2011 might have only just kicked off but it's already served up some beautiful records, with Zeroes QC by Suuns being one of them. With rave reviews already surfacing and many music sites tipping them for success this year, we caught up with the band to find out more about the record, their influences and what their plans are for the year. How are you guys today? Max Henry: Aimless, weak and nervous. How are you? What did you get up to for New Years? Joe Yarmush: We split up and hung out with our families and long lost friends in other cities who we don't see that often these days. There may have been a few whiskeys drunk and the occasional cigar smoked. MH: I went to the Comedy Bar in Toronto at Bloor and Ossington, and caught up with some coked up friends from elementary school. Your new album Zeroes QC sounds very meticulously written and produced. Has it been a long time in the making? MH: The record benefited from a long germination period. The band has been around for three years now, and the idea of a full length seemed more like a document than a concept. The music is meticulous, and we are (somewhat) well acquainted with our instruments, but we're still courting the studio. To a certain extent the production on the record is more pragmatic than aesthetic - this is not to downplay Jace's invaluable role in realizing the album, but it would be unfair to say we had a clear vision of the record going in. Given the fact that there is so much variety on show in the record, is it a case that you have many different influences or more that you have so many ideas? JY: The variety that people hear is actually a shaved, so to speak, version of Suuns. We recorded and mixed the record very quickly, partly because of budget and partly to edit ourselves and go with gut instincts. There was a shitload more material we recorded and could've made the record, but these songs seemed like they fit really well together even though there are various themes and inspirations within each song. On a whole and, especially, sonically, they are as cohesive as it gets for us right now. MH: I hope that despite the diversity of the record we still managed to create something focused. Young bands can be fairly volatile, and given the ungodly amount of (really great) creative output in indie music I think it's essential to have a singular voice. We have a lot of varied influences between the four of us. And it's a delicate balance; there's an undeniably rich cultural inheritance in rock music - there's no avoiding your influences, and besides we'd be fools not to stand on their shoulders. I guess we're just trying to make friends with them. Following on from this, what were your main influences on this record? Ben Shemie: Generally speaking the band is influenced by minimalism, deep bass, and a pinch of noise. All four of us kind of represent different camps that define our playing. That being said, we grew up on classic rock, Canadian content, and electric guitars so we are never too far from the roots of what essentially defines us - a rock and roll band. I'd say we try and keep it real somewhere between Led Zep and Plastikman. That's our vibe. We also get compared to Clinic a lot and it wouldn't be fair to not mention their influence on us. That's a great band.
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Could you tell us more about the album artwork? JY: When the band was discussing the art for the album, we were leaning towards having a photograph on the cover. We like iconic photos a la Roxy Music or David Bowie. I'm a photographer and I made a few mock ups of a cover and this photo featuring my friend Ariana was one of the mock ups. She's a person I've photographed several times in the last decade and this is one of my favourite photos of her that I've taken. It's a bit of a Lynchian vibe I was going for and being in black and white with no other design around it, the photo suits the album perfectly. We instantly agreed on this, slapped some writing on the back and voila, album cover. It has been commented (admittedly not by us here at The 405) that the purpose of your music is to enable the listener to escape somewhere else. Do you feel this is an accurate representation of Suuns? BS: Our music doesn't really have a purpose. We certainly hope that the listener can use it to escape somewhere else - we definitely do. MH: I find playing the music quite cathartic, so it would be unfair to deny anyone listening the same privilege of escape. That being said I would be hard pressed to name any music that left me fixedly in my place. Your music has been labelled drone-disco, psych-rock, kraut-prog and more simply a ‘mind-fuck’, amongst many things, but I think many people would be curious to know, how would you guys describe your music? BS: Rock and Roll? MH: This is a cop out, but I don't think it's really for us to describe. God knows I can't think of anything. Not because we're "so damned unique" or any such nonsense. I just think the relationship a band has with its own music is, perhaps unfairly, unlike any relationship anyone else has with it. We know it so damned intimately, but to a certain extent that robs us of the more transcendent listening experience. And I think these succinct two-and-three syllable labels really belong more to that irrational territory than it does to our practical, deconstructive perspective.
"Play shows. Bring the pain."
Ben, how did you settle on the sing/speak vocal format evident on many tracks on the record? BS: Partly due to my shit vocal techniques, party I think it suits the songs. This sing-speak-whatever-you-wanna-call-the-way-I-sing is also a more rhythmic way of vocalizing, which helps propel the music forward, like percussion. Are there any plans for a tour to promote the release? JY: Yes. We've been touring the U.S. since September and we'll be in the UK and Europe in February, May and a lot in 2011. Is the dual American/Canadian nationality present in the majority of the band a deliberate thing, or was it just a by-product of where you lived and grew up? JY: Yes. Everything we do is deliberate. It is also a by product of where we grew up. The first part of this answer is not true. We had no idea we some of us had passports to other countries. We had no idea we were going to get to a point that we'd tour in other countries. It was a plan, but more of pipe-dreamy plan. It's quite lucky and monetarily beneficial to have dual citizens in the band. We don't have to spend as much on work visas in the United States. And some of us can vote there. MH: It's damned useful, but just coincidence. And finally what plans do you have for the band in 2011? BS: Play shows. Bring the pain.
Zeroes QC is out now on Secretly Canadian You can visit the band by heading to www.myspace.com/suuns_