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Hall Of Fame: Hundred Reasons - Ideas Above Our Station

Andy Ritchie
Andy Ritchie 26 June 2014 at 12.30

Hundred Reasons will return for (probably) the last time next month as they perform their debut album 'Ideas Above Our Station' in full at Sonisphere. For the first time online, read out Hall Of Feature on one of the most important UK rock albums of the last decade.

RELEASED: May 20, 2002
LABEL: Columbia
PRODUCER: Dave Sardy
PERSONNEL: Colin Doran (vocals), Larry Hibbitt (guitar, vocals), Paul Townsend (guitar, vocals),
Andy Gilmour (bass),
Andy Bews (drums)
ARTWORK: Mark Unwin / Precession Industries

Ten years ago, the mechanics of the music industry were very different: bands toured their arses off with the glimmering hope of ‘getting signed’, and very few did.
Hundred Reasons were one of the lucky few when Sony (later Columbia) showed interest in them, and it soon became apparent that their solid stint on the road in their early days would pay dividends…

Jane Unwin [Gravity DIP founder / HR manager]: “People always say this in retrospect, but we knew Hundred Reasons were something special from the first rehearsal.”

Colin Doran (vocals): “Back then it was really good fun, but also really hard work. We all had day jobs, so we’d finish days at work or bunk the day off here and there to play shows, get back at four in the morning, and then have to get up at eight and go back to work.”

Andy Bews (drums): “We were in our infancy and it was a really fun time because it was all very innocent. We didn’t really know what was going to happen. We were just touring in the back of a van together as just mates, on the road having a laugh. Eventually we signed to Columbia on the back of being on tour forever….”

Colin Doran: “I remember the time our manager came round with Larry [Hibbitt, guitarist] and said Sony Records were really interested in us. We were like ‘Wow! this is becoming a bit more serious…’”

Andy Bews: “We came from a very DIY background. We were just people who were what they were and weren’t trying to be anything else, so we were a bit unsure when we were first approached by Sony. But the way we saw it, we really wanted to be a band; we loved music - that’s all we’d ever done - and we wanted to do it for a living. We thought ‘We’ll have time to go into the studio, we’ll write a record and tour and get paid for it, what’s cooler than that?!’”

Jane Unwin: “The whole ethos was always DIP (do it properly), so we really made an effort to encourage the band to be pro from the start. Treat people properly, work hard, be nice, show up on time, be principled, be amazing live; all that. We always wanted the band to be self-sufficient in as many ways as possible, so signing to a label wasn’t the be-all and end-all, it would just be adding something extra.”

With major label backing, Hundred Reasons set off to America to record their debut. These five lads from Surrey were heading Stateside (some were stepping on a plane for the first time) to work with the legendary Dave Sardy. The goal? Make the best album possible...

Andy Bews: “We spent two months out in New York which was a pretty incredible thing at the time. We’d been playing the songs live for about a year-and-a-half by that point, so we were quite solid with them. Dave really liked all the songs so we didn’t change anything at all. It was all really natural. I actually flew home about a month into it because I’d done all my drums and I was hanging around New York with nothing to do, just getting in everyone’s way!”

By Frank Turner
“‘Ideas Above Our Station’” was a real landmark moment for the UK rock and post hardcore scene. It was the first time a band from our little underground scene really broke through and made an impact. I remember when they played Brixton: I was gobsmacked, and very happy. Million Dead and countless other bands totally benefitted from their success… and it’s still a killer record!”

Colin Doran: “New York was just amazing. It was all quite low-tech, it was all about good quality gear and producing a good sound. We’d set up the gear around 11 or 12am and then we wouldn’t get out until about one in the morning. Our goal realistically was to be the best musicians we could be at the time, but with regards to an actual studio plan, we were relatively inexperienced. I would say that Pro-Tools was our friend on the first record!”

Larry Hibbitt (guitar): “For me it was great, because I was as interested in the recording as I was being in the band. I’d say almost everything I learned for producing today I learned from Dave and the engineers there. I would just observe how they did everything and learn.”

Jane Unwin: “I didn’t go to NYC when they were recording, so hearing the album for the first time was terrifying. I thought we’d made a terrible mistake and that all of the songs had been ruined. But I quickly realised I was an idiot.”

So with a genre classic under their belts, Hundred Reasons came back to the UK and toured, toured, toured some more. ‘Ideas...’ cannonballed into the Top 10, and even the BBC wanted a piece of the Hundred Reasons pie.

Jane Unwin: “Things had been going pretty well up to the album’s release and Columbia were really behind it, so we thought it might go Top 20. We were in the middle of what people like to call a ‘strong campaign’. Top 10 was mind-boggling, though – I still think it’s amazing when UK rock bands do that today.”

Colin Doran: “We did things for strange people at that time. We did a gig with The Sugababes and Sophie Ellis Bextor and people like that which was quite funny. We were playing really heavy music against a load of chavs that pointed their fingers up at us! And then there was Top Of The Pops…”

Andy Bews: “There’s actually a funny story about that. We were told by Top Of The Pops that we had to mime. We said ‘Well we’re a live rock band, we’re not miming!’ In the end they gave in and we played live and it sounded bloody awful!”

Larry Hibbitt: “We had a day off so we went down to Cornwall to catch up with some friends and do some surfing. Then we got the call and we had to come all the way back up [to do Top Of The Pops]. It was shit! Unfortunately it wasn’t like Jools Holland. The studio for TOTP isn’t built for live music, they have the band miming and drop the vocal track in over the top. Looking back we sounded terrible. I think I spent most of the song facing the wall!”

Andy Bews: “It was all a bit of a whirlwind after that, but it felt fairly natural as well because we didn’t know anything else. We were like ‘Oh so this is what happens…’ You release a record, and it goes in at Number Six, you do Top Of The Pops and then you tour the world. So we just all jogged along with it!”

Ten years on, and the world is saying a fond farewell to Hundred Reasons this summer. Looking back, ‘Ideas…’ sounds every bit as relevant today as it did back in ’02, but has it stood the test of time for them?

Andy Bews: “Funnily enough I listened to the album for the first time in a long time the other day and I thought ‘You know what? This is actually a good record’.”

Colin Doran: “Has it stood the test of time? I actually think it has and I still don’t think there’s anyone who sounds like us either, which I’m pretty proud of.”

Larry Hibbitt: “I still meet people all the time who talk about how important that record is, and people are now in bands talking about how we were their first gig or we were their first proper record. It was the soundtrack for a lot of people for a year. I think that’s worth recognising.”

By Rou Reynolds, Enter Shikari
“Listening back to this record now infuses me with such nostalgia. For me, it epitomises summer, friends, fun and frolics! Not only could every track on it be a single, but every track also feels utterly timeless. [Hundred Reasons] have the extraordinary ability of being able to produce great feel-good melodies without appearing clichéd, cheesy or trite. Singing onstage with them at Brixton was definitely one of the most gratifying and surreal points of my life. Hopefully more bands will follow in their footsteps of creating music full of positivity and passion, without the homogenisation and mediocrity that is rife in today’s rock scene. Long live Hundred Reasons!”

Jane Unwin: “That album’s the result of over two years of really intensive work – people shut in rehearsal rooms 3 nights a week, picking songs apart and putting them back together again, playing them live, changing them before anybody’s noticed. It’s really hard to have the luxury of that after your first record, or to recreate the euphoric enthusiasm of being in a band that clicks, or the whole ‘us lot against the world’ mentality. The best thing that can come out of these [anniversary] shows for me is the boys in the band realising how good they were. They were fucking great.”


Hundred Reasons will play 'Ideas Above Our Station' in full at Sonisphere Festival this July. Full info on that is over at this link.

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