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Brothers Dave and Paul Allen grew up in Ireland surrounded by music; their parents were ex-folkies whose love for the Byrds, Harry Nilsson and the Beatles rubbed off on their children. In 2000, the brothers recruited drummer Paul Hogan and keyboardist Stephen O'Brien and formed Hal. With a definite nod to the 1960s, the quartet hashed out original songs at the Allen household where, according to Paul, his father would see them and "mutter something about us needing more lead guitar." Eventually Hal recorded a demo, which got them a residency at the Sugar Club in Dublin. Only six months in to their gig, Rough Trade Records came calling. By 2004, Hal released their first single, "Worry About the Wind," and were featured on the compilation, The Rough Trade Field Guide to Music, Volume 1. Tours with the Doves, Granddaddy and Starsailor followed, with the band using these dates to "road test" the songs that would appear on their self-titled debut. In May 2005, the band's jangle-pop masterpiece Hal, finally saw the light of day.
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