Bio: There are many places this biography of The Hours could begin. It could begin in Sheffield, England at the tail end of punk, where a ten-year old Antony Genn is ... (more)
Bio: There are many places this biography of The Hours could begin. It could begin in Sheffield, England at the tail end of punk, where a ten-year old Antony Genn is standing at the stage door of The Top Rank waiting for The Clash to turn up so he can grab Joe Strummer's autograph. Then again, it could begin over a decade later as the same Antony Genn settles into a swivel chair and clocks in for his first day producing Joe Strummer's solo album.
It could start across the Pennines, in the early '80s, where another Northern English lad, Martin Slattery, is carving a reputation as a prodigious teenage jazz pianist and saxophone player while he performs in Manchester working men's clubs alongside his dad, an organist. Or it could kick off in the back of a tour bus in 1995, somewhere on Planet Earth, where Slattery is earning a living as the (still prodigiously) talented keyboardist in Shaun Ryder's Black Grape, living life to its very fullest in any number of places.
These stories would tell a tale of two talented musicians, setting upon separate creative paths (that would cross one day), gathering experience and perhaps getting kicked around in the process… and these stories are indeed a crucial part of the biography of The Hours. However, we’re not starting there. We’re starting where IT started: where Antony Genn and Martin Slattery, already so accomplished in their own right as producers and professional musicians, decided that they wanted to communicate their own beautiful, straight-talking, soaring music with as many people as possible.
It was at a Radiohead gig in London in 2004. Genn and Slattery were blown away by the power of the performance. Martin turned to Ant and admitted, “If I have one regret, it’s that I never played in my own band and we never got to that level.” Ant’s reply sealed the deal, “Well let’s do it then. Let’s start a band.”
The boys went into the studio without a note of music written, with Slattery thinking they'd be doing experimental stuff and messing around on the fringes just for fun. Instead, they started to write huge anthems, with Slattery playing any instrument he could lay his hands on and Genn joining him on guitar while sending out his bold, occasionally dark, usually illuminating words about life, death, love and all points in between. The result left them both gobsmacked. They realized that they’d pulled off the hardest trick of all: they had written and recorded a collection of glittering pop songs that had something fundamental and important to say.
"It was really important that we communicated something with these songs," says Genn. "I wanted to communicate to people about reinvention, resurrection, loss, growing-up...late: The human condition. Me and him have been in groups with three of the greatest British poets and front-men of all time: Shaun Ryder, Jarvis Cocker and Joe Strummer. So, I always told myself, unless you've got something to say, mate, don't even step towards that mic."
The Hours released their stunning debut, Narcissus Road, in the UK on A&M Records in February of 2007. The album was described by the London Sunday Times Culture as “A deep, dark, disturbing beauty of a debut album, stalked by Scott Walker, Radiohead, The Blue Nile and Gang of Four” and Q Magazine touted the band as “One of the year’s most tipped bands, with the tunes to back it up”. The album artwork was created by long time friend and champion, Damien Hirst: a painting of a skull, with clocks for the eyes and one of Hirst’s spin paintings in the background.
Fast forward to 2008 – The Hours are now a seven-piece band with Genn and Slattery at the helm. Genn, Slattery and Hirst reorganized and created a music company: Is Good Ltd. The band is locked away in the studio, recording their second album to be released in early 2009 with Flood, the uber-talented producer of some of the best post punk/alternative rock records this side of the 20th century (U2, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and most recently Sigur Ros and Goldfrapp).
About The Hours
The Hours are Antony Genn and Martin Slattery. Between them, they have worked with three of the greatest British poets and front men of all time: Joe Strummer, Shaun Ryder and Jarvis Cocker. They have, in their illustrious past, toured with Elastica and Black Grape (individually, not together); produced sessions for UNKLE and Grace Jones (separately, not together) and worked alongside the likes of Brian Eno. Recently, they performed at The Red Auction at Sotheby’s in New York City, closing their set with a special appearance from U2’s Bono. Mostly though, they are two Northern lads who have made a record of songs that soar and inspire… that raise goose bumps on arms, bring tears to eyes… and should not be ignored. www.myspace.com/TheHours, www.thehours.co.uk
About Damien Hirst
The most famous and infamous of the Young British Artists (YBAs), Damien Hirst is best known for his ‘Natural History’ series - which presents animals in vitrines suspended in formaldehyde such as the iconic The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living ‘The Shark’ (1991) and Mother and Child Divided ‘Cow Cut in Half’ (1993) – and his ‘Spot’ series, the works of rigorous grids of uniform sized dots. His latest artwork, For the Love of God, is a life-size cast of a human skull in platinum and covered by 8,601 pave-set diamonds weighing 1,106.18 carats.