Hundred Reasons return with ‘Glorious Sunset’ and tell us about their first album in 15 years, experience touring and venue merch cuts.
It’s been fifteen years since Hundred Reasons released an album but they’re making a comeback with new album ‘Glorious Sunset’ and with their recent announcement for this years Download Festival we caught up with guitarist and producer Larry Hibbitt on their tour bus before they played to a sold out Bristol O2 Academy to talk about their tour, their album and to get Larry’s take on the hot topic of venue merch cuts.
So first things first, how have the gigs been going so far? It must be nerve wracking coming back, booking those shows and hoping the fan base are still there with you?
“So this is day 4, 5 including a warm up, and they’ve been awesome from the get go really. It’s been such a long time since we’ve done shows, so we were a little bit nervous about getting into it! Once we got the first one under our belt and we started playing though it’s like riding a bike, you never really forget.”
It’s clearly going alright with a sell out at the O2 Academy in Bristol!
“Yeah sold out! All of the gigs have had a similar number of people which has been great.”
It must be nice to come back and pick up where you left off except everyone’s losing their mind because they haven’t heard the songs live in so long
“Going just on ticket sales, we’re selling numbers on this tour which are outstripping what we did when we were supposedly at our biggest! So all you’ve got to do is do nothing for fifteen years and then everyone’s gagging for it” *laughs*
So who was it that initiated that conversation around reforming in the first place?
“I think it was a conversation between Colin (Doran, Vocalist), Andy (Gilmour, Bassist) and our agent who carried on working on some acoustic shows in the gap so it started with them. It was initially going to be one show at Brixton Academy and then we thought if we’re going to do one show at Brixton why not book a tour? So we booked a tour which got postponed a couple of times due to covid and in that time we ended up making a record.”
Could you tell us more about how the record came about?
“So we were talking about doing a tour and we wanted a good reason to do it. We’d already done the ten years of (debut record) ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in 2012 where we played the album from start to finish which made sense for that time. We didn’t want to do that again because we felt as though it had been done.
We missed the ten years of ‘Shatterproof is Not A Challenge’ and so we thought maybe it shouldn’t just be about nostalgia and maybe we should write some new music! We quite rapidly started getting on well with it and just doing little writing sessions. One of the first things we wrote was the song ‘Right There With You’, in fact I think it was the first song from the first session. It wasn’t the complete finished song although the guitar intro made it from the demo. So we were listening to the demo and we were thinking, this isn’t finished but it sounds like a decent Hundred Reasons song so maybe there’s something to be done here! Which we did! It’s really turned this tour into less trying to relive twenty years ago and more that there’s stuff happening now.
We’ve been playing songs from (new album) ‘Glorious Sunset’ and they’re fitting into the set and getting a good reaction with people singing them back to us. It feels great to be in that position.”
So during the hiatus you’ve been doing a lot of producing. Is there anyone you’re listening to or any influences you pulled in for the new record?
“I think we pulled in all of our experience over the last ten to fifteen years, I don’t feel like there’s anything specific. I wanted to make it not sound like a 2002 emo record, I wanted it to sound “grown up” and have a bit more depth and maybe be a bit more “arty” than our records before. I think that’s a good way of progressing but still have those moments that definitely have that old energy about them which Colin really brought with his vocals.”
Having produced previous Hundred Reasons records, was it weird to work with them in that capacity again?
“To be honest, when we recorded it I’d been having a bit of a busy period and then I went straight to doing ‘Glorious Sunset’. Also, none of us were in the same room at any point. Andy (Bews, Drummer) lives in California so he couldn’t have been there even if he wanted to due to covid restrictions still being in place so he recorded his drums in a studio in California with me listening in and talking to him through the computer. I was listening to the output in my studio in South London and sending my talkback to him so it was like he was in the next room but I couldn’t see him. At the same time I had a zoom conversation going with the engineer so it was all a bit weird! So we did the drums like that and Andy would come and do his bass then Colin would come in the evening for a couple of hours, do a song and then bugger off. I was basically then left to my own devices to piece the rest of it together. That was the most difficult thing because usually when you’re producing a record you have maybe the engineer and you would have all or part of a band with you to bounce ideas off. There was a three week stretch at one point where I was just on my own!”
Isn’t that nice though that there’s that level of trust in you?
“I don’t think they had a huge amount of choice to be honest hahaha I think it’s just how it worked out. I did procrastinate for ages but then I just dove into it and locked my doors for about three weeks to put it all together. From there I obviously went back and forth with the band. It was unique in a way because we’ve NEVER done a record like that before. I’ve made records like that since with other people, it’s kind of the more usual way it’s done now. How Hundred Reasons had done records before though is booking a studio for two months, all gone there, all been there all the time and played it all together so in every way it’s different from records we’ve done in the past. It seemed to have a positive effect though!”
Do you think this massive switch to streaming since you released your last album has changed how you thought about the release of ‘Glorious Sunset’?
“For sure! When we were releasing albums before, you’d put out singles before the album and then when the album’s out you’d put out another single. You don’t have that single after the album now though because once a song is on Spotify now, as far as Spotify’s concerned that song is old. So if you’ve got an existing album out and you want to put out a song from it afterwards. You just can’t and you have to hold that back because once it’s on Spotify it’s effectively dead from a new release point of view hahaha. You know, we put out five songs before ‘Glorious Sunset’ came out which is different for us. We talked to Adam at (Hundred Reasons’ label) So records and said that we wanted to just drop the whole album, let’s just throw it out there but in the end we decided to do this song by song and tease it. That was obviously the right thing to do but it’s so tempting now to be like “fuck it” and drop the whole thing unannounced.
It’s weird now because it seems that to keep a career going now you have to basically be releasing music all the time so I think it’s quite rare now to make an album and drop that in sort of isolation. If this was a normal career you’d be thinking “well let’s just do an EP or two”. It just seems like you have to be releasing something every six or seven weeks now to keep in people’s minds.”
I guess that’s what’s nice about the Hundred Reasons fanbase is that because that era pre hiatus has followed you back and they’re not really about that lifestyle with bands.
“The one thing that we’ve noticed as well is that we had absolutely no social media presence because that didn’t exist back then. That means we’ve had to start from scratch now really. We’ve sold over twelve thousand tickets over all of these dates we’re doing yet we’ve got two thousand Instagram followers. The numbers just don’t add up so I don’t know where all of these people came from.”
They’ve just been waiting for the announcement!!
“They must’ve and they’ve all jumped on it!! I’ve definitely felt like the world is new from the last time we’re doing it. Even though I’ve seen it from working with other bands. When I am working with them I’m thinking “fucking hell im glad I wasn’t in a band when social media was such a thing because it’s such a pain in the ass”. I’ve been working with people and their manager’s on the phone saying that they haven’t done enough posts today and I’m sat there thinking “no one gives a shit what you’re doing right now but you’ve got to put that boring task online or your manager will worry that you’ll fade into obscurity”. I’m so glad it wasn’t around when we were around. I feel like we had a much more enjoyable experience because of it!”
The big topic at the minute is the merch cuts that venues are demanding. Have you seen a change in that? What are your views?
“We have a guy, Tommy, that runs our merch and he has ways and means of getting around things like that I think. I don’t think they should be taking these massive cuts. We were in Leeds the other day and they were taking 12p a head where you’d usually be expecting about £3 or whatever it might be. I mean that’s reasonable for me for using their infrastructure and their merch stands or whatever. Those sorts of fees were around last time but when you hear about venues charging up to 25%, that’s ridiculous. We’re not particularly relying on those merch sales because we have day jobs as well but if you were, you’d have to have a serious conversation about whether you’re even going to sell t-shirts there. Or you just circumnavigate the venue and sell them outside like bootleggers, fuck it.
It’s awful that they take a percentage of the merch and if they’re doing that then give us a cut of the bar money! See how much beer you’d sell if these bands didn’t come and play at your venues! If we’re continuing doing this going into the future then we’d deliberately seek venues that didn’t have those cuts and maybe seek venues a bit out of the way of the usual circuit.”
People would follow you anyway!
“Exactly because the bands that are playing are more important than the venues. Even though these are nice places to play, I’m sure other venues wouldn’t charge £7 or whatever it might be for a shit pint of lager!”
One thing I like to ask, are there any bands or artists that you’ve been listening to that you’d recommend?
“I don’t think there’s anything new really. To be honest I’ve just had a baby so I’m off in baby land at the minute!”
Congratulations!! Is this your first one?
“It is the first one! Twelve days old!”
Twelve days?!? How are you finding that?
“Oh it’s amazing. She’s fantastic. My brain’s a little fried though!”
So how is it touring now as a parent?
“I mean we’re only away for two or three days at a time. I got dropped off on this bus on Sunday and picked up this morning so I’m doing alright you know”
Well thank you so much for giving us your time at such a busy time for you! It’s been great talking and good luck tonight!
Catch Hundred Reasons performing on the Opus Stage alongside headliners Metallica (Thursday and Saturday night), Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon at Download Festival taking place at Donington Park in Leicestershire from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th June 2023.
Extremely limited day tickets and RIP tickets are available from the Download Festival website now.