Band of the Week: Blue Hour

Alt-country band plays release party on October 8 at Musica in Akron

click to enlarge Blue Hour. - Mollie Crowe (@LittleBlackbirdPhoto)
Mollie Crowe (@LittleBlackbirdPhoto)
Blue Hour.
MEET THE BAND: Justin Mills (vocals/guitar), Matt Modena (drums), Trevor Matthews (guitar/pedal steel) and Kevin Vinci (bass)

A LEARNING CURVE: Mills, who grew up in the Hartville/Uniontown area and North Canton, says the first music he heard that really struck a chord with him was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. “I also liked all those ‘90s albums that were more rock ’n’ roll,” he says. He can’t pinpoint the exact time, but in middle school, he remembers wanting to be in a band. “I definitely went through that process of failing at something and then showing other people what you made even though it was bad," he admits. Though Mills started writing rootsy/alt-country material as Blue Hour in 2017, the present lineup didn’t come together until 2021.

A DYNAMIC SOUND: With the pandemic weighing heavy on his mind, Mills began writing the songs for the band’s new EP, A Long Time Ago, and the band recorded them at Oranjudio in Columbus, OH with audio engineer and producer Brandon MacClean. “He was a big part of showing us how we could create a dynamic sound that carries some weight,” says Mills of MacClean. “I actually didn’t really grow up on country music. Recently, I’ve dug more into the alt-country thing and started listening to people like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Tyler Childers. That’s influenced the sound going forward.”

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The EP’s somber opening track “The Motions” starts with deep vocals and gentle guitars before building its tempo. The song references Mills’s grandfather, who suffered from Alzeimher’s, and explores issues of mental illness. "Way Out Past the Moon" also starts slow before shimmering guitars build into a mid-song crescendo. “The EP’s theme is about stories from a long time ago that can relate to whatever you want,” he says. “I heard stories about what my grandpa went through with alcoholism and mental health issues. I think he was a loving person who went through hard times. ['The Motions'] is about him.” Writing during the height of the pandemic made Mills think deeply about his life. “I just turned 28, and I’m trying to figure out what my purpose in life is,” he says. “I want to keep creating something. If you’re a woodworker, you’re constantly making things and pushing the ball forward. I want to take that approach with music.”


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Blue Hour performs at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Akronym in Akron. The band also performs with the Ohio Weather Band and Anya Van Rose at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Musica in Akron and with Social Creatures at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Winchester in Lakewood.