Singer siblings Luke and Annie Roes have been riding an upward spiral since their return from Vancouver last fall: winning a contest from 98.1 Free FM in January, recording ‘Mary’ at EMAC Studios in the spring and garnering their first commercial radio play for the self-titled single. We caught up with Luke from the band and chatted about Beatles records, supergroups and embarrassing items in his record collection, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Ivory Hours is a merry group of alt-poppers from London, Ontario led by singer siblings Luke and Annie Roes.
You’re called Ivory Hours, how did you come about choosing this name?
I originally intended to call the band ‘The Violet Hours’ from the poem ‘The Wasteland’ but the name was already taken so it was adapted to Ivory Hours.
‘Young Blood’ is a powerful track, the video shows a house party and the song seems to be about being alone. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask for help. What was the inspiration behind this song?
When I’m writing songs and trying to work out a melody I’ll often just spit out the first words that come to mind, that’s where the first line of the verse came from. I finished the rest of the lyrics around that and didn’t realize I was describing bits of my life until I reflected on it later. It’s about loneliness, squandered youth and the narcissistic hole you dig when you live too much internally.
‘Mary’ is your third instalment, how does this EP feel compared to your previous two?
A lot of the album was written around drum beats and bass lines which gives it an upbeat feel that’s really fun to reproduce live. I wanted to try out some simpler arrangements and really focus the songs around a single element at a time instead of having all cylinders firing.
How did Luke and Annie (brother and Sister) realise there was a musical chemistry together?
Annie’s always been a great singer; she sang harmonies on an EP I put together over the Christmas holidays one year (2010 I think?). It was a quick decision to get her involved when I was putting a formal band together.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
Ayeeee, changes every day. I would say The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’. Such an incredible mix of music from the greasy blues of ‘Come Together’ to the tearjerker piano ballad ‘Golden Slumbers’. I really appreciate that kind of variety on an album, it’s beautifully produced.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
Jeese louise...Ray Lamontagne on vocals and rhythm guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, Bernard Purdie on drums, Jimmy Page on lead.
Being an unsigned band how hard is it to get noticed and how has social media aided your music?
It’s definitely difficult, the avenues for reaching a fanbase are not super clear and the competition is quite fierce. Ironically I think the more prevalent social media gets the more important face-to-face connections become. Social media is great for keeping current fans engaged but it never approaches the experience of a live show.
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
Haha, it’s not hard to admit but it may be surprising how often I spin The Cars’ Greatest Hits.
You have toured with bands such as the HoneyRunners, what was the experience like?
The Honeyrunners are fantastic to play with, catchy tunes and very courteous performers. We’re lining up some more fall dates with them that we’re excited about. We did a Western tour this summer that was absolutely amazing. The tunes were well received and the landscape was breathtaking. Nothing better than traveling with close friends with music as the driving force.
Who designed the artwork for your ‘Mary’ EP?
The photo is from one of our grandmother’s albums; it’s a picture of her and our aunt Melanie. The graphic design was done by our friend Kristin Nicholson, a talented and hilarious friend from Toronto.
First gig you ever went to?
My memory is like a colander but I think it was Dream Theatre and Yes. My brother Adam is a wicked drummer and he got me on the progressive rock train when I was first learning guitar.
Where did you record your EP and what made you choose that studio?
It was recorded at EMAC Studios in London (Ontario, Canada). We won a radio contest called “Under the Covers” from 98.1 Free FM for a cover of “Good Times Bad Times” that scored us $4000 in recording time there. We added a few more tunes on and had a superb time working with our producer Matt Grady and his co-engineer Kyle Ashbourne.
‘I’ll Stay Away’ is a wonderful end to a emotive EP, who are you fading away from? Also are you happy with the finish article of ‘Mary’?
Thanks! It’s about a girl – things never really worked out and it’s about the need to finally let go - singing the chorus is cathartic every time. Definitely happy with how the EP rounded out, I just wish we could have added more songs! We’re looking forward to working with Matt and Kyle again; they’re an amazing team.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Alan Watts, Jimi Hendrix, George Martin
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Huge fan of White Denim, Shakey Graves, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Milk Carton Kids
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Hmmmm. Right now Eeyore the donkey comes to mind.
What are your plans for what remains of 2014?
We’ll be doing more Ontario-based touring this fall. We’re hoping to record a new record this winter and follow it up with some heavier touring next spring and summer (fingers crossed for a full-length) – we’re going to be releasing videos for the rest of the songs on ‘Mary’ with our videographer Alex Stephenson as well.
Prior to letting Luke go on his merry way, we threw a few quick fire questions at him....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
Mac or PC?
Mac these days
Taco or Burger?
Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or electric?
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
God for a good chat, Google for utility
Ivory Hours are;
Luke Roes - Vocals, Guitar
Annie Roes - Vocals, Piano
Chris Levesque - Bass
Thom 'Tommy Gun' Perquin - Drums
We'd like to thank Luke for taking time out of his hectic day to answer our questions, we wish the band every success in the future and look forward to posting more newsworthy items on them soon....
Interview by Mark Wincott