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Five O'Clock Heroes, OperaHouse, The Vivians - Tomorrow

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Five O'Clock Heroes

Opera House

The Vivians

The Unknown Heroes


Tuesday 13th March






Five O'Clock Heroes

We know what youre thinking. Just who are these mysterious Five O Clock Heroes,?

Well, theres a long and a short answer to that question. The short answer is that theyre the Anglo-American quartet whose take on the late-70s jerk-pop mastery of the likes of Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello has been causing a quiet stir on both sides of the Atlantic, and who are on the verge of releasing their long-gestating debut album, Bend To The Breaks, a record so riddled with post-punk infectiousness, it should come bearing its own STI warning with a complimentary body-condom to boot. The long answer is, however, somewhat more complicated than that.

Essentially born out of frontman Antony Ellis seventeen year-old desire to escape his native Northampton and follow his elder brother to the bright lights of New York City because, as he puts it, England was too shit and cynical at the time, the Heroes first came into being in 2003. I guess it was that sort of time in New York when being in a band seemed like the most natural thing to do, explains one-time Visa renegade Antony, from 2000 onwards, it seemed like the most exciting city in the world. It was that sort of time when The Strokes, The Rapture and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were all getting really big and everything seemed to be focused on New York

Eventually, Antony met Elliot (Thomson, guitarist) in a bar and they started playing together, then within a two-week period they both met Nader (Khierbek, bass), and after going through a couple of drummers over the next few years, in early 2006 theyve finally managed to find the person in the UK thats gonna be with with em for good, and thats Sam Embery. Elliot comments, When I first met Antony and we all decided to start playing music, I really wasnt sure if the difference in backgrounds/cultures of the members would be a hindrance or not, but, as it turns out, we were able use it to help add another dimension to the band. I think it has played a large role in what success weve had in both countries. Nader adds Our geographical origins, which were exhibited sonically with our various accents, were not our only differences. We hailed from a wide range of musical influences, from Brit Pop to Rock to Punk. Finding a common ground gave us our edge, and we soon learned the art of shaping catchy hook laden songs into high energy, fast paced, danceable tunes.

The route hasnt been the most direct, and its taken a lot of hard work to get to where they are now. After quickly developing a cult following in New York, the band swiftly began their relentless assault on the UK. Sans record label backing, the band booked and paid for their own tours Thats what credit cards are for, quips Ellis when questioned on the funding for these jaunts right down to the van-driving duties. Ive got 9 points on my license from driving the tourbus around Britain with an illegal number of people in the back, says Antony. One more self-funded tour and wed have had to find another driver!

Tour supports with the likes of Brendan Benson, The Bravery and The Paddingtons brought them to the attention of British gig-goers, their jittery, hook-laden pop classicism winning fans the length and breadth of the country, on the back of their own dime. It paid off, but it wasnt easy.

As Nader remembers Touring was truly a test of tolerance. Especially the way we toured: crammed into a tiny transit van, sharing one Travelodge hotel room, and performing on small stages. We were within arms length of each other 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time, like young siblings growing up in a tiny flat. The potentially volatile situation actually galvanized us into a tighter band. We learned to live with each-others eccentricities, and embrace our differences. In the end it made us sound better, perform better, and most importantly, become best mates

Antony continues. We did 42 dates in 46 days, and at the end of it, we didnt know what to do with ourselves. But the reaction of British crowds has been validation for us. Weve never had much money to throw around weve only ever released four limited edition singles, so the support of our British fans has been incredibly important to us. We look at everything we do as being building blocks, and hopefully the release of the album will have a domino effect on everything weve done so far.

Bend To The Breaks itself sparsely recorded on their own buck in former Smashing Pumpkin James Ihas New York studio, is a jerking, jittery post-punk meisterwork thats less concerned with aspirations of skuzzy NY cool and concentrates instead on the multi-faceted delights of razor-sharp pop songwriting, with doffs of the cap to the likes of The Cars and gasp! The Police. From the spiky angular come-on of opener Head Games to the joyous reggae-pop hybrid, er, come on of White Girls ( I see you from behind/ You know whats on my mind, indeed, Mr. Ellis), its an infuriatingly catchy collection of twelve potential singles rife with bedhopping sexual frustration and choruses that etch themselves into your grey matter after a mere cursory listen.

I dont like lazy comparisons, but I do think that people like Joe Jackson played an incredibly important part in the songwriting aspect of the album. People often get the wrong idea about us, they automatically think that because of our name were gonna sound like The Jam. But for me, Elvis Costello and people like that are a HUGE influence. Thats what we aimed for with this record, to get the sound of an album like My Aim Is True, or Joe Jacksons Look Sharp. But were our own band, and well play what we wanna play. Who we sound like isnt the hugest thing we think about. I just want things to sound catchy and melodic, and I think a lot of people are scared of that kind of songwriting these days. Im not ashamed of writing catchy songs. I dont give a fuck about which direction we go in. says Ellis

The Heroes current direction, however, is onwards and upwards, with a planned (and long-overdue, we might add) autumn return to these shores to coincide with the release of Bend To The Breaks, this time no longer funded by their overworked Mastercard.

Just who are the Five O Clock Heroes? Youre about to find out very, very soon.

Barry Nicholson (NME)

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