Two Hours Traffic tour in search of the great Canadian pop song
East Coast power-pop quartet Two Hours Traffic have been venturing from their Charlottetown home and into the national and international spotlight over the past year. Their latest release, Territory, was released last September, they performed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and they’re just kicking off a tour that will take them eastbound from Canada’s west coast.
“Playing Vancouver, Whistler, Burnaby, and all these spots that we don’t normally pass through … was cool. That kind of exposure is usually good,” recalls guitarist Alec O’Hanley.
While they are gaining rapid success, the band has had challenges coming from Canada’s smallest province. “You’re isolated both geographically … it’s always difficult to go toe-to-toe with the larger media centres of the nation. I’m sure in Saskatchewan you guys and girls could relate to that. There’s no Montreal or Toronto to have a bunch of press outlets where you can trumpet your greatness.”
O’Hanley calls being from a smaller urban area a “mixed blessing.” For instance, it’s difficult to “get a call from your manager and hop on a bill, like ‘Hey, Wilco’s opener dropped out. Can you guys play this?’ You don’t have the spontaneous mobility that you would have if you were in a larger city.”
Being from a highly populous area doesn’t necessarily convey success. “[Keeping] connected with people who dig your music is more important than being geographically located in a booming metropolis,” which is just what Two Hours Traffic has been doing as their blend of power-pop and indie-rock has earned them a spot in CBC’s Great Canadian Song Quest on CBC Radio 2.
The Great Canadian Song Quest is comprised of thirteen artists who are each commissioned to write a song about a stretch of road from their native province or territory. Two Hours Traffic wrote “Great Migration” about P.E.I.’s Dixon Road, a rural spot that, among other things, plays host to an outdoor venue known as the Dunk.
Despite being on the road and commissioned to write about it, O’Hanley says that the band has some new material currently in the works, and that new songs have been “steadily sneaking their way into our set lists lately.”
As O’Hanley describes them, the new songs have some “new direction,” and that they’re “noisier, but the modus operandi for the whole thing has always been catchiness … a lot of the songs are more upbeat than some of the tunes on Territory. They’re poppy as ever … with some Sonic Youth noisiness.”
Are the new songs a sign that Two Hours Traffic will have a new album out in the next year? “It depends on how hard we’re pushed touring wise,” says O’Hanley. “It would be pretty awesome to be able to take a good spell of writing time off; we just find it a little tough to hone in to the collaborative process if we’re in a tour van for ten hours a day. We might end up putting our foot down and saying if [the label] wants a new record, [they’ll] have to give us the time to concoct that. Hopefully, I’d say we’d get into recording early next year. We’ve got some things cooking. There’s always a ton of ideas bouncing around, it’s just a matter of making a product of those.”
If you can’t wait until next year to hear some catchy riffs, memorable melodies, and sing-along choruses from Two Hours Traffic, you can come check them out as they stop into Regina at the Exchange on the Canadian leg of their tour on November 4th.