Interview:
Five O'Clock Heros

Just Who Are the Five O’clock Heroes?

Five O’clock Heroes’ lead singer Antony Ellis is a fine chap. Not only is he a superb songwriter and thoroughly likeable chap, he also hails, originally, from the same area as me – Northamptonshire – which made me like him even more, quite frankly…

AD: We’ve been very impressed so far that your “B-sides”, for wont of a better word, are equally as good as your lead tracks…

AE: That’s very important to us because we try hard to create a catchy tune, but we also try to make sure it has that certain “classic” feel about it, and hopefully end up with something very memorable. I love the fact that we’ve been compared to Elvis Costello more than anyone else, because I’m a big fan. Not only that, but it’s better than being compared to The Strokes or another “of the moment” band, because once that’s happened it’s easy to get lost in time.

AD: That’s hardly likely for yourselves, given the strength of both “White Girls” and “Skin Deep” (current release)…

AE: It’s funny – we don’t play “Skin Deep” very often, but it could well have been an album track. We did toy with the idea of putting out “White Girls” with a really shit b-side for a while – to make it stand out – but then we realised that it was a provocative and memorable enough tune in its own right so we decided to give it an equally strong track to follow it. You know what though, about a year ago I didn’t really want to play live because of a slight “Hall and Oates” comparison that we got and that worried me. I have no problem with that band but if we start getting labelled like that we’re finished before we’ve started. I’m much fonder of things like Steely Dan’s “Haitian Divorce” and 10cc, and I was talking to a writer from Rolling Stone who loved them too, and that always helps!

AD: You’ve lived in the Big Apple for the last 5 years. Has that shaped the way you write your songs, do you think?

AE: Only insomuch as I spent a lot of my youth stuck in my bedroom and, as clichéd as it sounds, my record player was my best friend. I spent a HELL of a lot of time in there, listening to Yello, The Stones, Costello and so on. It made me really take in music, especially things like “The Who By Numbers”…

AD: Which, in my humble opinion, is their best album, despite what music magazine polls tell you…

AE: I agree! It makes me laugh when people talk about “Slip Kid” as being one of their gentler tunes, because it’s just one of the most angry songs I’ve ever heard! So anyway, a lot of that stuff shaped the way I write. Obviously The Beatles were an influence too, but you know, they can ruin a songwriter because they were just so GOOD at it, so I don’t try and emulate anything they’ve done. We try and convey that kind of energy across in our live shows instead, and we’ve had plenty of time to hone that, seeing as we’ve played 120 shows in the UK since January!

AD: So what made you want to form a band in the first place?

AE: Apart from those bands I mentioned, the thrill of playing with people you already do everything with and want to BE with. I mean, I can be an awkward so and so at times, but they’re all used to it. That’s especially true when we’re in the studio – I hate to waste time when we’re there; if it’s taken two hours to do the drum track or something I get really impatient, because I don’t think there’s ANYTHING that needs to take that long when you’re recording.

AD: How did that go down with Eli Janney (Fugazi, Garbage etc) then?

AE: Oh, Eli was great. With everything, you have to remember it goes back to the whole thing of working with the right people. Take politicians for example….actually, no don’t, that’s a BAD example…but what I mean is that it took a while to come to grips with him, but I felt like he had a deeper understanding and he quickly learnt that I like to work fast. That’s my advice folks – Be creative as quick as you can, and rehearse hard too. The recording process should be short and sweet – mid you it had to be for us, because we had no money! – and if you’re going to argue, argue well!

AD: Given your lengthy tours, how do you keep yourselves sane on the road?

AE: Good question, and it’s NOT easy. Between January and March we did a tour with no roadies, just US in a transit van and in one room all together. We were eating nothing but shit food and were hung over for the last 2 months. On top of all that we never really knew what day it was or what town we were in. But you know, I wouldn’t change a thing. We learnt early that “we don’t argue, we reason with each other” and that helps a lot. You know, you’ve got to believe you’re as good as anyone else, and we DO believe that. Confidence comes from that kind of thinking and all these little goals start getting achieved – first we made it to the NME, then to Radio One, and I like it that way because you appreciate it more as it builds. We’re having a great time and as long as we understand the boundaries and take it to the edge, I think we’ll be around for a while yet!

Let’s hope so anyway, as so far Five O’clock Heroes have an unblemished record and surely must be on the Mainline to success (with lots of picnic stops along the way of course!)

Interview: Tone E

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