SPECTRES

Put the punk back into post-punk

After the large storm in Vancouver at the end of August that left vast swaths of the city in the dark, local post-punk band Spectres was scheduled to play a highly anticipated show. The venue was in the heart of the downtown Eastside and like the rest of the area, powerless. In true DIY punk style, a generator was found and the show went on. Undeterred by the darkness, punks came out in full force to watch the bands and buy warm beer from the bar.

First to take to the stage was Spectres and they pulled the anxious energy from the night and channelled it into an electric show. Lead singer Brian Gustavson dominated the room. As a tall man with platinum blonde hair he is hard to miss in a crowd, but on stage he is riveting.

Sonically, the band easily fits within the post-punk genre but, Spectres vigor on stage is all punk. Zach Batalden and Tyler Pilling attack their guitars while the rhythm section—Nathan Szilagyi on bass and Mitch Allen on drums—pummel out the beat.

Spectres
Spectres

Sitting in their van on a rainy Vancouver evening outside of their jam space, the band sucked on cigarettes and reflected on the live show they have developed. “We all come from punk backgrounds. You play a certain way and you play aggressive. You don’t have to play quick or slow to be aggressive from the stage,” says Pilling.

“Post-punk is a really open-ended term, it can mean a lot of sounds, and for us the British anarcho-punk sound was as much of a foundational influence as something like the Cure, Joy Division, or Siouxsie and the Banshees. For us, we were trying to draw on a bunch of influences. Plus, there wasn’t a post-punk scene. We were playing shows with punk, hardcore, and crust bands. Part of it was we developed a stage show that fit playing those sort of shows,” explains Batalden.

Spectres have built on a modest start and have been a music project for a decade. “I started the band with me and one of my friends on the island in 2005, maybe 2004,” recounts Gustavson. “It was just me and him and we recorded a few songs and made demos in a barn.”
“I guess it was eight years ago that we played our first show,” Batalden says about Spectres becoming a live act. “I don’t know, we’ve been together as a fully functioning band for eight years, almost nine years.”

As the band persevered in playing the brand of music they set out to play, a post-punk scene grew within Vancouver.
“There were so many shows where people would look at us and be like, ‘what are these guys doing?’” mused Szilagyi.

“We were the smoke break band. It’s kinda nice not to be that,” laughs Batalden.

Spectres is now about to release its third LP, titled Utopia, in both North America and Europe. Finished up around March, it has been in limbo in pressing plants which has been a frustration for the band. They hope it will be out soon so keep your ears keen and your eyes peeled for news of its release!

“We have definitely done some different stuff with the sounds on this record. I think we have pushed the envelope creatively in terms of making some pretty weird sounds on the record and doing some more pop oriented stuff. Hopefully people will be receptive to that. There are definitely some dance hits on it. I hope people dance,” says Batalden about the album.

Spectres perform December 11. Ask a punk for location.

By Alex Molten

NIGHT BIRDS

Night Birds are no rookie punks

The members of the New Jersey band Night Birds are some experienced punks. Vocalist Brian Gorsegner has been at it since adolescence and has seen it through to fatherhood. He was taking a stroll while on the phone with BeatRoute. “I tend to be loud and I have a two year old at home. I just project,” he laughs.

While having a two-year-old makes it difficult to tour, it has changed Gorsegner’s attitude towards the long trips in the van. As he grew older, touring started to be more work than play. But now with all of his responsibilities at home, it has started to feel more like a vacation again. It is a chance to hang out with his friends: drummer Darick Sater, guitarist PJ Russo, and bassist Joe Keller.

NIGHT BIRDS Photo By Joe Leonard
NIGHT BIRDS Photo By Joe Leonard

Night Birds released their third LP, Mutiny at Muscle Beach, on October 2nd and it is rocking to say the least. Filled with high-energy vocals, ripping guitars, driving drums, catchy riffs, and just enough feedback it is everything punk should be. It is music that makes you want to shake your ass and punch someone in the face at the same time. On first listening, I couldn’t help but think of Vancouver’s own The Jolts, which is fitting since the band is slotted to open for the Night Birds’ Vancouver date.

Gorsegner sees the album as the band’s strongest effort yet, which to him just makes sense. He couldn’t put out something he believed to be worse than the album before. For Night Birds, it’s all about forward momentum. What they have produced is no rookie punk sound, it is four guys who know exactly what they are doing.

It’s the band’s first release with Fat Wreck Chords, but being signed to one of the bigger punk independent labels hasn’t changed much, except for more muscle behind their albums distribution. There were no big budgets or open-ended recording sessions. They approached recording Mutiny at Muscle Beach the way they had their previous albums: with a clear vision, a set list of songs, and lots of practice. “We’re pretty good recorders. We have every song locked down before we go into the studio, because it’s expensive,” explains Gorsegner.

What song would Gorsegner want a new listener to check out from their new album? The first track, “(I’m) Wired,” would be a good place to start. Fast and catchy, it showcases Gorsegner’s strength as a punk vocalist. He wraps out the lyrics at breakneck speed. Once you’ve listened to Mutiny at Muscle Beach’s opening track you may as well listen to the entire thing. It’s jam packed with goodies.

Night Birds perform at the Hindenburg December 4.

By Alex Molten

DEAD QUIET

No duds, just buds

You may already know Dead Quiet’s guitarist/vocalist Kevin Keegan. He once called Vancity home as he proceeded to make his mark as one of this town’s most notable guitar shredders in the local metal scene with his band of math metal giants A Javelin Reign. In 2008, he packed his bags for Montreal and started the party banger band Barn Burner who did countless tours, backing their two solid releases on Metal Blade records. Keegan returned to the rain city just over a year ago and immediately enlisted Jason Dana as his drummer for his new project.

“Dana would come through Montreal when he was in Bend Sinister. I knew the guys and I would go to their show. Him and I would just take off into some corner and chat each other’s ears off. I’d tease him saying that I am coming back to Vancouver and we should start something,” Keegan explains. “When I finally did get back I gave him a call and asked if he was still down with this band and he was like ‘oh yeah.’”

DEADQUIET photo by Teddy Farggeus
DEADQUIET photo by Teddy Farggeus

Now if you are starting to get the idea that Dead Quiet is sort of a supergroup thing, then you aren’t far off. Aaron Gustafson from prog metal instigators Anciients was enlisted for bass duty, and soon afterward Brock MacInnes from the Blood River Band would be drafted in as a second guitarist. The band was set, the album was written, and studio time was booked at Rain City Recorders with Jesse Gander. Just like that, Dead Quiet was born. “A real quick process. Real snappy. Not much mucking around,” Dana puts it quite bluntly. “That is one of the great things about working with musicians of such pedigree. Shit gets done.”

What is really intriguing about this band is that it sounds nothing like any of the other bands these cats are in. There is a very heavy nod to stoner type rock with its slow prodding groove riffs and jumpy drumming. They’ve got proggy interludes with grungy over tones while Keegan’s patented screech brings the ship down into the dark murky depths. The music has a real old school doomy feel to it as well. The maturity of the players is instantly recognizable.

For the last year the band has been tweaking their live show and plans to hit up Europe in the spring. Dead Quiet is loud live. “The show has a lot of energy,” Keegan states. “This is the tightest band I’ve ever played in. There is a lot of charisma on stage. This band has no duds.”

Dead Quiet performs at Fortune Sound Club on November 26.

-By Heath Fenton

SAVIOURS

Pour gasoline into the tank of a heavy riffin’ album

NWOBHM, doomish roots, and 1970s guitar harmonies fuel the SAVIOURS’ Palace of Vision. Blasphemy? Sure. One half of their double guitar assault, Sonny Reinhardt marks out the road map.

A Portland stopover had them working with long-time friend, producer, and engineer, Billy Anderson. This resulted in the album, now out on Listenable Records. “We’ve been wanting to work with Billy for quite some time. The recording started at Cloud City Sound and finished at Type Foundry. We were pretty much able to get close and similar sounds for all the songs to make the record sound pretty consistent. Working with Billy is great; he is hilarious for one, and super creative. He is really great at getting awesome drum and guitar sounds,” says Reinhardt.

This record brought in some new faces and shows some evolution in the band’s sound. “I don’t know if it was a really conscious thing that some of these riffs came out heavier. Perhaps with the new bass player Andy Anderson. He is more metal oriented, so that might have something to do with the way that the new album sounds. We tracked the whole album live so what you are hearing is pretty much what you’re gonna hear when you see us live. That was another thing that Billy was good with is helping capture our sound live, doing his magic to it,” he explains. They’ve picked up a new synth noise player, if you didn’t spot him at the last show, his name is Ben Teeter and he was involved with the Neurot band, U.S. Christmas (USX). “We’ve been jammin’ with him for some time and he is sprinkled all over the new record.”

SAVIOURS photo by Rick Rodney
SAVIOURS photo by Rick Rodney

With bandmates’ tastes covering such wide sweep of older and newer bands, their collective stash does creep into the sonic make up. “Old Thin Lizzy, UFO, 1970s classics, a lot of the doom like old Candlemass and Saint Vitus, and all the really good stuff we like to listen to, and it kinda comes out that way. As far as consciously mixing them, luckily we have naturally just come to that progression. I might write a song messing with a riff that may have a faster Motörhead feel, and it sort of evolves from that,” says Reinhardt. Then, of course, there is the dual guitar harmony. “So obviously, a lot of the bands that do that kind of stuff like Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet. [It] all comes out in the music as a good blueprint for killer rock n roll. You add all the darker metallic satanic stuff and you kind of get this sort of SAVIOURS sound. A darker version of that ’70s stuff,” he adds.

The cover artwork for Palace of Vision graphically encompasses what this album sounds like. A friend of the band, Derrick Snodgrass is also responsible for Death’s Procession. “He is a fantastic painter and tattoo artist who is currently down in Los Angeles. He just gets our whole vibe and our whole vision of things and can take it to a whole realm of his own. It has its psychedelic elements; it’s very kind of occult and dark, having to deal with some death stuff but also drawing you into this gnarly party at the same time. He is definitely a one of a kind,” says Reinhardt.

As for live, a tour package doesn’t get much better. “We did some dates with COC a few years ago and they are really great dudes to tour with. Pretty excited to see the Pepper Keenan line up and some songs off Deliverance,” he says. Corrosion of Conformity, Mothership, and Brant Bjork Low Desert Punk Band tie the knot of a perfect line-up with California’s SAVIOURS.

SAVIOURS perform at the Venue November 20.

-tiina.l

3 INCHES OF BLOOD

End of an era for Canadian heavy metal

Canada’s reputation on the international heavy metal stage has never been much to crow about. We do have some bright spots though: Strapping Young Lad, Voivod, Annihilator, and Anvil come to mind right away. The list, however, would not be complete without Vancouver’s own 3 Inches of Blood. For the last sixteen years they have carved out a well deserved place in the upper ranks through relentless touring and a tremendous ability to conquer adversity. Throughout their impressive career, the band has built a loyal fan base worldwide. The core of the band for the last 7 years has been vocalist Cam Pipes, guitarist/vocalist Justin Hagberg, guitarist Shane Clark, and drummer Ash Pearson.

“We’re country men,” Clark states, “We worked really hard at blanketing Canada. Always touring Canada, especially in BC. And when we did those packaged tours in the States and Europe we’d usually be the only Canadians around representing. Cam would be waving the BC flag Bruce Dickinson style.”

3 INCHES OF BLOOD
3 INCHES OF BLOOD

So it comes as great dismay to many that they have decided to call it a day. They will play their final two shows in their hometown on November 7th and 8th at the Commodore Ballroom. The first night sold out in two days and the second night is almost sold out too. “Selling out the Commodore is one of the best moments of my life,” Clark smiles, “The Commodore, ever since I was a kid, was always the raddest place to see a show. And selling it out in your home town [is] hard work paying off.”

It didn’t start off so rosy for this band of metal purists; Clark was not exaggerating when he mentioned hard work paying off. The band came together at a time when their brand of traditional metal was getting backlash and many people wrote them off as a parody band. There were years of member changes and record label squabbles and it wasn’t until the mid two-thousands, when the band really got going and membership solidified, that they started to really make a go of it. Like any true warrior, they soldiered on with the attitude that nothing could kill the band.

Nothing has, but now they are set to bow out on their own terms. “It’s a combination of things. Creatively, the grind, and being disenchanted with the business…Being on the road for eleven years. We all feel that it’s just ran its course,” Clark explains about the choice to disband. “Technically we could do another album and tour, but the reality about that is we’d be doing all the fans a disservice because it would be dishonest and contrived.”

As mentioned, there have been many members that have come and gone. So it begs the question, will there be any surprises for these last two shows? “There are definitely going to be some surprises that will make the fans very happy,” said Clark while refraining from elaborating. One thing he would divulge is that old friend and ex bass player Nick Cates will be back on bass for these two shows, reuniting the lineup from the Advance and Vanquish era of the band. “This lineup was the best. It really ushered in phase two of the band,” Clark reminisces, “And jamming with Nick while getting ready for these last shows is just a reminder on how great it was. The band is going to be on fire.”

The 3IOB fan is a special creature. People in Vancouver may not realize the sort of rabid following they have outside of the city. There are fans flying in from all over the world to see the final shows. That is what you get for touching every corner of the earth with your music like these burly Canucks have. They play a brand of traditional back-to-the-roots heavy metal and they do it right and by the book. They have five albums of intricate galloping guitars, ransacking drum beats, and ball grabbing vocals. It is metal played to its purest form with an undaunted passion. There have been many highlights and they have lived their dreams. “Iron Maiden was the biggest highlight for me,” Pipes says while reminiscing past shows, “They’ve been my favorite band since I was young. Not just playing the same festival as them, but actually opening for them at a big show. 2006 in Irvine, California at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. We were the only opening act. My parents and my sister flew down to see it too, it was a special night.”

Be proud Canada and be proud Vancouver. Many of you already have a ticket but if you have not been properly introduced to 3 Inches Of Blood and you are a fan of heavy metal music then I suggest you jump on it and come witness this part of Canadian heavy metal history.

3 Inches Of Blood perform at the Commodore Ballroom November 7 with Bison and Black Wizard and November 8 with Hookers and Erosion

-By Heath Fenton

LONG KNIFE

Portland hardcore punks play hard and tour harder

Listening to Portland’s Long Knife, it’s hard not to pick up the heavy eighties American hardcore influences. The band has got to be sick of getting compared to Poison Idea, but holy shit, if you like Poison Idea, you are guaranteed to dig this band. They’ve got that classic hardcore punk sound and a great, high energy live show. Their drummer could pass for Freddy Mercury – with both his look and enthusiasm. They have a shredder on guitar, a larger than life vocalist, and bass lines that make you wonder whether you should shake your butt or your fist. The band is comprised of Joe, Scott, Colin, and Chris.

LONG KNIFE
LONG KNIFE

Their upcoming Vancouver date is the first show and the only North American date of their upcoming Japan & Australia tour. The tour was set up to continue supporting the release of their second full length album, Meditations on Self Destruction, which has already seen them tour through the U.S. and Europe since it’s release this spring. “We were thinking about doing Seattle too on the way but I don’t know, I think it’s just Vancouver. We love Vancouver, we played at the Cobalt last time we were up there, so it’ll be good to go back. We seem to do something weird every time we tour. We just went to Europe and we drove down to Oakland and played one show and then flew to Europe, flew back played Oakland again and then drove home. So it’s just kind of interesting to do something before you leave,” mused Colin about the unlikely tour date.

The Japanese leg of tour is a cool follow up to their American tour in November of last year, in which they drove with Tokyo’s Forward across their home continent, with a handful of Canadian dates including Montreal’s Varning Fest and Toronto’s Not Dead Yet Fest. Now they’re headed overseas to once again join with Forward for their first Japanese tour before heading to Australia where they’ll step out on their own. They will also be repressing the Forward/Long Knife split 7” they did together in time for that American tour.

“Forward was great to tour with and we had a great time hanging out with them, they’re an amazing band. Every night they played great,” says Colin about the first round of the bands touring together, “Last year we started the tour in Portland on Halloween. This year, this tour, we start in Japan, like, two days before Halloween. So we get to spend two Halloweens in a row with Forward. I don’t’ know what they do in Japan for Halloween, I bet they do crazy stuff.”

These folks are an incredibly hard working band having already, in their less than three years as a band, released two full length albums and a 7” besides that recently reissued split. They’ll be touring with represses of that 1st full length as well. Besides this they have racked up a few American tours, Europe, and now Asia. They tour hard when they aren’t at home writing and recording.

Long Knife perform at the Hindenburg on October 27

By Lindsay Kasting

AGARIKON

New narratives for the black metal sound

A jam space is a jam space is a jam space. Whether your band plays cock rock, country, or black metal, the scene is pretty much the same. Stacks of amps, a drum kit that’s constantly being reconfigured, and a mountain of various bits of gear take up most of the space, leaving musicians to shoehorn themselves among the clutter to play their particular brand of music.

Hanging out with Agarikon at their rehearsal space in East Van fit this template. Relatively new additions to Vancouver’s thriving DIY/underground music scene, these four veterans are old hands at creating big sounds in such small spaces. Sitting down with Shawn, Greg, Kavan, and Andrew, one quickly gets the sense that these folks are old pros jamming together in a comfortable setting to create new sounds.

Agarikon
Agarikon

Agarikon takes its name from an ancient Pacific Northwestern mushroom, which figures heavily in First Nations spirituality. This choice of name was not at random. “[It represents an] awareness of the importance of resisting colonial oppression, as well an acknowledgement of the value of ancient First Nations spiritual practice,” says Shawn. This understanding bleeds into the quartet’s music – while they explore traditional black metal themes and structures, their song-craft extends beyond the traditional narratives of the genre, taking this new form in an exciting and interesting new direction.

Agarikon’s offering of socially conscious black metal is, in many ways, a trip into previously uncharted territories for each of the band’s four members.  “This is the first time we’ve seriously played together,” notes Kavan, “even though we have all been playing for a while.” The band’s lineup also represents a first for Shawn, the bassist. “This is the first project where I’ve done lead vocals,” he noted – a fact that seems unbelievable after hearing his fraught screams over the band’s riffs of raw despair. Indeed, these folks sound like they have been playing together for eons. The cohesion between Kavan and Greg’s shredding guitar, Shawn’s bass chops, and Andrew’s powerhouse drumming is palpable; this chemistry extends beyond the confines of the jam space onto the stages they’ve played.

To date, Agarikon has played just two live shows – however, the band has been jamming and playing for over a year, and have more dates planned. “We have a gig planned for Friday, October 16th at the Hindenburg,” elaborates Shawn. “It’s a pre-show for Dark Light [festival] in Vernon, which we are also playing.”  Although live performances for the foursome have just begun, more shows will be forthcoming; taking them out of the jam space and into a packed room.

Agarikon will be performing at the Hindenburg on October 16.

– by Kristine Moore

MAMIFFER

Multiple albums and art emerges from the surface

If you trace the meaning of the words from the 2013 album title Statu Nascendi and listen to the compositions, you are left with a sense of emergence, but also an impression that there was a greater body of work surfacing. Composer and artist Faith Coloccia along with her partner Aaron Turner of Mamiffer seem to rarely stand still as this pair lives in a highly productive creative existence crossing multiple disciplines, and collaborations.

“At the time of writing Statu Nascendi, I was going through a life changing experience which profoundly altered the way I compose music. I was faced with death and creation entwined,” says Coloccia.

The title was definitely a product of her experience at the time. “I felt there was nothing concrete or solid, my foundation and belief systems were incomplete and changing. I had a new way of looking at life. In that sense, I could feel myself ‘becoming,’ though I did not know what yet,” she explains.

While this album came out of a month long tour in 2013, two others were in the tracking process. One of them was The World Unseen (ETA 2016), and her other project, Māra, releases Surfacing November 2015.

The three records served as a launch point to find her voice, both with lyrics and as a singer. “Statu Nascendi and what I had been through during that time brought about a very different and vulnerable side of music for me, the title captured this almost confident trepidation I felt at creating in such a new way,” she adds.

Although, budgets and scheduling did play a role, this project adopted a minimalistic approach to work within a live performance. “These songs were created to accommodate two performers. Randall Dunn had been doing our live sound on the tour, and when we came home Randall had the idea of recording our set live in one night in AVAST studio. It took about thirteen hours to record and mix. At the time I was working with a lot of this complex emotional content, so the minimalist approach fortunately worked as a simple delivery method with the limited time we had,” says Coloccia.

While some artists separate their visual art from the music, theirs share an intersecting vernacular.

Mamiffer
Mamiffer

New artwork will accompany the two new releases and Crater, Mamiffer with Daniel Menche. “I’m also working on completing four new photo and art books, one with material from Statu Nascendi, another three-part book with documentation from tours,” says Coloccia. Her first video project and artwork for Māra follow very closely.

The Vancouver live date promises unreleased new compositions along those from the 2013 release.

Mamiffer performs at the Rickshaw Theatre on September 30.

By tiina.l