hey! Look at time, it’s running away as fast as it can, with no
worries about where it’s going, or what it plans to do when it
gets there. It’s an indifference that only the most real of bands
get to go through. They can wander aimlessly around hoping for
‘the breaks’, some surge forward without taking in the scenery.
And then there’s the breed that you want to succeed, the type that
steadfastly refuse to go too quick or too slow, because they want to
enjoy the ride and have a fit of giggles every so often.
the abounding attitude that is Undercut. Here’s a troop that found
vibrations that made them smile and the debut album ’96
Hours’ fell out. Well, it did take them that long to lay it down
in the studio. Four days of tightening the guitar strings and
staying away from the pub. With a batch of tunes that actually mean
something it’s no wonder that there are a few people talking up
this five-piece as though they weren’t listening. Deaf isn’t
something that can be levelled at Undercut. Not with the edgy
listening that gracefully collapses all over the debut.
the best ideas are the simplest. There’s no point in throwing away
an idea if it seems simple and you can pull together and make it
work. That’s what we’re ultimately about.”
And Gentlemen, for your delectation, may I present the soaring
beauty that is Undercut. They remain - Johnny Benn - vocals, Sam
James - guitar, Dave Betts - guitar, Wayne Jones – bass and
Matt Albon - drums. And with laddish wit they are parading
themselves for you today, for tomorrow they may be untouchable.
the album is simple innit!” There’s laughter and acknowledgement
from Wayne’s dry yet unmistakeable Bristolian sense of humour. He
teases with stories of tabloid hell, but glares at the tape machine
rather than spilling all the beans. There’s a pub conversation to
be had there. Remember that.
is articulate and places deep concern over the development of the
band. More so than his comrades who just wanna play and are quite
happy with the way things are going. Well they ain’t miserable any
more. 96 Hours has a defined slant, brought about by the simplest of
moves. Great comradery and old fashioned songwriting prowess.
Hours is a reaffirming affair. Recorded in a 4 day burst in North
London with producers Bacon & Quarmby (Engineers / Ben Taylor)
were amazed at our own proficiency. We played the whole album live
and after one take Kevin and Jonathon were like – ‘Yeah!
Great!’.” Sam’s smile is as broad as the pizza that’s been
placed in front of him.
you can have a production team that, er, meddle! There was nothing
like that here. We were all pretty amazed by the belief that those
around had in our songs. The album benefits from this. It flows.”
is the enigmatic front man, with a rasping, life affirming
vocal that will have Peter Gabriel checking with his lawyers
to see why he’s not been credited on the album. Level that at
Johnny and he grins and shrugs.
all me!” and then he drinks his beer…
album is peppered with his various takes on his own strengths. From
the laconic bar room muse of ‘Sooner Or Later’ through the
hopeful desperation of ‘Delight’ to the angst screaming of ‘I
Saw You’. Johnny aids and abets the journey of ’96 Hours’,
when you aren’t weaving through Doves-style terrain, there’s a
reflective wave to Josh Homme and even a rain soaked nod to The
Police. There’s a tremendous amount to be plucked and preened
within their world. So why not let them, the band, take you part of
the way through it…
me, (Sam) it has to be ‘Waiting’. It started as an instrumental,
then as we worked on the riff we captured this beautiful melancholy
vibe. It’s basically about being ready to go out and bird isn’t
ready. That moment! It is a dark song though…”
grabs the mantle next: “It’s ’Delight’ for me. It was
written in a tent in the middle of nowhere in Wales. It was
memorable in that we were surrounded by cows and we were bollocksed!
It works, is great live and girls seem to like it. I love the meaty
lads’ chorus too!”
takes his time over his choice: “Er, ‘Doing Fine’! I wanted to
write an angry fast song that meant I could hit my drums as hard as
possible. There’s a lot of angst there. I wanted to make as much
noise as possible while using up energy. It’s very anal, but beats
per minute are crucial and important to me. My approach is technical
but I’m looser now. This song shows that off.”
goes back to the simple things. Life. He muses: “Definitely
‘Something For The Weekend’…It’s about waiting until Friday
so you can get on it. Bristol that time of the week is a dirty,
horrible place. Having a nine to five and sleeping with anyone and
everyone, taking loads of drugs then getting up Monday and going
back to the jobbing grind!”
has been thinking for too long. One wave of the tape machine later
and: “I’ll go for ‘Sooner Or Later’ because it’s different
and inventive. It represents our sound and remains a bit tongue in
cheek. It was initially a Razorlight piss-take but we turned it into
something less straightforward and more rocky. It’s edgy and
stands apart from what we’re doing, mainly because it’s all our
personalities in one song. There’s no other song on the album that
shows that so well.”
no other band that will capture your heart so well, either.
these moments to wash over you and soak up the amazing mood that is
can achieve a lot in ’96 Hours’.