It’s hard to believe sunny pop could coime out of a country associated with ice hockey and being generally freezing, but Canada’s Two Hours Traffic manage to pull it off perfectly. They’re currently in Australia supporting The Jezebels on a national tour. I was lucky enough to interview guitarist Alec O’Hanley in the middle of the sold out tour.
Electric Skeleton: How would you describe your sound?
Alec O’Hanley: Catchy, but many-headed, like a pop hydra.
ES:Your band name was taken from a passage in Romeo and Juliet. Are there other kind of literary influences in your music?
AO:Ingesting poetry can be particularly helpful – for phonetics, for sculpting the percussion of a lyric, as well as for devices that make a line catchier. We’re bookworms but because we try to write songs with broad appeal we’ve generally tried to keep the verbosity to a minimum. Rubbing one’s education in another’s face can get irritating in a hurry.
ES:How did the tour with The Jezabels come about?
AO:We bumped into them at our Sydney show this past June and they seemed very friendly, so we cooked up a sort of commonwealth cultural exchange whereby they would open for us in Canada and they in turn would reciprocate in Australia. I can’t convey what an unadulterated treat it is for us to be touring with a band of that caliber. Such good tunes, such gems of people.
ES: This will be you’re second tour to Australia. Is there anything you plan to do in Australia this time around that you missed out on last time?
AO:The last time we were here our bassist Andy tried to surf for an hour but his only tangible result was a chest rash, so if any one of the four of us gets upright this time around we’ll be content. I wouldn’t mind hitting a zoo or two as well.
ES:There seem to be a lot of amazing bands coming out of Canada. Is it a particularly good place to be in a band?
AO: It is! Much like Australia, Canada isn’t quite an indie rock mecca like the United States or Kingdom, but there’s no shortage of heavyweights (for instance, the New Pornographers or the Arcade Fire) who have proven the journey from provincial obscurity to international notoriety is feasible. Canada is also good for bands in the sense that there’s decent government support for the arts at the moment. On the downside, getting your songs into the ears of an extremely dispersed population is a daunting endeavour, but if you make yourself mobile you’ve a good hope of making a dent. Better than Siberia anyway.
ES: Are there any Canadian bands that the rest of the world should know about?
AO: Our hometown (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) counts some mindblowingly good bands among its thirty-five thousand citizens: English Words, Boxer The Horse, and The Danks (with whom Andy and I play, so we’re biased but whatever).
ES: What is your favourite album to listen to when you’re on tour?
Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Bandwagonesque’ has done its time in our CD player, more recently we’ve been blasting MGMT’s ‘Congratulations’ and The National’s ‘High Violet.’ The Soft Boys’ ‘Underwater Moonlight’ would be the latest earcatcher. From this part of the hemisphere we love the Hummingbirds and Dan Kelly and The Chills.
Two Hours Traffic’s latest album ‘Territory’ is out now.