Hour Of The Shipwreck Profile Page
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|Hour Of The Shipwreck|
The Hour Is Upon Us
(Shipwreck Music 2008)
|Cover||Artist / Album||Category||Rating||User Rating||Buy|
|Hour Of The Shipwreck|
The Hour Is Upon Us
(Shipwreck Music 2008)
Since its inception in 2005, Los Angeles band Hour of the Shipwreck has sought to create fantastical settings through their use of cinematic influenced arrangements with melody driven compositions. Their music influences range from Muse and Radiohead to the film scores of Danny Elfman and the avante rock of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
Their debut full-length release, The Hour is Upon Us, has an underlying influence in film, particularly by the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the imaginative animated work of Hayao Miyazaki. To capture the cinematic mood on the The Hour is Upon Us, Hour of the Shiwpreck orchestrated for a choir, strings, and brass, blended with the rock quintet, giving the album a production that separates it from much of the indie-rock world.
A 12-string guitarist educated in classical and jazz methods, Kohan has served as the band's core along with a lineup of talented musicians trained in a number of genres, making apparent why its sound may fall under descriptors that range from Baroque to post-rock, to a new approach deemed Fantasy Folk. The band lineup includes drummer Barbara Gruska (Jenny Lewis, The Watson Twins, Inara George), guitarist Marcel Camargo (The Watson Twins, Inara George, Airto Moreira), keyboardist Aaron Arntz (Zappa Plays Zappa, The Red Elvises), and upright and electric bassist Gabe Noel.
Hour of the Shipwreck has performed with Grizzly Bear, Faun Fables, 2 Foot Yard, Stolen Babies, Two Ton Boa, Bad Dudes, and Upsilon Acrux.
Interview with HOUR OF THE SHIPWRECK
featuring Richie Kohan (vocalist, 12-string guitarist)
interviewed by Kevin Sellers for Music Emissions
Kevin: Hey Richie, thanks from me and the readers for sitting down and answering some questions for Music Emissions. You and your band Hour Of The Shipwreck's debut album, "The Hour Is Upon Us", certainly begs a fair share of them. So let's just get the thanks out of the way, and let you greet the people how you will; maybe the obligatory band information, etc. Not everyone has your album fall into their lap, after all. Heheh.
Richie: Greetings everyone. So, the goal of Hour of the Shipwreck is to create music that brings the listener into another world, in the way that a film or a ride at a theme park would. Our music is very picturesque, each song tends to take you on a journey, going through many different sections ranging from soft and mysterious to huge and epic often several times within the same piece. On The Hour is Upon Us we used a combination of a rock band ensemble (plus some assorted instruments like air organ and oddly tuned guitars) in conjunction with more orchestral instruments such as choir, strings, and brass.
Kevin: It's definitely a treat to be doing this interview. I've listened to THIUU around 25 times since I first received it, and it's honestly one of the most fantastic pieces of music I've come across in a long time. It speaks to my own sense of imaginative beauty, to the way I sometimes look at the world through a lens of fantasy. It's very cinematic, each song seems to introduce different settings, themes, characters and imagery that's just off the charts. Was that a primary goal for you and the rest of the band, to almost create a soundtrack to an invisible movie? Or is that just what I'm taking it as?
Richie: We were definitely aiming toward a cinematic mood. Ideally we would have wanted a film to go along with the music, or a theme park, but we didn’t quite have the means for either of those. We are currently trying to make some of the visual concepts happen.
Kevin: And as long as we're focused a bit on the thematic elements of your music, tell us a bit about the lyrics. Who composes these, and where does the inspiration come from? I've taken from your myspace blogs that you are a writer at heart, so I take it you are the one developing these well thought out and fitting lyrics. All made the sweeter by your wonderfully expressive voice, if you don't mind me saying so.
Richie: Yes, I write the lyrics, and I’m glad you like them. When I listen to the album now, lyrics are one of the things I wish I had spent more time revising. The lyrics for this album were very personal, almost always emotionally driven. They tended to come our pretty cryptic. I think I was writing more the mood I was feeling more that any actual events.
Kevin: If you were going to dedicate "The Hour Is Upon Us" to three people, and they had to be those who you thought were most responsible for influencing you and the band, who would they be and why?
Richie: Peter Jackson, Walt Disney, and J.R.R. Tolkien. They all had extremely grandiose ideas of things that capture a complete world more fantastic than our own. And they succeeded at it. Their projects required the highest level of craftspersonship and an uncompromising drive toward creating their vision at nothing less than the vision itself.
Kevin: Do you enjoy the Lord of the Rings? The books or the films or both? Because, personally, your music takes me to Middle Earth every time I listen to it, so long as that's where I decide to go. My mind is filled with fantasy stuff, and your music seems to open a portal into the realms of those things, bringing to mind sci-fi mysteries, ancient wonders of the world, spiritual dimensions beyond our eyes, etc. And, yes, elves and orcs and white-bearded wizards, however cheesy some might find such things. Are you a fan of such things?
Richie: Gandalf? Lothlorien? Cheesy? Never! This album wouldn’t exist without the LOTR trilogy of books and film.
Kevin: Let's dig a bit into the meat of the album, shall we? And by that I mean the music itself, what went into writing and recording it all. I can imagine all stages of creating this record were quite daunting tasks, with orchestrating all the varied instruments together into cohesive storybook-styled songs the most difficult. How did all of you go about creating "The Hour Is Upon Us"? How was the idea to do it originally sparked, who did what and how long did it take to get it all together on record?
Richie: I could easily fill up the rest of the interview in response to this one so I’ll try to keep it quick. I started writing the music (the earliest of which was written long before Hour of the Shipwreck began) probably three or four years before we began recording. Once the band started the pieces developed and changed dramatically as we developed a band sound and realized what worked and what didn’t.
Arranging the choir parts was a bit scary because I had never written for a real choir before and we only had one shot to track them. I met with a film orchestrator/composer named Marcus Trumpp who gave me some tips, and when we finally tracked it, I think it sounded better than any of us expected. Orchestrating the other orchestral instruments was a different process. A lot of the cello lines we came up with in the studio, and tried different things until it sounded right.
The recording process was pretty renegade since we had almost no budget. It took us 13 months to track, then another 2 months to mix. We tracked the drums at a studio in two days, we tracked the choir at the high school I went to, and the rest of the album was tracked in the houses of our engineers, Joe Napolitano and Bram Inscore.
Kevin: The music itself comes off as a very progressive blend of some of what's popular today in 'indie' rock and post-rock. The way the songs flow, the softness and unsmooth sections melded together back-to-back comes off like Radiohead (something about your voice reminds me of Thom, too), but more importantly it sounds like all four of you are incredibly talented at what you do. In particular, the guitar work throughout is brilliant, I love how you crafted the melodies to move the songs forward instead of making them too flashy and too much of a focal point. Would you consider "The Hour Is Upon Us" a progressive album? Or yourselves a progressive outfit?
Richie: It is progressive in the sense that it is complex and long, and goes many places, and a lot of people compare us to prog bands, but I don’t really hear it that way. I suppose it has to labeled as something, and these days if the music is complex there isn’t really any other label than prog.
Kevin: Would you consider the album to be a concept piece? I may be mistaken but I can sometimes feel a thread running through, a theme of aquatic mishaps, perhaps. Like the shipwreck in your name, of course, but with a thick backstory of lost love, innocence and misplaced desires. Almost like a more serious Pirates of the Carribean, if that makes any sense to you, haha.
We didn’t intend for The Hour is Upon Us to be a concept album but if it turned out that way that’s fine. We did want it to have a strong, dark visual element all the way through.
Kevin: I know some of these questions have been a bit daunting, so let's ease it up a bit with something I like to do with any artist I get a chance to interview. This is going to look like a myspace bulletin quiz, one of those you see the kids filling out all the time. Feel free to skip this if it's not up your alley, but I think it's fun, so there! Haha.
Food? Granola and trail mix.
Place on the planet? (whether you've actually been there or not) Does Fangorn Forest counts?
Local place to play a show? Um… Disneyland.
Band? John Williams
Song? Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm by The Crash Test Dummies, or In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
Fictional Novel? LOTR, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, His Dark Materials
Film Character? Aragorn, Gandalf, Ferris Bueller
Kevin: I see you sell some unique merchandise on your band's website. I would invest in one of those desk clocks if I wasn't a poor bastard. Who makes this stuff, and who's idea was it to put your name on lamps and other small furnitures?
Richie: I made all the art. Hopefully one day we’ll have a line of merch that is more reasonably priced.
Kevin:I'm a realist, I can understand most bandmembers needing other avenues of income or expression, or both. What are yours?
Richie: I’m a guitar teacher. The rest of the band either teaches music or are hired musicians or both.
Kevin: If you could work with any individual musician, songwriter, producer or whatever, who would it be and why? What would you be aiming to create with him or her?
Richie: Bjork. Aside from all the obvious musical reasons, I think it would be amazing to spend time with her.
And Joanna Newsom – see above – and I would love to work with a harpist, love her music and concept, her long form and fantastic songs. and the non-modern culture instrumentation she uses.
Kevin: What's the near future look like for the band? Touring plans, another album?
Richie: We are in the process of developing an elaborate stage production for our shows. We never intended to be a rock band. We fell into that because at the time we felt there was no place else to go. Now we are going to do whatever it takes to pave a new road. The plan is to play fewer shows, but each show will be a much larger production. If we can figure out how to tour with it logistically and if we get a booking agent, then we will tour.
Kevin: Any side projects in the works for you or the other band members?
Richie: Marcel has an amazing solo project called Tales of Banyan. He is working on a song cycle that tells a fantastic story. He recently developed a setup where he plays a classical guitar, a gypsy guitar, and a Nashville tuned guitar, all at once. It’s not a gimmick, that’s just what he needed to do to capture the sound he is going for.
Barbara writes beautiful songs that she is starting is playing with her brother, Ethan.
Aaron has a project called Troika. It rocks and tends to be long form, with complex harmonies, and lots of beautifulness.
Kevin: Well, I appreciate your time and most of all your craft, and hope it gets you where you think it should. Anything I didn't ask about that you think the fans deserve to know, just go ahead and speak your mind here. Thanks again, and good luck in the future!
Richie: Thanks Kevin.
No, thank you, Richie, and thanks to Hour Of The Shipwreck for gracing us with one of this years most elaborate and enjoyable musical experiences, The Hour Is Upon Us. Take a peek over at their myspace or official site and do yourself a favor; buy the damn record!