by Darcy Penner
On Saturday, August 25th, Warsaw will be making its debut appearance at the Lo Pub. Comprised of Curran Faris (Hide Your Daughters, Husk), Josh Bedry (Electro Quarterstaff, El Diablo), Ethan Osland (burnthe8track), and Darren Achorn (Projektor, Meat Rack), the four-piece takes melodic riffs on top of pop-influenced structures and kicks it all in the ass with their pasts in hardcore and metal. Stylus had the opportunity to sit down for a cup of coffee with Faris, Osland, and Faris’ impossibly cute daughter ahead of their show to chat about the bands inception, influences, and goals. The following is an edited transcript of the interview. Be sure to check out Warsaw at the Lo Pub, with Pop Crimes and Still Lights, on August 25th.
Stylus: So when did you guys start jamming together?
Ethan Osland: Two years ago?
Curran Faris: Yeah, just me and Ethan initially. Just had guitar and bass jams.
EO: When we reached the point where we knew we needed drums, I had the idea to call Darren first because he had been a friend for a long time – Curran was very excited as we’re both fans of Projektor. It was pretty exciting. He agreed to come down and check us out, and it was just exciting. You would hear these signature styles of hi-hat work that had made us fans of Projektor, or some kind of a roll through a change or something and we would just get so excited we would almost stop playing [laughter]. “Ah he did it! He did it!” [more laughter]. And then—
CF: Josh. I think we both independently knew Josh for a lot of years. My other bands have played with Electro Quarterstaff—he’s just such a wicked player. He was impressed coming in and checking it out, and then it just kind of went from there.
EO: We knew that we wanted to do something once Darren was there; the connection was like, “Ok, this is for real.” I think aside from Josh, the three of us had sort of hit a wall playing with other bands and not seeing the kind of progress that we wanted to see. It felt even more empowering to connect with people so easily and hear everything gel really quickly. It was really great.
Stylus: So this project wasn’t something that had been in the works for years as a, “When we get time, this will go”?
EO: Maybe some of the riffs Curran has been kicking around.
CF: This band is the type of band I’ve wanted to play in for a long time. There was a stretch where I didn’t have a band, I just sort of had these parts and ideas sitting around. So I think early on, when we first started jamming, there was something to start with. But once we got Darren and started jamming, that light sort of went on where it was like, “Yeah, this is the band, this is what I have been looking for.”
Stylus: What are the goals for this band?
EO: Well there are a lot of firsts for us in this band. It’s Curran’s first shot at singing lead vocals in a band. One of the things that he and I connected early on was that we’re both fans of bands that have two lead vocalists. Sometimes working together, sometimes separate. [Faris' daughter gives Osland a cracker] Thank you!
And for me it’s the first time that I have been involved in a band from the very beginning—not walking in half way through, or when people are starting to get distracted and starting to sign out. So that’s been the most satisfaction for me.
CF: I think we’re all pretty excited to start playing. It feels like we’ve been telling, “Oh, yeah, we’re all in this band together,” or, “I got this new band I’ve been working on.” So its nice to finally start playing and we’re really looking forward to that.
Stylus: Is an EP in the sightlines?
CF: Something, yeah. We haven’t figured out the nuts and bolts of it, and the where and whens, but we are all on the same page of wanting to do it.
EO: I think it will be an EP or two 7″s.
CF: The past little bit we’ve been working on just getting this set together. So I think once that’s done we’ll do some more writing and have some more songs in the bag that we can decide to record or not record.
EO: I think its also fair to say we have just been feeling the pressure of getting the first show out of the way. We have a lot of friends that we want to play with and they have been asking, but we’re taking our time. More than anything else, we need to prove it to ourselves that we can pull off a show the way that we want to do it, so we’re trying to keep it on our terms and not feel the external pressure to get out there. We’ve been deliberately taking our time and not trying to rush or feel any pressure, which is pretty tough [laughs]. To live in that bubble is a challenge—
CF: You want to play!
EO: You want to play! You know, almost from the very beginning, Viridians have been knocking on our jam space door, “We’re just hanging out in the hallway listening to you guys jam. We want to play a show with you!” We didn’t know who they were, but they turned out to be awesome buddies, and I would say our biggest supporters at this point, really.
CF: We still haven’t played with them [laughter]. They keep giving us a hard time.
EO: They have set the bar pretty high for the pool of music, stylistically, that we are swimming in. Those guys can play like crazy and they sing like crazy. It’s really humbling and an honour to be receiving that level of respect without having been out there.
Stylus: So what is your writing process?
EO: It has varied over the couple years.
CF: Yeah, I mean there have been some tunes that have more or less been sitting on my hard-drive or a recorder somewhere. Other times, we have ones that Ethan just brought in and have gone from there, and I think more recently its been someone has an idea and we’ll just start hashing it out at the jam space.
EO: Darren, our drummer, and I had been talking about an idea we read about from Thrice, and how much writing their drummer actually does in the band. So he just started playing this incredible beat and I got a bass line on top. It gets to the point where I know we have something good when Curran gets really quiet, and just sort of does math in his brain with his guitar and doesn’t make a lot of noise. If he gets super quiet, generally we’re onto something. It’s like playing stump Curran [laughter].
Stylus: What do you think the biggest influences that you bring to the writing process are?
CF: For me, one of the things that I have noticed about things that have gotten me really pumped up and inspired is getting away from really technical, aggressive kind of stuff. I have been coming back to and drawn towards stuff that is catchy and has hooks, so one of the things that I really like in other bands and in this band is that those sort of identifiable pop structures are there, but its not just necessarily the four same chords. It can still be really heavy, or weird and unconventional, but still at the heart of it we’re intentionally trying to be catchy and melodic. As for relatable bands: Minus the Bear, Shiner, The Life and Times, Jawbox—we all listen to so much stuff, we’re pretty nerdy.
EO: I would also put in there Torch and Cave In.
CF: Cave In has made some of my favourite records of all time.
EO: And these guys, Josh, Darren, and Curran, are huge vinylists. They collect, and they collect. Luckily all these bands we just talked about are also into vinyl. It’s provided a really neat point of access for us to bond on, because everybody is always nerding out about records, and “Oh, whose addiction got fed this week?” We are all serious about the music that we are doing, and we want to get to the point where we can afford to put out a couple seven inches. I think I’ll shit my pants if we actually have a unique 7″.
CF: I think whenever people ask me, “What do you guys sound like?” that’s the list I sort of just rattle off. It’s kind of there, but it’s also not the sort of the thing where when we are writing we’re referencing those bands.
EO: We’re not a quiet band. It’s loud, but—oh, excuse me [Faris’ daughter hands Osland a ringing toy phone]. “Hello? Hello?” [Osland hands back the phone]. That’s by design. We’re all fans of the impact of loud music, but we’re also huge fans of dynamics, and it’s been a real experiment to find out where you can draw the line, where you can find your own identity. Sometimes it is too easy to tune really low and put a bunch of distortion on whatever instrument you are playing, and have the drummer play really loud. With bands like Life and Times and Cave In, they’re so great at crafting sounds inside of this incredible heaviness, without losing that connection to the melody. We also have no interest in screaming, so that adds another challenge to first timers like us, trying to be able to project the melody over the volume of a big band.
CF: I feel like we’re a bunch of metal or hardcore kids, trying to be in a pop band. And we can only go so far into being super sugary and melodic, but everything is still pretty well dimed—still pretty heavy.