IN CONVERSATION: Colin Doran - Hundred Reasons

IN CONVERSATION: Colin Doran – Hundred Reasons

Once upon a time there was a band called Floor and they grew up to be Hundred Reasons. Their formative years were in the hotbed of the new rock revolution that came in the wake of the U.S monstrosity that was nu-metal, Rushmoor.

Nestled in the nubbin of North East Hampshire that probes Surrey, Farnborough and Aldershot must have been on a tectonic plate of rock. Not only did Hundred Reasons begin there, Vex Red and Reuben who both enjoyed success as the burgeoning scene spread across the UK from the havens of The Tumbledown Dick and West End Centre. Having grown up there myself, everyone there wore the baggiest of jeans, Adidas gazelle tennis shoes before they were popular and cost a fortune, and band t-shirts, whilst walking around with their hands and fingers permanently locked in devil horns.

This was not jock schlock rock. This was, if anything, the precursor to emo. My Chemical Romance almost definitely listened to Hundred Reasons debut LP Ideas Above Our Station and Vex Red’s Start With A Strong And Persistent Desire.

For the first time in 16 years, there’s new Hundred Reasons music, an LP, their fifth, Glorious Sunset sees them find a vim and vigour that the decade and a half has allowed to ferment. The blistering assault of powerful guitars, Larry’s production and Colin Doran’s huge, soaring vocals that can be classic rock one moment, then vicious shouting the next and everything in between that gives Hundred Reasons their distinctive sound.
I had a call with Colin to discuss their glorious return and why they are making their return right now.

It felt right. Obviously its been a really long time but we’ve all been friends still and we’ve still been talking but everyone has been doing their own thing and it was very difficult to keep the band going and pay the bills, and do something justifiable to your family as you get older. Being in a band and starting a music career, in a lot of cases but not for everybody as some get away with it, but it’s a young persons game. If the bands not making enough money to support you, you have to look at going away and doing different things, so that’s what we did. Then when we were looking at doing this tour we wanted something else to go with it, basically new material. So we got together, went to Larry’s studio in Brixton, hung out for a bit, and was blown away by how easily it all happened, how good it was, and thought this was a go. It wasn’t like the old days when you had a record deal and you had all that kind of thing, we just wrote some songs and recorded and it was easy. Their was no pressure. Besides the family and the inner circle, no one knew it was happening, so no pressure from that either. We didn’t have to worry about what genre we were fitting in to, we certainly weren’t trying to recapture anything from before. We weren’t on the treadmill trying to thrash out album after album after album, we could do it in our own time. It was really easy. Every time we wrote, we wrote something cool. None of it was forced, it was natural”.

During their hiatus, Colin lost his mother, and this comes out in many of the lyrics on the record, especially on the titular track.

What was quite important about the album was that there was something to say, and everybody has gone through stuff like that, so for me it was a way of talking about those things, and getting them out there. Not everybody’s lives are perfect, even though some people try to show that they are, so it was kind of cathartic. It flowed. It was The Andy (Gilmour, bassist) who named the song, he put the music together and I put the melody and my lyrics over the top but he called it ‘Glorious Sunset’ before it had a theme. But it just worked. The whole album is cathartic as I think it’s a documentation of being alive at the age you’re at”.

Whilst Ideas Above Our Station had the hard edges that had mosh pits busy up and down the country, there was softer elements like ‘Falter’ and ‘Avalanche’ that was still unmistakably Hundred Reasons. This latest LP is no exception such as on recent single ‘Replicate’.

“I like light and shade. But as a band we’ve always just written for the song, there’s another ten songs on the cutting room floor that didn’t make the cut but they’re still good songs, but thematically they didn’t make a complete record. I think a record should ebb and flow. If you’re a super Hardcore band its going to be balls to the floor start to finish and I have no issue with that but we just write songs that we like, those are the ones that go on a record as we are passionate about them”.

There’s a track on the LP called ‘Insultiment’ that is a departure from the classic Hundred Reasons sound, with nods to Depeche Mode and The Cure.

Andy wrote the bridge and it was actually just called ‘The Cure bit’. We’re well aware of what we’re doing when we’re doing it, that’s what I love about that song. It’s a bit different to what we normally do but it’s still us, but we’re all old enough to have influences, but we’re not sitting there thinking ‘I need to write a song like Depeche Mode’ but that’s just what has happened in the studio when we’re writing and it was super organic.”

Our late teenage years coincided in the burgeoning music scene in the late nineties in the pubs and venues of our area. The guitars were heavy, the beer was dodgy, the toilets were rank but we were having the time of our young lives.

It was fun. You were going out doing something fun, people came to your shows. When we were Floor we did have some recognition from Kerrang Magazine, but I think musically in the creating process things were getting a bit stagnant. But I don’t regret those times, they were good times, doing those shows, I still have some photos in my loft of those gigs. It was a really healthy scene with Vex Red and Reuben and lots of other bands that disappeared like Mindwire. There was a lot going on around that time, a community spirit that was really healthy. It was just good fun. The Tumbledown Dick was that venue you went to to play your show, but then things got more serious and you moved on. It was the midweek hang out. Wednesday night was The Tumbledown Dick to see who was playing. Sadly, I didn’t get involved with the campaign to save the place. I think I was resigned to it going. It was never going to happen”.

Coming from the same scene that seemed to be the epicentre of an explosion in heavy rock, you imagine the three biggest exports to be going into battle together. But it wasn’t quite like that.

We didn’t tour with Vex Red. Reuben supported us but we had different management and booking agents. When you have a booking agent it’s their job to map out your live career to choose the best bands to go out on tour with and support you, so it was a package, so our paths didn’t cross really. We went out to see them as when we were writing the second album, Vex Red played the Lemon Grove in Exeter, and I think Biffy Clyro were on that tour as well. Before Terry joined I was asked to sing for them but I politely declined”.

The scene began blowing up as the new millennium began, the response to America’s Nu-Metal was for the UK to use influences from different genres that preceded it and just give it a big loud exclamation point. For some reason, those bands from the same area all hit the nail on the head. Hundred Reasons began the charge, but not without caution.

You were going out and playing with bands that you loved so you can’t think badly about that but, and it’s going to sound weird saying this, winning Best New Band (at the Kerrang Awards 2001) was great at the time, but lots of bands that had won that previously didn’t go on to do much else but I think that was more to do with the climate. When we won, Rock was a thing. We hadn’t signed the record deal by then. We went to the Kerrang Awards, won, got hideously drunk and went to work the next day massively hungover. I had to go into work as we hadn’t signed the deal yet. Off the top of my head it wasn’t until the following April that we signed it. I just remember getting incredibly drunk and having a really good time and meeting people that I never would have met before. We hadn’t done the Muse or Incubus tours by then. I think we’d done the Idlewild one. To do an Incubus tour in Europe you need support so you need to be signed. Idlewild we just took time off work and got in a van. Get in at four in the morning, go to work and then do another show”.

But it seemed the fates had aligned for everybody and heavy rock was suddenly fashionable again.

Timing had a lot to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t say that if it had happened five years before that it would have been the same, probably not. Getting the attention was awesome. It was just a really special time and it was good timing. There was an appetite for it. Writing the first album felt special. Absolutely. You were writing songs you loved. It was why you got signed. People saw there was viability in what you were doing. Signing to a major label was the right thing to do. It was magical”.

Back in the early knockings of the twenty first century, just back home from university, all these bands you had hung around with a few years before are now recording their debut LPs in New York and Los Angeles. It was a strange and exciting time. There was a feeling anything was possible. It could never last though, as good things never do.

We had changes at the record label beyond anyone’s control. You have people at the label supporting you for the first record but then that just ends and be what it will be. You can’t be bitter about it or you’ll never sign a deal again. You can’t overthink it. You’d never do anything. At the time, signing for Columbia was the right thing to do, the people were amazing, they worked the record really well. Then they had the staff change and that probably affected our career trajectory so we weren’t the favourites anymore”.

But here we are, not at the end, but at the beginning of a new chapter. One that may have further ones to come or maybe it’s the end of the book.

We haven’t said we aren’t making another Hundred Reasons record but also I’m not thinking about making another one either. We never said it would be the last one. You spend a lot of your formative years when you’re on the rollercoaster ride of the tours and the recording and you don’t get a chance to take stock and enjoy it. At the moment I’m just enjoying people’s positive reactions to the new music. We’ve got some shows in a couple of weeks that we’re mega excited about. There’s a tangible air of excitement around us getting in a room together again. Beyond that we haven’t thought about it”.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.