Those of us who have an eternal soft spot for the jagged and gentle guitar chime of bands like The Chills and Lilys don’t often come across Providence bands who give us the same giddy shiver. While The Brother Kite may be our finest example of guitar pop lacquered with velvety production sheen, the almost completely unknown (but no less formidable) Invisible Hours play like the dark, charred side of that same shiny coin. Similar to the Kite, The Invisible Hours craft indie pop songs from the same classic substratum; but where the former aims for monumentally epic moments of harmonic bombast, the latter turns its own songs – casually laced with a little more bitterness and heartbreak – inward to where the guitars are a little darker, the melodies a little more deso- late and the mood a bit more bleak.
That isn’t to say The Invisible Hours are a gloomy band, because they’re not. Tracks like “Psychic Surgery” and “An Open Letter” hum with the same stoned dazzle as the best Brian Jonestown Massacre tune, and the beautiful murky guitar of “While You Were Waiting” picks up where your precious Bunnymen left off. New recordings like “Complex Knots” bounce along rather happily like that first Shins record, with singer and guitarist Chris Kelley’s vocals more confident and up front in the mix. I got to chat with him about the band and their forthcoming (and as yet untitled) record, which combines their first fantastic sounding EP with a batch of brand new recordings.
There seems to be a mix of ‘80s Merseybeat sounds as well as American psych in your music. Were you intentionally trying to create a bridge between these sounds or was it a happy accident?
We’re not so much into ‘80s Merseybeat. Initially, I was really interested in a lot of the ‘80s west coast Paisley Underground bands, which was kind of an updated American spin on ‘60s psychedelia. We were definitely drawn to stuff that was more melodic and spacey but we were also really feeding off each other’s ideas. Of course, when you’re in a band there is a lot of compromise that occurs when you are writing together... It’s a good thing because that’s where you get your real sound. The three of us approach everything democratically. While a small part might be intentional, it is more of a happy accident. We played our first show in April 2010; I was listening to a lot of Lilys, Ride, Love, the Rain Parade and a ton of stuff from the ‘60s. People have told us we sound really British and I suppose some of our influences are either British or come from a scene that tries to emulate some part of that.
The vocals and lyrics seem dreamy and wispy. What things are you talking about lyrically? Is the obscurity intentional?
Lyrically, most are reflections on relationships or interactions with other people. Sometimes it’s fun to secretly say something in a song that you would never say out loud in any other situation. I like to walk around in an idea. Sometimes I see a film, look at a picture, or read something that takes my thoughts to a different place. If I’m lucky, I remember to write it down. The voice is just another instrument and I like it to stay with the other sounds. The records we love and find influential are just mixed terribly when compared to modern recordings, but the sound is honest. I think when we mix the recordings, we base it more on what we like than what the industry standard is recording-wise.
What are your plans for a full-length recording?
We’re almost done mixing and hope to have it available digitally on BandCamp before our March 23 show at Fete. Later in the spring, we will put it out on CD. It will include the first four songs from our first session (which we had self-released on CD in a very limited quantity) with five or six new songs that our bass player Ian recorded. An alternate mix of one new track, “To Wherever it Belongs” will also appear on Ball of Wax, Volume 27, a compilation CD.
The Invisible Hours were also featured on Ball of Wax, Volume 14. Go to Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly for more information. Also, find The Invisible Hours on Facebook and be sure to catch their next show on March 23 at Fete in Olneyville.