Fifteen years after their last album, Hundred's Reason's Glorious Sunset might prove prophetic. If it does turn out to be their last, it is certainly glorious; that elusive balance of everything that was great about a band in the old days, with a fresh perspective. And as the band's guitarist and now producer, Larry Hibbitt can take a well deserved bow.
"To be honest, I'm not sure we did decide it was the right time more than discover we had an album to record!" he admits to us about the decision to record after numerous successful electric and acoustic tours in the UK after a reunion at 2014's Sonisphere festival. "It came out of conversations about wanting to do some shows and wanting there to be a reason to do them. Maybe we thought we'd write an EP, but then the music just kept coming!"
While the creative energy between Larry, vocalist Colin Doran, drummer Andy Bews and bassist Andy Gilmour was very much in flow, and the songs came fast, the band was fitting songwriting and arranging around the realities of their lives now.
"We were fitting the writing around our day jobs, but we were quite disciplined about getting together one evening a week to write," says Larry, who is checking in with MusicRadar from the band's UK tour with old British rock pals Hell Is For Heroes and My Vitriol. "We would endeavour to write a song or at least the sketch of a song at each of these sessions, then we would leave it and move on to the next one no matter how unfinished it was. After a few months we were looking at a folder with nearly 20 demos in it that we then whittled down to the best 10 and they went on the record."
How has the songwriting dynamic changed in the band since you last worked on new music?
"The dynamic has vastly improved since we last worked together! On our fourth album we had become very dysfunctional as a band and that to me is quite apparent in the output. We weren't listening to each other and I think we mostly made that record because we felt we should, not because it was bursting out of us.
This time it felt like we were a new band again! The songs were there to be written, to be discovered, and it all felt quite effortless. We haven't written like that since our first album."
You’ve spent a lot of time in a studio environment in the years between the last album and this one working with bands including Marmozets and Nothing But Thieves, how do you feel this has benefitted this record?
"I think all of our experience from the last 15 years benefitted the album. Mine maybe most directly from a production point of view, but all of us have been off elsewhere in the world of music doing our thing. Also our life experiences have definitely driven our desire to do this again and I think have changed our perspective on what the band is and what it means to us and to other people. There's a clarity now in all of this that didn't exist before."
What was it like producing Andy’s drums remotely when he was in the US?
"We used a bit of software called Audio Movers. I was listening to a live stream of the output of the console at the Ship in LA and was sending back my talk back mic on a different stream. I could talk to Andy like he was in the next room! They then sent me the files every night for me to work on the next morning before we moved on. It worked surprisingly well."
How does the technology compare to when Hundred Reasons last recorded an album in 2007?
"The computers have gotten a lot faster and more accessible so there's less waiting around for them, but most of the equipment I used to make the record was designed, if not made, pre the 1980s! Maybe that's just my preference."
What are the challenges of being the producer and the artist?
"Separation, I guess. It was much easier than last time I tried it, though. I suppose there was zero external pressure on this album as no one knew we were making it!
I did reach a point towards the end where I'd felt I had given all I had to it so decided I had to give it over to someone else to mix it. In the end that ended up being a mixture of the legendary Cenzo Townshend and my good friend James Mottershead. They both did a fantastic job!"
How has your own approach to guitar playing and tone changed much since the last Hundred Reasons record and where do you think that’s manifested most on Glorious Sunset?
"This album is possibly the least guitar-focused Hundred Reasons record there is! I would say the guitars are mostly there in a supporting role. I think this is because we used to write the music first as a band and then Colin would do his thing afterwards, but this time the vocal melodies were there very early on in the writing.
"I was conscious of the vocal being the most important thing and so the guitars should fit around them. It's funny, when we're been rehearsing the new songs for the tour it's very easy for us to get lost when Colin isn't singing! I think this is how it should be.
"I think this is manifested most in the song Glorious Sunset. I love how the guitars and vocal melodies weave around each other in that arrangement. It's very satisfying!"
What was your main gear in the studio and have you discovered any recent secret weapons for your guitar tone in terms of pedals etc?
"My main amp is a Marshall MK2 JMP from 1978. I used that a lot on the record along with a JCM 800 2204 from the early '80s and a Hiwatt Custom 50 2x12 combo. The Hiwatt has this crazy percussive sound that I love to bits. I also fell back in love with the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier recently so that definitely featured!
"Pedal-wise there's a reverb pedal I used a bit on this record called the Stargazer made by Hungry Robot. It's so murky and modulated I love it. I also I love the Caroline stuff – I use the Kilobyte delay and the Meteore reverb a lot. Other mainstays would be my Keeley modded Boss Super Overdrive and my old black Russian Big Muff. You can hear the Big Muff on the main guitar of So So Soon.
Are you more open with each other in the creative process as a band now?
"I'd say we definitely are. There's very little bullshit between us now. Maybe that comes from age? Who knows? But I like it!"
Recording has become more accessible in terms of the technology but it feels tougher in many ways for rock bands to be invested in by labels and develop, what’s your perspective having been a part of things in the late nineties and working with newer talent in recent times?
"I'm not one of those people that thinks that all new music is rubbish and wishes it was the '90s again, but the modern world is hell for bands! Mainly because of streaming. Bands feel like an inconvenience to the big streaming services and that is creeping into radio play as well. I think the image of four of five dudes standing in a row looking moody is just old hat now. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, it just is what it is. There seems to be plenty of room for guitar music or music that shares it's DNA with rock bands, but it needs to be presented differently to be palatable to people's social media-ravaged attention spans.
"I do, however, miss the days when artists weren't forced to be clamouring for the public's attention 24 hours a day. That is immensely annoying. What happened to a bit of mystique?! Can you imagine if Kate Bush or Bowie had been on the internet 24/7 desperately clawing to be liked by everyone and anyone? It's just not cool.
Recording tech wise, yes things are more accessible and it is possible to make a record in your bedroom, but you still need talent and experience. Billie Eilish is Billie Eilish because of her immense talent, not because her brother had Logic on his laptop!"
Larry Hibbitt: 10 albums that changed my life
1. Michael Jackson - Bad (1987)
"This was the first album I ever bought. I had it on vinyl and I also had the 7" single of the track Leave Me Alone. I think I was 11 years old. This was before I got into heavier guitar music. I was definitely obsessed with MJ back then."
2. Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)
"I remember being in a record shop near when I grew up and hearing the song Alive being played over the PA. Although now it sounds like a fairly standard rock song, back then it sounded to me like something from outer space and I immediately bought the single and then later the whole album. It was a huge album for me and all my friends."
3. Metallica – Master Of Puppets
"This was the first metal album I bought. I remember buying it on CD and then sitting in my mum's car outside our house to listen to it really loud. I reckon the whole street could hear it, until the car battery ran out at least. I've grown to love a lot of Metallica's albums over the years, but Puppets is still my favourite. It's tough, but also cinematic. It's in its own world."
4. Fugazi - In On The Kill Taker (1993)
"This is the record that first introduced me to Ian MacKaye and the whole Discord Records universe that ended up providing me with a lot of my favourite bands. I remember being quite challenged by it at the time. It was rougher sounding and less immediate than music I was used to, but once I was hooked, I was hooked. There are moments of pure brilliance on this record and it always feels right on the edge of falling to pieces in the most wonderful way."
5. Smog - Knock Knock (1999)
"This is a perfect album to me. There's not a bad song on it. Cold Blooded Old Times stands up there with any song ever written and I want Teenage Spaceship played at my funeral. If you don't know this record your life is not complete. Bill Callahan's vocal delivery alone makes it one of the greats for me."
Refused - "The Shape Of Punk To Come"
I know I'm a walking cliche having been in an emo(ish) band in the early noughties and being obsessed with this record, but it is fucking brilliant. This was another record I found very challenging at first, in fact it took me a few listens to really get it, but once I did there was no going back. I actually listened to this album in full recently for the the first time in a while. It's still phenomenal and still sounds totally fresh and great. I love it.
6. Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come (1998)
"I know I'm a walking cliche having been in an emo(ish) band in the early noughties and being obsessed with this record, but it is fucking brilliant. This was another record I found very challenging at first, in fact it took me a few listens to really get it, but once I did there was no going back. I actually listened to this album in full recently for the the first time in a while. It's still phenomenal and still sounds totally fresh and great. I love it."
7. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (2019)
"I still don't understand how this record is just quite as brilliant as it is. There is magic going on here. How can music be warm, gentle and intimate at the same time as being heavy, tough and widescreen cinematic. Seemingly so simple, yet impossible to imitate. I was blown away when I first heard it and continue to be."
8. Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman (1970)
"I had an old charity shop copy of this record on vinyl in my teens. My mates and I used to listen to it whilst playing cards. His songwriting is just out of this world and the lyrics are like a warm hug to me. My partner and I just had a baby and Wild World was on the birth playlist. What better song for a new baby to hear!"
9. Deacon Blue – When The World Knows Your Name (1989)
"A band that were huge when I was a kid who (apart from the occasional appearance of the intro of Real Gone Kid on various adverts) have been mostly forgotten. My parents were really into this record and we used to listen to it a lot in the car and sing along. We all went to see them play at Wembley arena, twice I think. This album will always have a special place in my heart. And Ricky Ross has one hell of a voice!"
10. Igor Stravinsky - The Rite Of Spring (1913)
Not an album, but a ballet. And one of my favourite pieces of classical music. If you like your music heavy, this is the piece of music for you. I remember hearing it for the first time having already listened to a lot of heavy guitar music and thinking... "oh my god THIS is heavier!".
"It's also beautiful. The opening bassoon solo, where the instrument is right on the limits of its range, is just so delicate and haunting before the onslaught that follows. Perfection."
- The new Hundred Reasons album The Glorious Sunset is out now – more info at hundredreasons.com