Chichester's finest hope the LP will push music onto the next level...

Hope Of The States will release their hugely anticipated debut album in late spring after months spent recording in a damp Russian bunker, a farmhouse lost in the middle of bogland in Ireland and amongst the Roman ruins of BATH.

The Chichester six-piece, who signed to Sony imprint Seeker following an intense bidding war, have been working with Sigur Ros producer Ken Thomas. NME.COM caught up with them during the final days at the residential Grouse Lodge studio in Ireland. The studio is so remote that nearest village, Rosemount, doesn’t even feature on any maps.

"We tried Russia first of all," explained frontman Sam Herlihy. "It didn’t work out – freezing cold bunk beds and gas portable heaters. We tried it for three weeks and then had to move. We didn’t want to record in a studio where many other bands had gone to make records. You could hear the ghosts.

"We’re been here for almost five weeks and have left the studio twice. The isolation is really good. Our music is more suited to the wide-open spaces. This might be the only record we’ll ever make, so we wanted to put a bit of romance into it, some Napoleonic folly."

NME.COM was played exclusive extracts which have a Morricone-like grandiose sweep that was only hinted on their ‘Black Dollar Bills’ and ‘Enemies/Friends’ EPs. And it goes way beyond the post-rock pocket they found themselves in last summer. It will be angling to be one of the albums of 2004.

Herrlihy added: "This is the first time everyone in the band has been saying that every song sounds the way it should do. The good thing with working with Ken is that everything has to have a reason. It is not just because it has to sound big, it’s about getting across what the song is about."

"Everything is played with a real passion," added drummer Simon Jones. "You’ve got to make your first record brilliant. We’re putting this down to make everyone hear it, so we may as well play our nuts off."

The band are due to finish recording in late January, with a single expected in late February, followed by the album later in the spring. Song titles include ‘Black Amnesias’, ‘Good Horse Hymn’ and ‘Don’t Go To Pieces’.

"We do think what we are doing is important," Herilhy concluded. "A lot of records at the moment sound to me unbelievably of the time. Like at the tail end of Britpop when all these bands came along rehashing everything that other people had done. There was a weird atmosphere of people grasping at straws without having something to believe in. I’d like to think that maybe this record will be the start of something else, a kickstart."

Hope Of The States
play an NME Awards show with The Sleepy Jackson at the London Astoria on February 11. To buy tickets, click here.

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