After years After Hours are back with a new album called Against The Grain. It's not the original line-up, but the three guys are the force behind After Hours and just hooked up with some talented musicians. To learn more about their return, the new album and future plans I shoot them some questions which were answered by guitarist Tim Payne.
After Hours was founded in 1987, but after 2 albums the band disbanded in the early '90s. Just being unfortunate?
...it had run its course by'91 the second album was patched together as the record company wanted it released regardless of its readiness, and John and I were simply worn out by these demands, and the disagreements as to the direction of the song writing which ultimately resulted in the band splitting, as often happens... It was a sad time for us, particularly John as I always felt he was destined for worldwide recognition... I still believe he deserves it...
In 2008 you met by chance and wrote a song together. Did you feel that the chemistry was right? That there was a certain magic? Or what made you re-start the band after all these years?
Yep.. you got that about right... Martin Walls and I met up accidentally... It was a bit strange as we hadn't spoken since he left back in '90.. It struck us that we had too much in common ever to have fallen out, but as I say, the pressure to succeed was great, especially as the record company had invested much money in us...
Martin said why don't we go record a song for old time sake and so we gave John a call and asked him if he was up for it.. At this point we had no intention of doing anything more than that.
I was gigging at the time with an amazing drummer, Chris Pope, and asked him to come in and lay down some drums... He has such great feel, energy, and his missus makes good biscuits, he sings great too, ... And then there were four ...!
First you started writing songs, then invited friends to record with you. You did it all on your own, was doing it yourself was the only way for you? Coz there was no pressure from a label or management?
We recorded the song with Chris and another guy, Ray Drury who is a good friend and demon Hammond player. There was such a good vibe going on in Aubitt Studios we didn't want to go home. Partly due to the fact that engineer Rob Aubrey had lots of booze and plenty of Biscuits! He has since put a lock on his beer / wine / fridge!
I felt we had recaptured the feeling, and that as there was no external demand we just enjoyed the hell out if it. The next step was to strike fast as we weren't getting any younger! So a song John and I had written for the 2nd album in 1990, which they rejected, was the prime candidate.. Against The Grain was that song, and subsequently became the album title... Rob Evans, music journalist and now friend had been sent a copy of the song by Martin and an introduction to Georg Seigl of AOR Heaven resulted in an offer to help us record an album.
At this point I felt we needed a helping hand or two,... Enter Sean McMenemy.. On a visit to my local supermarket a crashed my trolley full of fine wines and Belgian chocolates into his! Sean is a great guitar / keyboard player in his own right, and has a great feel for arrangement and harmony. Then there were five!
How long did it take to write the songs for Against The Grain? And how long did the recordings take?
After Hours really became reborn with Sean and Chris when we went back to the studio to record the third song, Angel, which is one of my personal favorites on the album.. Sean had come up with the structure and with a little tweaking by the rest of the guys it was a thumbs up in no time. John's vocal on this one really deserves a mention. It has all the hallmarks of a truly great rock vocal. After that the recording sessions were dictated by the availability of the studio, we realized we didn't want to record with anyone else but Rob. Though he was working with so many people and had lots of live work in the States... So we eventually got it finished two years later!!
Why the title Against The Grain? And How does the artwork ties in?
I guess we feel the sands of time represent those powers that work against us.. Don't get me wrong we're not a bunch of conspiracy theory goodie goodies... but... There is little progress as far as waste and want are concerned especially when you look at how many people live on the brink of poverty and debt. Supermarkets throw away so much food ...petro chem. companies block development if alternative fuel sources and the bankers greed is blatant and they all walk away with big profits and we all pick up the tab.. The artwork was essentially an image we all like and depicts the sky the desert with the dream catcher. The sands of time message.
Would you like to do a video for the title track? Or would you choose another song?
I would really love to make a video for the title track. Did you read my mind?!!
Eleventh Hour you recorded in 2 versions, why this song?
Eleventh Hour is perhaps the least predictable track on the album, Martin has a great love of native American culture and trained as an equine dentist in Idaho, making a real connection with the people, this song was born from that feeling and we all contributed to this in the same spirit. It just worked so well when we stripped it down..
Do you plan to hit the road? Or at least do some one-off shows?
We all want to go do it live... but... And its a big but, we want to do it right and that costs money.. Watch this space!
These days with internet you almost immediately get a reaction for everything... Have you already got some feedback from fans? Are you satisfied with the media feedback so far?
Yes, its been unbelievable, people have been so generous with their praise and seem to approve of the new album, in fact this presents a brilliant opportunity to say thank you to all of you who have supported us since we performed and launched the album. Thanks guys!
With internet and social network the way things work changed... Do you think it's easier now to spread your music? To get the fans attention?
It's easier for us all to access what we want when we want it, and that can be a fleeting experience.. But those who buy the album will benefit from some amazingly good artwork and a sleeve booklet that communicates something extra... At least that's my feeling.. All ends up if its being heard then great...
Take Off was re-released last year, what about After Hours? Is it planned to re-release it?
No, I don't think so... History doesn't need to repeat itself for us. We want to look forward to recording another album and leave the past, although we have learned a little from it!
What can we expect from After Hours in future? Any plans you can share with us?
I would love this album to be successful enough for us to do another... beyond that, who knows?