A little over six months ago a band from Killybegs, Donegal, entered and won a 2FM “Play at Picnic” competition. They have since supported acts such as Gavin James, James Bay and Tom Baxter, released their debut EP and their first single is on rotation on National Radio stations. Their star is shining bright yet John Doherty and Ryan Closkey of Little Hours remain modest and humble in their success.
After playing in different groups around Killybegs then a joint project and later solo projects the two met up last Christmas “and started playing around with songs that both of us had and realised that we were not only similar, but actually kind of good!” says Ryan. Next all they had to do was write some music and try not to be compared to other Irish bands. “I guess like most original bands, you really want to have your own sound. Our influences range from one extreme to the other so much that I think we’re getting close to producing a sound which is the product of a concoction of influences, which inevitably will be ‘our sound’. I find that with some Artists, including ourselves, you get hung up on whether or not a song is or is not commercial enough when the real focus should be on writing a good song that means something to you. Like look at Hozier, he more than likely wrote ‘Take me to Church’ for himself, not because he predicted it was going to be one of the biggest songs of the decade. Do it for yourself, then the rest will follow”, explains John.
The music industry has changed so much and this change speeds up every year. The use of social media and fund it campaigns has changed the accessibility of bands and how they are promoted. How did the boys find entering the industry? Ryan says “Social Networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat are the new tools in an Artist’s arsenal. With these outlets musicians have the power to release their music or ideas to an endless audience, instantly. Of course, that sounds great when put like that, but it also creates a lot of noise. Meaning, that because it is so easy to make your music accessible now, it in turn makes it a lot harder for the right people to find your music. You could have the best song in the world but without the right attention from the right people it can be very difficult for it to get heard. Luck can play a big part in this, if you bump into the right person that understands the appeal of your music, they can pick you up and present you to the people that need to hear it. Our advice would be, get good at promoting your music over social medias, play any and all gigs that come your way to increase the possibility of bumping into the right people and write.. A lot..”
The rise and popularity of Little Hours seems to have been incredibly fast. How did it feel on the inside? “Fast. In a good way though” answers John. “We try not to think about it too much, I mean there’s still some things that people remind us that we’ve done and we’re like ‘wait.. what? We did that?’ It’d be very easy to get carried away but the reality is that we’re still in the very very early stages of our career so we’re just really grateful for how fortunate we’ve been and thankful to the people that got us here. Everyone we have met through any media attention has been nothing but supportive so far, so it’s hard to have anything but positive things to say about it.”
In a little over a year the duo have gone from finding “we were actually kind of good”, played at Electric Picnic, had a hugely successful first single and moved to the Capital. A lot of change in a short amount of time. Did they miss Killybegs? “Yeah, I mean we would normally try and make it back to Donegal every weekend to rehearse and get fed properly”, admits John. “But recently things have been so busy that we have had to stay in Dublin full time. Dublin’s great though, you’re never stuck for something to do. We went to the Coronas gig the last night in the 3Arena and it was absolutely amazing. We were really blown away, and to top it off they had probably the best supporting band we’ve ever heard – Walking On Cars, those guys are unbelievable.”
Speaking of, what inspires Little Hours? “Hmm.. Seeing bands play live would have to be at the top of the list” says Ryan. “After watching a great band play you just want to go home and start writing, playing or doing anything that might benefit us as a band. You get this burst of motivation and drive. The more irregular forms of inspiration come from small things that happen and just click with you. I get this with my father a lot. I’ll ask him for advice on something, because I know he’s always going to say what I need to hear, then he’ll just come out with a one liner that has me scrambling to find a pen and paper to write down an idea that came from what he said. Mum’s persistent reminders to wash my clothes aren’t as inspiring but they serve their purpose!” he adds.
“It’s Still Love” is their debut single currently on repeat on radio stations across the country and one catchy tune from a freshly formed band. Did they know writing it how strong a song it was or how well it would do? “It actually started out as quite a different song”, explains John. “I wrote it in my room with a bass guitar in summer 2013 to a guitar riff that Ryan sent me. I had most of the lyrics and the song idea already but when I played it with Ryan’s riff the song just sort of all came together. It’s a song about a relationship that maybe shouldn’t be or is worn out but there’s no getting away from it because there’s still something there. When it came to recording it we messed around with different arrangements and instruments but it was the piano that really stuck. We had no idea that it was going to do this well. It actually wasn’t until one of our friends told us he couldn’t get it out of his head that we began to take it seriously. Even when we released it we saw it as a song to just “test the waters” and see what people thought. People seemed to like it.”
The self-titled debut EP was released in November. The rather striking artwork is actually by Ryan’s uncle Kevin Sharkey, a Dublin based artist. “The artwork is amazing and we’re delighted that Kevin let us use some of his work for the EP”, he explains. “I remember seeing some of his work before but for some reason the idea of using it as our never occurred to me until my mother suggested it. I think it complements the tone of the EP, and of course it’s something different that stands out when people see it.” And what does the EP say about Little Hours? “I think because it’s our first release we want it to say ‘Hi, we’re Little Hours and this is what we sound like, thank you.’. Nothing more, nothing less” says Ryan. “We could have gone on a rant about the meaning of each of the songs individually and of course they mean a lot to us, but what we really want to know is, do people get Little Hours? Do they like the idea, the sound, and the mood? We’re very proud of our EP and it’s worked very well for us so far but we will use the feedback we get from it to help mould Little Hours while staying true to what we want ourselves. ”
So what’s next for Little Hours? Well that debut song of theirs has only gone and been nominated for Song of the Year by The Meteor Choice Music Prize. They will be playing at the awards show next week, March 5th. Then they go on tour supporting Walking on Cars after that. “We’re so lucky to get supporting such an amazing band and to top that they’ve sold out the whole tour!” Then it’s back to writing. “I guess after all that’s done, we are looking to go back into studio to record our second EP. We have loads of new material that we are really eager to bring into the studio so it’s just a matter of penciling in a few dates and choosing where we’re going to do it.” By the sounds of things Little Hours are only getting warmed up!
Tour dates supporting Walking On Cars http://www.walkingoncars.com/