HALO TORA'S PROG CHORUS

THEY'RE a prog rock loving five-piece - but Glasgow outfit Halo Tora are getting some pop stardust sprinkled over their songs.

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Halo Tora are performing at King Tut's, tonight from 8.30pm
Halo Tora are performing at King Tut's, tonight from 8.30pm

The quintet headline King Tut's tonight and will be unveiling music from their forthcoming debut album, a record inspired by the likes of Mogwai and Pink Floyd.

But they've had an unexpected boost, thanks to producer Jud Mahoney agreeing to mix the album.

Mahoney has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Robin Gibb and Cliff Richard in the past, which might make a noisy Glasgow group a less obvious choice for his next collaboration.

"Our EP When The Bones Shake had ended up being put on Jud Mahoney's table, and he said he loved our sound and wanted to work with it," explains Halo Tora's singer Chris Alexander.

"We had a couple of meetings, he came to a few shows and he said the music was excellent.

"It really just came about through people telling him to hear us, so it was by chance… Now he's mixing it, and pushing the album out there and can hopefully help get it some distribution."

Chris admits that it was strange at first to be chatting away with someone who's worked on tracks with several top names.

"It's surreal, but when you get talking to him he's a lovely guy," he says.

"He's from a pop and R'n'B background but is very much a music person, and believes in music before the image."

The group say they love pop as much as prog, and their songs certainly have a knack of catchy choruses as well as chunky guitars, thunderous drums, melodic piano and slow-burning rock tunes. Last year's When The Bones Shake notched up plenty of praise, and they've spent several months working away on a full-length record at Airdrie's Beetroot Studios with producer Stuart MacLeod.

Plenty of emerging bands race through recording sessions and simply copy their live show, but Halo Tora ended up spending time building the songs up in the studio.

"We had about 75% of the album ready, but we had time to write two songs to completion while there," says Chris.

"That's interesting for a band of our size as you usually need a big budget to get away with doing that. Stuart was really enthusiastic and encouraged us to use the studio tools to build the songs.

"We've all got a deep love of prog, but we love pop music as well, and that's really suited to being in the studio, because we could experiment to playing with synths and guitar effects, and that kind of thing, but still retaining big choruses."

Chris and drummer Chris McKeown had played together in other bands before deciding to set up a new project, and they recruited singer/guitarist Ian McCall from another group they'd played alongside in the past.

Chris then persuaded pianist Ryan Connery to join when he met him in a music shop, before bassist Kenny Wraight completed the line-up.

Along with the likes of Mogwai and Pink Floyd, the group point to now disbanded Manchester noise mongers Oceansize as a huge inspiration, while their gigs have often taken an unusual bent. For example, a recent show at the Cottiers Theatre was all seated and featured film footage on the wall behind them.

"We had a film called Koyaanisqatsi: A Life Out Of Balance playing in the background," says Chris.

"The film seemed really apt for our music, especially as we were in a theatre and everyone was sitting down.

"We thought the visual aspect would be really cool, although it was nervy because the first time we played with it behind us was at the show, we'd never tested or rehearsed but it clicked well."

And the singer reckons more bands should try different things to catch the attention of gig-goers.

"Nowadays that there's so many good bands in Glasgow, but you want people to get their money's worth and to get a show too," he adds.

"Sometimes I don't think it cuts it to just be playing some songs that you've written in your bedroom."

Now they're hoping that Tut's tonight proves the next big step for them.

"It's an honour to play Tuts, because there's so many great bands that have played there. It's amazing to be part of that."

n Halo Tora, King Tut's, tonight, £6.50, 8.30pm.

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