One of the city’s latest offerings lives up to the brutal moniker so many bands hope to achieve. But that’s no doubt to the calibre of the musicians involved.
Local fans have been able to see Blake Prince come into his own over the last seven years. The front man for Straight Reads the Line, Modern Miniatures and most recently Skynet, who release their debut CDEP this weekend, grew up with parents that fostered his musical creativity. As a teen that immersed himself in music (the first album he bought was Aerosmith’s Pump and one of his first influential shows was when his parents took him to see Green Day’s Dookie tour) but he ended up mining a much heavier style of rock going the way of Slipknot and the Deftones when he first tried singing along to a Poison The Well disc.
“That was pretty much it for me – I decided I wanted to be in a band like that,” smiles Prince. “It’s just awesome to scream your ass off and vent that way because it’d be pretty scary to hold that shit in. Who knows what would happen. I love this music with all of my heart.”
Prince has vented alongside long time co-conspirator Adrian Levasseur (guitar, vocals) and when SRTL ended in 2009, they immediately reconnected to form Modern Miniatures but finding the right mix of musicians proved daunting.
“We were going pretty hard for a while but then we did the tour with Dead and Divine and we broke up shortly after that,” recalls Prince on the demise of the short-lived Modern Miniatures project.
“Some people get into things for different reasons and there’s a chemistry onstage and off and you just can’t be trapped in a van on a six hour drive between shows and be able to cut the tension with a knife. So it just happened naturally. Donny [Levasseur] had started this solo project and when Modern Miniatures broke up; we decided to make this our new project. Everything’s been going great – we’ve been getting good reviews and everybody’s clicking musically.”
Enlisting Fraser Stephenson (drums), and Pete Chernets (bass), the members of Skynet came together about a year ago and immediately caught the attention of fans and industry types alike - immediately connecting with labels, recording studios and life on the road.
“Starting from scratch again and again is exhausting but it does show our passion for the music,” reasons Prince. “Me and Donny will be making music until we’re in the graves. Right now, I’ve got the best dudes I’ve ever been a band with. We’re on the same page and we all love each other.
“We tracked a bunch of pre-production at Donny’s place and then went to Plain City, Ohio to record six songs with Dan Smoldt at URC Studios, with Levasseur producing,” he adds. “We hooked up with Capital Records – all word of mouth, nothing was signed – but lo and behold we have a new recording and it sounds absolutely recording – probably my favourite to date.”
Skynet offers Prince and company at their hardest and heaviest, with some fans including them in a new musical trend for heavier modern metal bands but for Skynet, it’s just a loud metal music that comes from their hearts. They’re not jumping on a bandwagon or looking to cash in – Skynet just want to blow the doors off every place they play.
“Money hasn’t been the priority for us, I mean, we just want to be able to get by,” confides Prince. “I tried to do the fall back real job instead of music but didn’t have any passion for it and I was pretty miserable all of the time. When I’m playing music with my friends, to be on stage is the best feeling in the world. I’m pretty calm and quiet if you meet me but then when I’m on stage, I’m completely different. It’s definitely a vent but there’s more singing in this newer stuff. We’ve got our poppy parts but then it just gets downright brutal. People want to call it ‘Djent’. It’s this new kind of strain of bands with seven string guitars and low tuning. I don’t know if Skynet is about that – I just like to call this melodic metal music.”
This October Skynet is set to tour western Canada and then by February they enter Sundown studio to record a new album. But this weekend, they offer their debut with a live celebration.
“The scene has changed drastically over the last seven years,” says Prince. “There’s less kids coming to shows, nobody’s buying records because you can download everything. That’s why we released our music for free initially. We were a new band and we wanted to get our name out there but also one kid will buy it and another 400 will download it for free. We thought we‘d give them the first taste for free. Now they can buy the disc and experience this live.”
Skynet play this Saturday September 8 at Club Absinthe with Baptized in Blood, American Hell, Abide, the After Chapter and Beastmode. Doors for the licensed/all ages gig are at 7pm and $15 gets you in. Click on skynetband.net
Silence The Fury’s Prufrock
Like a six-headed rip van winkle, Silence the Fury has awoken from a near three year hibernation and come back exponentially stronger with their sophomore disc, Prufrock. What was once some youth looking to exercise some massive aggression, the members have transmutated into a competent and cultured band to be reckoned with. We haven't written about the band since they released the Fertile Waste in January 2009 but the last few years have proven quite fertile for Silence the Fury.
“Our first album, upon reflection three years later, really only got us half way to where we wanted to be as far as being musicians that are fully capable of recording and releasing their own music at will,” offers guitarist, vocalist Jeremy Head. “The album took three years because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could actually produce a professional sounding record, meaning most people wouldn't be able to recognize it as a home recording project. Our first album taught us that it is not worth releasing something that you are not totally happy with.”
“We basically had to start from scratch again,” adds guitarist, vocalist Toui Manikhouth. “The recording process was a long, laborious one but it's what we intended, initially. We wanted to approach things much more meticulously than the first record. That three or so years off really helped us find new footing with the band and I think we've finally set ourselves on the right path. our live performance is stronger: we have close to three albums worth of songs to play.”
The attention to detail underscores the talents of Silence the Fury – also featuring Dave Pettigrew (guitar, vocals, Cody Morris (drums), Jordan Sykes (bass) and Steph Hincks (keyboards). Prufrock’s introspection and literary invention is a welcome maturation but not necessarily novel. Silence the Fury has grown self-aware, fermenting ideas for years and now all the better for being able to take stock in themselves.
“The source of inspiration for the songs on Prufrock actually goes back more than 10 years; it is basically a collection songs about not getting the girl,” explains Head. “Essentially the inspiration for this album is turning our romantic misfortunes into your listening pleasure. Prufrock is a play on T.S. Eliot’s poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". The poem and the album share the theme of reflecting on past opportunities in romance that were squandered through hesitation or waiting too long to make the move.
“The music is definitely more folky sounding than most of our previous stuff,” adds Head. “This wasn't so much of a choice of style as it was a choice about what would be easiest to record and learn following our first album.”
With the new Prufrock disc in hand, STF hopes to make up for their time out of the spotlight with a wealth of new material including another full length, a collection of b-sides and an eventual re-release of their debut. The band has taken their years of study and preparation and now are ready to getting the music out to the masses.
“We've just started,” smiles Manikhouth. “You’ll definitely be hearing more from us. We have a catalogue of about seven albums worth of music - and counting. I love the songs that we've put out so far, but I believe our best stuff is in the works right now. I think what we're just a bunch of guys that want to play and write really good music.
“Since our hiatus we've worked hard on our performance – every aspect: from the mix of the instruments, the harmonies, and playing in general,” adds Manikhouth. “We're so much tighter because of it and I think because we've become more comfortable with our sound, we're starting to enjoy ourselves on stage a lot more. Progress is something I always look forward to with these guys; whether its bettering ourselves live, recording something amazing as a band, or just having somebody come up and telling us they genuinely love what we're doing. It’s the satisfaction of knowing we're doing something right with something that we all love doing.”
Silence The Fury plays this Friday Sept 7 at Club Absinthe with Further the Lion. Doors open at 10pm and $5 gets you in or $10 with a CD. Click on silencethefury.com
Common and Coy’s Blue
E“We’re laid back, humble guys and Common and Coy describes us in a sense - we don’t have an in-your-face, rock star approach to our music, we much prefer to let our music do the talking for us,” explains Common and Coy lead guitarist David MacDonald on what might define his band.
Featuring MacDonald, Nicholas Valerio (drums), Ty Howie (rhythm guitar), James Morrallee (keyboards), Jay Costa (vocals), and Andrew Marshall (bass), Common and Coy came together just over a year ago with hopes of creating some thoughtful pop music and this weekend offer their debut CDEP, Blue.
“There’s some great pop music coming out of this city again and it’s an exciting time to be in a band,” smiles MacDonald. “It was instant chemistry the first time we all got in the same room and played music together. Like most bands, we have so many different influences and we channel a little bit of our favourites in every song but a lot of people have compared our music to The Killers or Young The Giant - because our music is a mix of alternative and indie-rock with soulful-pop vocals.
“We didn’t play our first show as a band until we had been together for almost six months so we know all about patience,” adds MacDonald. “Then again we’re not sitting on our hands waiting for opportunities to come along either, we’re very much a DIY band so we’re always busy writing, booking shows, promoting, and doing anything we can to get our music out there. More and more people are getting into our music and it’s exciting.”
Common and Coy are radio friendly and even uplifting at times although the CD title suggests something a little more cold or sad. It’s their unique perspective that perhaps best helps to define the music on Common and Coy’s new disc.
“We recorded our EP with Jamie Barnes who has a great little studio out in Burlington,” notes MacDonald. “He and our new bass player Andrew Marshall, produced and engineered the record. We wanted to go for a more organic sound - we didn’t want overly-processed recordings because sometimes the feel of the song gets lost. Jamie and Andrew helped us to work out some of the kinks in our songs and the end result is an EP that really describes where we were at in the first six months of being together.
“Most people probably associate the colour blue with something sad or gloomy, we like to think it can be more than that,” adds MacDonald. “A lot of our lyrics revolve around tough issues like heartbreak or struggling to define yourself as an adult. Those aren’t happy concepts but dealing with it and making it out alive can be really positive. The EP cover is actually a woodcarving done by Nick’s cousin that she had painted. It was in his basement this whole time and when we were tossing around ideas for the artwork, Nick ripped our logo out of a flyer and held it over the carving and just like that, we had found our EP cover.”
With the new CDEP in hand, Common and Coy are still very much a young band looking to establish themselves but finding new fans offering inspiration at every new gig. Their CD release party for Blue should only continue the groundswell of attention happening for Common and Coy.
“As cliché as it sounds, having someone appreciate our sound is what really fuels us the most,” says MacDonald. “We started out playing shows in rock clubs in Hamilton, but soon found ourselves performing on college and university campuses and branching out. We open up through song more than we might offstage as individuals and so performing live this past year has really helped us to discover where we want to take our music and I think we’ve found our identity as a band.
“We pride ourselves on our sound and these songs are really special to us - we want our fans to feel that when we play them live,” adds MacDonald. “I think what really sets us apart from some of the other bands out there is our obsession with being tight musically but at the same time, performing these songs every night with the same feeling and heart we had when we wrote them. It’s going to be a packed house at the Casbah for our CD release party. Anybody who is a fan of pop-rock, indie-rock, folk and great music in general is going to be right at home that night.”
Common and Coy play this Saturday September 8 at the Casbah with Dawn and Marra and the Sweet Mack. Doors are at 9pm and $10 gets you in. Click on commonandcoy.ca .V