadsa levels. Joe was just a powerful force as a human being. He had no fear - that’s what made him Joe Strummer. And he had an ability to put self-belief into people around him. At the time I was a raging heroin addict. But he still wanted to go in the studio with me – he saw a spark in this crazed junkie from Sheffield. And Slatts was a natural choice to get in to wok on the album. It was a freeing experience and it was a laugh. Joe did end up sacking me though, when my drug use got out of hand. After Joe died, Slatts ended up producing the final album with Scott Shields.’

The pre-history of The Hours #3: 2006: Grace Jones’ Hurricane album

Genn: ‘I would always get Martin in on records I was producing – he could sit in with Brian Eno, Sly and Robbie, anyone – a good musician always knows a good musician. And Grace went: is he Jamaican? I said, no, he’s from Ostletwistle! So I had to get him in covertly. We did a string session Abbey Road for a track called Devil in My Life which I wrote the string arr