When London sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow created a MySpace page to post “Creeping,” the first song recorded by their band 2:54, they only expected a few friends to listen.
“We're just really excited to be playing with them,” said Colette, who spoke on Skype a few hours before the concert. “We're so thrilled.”
On the strength of “Creeping” and a few other raw and fuzzed-out home-recorded demos, 2:54 caught the attention of the British music press, and the buzz quickly spread.
“We had zero expectations,” said Colette, the band's vocalist. “We never anticipated that anyone else would like them. We were shocked then, and we remain shocked. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure we're not dreaming.”
The sisters quickly assembled a rhythm section — bassist Joel Porter and drummer Alex Robins — and last year they released a 7-inch single and the “Scarlet” EP. Drawing comparisons to PJ Harvey and classic shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine, the four songs are dense and eerie, with Colette's sublime vocal harmonies floating alongside Hannah's distorted, cascading and pondering guitar screams.
The band signed a deal with stateside label Fat Possum earlier this year, and 2:54's self-titled debut album arrives on May 28. “It's a definitive first chapter for the band,” Colette said. “It's a family of songs — they're all together — and the album goes on a little journey.”
The Thurlow sisters's own musical journey began as teenagers, when they became obsessed with listening to and talking about music. Hannah taught herself how to play guitar when she was 17, and then she taught Colette. “She taught me a few chords, and it just took off from there,” said Colette. “We started to write songs together for fun, and then it gradually developed.”
“There's this huge choral buildup, and then it just drops into that booming bass line that you could just fade into. Moments like this are massively inspiring to us.”
One of their earliest musical fascinations was identifying particularly dramatic and absorptive moments in songs. “We're obsessed with them,” said Colette. “All of our favorite songs have these particular parts, and we're always saying to each other, Have you heard that bit?”
They loved one moment in one song so much they named their band after it. It happens two minutes and fifty-four seconds into the song “A History Of Bad Men” by American sludge-rock band the Melvins.
“There's this huge choral buildup,” explained Colette, “and then it just drops into that booming bass line that you could just fade into. Moments like this are massively inspiring to us.”
Though 2:54's songs are filled with equally mighty moments, they don't intentionally set out to create them.
“It's more of a natural process,” Colette said. “There's no preconceived idea about what a song should sound like or be. We like to just see what happens, and let each song dictate its own direction. It's a soulful proposition for us, and it's much more instinctive.”
Elliott Sharp wants you to follow him on Twitter @elliottsharp.