by Marianne Dowling
Anyone who has ever taken a high school chemistry class knows that certain elements, when mixed together, can create an explosion. The members of Two Hours Traffic—most of them chemistry majors at UPEI—hope their pop explosion will happen sooner than later, thanks to the addition of Joel Plaskett, their latest album’s producer.
Front man Alec O’Hanley, guitarists Liam Corcoran, bassist Andrew MacDonald, and drummer Dereck Ellis handed the Halifax pop star their “April Storm” demo after watching him play in Charlottetown (last winter). The band’s melodic guitars and poppy beats must have impressed him, because he agreed to produce their new CD.
O’Hanley says the band has learned a lot about the recording process and the intricacies of crafting great pop music from Plaskett. “He’s really good at arranging the songs and making them good, concise pop tunes,” says O’Hanley.
“If he thought a little something extra needed to be added, he would throw in a guitar track or something or do some singing for us,” says Corcoran.
The result of the hard work is Two Hours Traffic’s second album, tentatively titled Better Sorry Than Safe. It’s a collection of twelve tracks the band feels are sharper and more mature than anything they’ve recorded before.
“It’s definitely poppier and there’s more light-hearted moments on it. It’s definitely more rock in general, but it still has its moments when it’s softer,” says O’Hanley.
With Plaskett’s backing, the band also got access to a professional studio in Halifax—but it came at a high cost. The band spent almost every weekend this fall driving back and forth to squeeze in as much studio time as possible while juggling their school work. And if you want top quality studios, you have to pay top dollar. “The bank account right now is literally at zero,” O’Hanley says looking down at his hands.
The time and expense of the recording process was taxing, but now that it’s over, they feel their experiences make them even more proud of the new album. “When we played a show, we’d keep that money and that’s what paid for this record. No outside help was used,” says Corcoran.
O’Hanley and Corcoran stay quite reserved and soft spoken throughout most of the interview. A water O’Hanley ordered twenty minutes ago still hasn’t arrived at the table, but if there’s anything the band has learned over the past few months, it’s patience. They’re not going to rush anything at this point. “When we started recording our first album, we wanted it in our hands right away. I’m really proud of that EP, but we just spent so much more time on (the new album),” says Corcoran.
The band hopes to tour the album in the summer, after their classes end for the year. And although the members of Two Hours Traffic find themselves poised for success, their goals remain humble.
“I just would like to have a chance to make a string of albums and have the means to do that,” says Corcoran. He sums up the past year of experiences as the band prepares for the next phase.“It’s a great time, but it’s a tough process.”