After 12 years, four critically acclaimed full-length records and winning fans around the world, Prince Edward Island pop band Two Hours Traffic is calling it a day.
The group has embarked on a whirlwind farewell tour, which kicked off in Toronto last Thursday night.
As a part of its final tour, Two Hours Traffic performs at Moncton’s Tide & Boar on Thursday evening.
Two Hours Traffic’s career has certainly had its high points. Early in its career, the group struck up a friendship with Halifax’s Joel Plaskett. Plaskett would go on to produce the band’s first three full-length records – 2005’s self-titled debut, 2007’s Little Jabs and 2009’s Territory. Little Jabs arguably helped earn the band its widest audience, charting in the Top 10 of Canadian College Radio while also being shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2008. The group’s most recent, and most likely final, full-length album, Foolish Blood, was released in February.
It was at the end of October that the group issued a press release announcing its intention to disband. The group clarified that there was nothing in the way of personal or professional conflicts that brought its members to this point, they simply felt it was the right time to close this chapter of their lives.
Although the announcement may have been a shock to fans, Two Hours Traffic guitarist-vocalist Liam Corcoran tells the Times & Transcript that this very dialogue has been taking place between band members over the course of the last few years.
Liam says that at the end of summer, Two Hours Traffic drummer Derek Ellis announced his intentions to return to school, which ultimately helped hasten their decision.
“Over the last few years, we have been talking amongst ourselves about how much longer we would be able to continue making music together,” Liam says. “With each record we made, we hoped that in terms of the industry, the band would continue to get bigger and reach different plateaus. We wanted to get to a point where we could make a decent living doing something we love and not come home and need to scramble for other work. The band simply never got to that point.”
Liam says that replacing Derek and carrying on, as Two Hours Traffic, didn’t interest the group. Rather than risk being seen as a patchwork group of musicians, keeping the group’s legacy and integrity intact was something far more important to the group.
“We did throw around the idea of taking a hiatus from the group rather than disbanding but we have always operated very democratically,” says Liam. “We didn’t want to be in a position where we are losing members from the original lineup of the group and not feel like the same band.
“There was a feeling among us that the legacy of the band could be hurt if we just continued hanging around. We are very lucky. We had the opportunity to make four full-length records. We didn’t have a period where we got really weird or started making sub-par albums. We are proud of the decision to bring an end to the band at this point in time.”
One of the bigger misconceptions that many bands deal with is that there are piles of money to be made in the music business, that if your band manages to have those one or two big hits, chances are you will be comfortable for the rest of your life.
Since album sales stalled in the early part of this century, bands have had to increasingly rely on tour revenue. That alone can be viewed as an oxymoron for many groups touring Canada, given our vast geography and distances between major cities and venues. But without touring, the hopes of drawing attention to your band dwindle quickly.
In short, being a part of an independent Canadian band is not for the weak-hearted.
“We’ve encountered some people who are very surprised that we are not making a living doing this,” Liam says. “I don’t want this to be taken as though we are whining because we have enjoyed being on the road immensely. There are just very few people making money at it. If it gives people incentive to come see your band’s show, I do think it is good for people to know how hard it can be when you’re on tour. We know bands more popular than us and many of them are struggling financially as well.”
Despite having such harsh realities staring them down, Liam insists that he would not trade his time with Two Hours Traffic for anything. In addition to having had the opportunity to tour and build a base of loyal fans across Canada, the group was also given the chance to perform in India, Australia and New Zealand.
Liam says that it was their Canadian fans that have had the most profound effect upon them.
“We began touring Canada with little in the way of expectations. Once we started pursuing music full-time and we began developing a fan base in cities right across the country, that is one of the things that meant the most to us. It was almost shocking in a way.
“It is an amazing feeling to join together and be a team on the road. We worked hard to make every night and every show a lot of fun. Those are some of my favourite memories.”
Article published in the December 18, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript
What: Two Hours Traffic
with special guests Mardeen
When: Thursday, Dec. 19, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets: $12 plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Tide & Boar and online at tideandboar.com