2:54, Widowspeak

Indie
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Editorial Review

Sister act lives for musical moments
By Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, June 8, 2012

Colette and Hannah Thurlow, sisters from the genre-defying band 2:54, are obsessed with specific moments in music, the kind that move them in inexplicable ways.

“If we listen to music that the other hasn’t heard, we’re always finding ourselves going, ‘Have you heard that bit in the track?’ There’s just these little moments in certain songs and we’ll be like, ‘Wow, that’s just a dream,’ ” said Colette Thurlow, who spoke from the band’s home in London before embarking on a 15-city North American tour that includes Sunday’s show at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

2:54’s eponymous debut, released last month, has many such moments, such as at the 24-second mark of “Scarlet,” when an unnerving minor-to-major pattern turns fierce with the entrance of a thundering guitar. “The music is heavy and dark and is an experience more than anything,” Thurlow said. “We’re happy people . . . but I guess there’s a dark element [that] has to come out somewhere and it comes out in the music.”

Colette, 29, and Hannah, 27, have always been drawn to the massive, dirty guitar sounds heard throughout their debut album. They grew up listening to such bands as Pearl Jam, Metallica, the Deftones and Queens of the Stone Age, and it’s a precise moment in the Melvins song “A History of Bad Men” that gives 2:54 its name. “It’s this great choral buildup,” Thurlow said, “and then it drops in this beautiful doom bass line.”

The Thurlow sisters began writing together as teens in Bristol, England, after Hannah picked up the guitar and taught her older sister to play. Unlike some sisters so close in age, they have always gotten along. “We’re just best buds,” Thurlow said. “We’ve always hung out. We shared the same friendship circles. I guess we just come as a pair, really. It’s just always been that way.”

They both graduated from college -- Colette with an English literature degree and Hannah with a photography degree -- and then started a punk band, the Vulgarians, playing loud and fast.

Around 2010, “Hannah started writing more meditative pieces of music and I started singing instead of shouting, and [2:54] just kind of naturally evolved,” Thurlow said.

But they didn’t want to perform as a duo; bass player Joel Porter and drummer Alex Robins became the band’s rhythm section.

“I love live drums and bass, and to hear that and to feel like the songs have got that, that they’ve been properly brought to life for us, that’s what we needed,” Thurlow said. “We needed that bigger, live sound.”

Touring in support of on-the-rise bands such as Warpaint, Yuck and Wild Beasts helped 2:54 develop its sound; the band’s headlining tour is a chance for the Thurlows to create a few more musical moments of their own.

“We want to be making albums forever and seeing where everything goes, and following the sound, chasing it wherever it goes,” Thurlow said. “It would be amazing if people dig the band in any way they want to.”