Saturday, August 30, 2014
Invasions No Darkness EP Interview & Show # 524
Toronto’s Invasions have been making music for quite sometime, they have put out a few releases and originally had their beginnings as a garage band. Through several line-up changes and experience, the band’s sound evolved. We saw that in full form on the band’s 2013 self-titled release Invasions, where the band’s sound added watery textures that are at times synonymous with surf rock. They blended that with pop elements that some people might call indie rock, maybe even psychedelic to a degree, but their garage beginnings still lurked in the background. In addition to all this the band began using horn sections in a style that has been described as similar to spaghetti western soundtracks. In 2014, Invasions released an EP entitled No Darkness. The EP’s artwork looks like something that has been put together from a collection of B-horror movie posters. The sounds on No Darkness seem to attack the listener at a more aggressive level, not unlike the sea monster-like creature that fills the EP’s artwork.
The title track “No Darkness” starts off the EP with the band's new surf-western dynamic that they have been developing. The song builds up with an epic Ennio Morricone-like horn section that crawls between the stop and start bass patterns and guitar riffs. This song defines the band’s developing apocalyptic surf inspired sound. The lyrics also seem to delve deep into a similar mindset. “Black Lagoon” starts off the second track on No Darkness with dirty fuzz guitar riffs not unlike The Cramps before the reverb and humid sounding horn sections invade your eardrums. Amongst the dirtier guitar riffs and horns, the bass smoothly takes us through the pools of reverb that are often accented by vocalist Alex Zen. “Unknown Pleasures” ends the EP, in a more upbeat fashion. Featuring stop and start reverb soaked guitars, the song also features organ and guitar riffs that play simultaneously. Lyrically the song features words such as “The chemicals control you in waves/Uncontrollable haze” and “These unknown pleasures have taken hold” that end the EP with a bit of a cloud of mystery. On No Darkness, Invasions crank up the reverb and add a touch of chaos. In the process Invasions create a genre that is all their own.
The following interview was done between myself Dave Konstantino (the host of Revolution Rock) and members of the Toronto based band Invasions. The answers to these questions were provided by Alex Zen, Brian Moyer and Brian Cuddy of Invasions. We talk about recording, surfing, garage rock and Quentin Tarantino movies.
RR: Invasions have been around for quite some time now and has featured different band members. Who is in the band’s current line up?
Invasions is currently made up of: Alex Zen - Vox and guitar, Matt Buck - Lead Guitar, Brian Moyer – Trumpet & Organ, Brian Cuddy – Bass & Vox, Ara Carson - Drums. We’ve had a number of changes to the line up over the years (Danny from July Talk, Alex from The Holiday Crowd).
RR: How would you compare your current sound on albums such as 2013’s self-titled album and your No Darkness EP compared to your first full-length album and 2009’s Magic EP?
There is a night and day difference between the two. I think we kept some of the pop factor found on the Magic EP, but have developed as musicians and individuals since then. A sort-of self-evolution. I’d say our self-titled album and No Darkness EP is a culmination of all that.
RR: Invasions earlier sound was more garage rock oriented. What inspired the band’s change in sound and why?
I think we grew up a little bit. We evolved as musicians, added new members and began focusing a little more on the groove of our songs. We want to make something people can really feel while still retaining the grit and energy of our previous sound. It was really a natural evolution. Plus I tried surfing for the first time and got hooked – maybe that’s actually the real reason for the change in sound!
RR: Where was the No Darkness EP recorded at and did the process differ from recording 2013’s self-titled album. Who did you work with for the recording of this EP?
We are very fortunate to have our own secluded practice space where Matt and I (Alex) grew up in Etobicoke. We fashioned our rehearsal space in an office out there beside the Hell’s Angels headquarters. After 5 everyday and all weekend we go in set up right in the office and get our groove on. We recorded a little teaser video of us recording the No Darkness EP where you can see the space water cooler included.
We decided to record both the LP and the EP essentially by ourselves with the help of Edan Schkeimei of the Dirty Frigs – check em out! The DIY approach was both a blessing and a curse: having infinite studio time to work on a record really opens up the opportunity to explore ideas but at the same time this can slow down the overall recording process significantly. I think we learned a lot from the process. We have just added a new reel-to-reel to our collection and are excited to go analogue for our next EP which should capture our live sound with a little more clarity.
RR: The artwork for the band’s last two releases has seemed more DIY style in terms of the layout. Who did the artwork for No Darkness and the self-titled album and was that something you were going for?
Our No Darkness EP was a DIY project and I felt the artwork should represent this too. Recently I have been making collages from cut outs of old magazines and the No Darkness art work was came from one I thought was especially neat. In the end we only used a small portion of the whole piece, but it still makes a strong commentary on modern society. It has a real focus on society’s cruel tandem of complacency, apathy and fetishism. Check it out. Heavy stuff, but reminiscent of some ideas portrayed throughout the EP.
RR: Your recent sound has been compared to music found in a lost Quentin Tarantino movie and as being reminiscent of music found in spaghetti western soundtracks. Would you agree with this as being accurate and what is your favourite Quentin Tarantino movie and or spaghetti western?
In almost every review we get described with that type of language. I think the main thing we try to achieve is definitely cinematic in a way. We approach song-writing like you might approach a short film with a real focus on telling a story and creating a feeling. Also, from a purely aesthetic sense, we of course are all big fans of the digging up history, whether it’s through our instrument selection (60s era Vox, Framus, Hofners) or Moyer’s attachment to finding that perfect set of vintage cowboy boots.
It’s obviously quite hard to choose a favourite Tarantino film. My favourite scene is the opening of Reservoir Dogs – that is some raw human emotion in the back of that Cadillac.
RR: Invasions recently played NXNE how was the response at those shows and what is next for the band in terms of touring?
NXNE was great as usual! A highlight for me was playing the 159 Manning BBQ in the sweatiest front room. It got so crammed we had to get up on the furniture. Seeing Tom Verlaine and Television live was a special treat – or wait was that CMW?
We followed NXNE by touring out east in Canada, in October we will be touring out west in Canada. From there we would love to make our way down to the states and Europe.
RR: What are Invasions planning next? Are you planning on recording another album?
We just got accepted for a music residency in Banff Art Centre for two weeks this fall. We are very excited about this opportunity and hope to get some major work down while we’re out there. If all goes well we should have another EP ready before the years up!
Saturday Night Play List:
1. The Smiths - London
2. Simply Saucer - Instant Pleasure
3. The Mobbs - Demobbed
4. Mainly Spaniards - That’s What Friends Are For
5. The Expendables - The Man With No Desire
6. Grey Lands - Girl From The North Country (Featuring Joel Plaskett)
7. Frankie & Jimmie - Shake Sugaree
8. Neil Jarvis - Good Years
9. No Age - C’mon, Stimmung
10. Shanghai Dog - The Closet
11. The Zantees - Cruisin’
12. The 69 Cats - 69 Guitars
13. The Tell-Tale hearts - I Get Up In The Morning
14. The Furies - What Do You Want Me To Be?
15. The Straps - Just Can’t Take It No More
16. Public Image Limited - Fodderstompf
17. Nikki & The Corvettes - Just What I Need
18. The Ramrods - Nothin’ To Do In Detroit
19. Demolition Doll Rods - If You Can’t Hang
20. Reigning Sound - North Cackalacky Girl
21. MYSTICS - Sunburn
22. Invasions - Black Lagoon
23. Invasions - Unknown Pleasures
24. The Clean - Anything Could Happen
25. Bob Dylan & The Band - Wedding Song
26. New York Dolls - (There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown
27. David Bowie - Cracked Actor
28. Teenanger - Hot Rods At The Loser Convention
29. The Hives - Take Back The Toys
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 30. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.