Hot Picks for Megaphono
With so many amazing artists from around Ottawa and Canada playing Megapohono, it can be very difficult to narrow down to just a few shows. As we near the latest edition of Megaphono, we selected a few artists we think you need to see this weekend.
Saturday February 10 @ St. Alban's 11:30 p.m.
Ottawa Life: Why did you decide to limit yourself to three takes a song for your new album Tuning and how do you feel that shaped the final product?
Nick Everett: We decided to do three takes per track as a creative constraint to get a certain effect. We had toured the songs for a good while before recording and played them well, or at least as well as we were ever going to play them. We had already made Tuning the summer previous, but scrapped it because it was lifeless and too poured-over. So we started from scratch and wanted to capture how we actually sound when we play together in a room, rather than how you normally make a record, which is quite a lot more piecemeal. If there were mistakes, there were mistakes, and believe me there are lots, lol. Can you say lol in an interview? I feel like I type lol like I'm 65.
How did R. Murray Schafer's The Soundscape shape your mindset and way of understanding music in the lead up to Tuning?
Eliza and I were brought together originally by our love of The Books and other nerdy, aleatoric, and musique concrete kinda stuff. I was given The Soundscape by my good friend Ely and Eliza read it, too. It hadn't so much influenced the record from the outset, but when we were about halfway done, we realized that the album lacked a sense of place or space, as though it were made in a vacuum. It was in the mixing process that we realized we needed to reincorporate the sounds of the place in which the album was written, our home, in Halifax.
How do you think letting everyone become a bigger part of the writing and not holding to tightly to your original idea has helped the band evolve?
From the outset of the band, the object was to make something more collaboratively, to only work with people we respect and admire and to trust each other's judgement. I think that in the past I, personally, have had a hard time letting go of control, but that has only ever led to people feeling disinterested. Consensus helps us not get so stymied and makes sure that we're all going in a direction we feel happy about.
Saturday, February 10 @ Dominion Tavern 11:30 p.m.
Why did you decide to slow things down and simplify your writing on your latest album?
After Wendy we made a conscious effort to slow things down to a more palatable speed. There were shows where I’d be so lit up with nerves that my words would slam into one another like a tongue twister. We also just loved to have fun and play fast, but I realized no one could understand what I was saying and I certainly wasn’t doing my lyrics any justice, so slowing things down a bit and giving the songs some room to breathe felt like the right move. Geoff and I had been listening to a lot of chilled out glam-era type stuff too at that time too, Roxy Music, T. Rex, Dead boys…so our writing processes were geared more that way naturally as well. And then of course when Dean joined us on bass in 2016 he brought this great relaxed style to the songs that I think you can really hear on this new album. He doesn’t play with a pick and we were like whoa, but it sounded so good. He’s a really good fit.
How did writing on bass help you get over the writer's block for this record, and what was the biggest difference from writing on guitar?
Playing bass was really new for me. It was a whole new world of tones and I was using different muscles and approaching it as a beginner. I ended up getting obsessed with scales and before I knew it I was figuring melodies out that ended up becoming Double Vision. I transferred it to power chords and that was it. It was a great tool for me to catapult me out of the block. It’s not rare for us though to write or jam on instruments that we don’t play in the band. Geoff was writing a lot on guitar and bass during this time as well, working on new parts for the record, so I kind of followed suit and wrote a bit on bass.
How did coping with winter influence your record and do you think audiences will respond to it better seeing you in February?
Taking the winter to write is paramount for us. We have always thrived creatively in winter. It is a time of reflection and personally I think we’ve written our best stuff during this season. That doesn’t mean we’re happy by any stretch. The winter can be so rough mentally, but at least we get stuff done. For this new album half the songs were written in Summer, and the other half in winter. You can kind of tell the difference if you listen closely to the darker songs written while we were holed up and whiskey-ed out on a freezing winter night.
Saturday, February 10 @ St. Alban's 9:45 p.m.
How is Bad Mantra's coming along, and what's the biggest change you wanted to make on this new album?
Bad Mantras has been complete for a while; just preparing the release currently. As far as changes on the album go, the recordings are definitely a lot cleaner – I guess that's the only conscious change I was focusing on. I took the recordings from my 8 track into the studio and had the record mixed by someone else, which I hadn't done in the past.
What's caused the big time between albums?
Life. I played in a bunch of different bands for a while. I moved to Ottawa around 2012, just for a few years, from when When I'm Hungry was released until I moved again about a year and a half ago. A change of location has definitely been really helpful as far as execution of ideas and I'm way more inspired now. I have another record in the bag for after Bad Mantras which I'm really excited about.
How has your method of improvised song writing evolved going into this album?
There's definitely still a lot of improvisation and a few of the songs are pretty stream-of-consciousness, simple, rhythmic, mantra-like, vocal-wise, but at this moment I'm spending more time thinking about and planning words and structure. I still just feel it out, though.