Two Hours Traffic step out of mentor’s shadow

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Two Hours Traffic

Courtesy of Rémi Thériault

THESE SUSPENDERS ARE SO FOXY EVEN LARRY KING WOULD BE JEALOUS. The members of Two Hours Traffic are more than just handsome faces. They also write a mean song.

Two Hours Traffic has been stuck with the “up and coming” tag for a few years now, but the young band from Charlottetown, P.E.I. is finally shedding the title.

It could be the fact the band crafts strong three-minute pop tunes time and time again, or the fact the band members listen to everything from the newest East Coast sensations to your dad’s old record collection.

“We grew up listening to what everyone else listened to growing up. A lot of baby boomer music: The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Whatever was catchy when we were young,” guitarist/keyboardist, Alec O’Hanley, explains. “You keep exposing yourself to new things. You don’t really pick your influences. It’s more like your influences pick you; they get entrenched over time.”

With its second LP, Little Jabs, released this summer, the band can be found all over the place, including your television. So far the band has had music featured on shows like The O.C. and Gossip Girl.

“It’s really done on a case-by-case basis,” O’Hanley states. “If Smallville or whatever wants to use a song, why not do it? It’s a win-win situation. We are making money and not really doing any work.

“We don’t tour the States yet, so it is a great way for us to get listeners that way. Television shows themselves seem pretty harmless in general.”

Advertisements are a different story.

“With advertisements, you have to be more careful. I think M.I.A. had a song used in a car commercial, and it was sort of contradicting her own lyrics. It’s a different vein of film, I guess. But you also have people like Feist, who after that iPod commercial, [is] just becoming huge.”

With an album produced by East Coast legend Joel Plaskett and an opening slot on his tour, O’Hanley believes the constant barrage of Plaskett questions simply comes with the turf.

“It’s the angle they come at us with. If it’s always the same questions again, you do get weary. But Joel is a really good guy, and it is a small price to pay. We are touring with him, so you sort of expect it.”

Plaskett found the young band after hearing its first EP, The April Storm. Two albums and a few EPs later, the band still has a strong connection with its mentor.

“Musically, he’s like an encyclopedia. He knows a bit of everything. He’s always been really good for us. He has had the experience of doing the indie thing, he’s been on a major U.S. label and been dropped as well. We are pretty green in comparison.”

O’Hanley isn’t kidding about the band’s youth. Its members still aren’t old enough to rent a car, or more importantly, a van.

“We were working on our first national tour. And we were in Edmonton. The van was parked, but when we came outside, it was stuck between a tree and a hillbilly’s truck. When the cops opened the door to pull him out, liquor bottles poured out into the street.

“Luckily, we weren’t in it. And we got all our gear out of there too. I think our drummer would’ve been pretty upset if we hadn’t.”

The band, however, couldn’t find anyone to rent it a van. Luckily for O’Hanley, his parents found an identical one and met up with the band in Winnipeg to deliver it.

“They’ve always been supportive. They put me in piano lessons when I was six and wanted to learn how to play Happy Birthday. My dad might have a conference in town or something and just show up randomly at a show.

“The more success that comes our way the more they begin to understand this isn’t just some side thing or a distraction from a real job,” he says. “It becomes your job.”

Two Hours Traffic played last Sunday and Monday nights with Joel Plaskett at Call The Office.

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