The Five O’Clock Heroes make the kind of unpretentious, honest music that journalists always talk about but rarely promote. Fortunately, the Heroes are gaining some steam. They just finished their debut album and will doing a return to the UK, where earlier this year they played a series of much hyped, sell out crowds. The Beat spoke with front man Antony about the album, the NME ‘scene’, and Rod Stewart videos.
So how’s it going?
We played at Rothko last night. It was a great show. A lot of people came down. I started drinking tequilas at 2 A.M. and it went down hill from there. I got really drunk and started dancing to…My Chemical Romance? I can’t believe I just admitted that [laughs]. Actually, do you know what I was dancing to that was worse? Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy” [laughs]. Have you ever seen the video? There’s a part where he squats down and he is giving the bass player the eye? Oh my god [laughs].
Did you know Rod has it set up where all of the proceeds from the song go to Unicef? He doesn’t see a dime, he’s so embarrassed.
Really? That’s a little better to know.
Yeah, so think of it as you were dancing for charity. Have you ever seen the video for “Tonight’s the Night” where’s he slowly taking his clothes off while singing to a woman….
…That looks just like him? Yeah [laughs]. They are in this plastic, piece of shit room that probably cost a million dollars or something
So now that we’ve both shown our hands as fans of Rod Stewart [laughs], let’s talk about your band. How did it come together?
I was in a band with my brother, and that went about as well as one could imagine being in a band with your brother might go. In ‘99, I came to New York. A friend of mine was in a band called the Candy Darlings and they were in a support slot at the Mercury Lounge, opening for the Strokes. When I saw them, everything, from their look to their kick drum logo, I realized I was way behind. I ended what I was doing and decided to go in a different direction.
It was a
great time to be in New York. I hooked up with Elliott. The minute we came
together, it felt right, like this is what I want to be doing. Nader joined on
and things kept working for us. I met Mikey and he is English, so it was easy
to get along. At the time, it was impossible to get a job, and he was DJ, so we
would just hang out. It was like we were the English contingent.
We’re all mates. We enjoy playing with each other. I think it is special when we can get together and make music. I’m not sure we could’ve done it now [put the band together] if the circumstances were the same, it was just a matter of everything right coming together. I’m happy we can do it. We go on stage trying to have a laugh.
You guys fill a lot of niches. Half English/half New York. ‘80s influences. Does it bother you when that’s all writers want to talk about?
I think a lot of English writers are lazy. They just immediately want to point at the reference points, and leave it at that. We can’t help where we’re from, and we make the music we want to make. It’s retarded. A lot of the kids, the one’s who writing for University, were born a couple of years before 1990. I don’t think they have enough depth. They have never heard of Orange Juice. They don’t know the threads. Then the NME puts five bands, it always seems to be only five bands, that sometimes have very loose musical associations and brands it a “scene.” I think that’s a problem for us, they can’t put us in a scene.
To be fair, your sound does cross a lot of “scenes,” was that conscious?
It’s a fine line. We’re just trying to make music we like. Mikey’s really into punk, The Clash and that sort. Elliot is from DC, and that is a pretty eclectic scene. I know he’s into Girls Versus Boys. Nader is from Chicago. He’s got strange taste. He’s into hardcore. We are doing the tour, and he is passed out in the front seat with his headphones on, and that stuff is screaming “rah, rah, rah” out of them. How can you listen to that while passed out [laughs]? I don’t know how he does that.
For me, it’s Madness, The Who, Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Music I listened to when I was a kid. I also love pop music, like the Bee Gee’s. As long as its not cheese ball. Take Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.” It’s a catchy song, but it’s fucking Avril Lavigne.
Well then let me ask you. Three bands that were reviled in the ‘70s were the Bee Gee’s, The Carpenters, and ABBA. Now they are given their due at crafting a great pop song. No one talks about the Bay City Rollers, but tribute albums have been done for the Carpenters. What bands that are shat on now due you think will get their due in years time?
It’s all about what’s catchy. Will the radio be playing “Fearless” by the Bravery in ten years? Yes. Will the radio be playing “Somebody Told Me” by the Killers in ten years? Yes. Because it is fucking catchy. Because it sounds good. I know it has been in vogue lately to knock the Bravery, but I want to say that they have been nothing but great to us. They invited us to open for them, and they have been really cool. “Fearless” is a great fucking song for radio. I don’t care what people say about them.
I got an iPod recently. Do you know what I have on there? Fleetwood Mac. And not just Rumours, either, but their stuff from the ‘80s, too. I got Wham on my iPod. That stuff is good. It’s fine. You got to appreciate that it’s there.
I will tell you a story. I live in an apartment in New York. I have this neighbor who plays the worst fucking music at four in the morning. It’s not the time that bothers me, its just that the music is this fucking awful derivative, rave shit. One time, I was playing the Bee Gee’s “How Deep is Your Love” really fucking loud. I go to shut my door, and I hear the music coming from his apartment. He’s playing the same fucking thing. It all comes around. That’s what music is all about. There are all these labels on it, but it’s all about communication, sharing. That’s what we are trying to do with Five O’Clock Heroes. They can’t put us in a scene.
So what are you guys doing right now?
We recorded the whole album last week. We are taking a couple of days off and then we are going to hit the UK for a quick two-week tour to promote the new single. We tour our ass off, which is fine by us. Recently, we did 40 shows in 43 days. We rented a big transit van, and I did most of the driving. On the final day, our guitarist collapsed. It definitely wasn’t funny.
How do you guys strike the balance between music and the real world? I assume you guys aren’t at a point where you can quit the jobs yet.
We sublet our places. We get a set fee for our shows, and then we book everything weeks in advance, from the rentals to the hotel room. It’s a bare minimum. Our merch sells well, so that keeps us going. There are temp jobs at home, or else we would die from boredom.. We don’t have the funding that a lot of the bigger bands do, yet. This is all we got. What else are we gonna do with our lives? This is it. I didn’t graduate from University, so I can’t think of any job that will hire me. And I probably wouldn’t be paid really well [laughs]. We have to make this work.
Check out the Five O’Clock Heroes on their UK jaunt, which begins Wednesday, May 25th at Club Luminaire in London. To check more dates, or to watch their new video, go to their website.