The darkness, it’s disgusting. Litanies of bad things happen when the lights go out: alien abductions, visits from ghosts, the stubbing of a toe against a bed frame. Mice invasions. From time to time, the sense of being alone, and that you’ll always be alone. Like getting a terminal illness or losing a limb, it really is a sick terror to wake up in the middle of the night in a strange place and to not know where you are, unable to see properly, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
But consider this: have you ever truly been in the dark? Between light pollution in big cities and the fading remnants of a phone’s blue light somewhere in the countryside, it feels rare to be properly in the dark. Doing so is absolutely terrifying, though. I know this because my first interview with multi-member group The Hour took place in a pitch-black restaurant, staffed entirely by severely sight impaired waiters.
You probably don’t know who The Hour are yet, and that’s OK, because they’re releasing their first official video today. It’s worth getting to know them, though. As introductions go, “Mother” (which is directed in collaboration with Ben Strebel) is a bold, impactful entrance. It’s one of those ones where it’s best to dive in and watch the video from start to finish, so why don’t you go ahead and do that now? Kick your feet up and press play.
Done? Good. See those people with the masks in the video, stabbing the kitchen table? They’re The Hour. Watching this has the same intense, visceral quality as some of the all time great music videos this side of the century – think: hearing/seeing Tyler the Creator, FKA twigs or The Blaze for the first time, where the combination of visual and sound is so captivating you can’t do anything but watch in awe; where someone’s pulled an original idea out, in a world that seems like it’s done with original ideas.
“When you put a mask on, you can do whatever you want… if you all have a mask on, you’re in the same boat,” says one of their members. They say anyone can be in The Hour, however there’s just the one when we meet at the aforementioned dark restaurant, a place called Dans Le Noir in the central London area of Clerkenwell. It’s a pretty fucking strange place for an interview, given that we can’t see each other. For all I know, I’m having fingers stuck up in my face. But The Hour want to do things differently: “It’s all a bit boring doing press,” he says, in a way that feels more light-hearted and welcoming than it should, coming from a guy who wears a mask. “We want to have fun, and make it fun for all of you.”
By this point the first course has arrived. I dig into it using my hands, because, well: why eat with a knife and fork when it’s impossible to see anything? I want to touch the food, feel its slime, work out what it is before putting it in my mouth (at first it feels like soft cheese, turns out it’s gross pâté). I start to feel panicked about the fact I can’t see anything, and what it must be like to have your sight and then suddenly lose it. I can just about make out my hand in front of me but only because it’s attached to my body. It’s one of the weirder interviews I’ve done: an experience.
Still, The Hour get off on this. The person I’ve come to meet tells me that when they play live – which hasn’t happened yet, but will – they’re going to be doing it in complete darkness, in an underground venue or something, with all the lights turned off. You can imagine health and safety might get in the way but if they pull it off, it’s bound to be a spectacle.
Until that happens, though, some immediate facts: They’re signed to FutureKind, the label run by former Dirty Hit exec Chuck Waite and lawyer Laurence Abrahams. If you’re not fully up on who in the industry does what, the label is perhaps more commonly known for its roster of writers – people like Tom Mann (Liam Payne, James TW, Pretty Much), Dan Bartlett (Little Mix, Feder) and Jamie Norton (Take That). Which is to say in some ways it could be seen as a mainstream leaning pop label. However The Hour sees them as the perfect fit. “They let me do things that are out of the box,” this band member says – which is certainly true of this interview.
They’ve been around for about a year too, when they dropped a now-deleted video that featured a car being smashed up and a mobile phone number at the bottom. “We text everyone saying meet us at 2PM on D’Arblay Street. Then we hired out a cinema and played some music to people,” they say, of what happened after that video dropped, which was apparently deleted to make way for a fresh start with this release. They’re also going to follow-up this video with a selection of songs under the same title of Mother, which will then be rounded off with a counterpart release – Father. They say there are religious undertones to the project too, though you’ll have to wait for the whole thing to drop to delve deeper into that. For now though, have a go on the video again – it’s one of the more special things released so far in 2019.
You can find Ryan on Twitter.