The Small Hours
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The Small Hours

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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download interview here - Pirate Pods

"The Great Escape"

It was nearly midnight at Eldorado recording studio in Burbank California. Two members of Los Angeles band The Small Hours were still working hard after spending the last two days with an engineer knocking back lattes and recording the parts for their new song. From the back of the studio I sat on a leather sofa staring at thousands of buttons as the same piece of the same song was repeated for nearly an hour. The spirit was cheerful but focused. Drummer Edward Shiers stood attentively looking at a bright Mac screen as singer Robin Goodchild put down vocals.

"Rob you're not pronouncing your T's. You've got to learn to sing proper. That's the English way," Shiers said smiling.

"No, hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way." Everyone laughed.

In 1997 Edward Shiers, from London, and Robin Goodchild, from Leeds, met at University in Manchester. While studying music production together, they began writing music of their own. Eventually, they formed a band with two other friends and worked their way to playing some fairly prestigious venues in England such as The Cavern Club in Liverpool and The Forum in Camden Town under the name of Sterling. In 2001, they realized that England was not the place for alternative music and decided to move to the states. Goodchild remembered the moment that jolted him into action.

"It would usually take some kind of gunfire or bomb threat to get me up [out of bed], but on this particular morning, it was the music that was being played on Radio One on my alarm clock. It was seriously so bad that I left the country."

Some of the musicians at the top of the UK charts in 2001 were girl-group Atomic Kitten, boy-band Westlife, SClub7, a pop group put together by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, and Hear'Say, a pop group put together by a UK reality TV program. Other artists included, Blue- another boy-band, Shaggy, and Kylie Minogue. At this time in England, it seemed like there was less and less room for a band that played their own instruments and wrote their own music. In 2001, more alternative bands like Coldplay and Muse were just barely poking their heads through this pop-rubble and more established rock bands like Radiohead were shying away from their previous Brit-pop tags which left them without universal praise.

"In the UK was the birth of reality TV as we know it today and with it came a whole host of artificial and manufactured groups and musicians," noted Shiers. So, to bypass this artificial upsurge, he and Goodchild moved to the hub of reality: Hollywood. When they and two other friends arrived in Los Angeles, Goodchild and Shiers managed to find internships at a recording studio in Hollywood and the four of them started living in a two-bedroom apartment.

"The tinsel town wasn't quite so tinsel-y," Shiers recalled. "We lived off 15 dollars a week for the first 4 months..." After a couple of years of living and practicing nightly at full volume in these close quarters, things stopped working so well with the other two members, who soon moved back to England. Not long after the departure of their two band-mates, Shiers and Goodchild met likeminded American musician John Tucker.

"Everything changed. The sound, our approach, the whole reason for doing it. It was really fun again and it still is years later," said Shiers. When John started as the bassist, a more positive energy was brought into the band. No longer working with members who had their heads elsewhere, they began enjoying the enthusiasm and current outlook that John brought into the group. Shortly thereafter, they added Mark Warnholtz on guitar who had similar tastes in music as well.

Now in 2007, the two English members of The Small Hours are still doing what they love in a country that is slowly catching on to the novelties of their native landscape. Since they've been based out here, they have managed to become inspired by the mini British-invasion of the early 2000's and now find themselves in the middle of a new one.

"A short while after we moved here," Shiers explained, "the few bands that were having success in the UK like Coldplay and Travis were actually starting to make waves stateside, and we managed to ride those coattails for a little while back then."

In 2002, Coldplay released their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head which was considered, by Rolling Stone, to be the best album of the year, and soon, Coldplay became the best selling artists of the year. In 2003, Radiohead released their sixth studio album Hail to the Thief which made it to number 1 on the UK charts and number 3 on the US Billboard charts. Also this year, Muse came out with their third album Absolution and a hit single having finally landed their record deal in the US. For the next couple of years, other bands of this ilk followed such as Travis, Doves, Supergrass, Keane, and Snow Patrol. What was interesting about this particular mini invasion was that very few of these bands were considered to be harboring a stark sense of Englishness like their punk and Britpop forefathers had before them. Bands like Pink Floyd, The Kinks, The Clash, Oasis, The Stone Roses, and Blur and many others had impressed [British] audiences with their charm and swagger as well as an inherent Englishness that seeped out from their lyrical territory and their accented croons. These bands were singing about a wide range of the everyday English experience. Song such as Blur's "Parklife" and "Country House" and The Clash's "London Calling" , are just a few examples of the many songs written that exemplify a particularly English outlook or narrative. Whether or not those bands became as massive in the states, they were still (perhaps unknowingly) wrapping themselves in Union Jacks and instilling a sense of national pride which looks to be happening again today. Goodchild added,

"I mean, look at Oasis...although not for very long or they'll break your fuckin' nose. In England you couldn't walk down the street without noticing peoples' renewed swagger and cockiness as they hummed "Rock n Roll Star" or "Live Forever". Their first 2 records gave people a new sense of themselves and it really gave strength to a lot of everyday people who wanted to be something. They talked about everyday things with such attitude you couldn't help but get involved."

It is now safe to say that music fans and critics are involved yet again. Seemingly thrust forward by the Arctic Monkeys in 2006, the alternative indie scene in England has taken a turn for the colloquial. When the Arctic Monkeys released their debut album Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not in the UK, it sold 363,735 copies in the first week, making it the fastest selling debut album in British chart history. This beat out Hear'Say's debut record and sold more albums on its first day than the rest of the Top 20 albums combined. Though it only sold 34,000 in its first week in the US, this was still enough to make it the second fastest selling debut indie-record in America. The hype surrounding the band was not as well received in America when NME magazine deemed the record as the 5 th best album of all time during the first week of its release, but it seems that lately, America's opinion might not hold as much weight. Andrew Collins, BBC radio broadcaster once speculated,

"Can they [Arctic Monkeys] make it in America? Could their stuff which is so colloquial and so English, could it take off abroad? Maybe they don't care. I mean, they didn't really care that much whether they took off in London."

Since then, a new line up of bands have emerged from the Sheffield cracks alongside the Arctic Monkeys as well as from other places in England and are singing in broader accents and more about British life itself.

From the Arctic Monkey's song 'Red Light Indicates Doors are Secured', the poor grammar and colloquial tone are exemplified: " How funny were that sketch earlier/ up near that taxi rank/ Oh no you will have missed it/think it were when you went to the bank/ These two lads squaring up proper shouting/ 'bout who were next in the queue/ The kind of thing that would seem so silly but not when they've both had a few"

Similarly, bands like Bromhead's Jacket, a group also from Sheffield, sing very obviously about their English life in their song 'SRI's and Big Bore 4's': "Cos my mate's were all Gary Boys yeah/ Talking like geezers with too much gel in their hair/ What you wearing on your feet there son?/ Is that Reebok or Nike?/ No, it's Mark & Spencers bought by my mum./ Cos I was always the ugliest one of the bunch/ sitting in the dining hall with double chips and beans for our lunch/ watching all the pretty young things go by/ with their pikey gold jewelry and their skirts rolled up way too high./ Things don't change, no things don't change."

It is not only Northerners who are getting this attention. All over the UK more and more bands have become the spokesmen for both the working class youth and the university students. The Kooks, with members from all over England, placed at number 2 on the charts and their album Inside In/Inside Out has been four times platinum in the UK. Their accented howls and songs with witty and youthful romantic undertones has sparked something in their listeners who seem to take pride in this floppy-haired familiar uprising. For a while, it seemed that the home of the Arctic Monkeys had become the music capital of England. And any area that could produce an out-take of said Northerners became another hub. Back in America, where music enthusiasts and anglophiles alike were slowly catching wave of this vernacular and theme-driven upheaval, the novelty of these up-and-comers was refreshing, to many. Shiers explained,

"What's happening right now is very exciting. There's a whole new wave of English bands and coming with them is a sound more reminiscent of the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Clash and the Jam... not saying that this new invasion of bands sound like those British greats...but, they do have one thing in common. The music is unmistakably British!" Goodchild added to that,

"The fact that they are staying true to themselves is pretty much the essence of independent music and people aren't stupid...they can tell when people are being genuine, and they fuckin' love it. It's basically a folk sensibility isn't it?"

Folk sensibility is right. Goodchild believes that it's, "people writing about what they see in their everyday lives." While these new English bands might not necessarily sound like folk-rock, the sentiment through narrative ballads is quite similar. Folk music thrives on story-telling and an emphasis on social realism. It is music that is meant to reflect the lives of real people, often working-class people, and the romanticism of the common man. During the fight for authenticity in the 90's bands like Blur and Oasis were constantly being coined as "quintessentially English" for their accents and comments through lyrics on the state of England. Particular 'Englishness' involves a sense of exclusion which automatically places on it a novelty and importance. In the 90's, when these English bands were deemed a reaction against American grunge rock, they were hailed as saviors of Britain and of British music because of their folk sensibility and a kind of story-telling about their limited landscape. Newer artists are also trying their hands at this common man-oriented and folk-esque technique that fans and critics have latched onto yet again.

Since the introduction of the Arctic Monkeys and their contemporaries to the music scene, the British music press has become preoccupied with finding the next "Saviours of British rock" and the next band that is "Back to save Britain" . Not long before the Arctic Monkeys, the savior tag was given to the Libertines who slipped just under the radar in the early 2000's as post-punk revivalists. They inspired their following with what was, for many, an everyman kind of pub-rock made for the common people. Franz Ferdinand then got tagged as the best British band out to save British rock with a newfound swaggering fervor. Then the Arctic Monkeys. Then Kasabian. Then the Kooks. Now it's Bloc Party. Soon it will be Damon Albarn's new super-group 'The Good the Bad and the Queen', if not for the name alone. Lately, the British music press, or at least a decent portion of it, has become overwrought with discovering the next saviors of British rock, which poses the question: What is Britain constantly trying to save itself from?

Shiers quickly blurted, "Simon Cowell!"

Goodchild suggested further,

"We're a nation of complainers constantly looking for something to make us happy, and fortunately music seems to do just the trick. It takes a special band to get the whole country talking about them and, whether you love them or hate them, they are taking your mind off the failing Health Service and the incredibly high taxes. In that respect, they are saviors."

In another sense, it seems these adolescent prophets are saving Britain from the same music that drove our boys from The Small Hours out in the first place. No longer so strongly overcome by reality-TV pop groups and foppish boy bands, Britain is continuing the tradition of bringing in blue-collar heroes to ignite the passion of the common youth. And thus, bringing this English sensibility to America. The Small Hours may sound more ethereal and warmly distorted with anxious sophisticated melodies like Doves or Muse rather than like this newest breed of British rockers, many with a nostalgic and similar jangle. However, both Goodchild and Shiers see a great significance in their arrival and technique.

"A lot of successful music has talked about how England has been going down the shitter...the Clash were massive over here [in America] and have influenced generations of music with attitude! I think what is going on now is brilliant. And it definitely takes me home," said Goodchild.

Whether or not what these new British acts are doing is intentional is irrelevant. What is important is that they are becoming a chart-shagging backlash to the state of popular music in Britain that was for a while left mostly to media-made pop acts. Shiers considered, "What's most likely is that these bands are just doing what they've been doing all's just that the masses have started to pay attention." Maybe so. Or, perhaps by focusing on Englishness, these bands are finding their own ways to re-instill a sense of national pride that, as Shiers put it, "disappears in the UK for 2 years at a time...between the Football World Cup and the European Cup."

Goodchild mused and then added. "There are so many different markets that someone is bound to get what you are doing...and if not then they can all shove it up their arse...I'll play for my mum!" He then fell off his chair in laughter.

While it is true that there are many markets for music, it is also true that lately, being an English band has become quite highlighted. The Small Hours are only a half-English outfit, yet they are still somewhat considered to be an English band living in Los Angeles. With regular airplay on a Los Angeles radio show called Passport Approved that showcases international music, The Small Hours have entered the American market as an international band. As they see it, they have something different from other bands in both the U.S and the U.K.

Shiers explained, "We have several factors working in our favor. We have a talented front-man with a broad Yorkshire accent, but we live and write in California. So we're surrounded by a whole host of influences that our comrades back in the UK aren't lucky enough to enjoy. Our music doesn't necessarily sound English in the recent application of the term... in as much as the songs aren't particularly colloquial, but the personality of the band is certainly British."

As a result of current music, The Small Hours have been given more of a chance to express their half-English roots and influences with a folk-sensibility of their own.

Goodchild claimed, "We're folk in a different way... our songs are about everyday life... but not observations on society as a whole." Thanks to the new breed of English rockers, The Small Hours' songs have more aggressive and raw elements to them. Keeping the emotive melodies and ethereal edge that they have always had, their recent songs, such as the unreleased "Her Royal Heiness" have a more organic tube crunch to them and are much less polished in terms of production which "makes it sound more real," according to Shiers. However, the biggest influence these bands have had on them has been their shake-up of the market. Shiers concluded, "Everything was so uninspiring, but in recent months there's been like... a 180 turn around in what seems to be getting people excited. It has given us a new enthusiasm for what we're doing." And perhaps this new enthusiasm is just what The Small Hours needed.

Tonight, The Fox and Hounds is everything you would expect from an English pub on a Tuesday night in Studio City. I walk in finding trendy twenty-somethings throwing darts, a chalkboard of soccer scores, a frantic bartender, and the bangs of nu-metal-grunge in what were supposed to be acoustic sets. Forty minutes later, I am sitting at a wet table as bar-goers talk loudly around me. I scan the room for the band and watch them move equipment in through the pub door then quickly setting up drums and plugging in guitars. Soon, The Small Hours take the floor and start to charm the mixed crowd as they sip their pints and raise eyebrows at Goodchild's Yorkshire accent.

"We're an English-American crossbreed," he jokes, " A hybrid, if you will. Better for the environment." Everyone laughs. - The Loudest Guffaw

"The Battle Of Airstrip One - Review"

My very recent cynicism towards American politics (or, rather, rekindled cynicism) flared this morning as I watched one of Pasadena’s senior citizens march with a large sign proclaiming “End Obama’s War”. Because I listen to NPR, count myself as having a logical, discerning mind, and study my generation, I feel justified in my opinion that the USA is going down the pooper. However, The Small Hours, seems to believe the future is pretty damn bright as conveyed in their song “From the Future”. The song repeats “We’re from the future, and things are wonderful!” I’m not going to follow their logic seeing as politics get more partisan and people get more into themselves, but the optimism is something that I haven’t seen heads or tails of for a long while. Despite myself, I found their sentiments refreshing and gave into the lyrics, a little.

The Small Hours is a band from England/LA, and the appealing English accent can be heard in many of their songs. I enjoyed the album as a conglomerate of songs that differed from each other, but still flowed smooth as a Willy Wonka’s chocolate river until I read a post on the band’s website ( I now see the album, “The Battle of Airstrip One” as a much more conceptual work laden with coded messages. An album that calls for several listens and a few friends to really delve into its deeper meanings.

Musically speaking, the band fits into the Indie/Pop/Rock genre featuring the traditional tenor lead singer and back ups. However easily they may fit into that box, the music is deliciously hearty and the concepts driving the lyrics and music are even better. To me, they reinvent Muse with more intelligence and veil to their work (aka, they are poets). I liked the lyric in “Take a Walk”– “We’re going to get fucked over by the one we turn our back on.” It seems such a pertinent comment for today’s social and political atmosphere. The album is full of such smart remarks dealing with daily observations. As “The Battle of Airstrip One” progresses its theme becomes less about how bright the future may be; instead, it becomes more about the bleakness of our reality. While I cannot claim to fully understand The Small Hours’ concept, I believe it has something to do with today’s bleak reality and the small hope for a brighter future. I tip my hat to you The Small Hours, I cannot precisely describe the state of things as you and I lack your optimism. I’m so glad I was able to live in your reality for 45 minutes.

- Katie Bunstma -

"Meet The Small Hours"

The Small Hours – by Michelle Deiss

Los Angeles, CA – Yorkshireman Rob Goodchild squats in a splash of shade produced by a palm tree some 30 feet away; “It’s not that I don’t like the sun… I just wish it would f-ck off every once in a while”.
As the frontman of British Indy-Rock band The Small Hours - and a Brit abroad in America’s Golden Sate, Goodchild has seen his share of ultraviolet rays, forest fires and the dusty rust-glow filth that makes “Tinsel Town”, well… not at all tinselly. It does make for some pretty dramatic sunsets though - I’ve gotta say.
“You know, these palm trees aren’t even native to California? Most of them were imported in the 20s during Hollywood’s glory days” It seems a fitting addition to such a transient city of narcissists and bad drivers.
Goodchild isn’t doing well in the heat – and his uncommonly pale skin attests to the hours spent in windowless venues and air-conditioned recording studios.
The Small Hours’ latest full-length release entitled The Battle of Airstrip One (earmarked for a Winter 2010 release) is the product of a shared existence split between growing up and living in the north of England – and a lot of time spent writing, recording and gigging in Southern California. As it’s title might suggest, this 13 track album draws much influence from George Orwell’s 1984 and although the band insist this isn’t a concept album, the pseudo-futuristic, post-apocalyptic feel to the record certainly propels you down the broken streets of an Orwellian wasteland in some kind of spacecraft – possibly from the 1980s miniseries V.
“It’s not that we’re trying to make a statement as such – it’s just an inescapable part of society that has influenced our writing over the years”
With the UK being a world leader in privacy depravation, The Small Hours’ new album certainly does speak to a modern civilization where you never really know who’s watching you. The UK, with no privacy law has an estimated one CCTV camera to every 14 residents – and at 4.2m cameras, that’s 20% of all the World’s cameras put together - quite staggering when you consider that the UK makes up only 1% of the worlds population.
But The Battle Of Airstrip One is not only about highlighting an invasion of privacy – it’s about drawing attention to a worldwide mass movement towards acceptance and ultimately assimilation into a dictated version of what is right and wrong. In the opening track of the record and with tongue firmly in cheek, Goodchild sings; “We’re from the future; Everything is wonderful” speaking to a generation of disillusioned individuals; aching for some kind of guidance and echoing sentiments of Orwell’s 2+2=5.
Another open-topped London bus pulls up behind us – the tour-guide announces something about The Three Stooges and the disenchanted tourists on the sun-scorched top deck begrudgingly snap a few shots of the entranceway to the studio back-lot. A quick glance over the other shoulder reveals a brief glimpse of the smog-shrouded Hollywood sign, before the bus disappears with a puff of diesel smoke and a chorus of agitated car horns.
The Small Hours’ previous release - a self-titled EP from 2006 - was a prelude to their upcoming album; it foreshadows the apocalypse and warns of killing something beautiful. In The Battle Of Airstrip One the listener is dealing with the recovery from the destruction and is encouraged to join the revolution in a grass-roots uprising against the oppression. The band’s official biography reads like an opening scene to a movie where the band are held-up in a dark, featureless room, dressed in Party-issued clothing – awaiting a message signaling the beginning of the uprising.
“The listener can take whatever meaning they want from this record. We’re not politicians. I suppose what we’re really trying to get across is more like; hey, listen – you have a voice and you can make a difference to whatever it is in your life that needs to change… and yes I am being intentionally vague.”
We’ve been sitting here for no more than 15 minutes and in this brief time I have counted 3 Aston Martins, 2 Bentleys, countless homeless people and I’m pretty sure a few moments ago we were almost run-over by the bad guy from Heroes in his black Toyota Prius. Hollywood is a strange city and not at all what I was expecting. I guess after having spent a lot of time here - in and out of clubs and studios, mixing with the rich and plastic - it’s probably equally as difficult to remain elevated as it is grounded. The lines drawn between success and failure are quite striking and after talking to The Small Hours’ lead-singer in this setting I can really begin to understand the sentiment behind their new full-length.
We’re not criminals, but we can always start.

- Charged Magazine - ITP Publishing Group

"Apple iTunes Review"

Deploying a sense of endearing and melodic agression, up-and-coming Los Angeles band The Small Hours are making the most of their English roots with this emotive debut EP. Adorned with the slick result of healthy harmonies, the songs punctuate every kind of lack-there-of with a raw ambition normally associated with bands like Doves, Keane and Muse.
The Lyrical Territory is often edgy within the realm of unsettling romance. In the first track, front-man Robin Goodchild sings, "I'm begining to think you think much to much about just what I'm all about."

The urgency of each song builds tension with a tingling dose of keyboards and anxious water-tight drums. Armed with sophisticated guitar-work and Goodchild's charmingly honest vocals, The Small Hours are doing anything but 'killing something beautiful'. They are beautifully steadied by a head-rush of melodies and by waves of hybridity. If this cauterizing EP slips through the cracks without making an imprint on your brain, then you probably haven't got one. - Apple iTunes


The Milkman of Human Kindness (single) - June 2011, Billy Bragg cover.

The Battle Of Airstrip One, January, 2011 - Coldwater Entertainment Limited

The Party (single) - Decemeber 2010 - Coldwater Entertainment Limited

The Small Hours - Eponymous 2006
5 song EP
*Owner Of My Honour* - Indie 103.1 (KDLD) - Los Angeles

*Her Royal Highness* - Live performance on MTV. MTV New Years Party

*Something Beautiful* - Indie 103.1 (KDLD) - Los Angeles, Xfm - UK, Motor FM - Germany.



The Battle of Airstrip One, released January 2011 - Coldwater Entertainment Ltd.

"A thing of Beauty" - Billy Bragg 2011

featured showcases - during SXSW 2011

Billboard #1 most played, unsigned alternative band on US radio. January 2008.

MTV2 - voted and judged Los Angeles #1 "Band On The Rise" 2008/2009

MUSEXPO Los Angeles - featured showcase. 2008

Spins on KROQ, KDLD, 91X, XFM (UK), Motor FM (Germany)

Live performance in Times Square: MTV's New Year's Eve Party. 2008.

Featured on Universal Pictures' "Teenage Dirtbag" (2009)

It was a dark, cold morning in March and the clocks were striking three. Rob, John and JB sat motionless in the small hours, surrounded by the complete darkness of an almost featureless room. They had not moved in several hours and in the insignificant illumination of the starless night, their bright-red ocular-protectors seemed as colourless and monotone as their party issue coveralls and Wellington boots. The Party was under their skin and nails – oozing an intangible grime over everything. They had lived their lives in habit and instinct—assuming that every sound they made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

They sat waiting, willing the internal-teleconnect to ping its usual chirp of sober misery; but today they knew the sound would feel different somehow. The message would be from Edward, and it would signify a new day - the start of something unprecedented and the beginning of change.

Momentarily the wall mounted Electronic-Speaking-Device sparked to life with a shudder of blips and bloops. With a start, John leaned forward engaging the receive function on the machine so that the digitally altered voice of Edward could be heard over the unremitting external hum of factories working through the night; the eternal production of machines that would fill these very factories and replace the common workers. A self-perpetuating and destructive loop of convenience and frugality versus basic human survival. A not so wonderful world.

“We’re from the future” the voice began with a choked cough of digital drop-out. “Loose lips sink ships, so don’t worry about that wicked girl – she’s a glass actress singing hate songs to herself.”

Edward’s distorted voice was even and uniform, yet though the static a shade of excitement carried in his coded message. John turned to Rob and JB, and across the early morning grey he saw the up-turned corners of muted smiles, betraying their stifled emotions. He leaned forward and initiated the ESD’s reply procedure;

“Who would have thought crime would pay? We’ll take a walk and think of something as fast as we can.”

The cryptic response had been sent, and so it had begun: A new fight by the people, for the people - a revolution of the common man and the retaking of rational human thought.

The Battle of Airstrip One.

New album out now.