Published Jul 23, 2007Not many bands will admit their name comes from a Shakespeare quote, but for this four-piece from Charlottetown, PEI, its better than the other, far more dubious, explanation: that its the amount of driving time from tip to tip of their home province. Started by lead singer Liam Corcoran and guitarist Alec OHanley in high school, the name comes from the prologue to Romeo and Juliet and OHanley doesnt mind its highbrow origins. "Its one of those plays that you cant really argue against, he notes. "Its one of those universal things. I like things that are universal, or have a mass appeal but are still, you know, fucking awesome.
That mix of accessibility and awesomeness is in full effect on the bands second album, Little Jabs. Driven by crystal-clear melodies that are written between Corcoran, OHanley and bassist Andrew MacDonald and the tight drums of Derek Ellis, Two Hours Traffic navigate their catchy hook-laden songs between the poles of Can-rock and bright power pop. Almost all listeners invoke Big Star when talking of their determined and sharp songs, but the band seem to take their strategy from a different source. "Were big fans of the back to basics thing, like Nick Lowe, OHanley says. "What he did was pretty awesome, like reacting against Pink Floyd and their big prog rock songs and writing the opposite thing, like these three minute pop songs. Were big fans of back to basics, or playing songs that you dont have dress too much.
Part of the driving force behind the Two Hours Traffic sound has been Haligonian producer Joel Plaskett, who has been behind the boards since their self-titled debut in 2005 as well as their recent EP, Isolator. The choice of Plaskett was actually quite simple for OHanley. "Hes a really good dude, but the initial attraction was we were fans of his. Hes really knowledgeable and his attitude about music is so similar to ours that we feel comfortable working with him. Hes like a cool older brother to us and just a general, all-around great dude.
Bands from PEI dont usually get the sort of attention and notice that another band from, say, Halifax will. THT love living in PEI, but it also provides a new set of problems than for those on the mainland. "I think any problems they would get, we might get more of, OHanley explains. "Its tough to be in a band here because we have to cross a bridge and pay $50 anytime we want to leave. Its not the most practical location for a band but its really nice and relaxed here.
Another titbit is that three-quarters of the band are chemistry graduates; both Corcoran and OHanley have worked in labs. "I think the idea of chemistry is pretty neat, OHanley says. "The fact you can reduce everything in the world to these little balls and see how they interact with each other. As for the intersection of chemistry and rocknroll, OHanley is a little more vague. "Theres a connection, Ive heard, between the math part of the mind and the musical part of the mind but who knows if it extends to chemistry or not. Ive thought about it a lot but havent come up with any solid conclusion. Its good to be well rounded. Were geeks at heart.