American band Eighteenth Hour released their latest album through Escape Music on 23rd August. The band has actually been around for almost twenty years and has released six previous albums but I hadn’t actually heard of them until I got a copy of the new album. Impressed by what I heard, I thought it might be worthwhile to get a little more background on the band. Our friends at Escape Music put me in touch and guitarist David Zullo agreed to answer a few questions by e-mail. You can read the full interview below.


Eighteenth Hour are David on guitar, Geoff Houser on vocals and guitar, Jim Touchton on bass and Tom Chaffier on drums.

They have a website - http://www.eighteenthhour.com/ - and you can purchase the new album here - https://www.the-music-shop.net/


 

NI ROCKS – Hi David, thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for Rock Radio NI. Your new album is released on 23rd August and whilst the band may be new to most rock fans in Europe, it’s actually your seventh full album release. Where are the band from and how and when did it get started?

DAVID – All of us are from & currently reside in/around Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is about 80 miles west of NYC and 70 miles north of Philadelphia. Eighteenth Hour started back in 2000 (believe it or not). Geoff & I knew each other in high school, but lost touch for a few years after graduating. Geoff was playing acoustically throughout the area in another group when our paths crossed and we started writing together, which is how Eighteenth Hour was formed.


NI ROCKS – The current line-up features you on guitar, Geoff on vocals and guitar, Tom on drums and Jim on bass. Is that the original line-up and if not, how long have the four of you been together?

DAVID – The current line-up has been together since 2003. Tom joined in 2001 the old fashion way by replying to a newspaper ad and Jim joined in 2003 through an online ad. We’re very fortunate that after 15 years of the same line-up we haven’t killed each other yet…and still actually enjoy writing & performing music together. Surprisingly, things for the band keep building and getting better & better. That is very usual this deep into a career in my opinion, but it’s a function of the effort we devote to this band.


NI ROCKS - The band releases a self-titled album through Escape Music on 23rd August. How did the band get together with Escape?

DAVID – We recorded our 2012 album “6” in a town bordering Bethlehem with a producer/engineer Brian J. Anthony. That album did well for us regionally and we loved the sounds he gets in his studio, so we decided to record this new album with him. Since 2012, Brian has done less recording and more mixing and was doing a lot of work for Escape Music. So, when we had a few mixes of our new album complete, Brian shared them with Khalil (head of Escape) unbeknownst to us and Khalil dug them. That’s how it started.


NI ROCKS – What was the thinking behind calling the new album “Eighteenth Hour”?

DAVID – Sheer laziness, haha. Just kidding. This is our 7th full band album and the first 6 were released between 2000 and 2012. This album is the longest stretch we’ve had between albums, so it was somewhat of a new beginning for us and we figured we wanted to let the music do the talking and didn’t want anything to interfere with that. Our strategy was just to keep it simple and use this as the launching pad to start fresh, hence a self-titled album.


NI ROCKS – Escape Music have released an audio video on YouTube for the track “Damage Done”. What can you tell us about that track?

DAVID – “Damage Done” was the 2nd song we wrote for this album, circa 2017.  Musically, this song came together fairly quickly meaning that the groove/vibe was something that we all latched onto immediately.  Some songs, people hear different things and the song morphs into something different than initially thought.  In this case, Damage Done came out very much where it started.  It’s just a straight ahead hard rock tune with a cool lick, solid drums, some blues-based chords during verse & an open/flowing chorus.  Lyrically, it’s probably one of the more aggressive songs on the album.  Inevitable everyone goes through a period where someone or something tries to harm you, either physically, emotionally, monetarily, or whatever.  This song is basically saying ‘bring it on’ cause I can take it, and you better keep one eye open because I’ll be coming back swinging faster & harder.  In short, payback is a b*tch.  Funny but true!

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NI ROCKS – “Eighteenth Hour” is the band’s first full studio album release since “6” in 2012, but there was an eight track acoustic album or EP called “In The Meantime” released in 2017. Tell us about that release?

DAVID – 2016-17 was an interesting time for the band. We were very busy promoting “6” from 2012-16 and then Tom injured his wrist pretty bad. Being a drummer, that’s probably one of the worst things that can happen. Unfortunately, it took almost 2yrs to rehab it back to health. During that time, we were starting to write and there were some songs that we knew were not going to fit with the others. So we didn’t forget them, Geoff & I went into the studio and recorded them acoustically, initially for times sake. However, once the acoustic demos were done, we figured we’d release it because we do play some acoustic / coffee-house shows and it would give us a product to promote in those venues, while we have our full band albums to push at our festival performances. To be honest, I think we’ve only ever played 2 songs live off “In The Meantime”. One is an acoustic cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” and the other is a song Geoff wrote called “Fly By Love”. The title of the album just represented where we were at that time…we were bridging “6” and “Eighteenth Hour”, hence “In the Meantime”.


NI ROCKS – After releasing five albums in about ten years, there was a quiet period for five years. What was the band doing during that period?

DAVID – Injury & rehab, then writing & recording. To be honest, that period was somewhat depressing at the time but turned out to be an awesome period for us. It allowed us to breath. We found a refreshed voice in terms of writing, and now put out a new album that we are all super proud of! Plus, we were very fortunate to keep our fans engaged during those five years by doing some select shows, like opening for Three Doors Down & Collective Soul, and Bon Jovi of course. We are definitely glad we pushed through all the b.s. and came out the other side ready to go.


NI ROCKS – In May 2018 the band opened for Bon Jovi in Allentown. How did that opportunity arise?

DAVID – LiveNation (concert promoter) had a contest which we submitted a video to, and a few weeks later we heard from them. Truly a great opportunity for us. Wish there was more to the story but that is it.


NI ROCKS – That isn’t the first time that you’ve opened for big touring bands. What other bands have you shared a stage with and what have been your highlights?

DAVID – To name a few besides Bon Jovi, we performed with Thin Lizzy, Skid Row, Ratt, Days of the New, Great White, Hinder and most recently in 2019 we performed with Sponge & Vertical Horizon. Highlights obviously include Bon Jovi due to the size of the venue & crowd, plus Jon, Phil X & Tico were such cool guys, very humble & accommodating. Skid Row was awesome as their fans are crazy & showed us a lot of love. Unfortunately, one that could have been a highlight turned out to be a lowlight. We got the opportunity to perform with Cinderella years ago and Tom & I are fans of that band, especially Tom Keifer. Unfortunately the promoter was a jerk and was giving us a hard time so we walked out. Probably the only time in our career we did that. Don’t regret it but definitely would have been cool to add them to our list!


 

NI ROCKS – When I received the new album from Escape Music I picked the track “In Denial” to play on my show. What can you tell us about that track?

DAVID – The token “F.U.” song on the album. When you’re young and people criticize what you do, whether it’s work or music or whatever, you likely get agitated by it and take it to heart. The older you get, the more you don’t care. What’s even better is that when you work hard, get recognized and are truly established in your life, then you REALLY don’t give a sh*t what others say. That’s what this song is about. The funny thing is that most cynics/critics are in denial that their opinion actually matters; they don’t realize people aren’t listening.


NI ROCKS – When did writing start for “Eighteenth Hour” and was there a track that took longer than the others to get finished the way that you wanted?

DAVID – We wrote this album in pockets between 2016 and 2018. “Where the Truth Lies” and “Damage” were some of the first songs written, with “Unnoticed” and “All This Time” being some of the last ones. The one that took the longest was definitely “The Rising”. We initially wrote that song with a completely different bridge and then vamped the chorus through the end. We all knew we liked the first portion of the song, but we knew the end wasn’t cutting it so we put it on the shelf for a few months. Then, we came up with the idea to have a Part A & Part B to the song in which Part B would be completely different than Part A. When we took that approach, we all felt that the song was complete. The cool part is that lyrically Part A is the problem and Part B is the aftermath, so it worked out really well. We all love that tune now…and it probably came out sonically as one of the best on the album.


NI ROCKS – Who did the band work with when it came to recording the new album, production, mixing etc?

DAVID – On this new album and our last album “6”, they were both recorded & produced by Brian J. Anthony from Whitehall, PA. Truly an awesome partner in the recording process. He is a man of a few words, and his laid-back vibe is exactly what we need as we’d likely be more high-strung in the studio if it weren’t for him.


NI ROCKS – What plans does the band have now in terms of promoting the new album? Have tour dates been arranged?

DAVID – Considering rock music is not as prominent in the U.S. as it was several years ago, our first focus with this new album is going to be promoting it through digital means throughout the fall/winter to countries that truly love & embrace rock music, especially in Europe. We’ll do some regional concerts during that time period, but then we’ll have a significant amount of performances lined up for next spring/summer, hopefully in Europe. We can’t wait!


NI ROCKS – A few fun questions to finish with. Firstly, what was the first band you saw live and the last band you went to see?

DAVID – My first concert was Bulletboys, Winger & Cinderella and the last was Our Lady Peace. Tom’s first was Billy Squier with Nazareth opening and his last was Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel. Jim’s first concert was Rush and his last was Uriah Heep. Geoff’s first was Metallica with Suicidal Tendencies & Danzig while his last was Three Dog Night (we’ll assume he took his dad to that one…ha).


NI ROCKS – And the first album you remember buying and the last one you bought (or added to a streaming service!)?

DAVID – My first album was Michael Jackson “Thriller” while my last was Rival Sons “Ferrell Roots”. Tom’s first was Led Zeppelin’s “4” (on vinyl!) and he just picked up Big Wreck’s “But For The Sun”. Jim’s first was AC/DC “Dirty Deeds...” and his last was Black Sabbath “13”. Geoff’s first album was Whitesnake’s ’87 self-titled and his last was Jeff Buckley “Live at Wetlands, NY”.


NI ROCKS – If you had the opportunity to perform live on stage as part of any band – which would it be and why?

DAVID - I’ll go with Led Zeppelin while I’m sure Tom would choose The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies or Tesla. Jim would likely say Black Sabbath. Geoff would want to sing with Living Colour, without wearing the yellow spandex of course (if you remember the Cult of Personality video), haha!


NI ROCKS – Thanks again for taking some time to answer our questions. Best of luck with the new album.