The TenFiveSixty talk about their new release E.P. and the allure of their synth/guitar sound
Rick Hornby and Jen Devereux make up the UK band TenFiveSixty. Intermingling an exploration of sound through synths and guitars has enhanced the groups shimmering style. On their new album E.P. the group builds an experience that bridges the gap between listener and musician. More importantly a song like “You Say,” builds a bond between the intimacy of the listener and the night. It’s not just alluring, they are addictive. The band extinguishes some curiosities below.
The TenFiveSixty – You Say
How did you two meet and what led to the formation of TenFiveSixty?
We met through mutual friends who steered us together after they spent one to many nights listening to both of us complain about not being able to find the right band. There were no auditions, no adverts, just a three minute conversation between us two about records and shoes.
Tell me about the allure of synths and guitars and how it fits your needs and what is that feeling of the marriage between the two musical styles?
It began as just a pure love for both instruments and both types of music, and we were always interested in bands that didn’t have to be all or nothing. A sequenced drum part or bassline can sound strict and austere, as it should, then with the fragility of a flowing guitar or vocal line everything opens up. It’s like opposing emotions really. If we heard a pulse somewhere in a track we’d always be instantly drawn to it, whether it was played or programmed, so we started investigating how certain sounds are made and how you could use them.
Our sound has been described as being quite 80’s but it’s not really a conscious move, it just comes from that wonder of putting certain sounds together using relatively basic equipment that we can actually understand. We don’t have any studio training and it’s all pretty much trial and error, so there is a real allure about making music with machines. Also, they seem to know something we don’t. They kind of ‘let’ you be in charge for a while, but then at any moment they can turn. It’s all very HAL.
Your new EP is coming out the end of the month, can you tell me more about the EP and the making of it?
It’s the first time we started working from our home studio. Originally we only wanted to get good demos done, and a few long nights were spent just watching little lights flash on and off. But then as we worked more and tracks started coming together we found ways into the details and subtleties that we always look for in music. We ended up with recordings that we didn’t want to change too much, and the producers we went in with for the finishing touches were already friends who understood that.
How is this EP differ from previous releases?
This is the first release where all the drums are drum machine, whereas previous releases have had live drums or a mixture of machine and man/woman. We’ve also had complete control over everything on this release. It’s all truly Independent, in the proper sense of the word.
Tell me more about the making of the video for “You Say?”
We wanted to have some kind of performance video that wasn’t too slick, and where we were the secondary performers and not really the main focus on screen. We’d thrown around a few ideas then one warm evening we found ourselves in a strip club (just drinking, not working) in Hollywood called Jumbo’s Clown Room. We sat at the bar counting out our small change and realised it might be a pretty good setting to do a gig. Unfortunately they weren’t allowed to have bands play, but they let us shoot the video there.
We then spent the weekend out in the deepest darkest gay clubs in downtown L.A., armed with two questions (‘Do you like this song?’ and ‘Have you had your heart broken?’) looking for the most interesting nighttime creatures we could find. We found them, and they were all wonderful.
What is the Manchester music scene like today and how is the duo playing its part?
I spent a few nights in town recently just observing what was happening in some of the smaller venues, of which there see to be more of than ever, and the music scene seems alive and vibrant. The clothes and haircuts were good too. Manchester is a very forward thinking modernist city, and you can see there’s a generation growing up who have started to go out, watch and form bands, and have no interest in their dads Britpop CD collection. That’s your right as a kid anyway. There was a much more modern feeling to the attitude, without some of the lad-culture that was still hanging over from those days. It’s as if everyone knows how good the city has been in creating music, and have just decided to get on with it now instead of shouting. All the laddism was a bit like the hair-metal of the previous decade, with Stone Island instead of Spandex. Very self-consciously macho and all a bit suspicious.
Do you view your music as cinematic?
Not cinematic in the sense of a sweeping 40-piece orchestra and a video filmed using three helicopters, but definitely in the sense of drama and build that we try and create in some tracks, and certain films and soundtracks are never far from our conversations when referencing how we want something to sound. The goal is to at some point write a full original film soundtrack. With a 41-piece orchestra.
Your songs focus on an emotion that tends to drive the music forward? How do you create that balance between the lyrical depth and the musical drive?
It is a balance we take very seriously and the one element we usually end up spending most time on. If we take an idea for a track as far as we possibly can then the balance will almost start to create itself, and we just press record on everything. Some listeners are lyric driven and some are more music but we have always been both.
What things influence you?
Details are more important to us than the obvious. Anyone who is willing to pore over the details to make a good thing great is an influence to us.
It is of course the longer way round, but it’s definitely more scenic.
What does the band have planned for 2017?
Writing is the most important thing for us right now, teamed with a few European shows hopefully this Summer. There’s a couple of producers we’d love to work with in America, we are sorting dates with them to get back in the studio and do it all again for the next release. We continue.