We're a four piece sludge/metal band from Toronto, formed officially sometime around 2010. We started as a three piece having never jammed together, mutual friends with a desire for heavy riffs. Basically rented a rehearsal space together before even writing a tune with the conceit that our chemistry would reveal some cool results. Devin (bass) and I had a long history of playing punk music together.
2.So far you have released one full length album and an ep. how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on both recordings and also how do they differ from each other?
Well, the important thing to recognize is that the first four songs that eventually became that first "EP" were essentially beta versions of some of the tunes that made it onto the record. It was a live jam space demo very early on in our inception, with some home recorded overdubs and vocals. Our current guitarist, Marc, was at the helm of mixing this demo when we all lived together in Kensington Market. For the first year of the band, we had taken on a second guitar player who now has a rad doom project of his own. That sort of informed the super raw, more doom-laden beta phase of the band. I wouldn't consider this recording part of any perceived discography thus far. We just felt the need to put something on the internet to see how it would be received. We hadn't hit our stride at that point.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
Coming from a very topical and direct punk background, I wanted to let go and try my hand at a more pictorial approach to conveying my feelings towards things, rather than the more immediately interpreted hc/punk thing. Though, you can take the boy out of….; Each song on Year Of Sleep has a fairly specific theme. 'Proximity Anxiety" is a dressed up summary of the way I feel on a crowded bus, essentially. The frustration of an introvert observing the cruelty and indifference we perpetuate amongst ourselves. "The Anchorite" was inspired by reading historic accounts of these nuns and prophets who would barricade themselves in almost total concrete isolation. The allegory therein being, these people had feverish delusions as a result of sensory depravation, and their ultimate word was taken as gospel as they were viewed as having communicated with god. Basically religion as insanity. "Year Of Sleep" is the only real deeply personal song on the album; it's basically a purging for me of a particularly shit patch of time where I was just working, drinking, and sleeping all day, not really seeing a future beyond my own little cave.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Pyres'?
We had a bunch of amazing mind blowing names that other bands already knew were amazing mind blowing names, and Pyres wasn't taken!. The idea of a Viking leader's corpse tied to the masthead of his beloved warship, set ablaze and sent to sea was pretty enticing to pounce on. Also maybe some themes of purging and rebirth. Mostly a simple, vaguely metal name we were evidently free to affix our own sound to.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We play pretty often locally here in Toronto and haven't yet had the freedom to tour much. I guess the best shows we've played have been the really raw and DIY gigs where the local energy is high and the vibe is intimate and loose. Lately we've been on a lot more support gigs for bigger bands. There's definitely a feeling of nervous, almost "professional" sort of "go big or go home" kinda vibe when we're on these bills. It might be the ol' college try, like, "we got this!". We often perform tighter at these gigs like everyone is trying really hard not to fuck it up, haha. As far as our stage performance, we thrash harder the harder the crowd does. It's an ego thing, and any band that proclaims they don't feed off that enthusiasm is fuckin lying.
7.The album was released on cassette by Medusa's Crush, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Matt, or Ruby Red River, the dude behind the Medusa Crush Label, is super straight up O.G Canadian music guy and we just struck up a real rapport the last year. Much like with our amazing friend John, who runs Granite House LPs, and who released the killer vinyl of our record (and is responsible for all the exposure and acclaim the record got in the U.S and Europe), Matt is an original hardworking music fan with heart and soul. The cassette thing was discussed over many pints and next thing we know he shows up to a gig we played with Ancients, and there they are. It looks like Medusa Crush has been really busy since then with the Zex release among others.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of sludge and metal?
Amazing. When all we had out there was that really wonky demo, Granite House got in touch about maybe doing an EP or remaster of the demo. We couldn't pass up the chance so we went hard into finishing enough music for an LP. Fast forward almost a year and we had recorded with Greg Dawson, who's a legend in Ontario metal and hardcore, and released this Year of Sleep record with Granite House. Ten, fifteen years ago when there was no social media outlets flogging every new band that had something recorded, we could have flown completely under the radar. A lot of really great blogs and magazines picked up on the record in summer 2013, and we were just fucking blown away with the response it got. We landed a bunch of top ten, even top five "Canadian Metal of the year" lists, NPR, got some sweet reviews in Rockarolla and Terrorizer, and, (though not in print!), a spot with Decibel. All thanks to dudes like John GHR and Matt MCR. Fan support has been great, the record is getting out there to people all over Europe and USA.
9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Definitely trying to reign in and harness some of the disparate moments on the first record. Trying to expand those little moments and create bigger song ideas from there. Messing with dynamics and different tones. I'm a little more confident with the vocals now so I'll be giving it a bit more flavour and some melody here and there. We're just piling on the riffs right now, a lot more interplay between the two guitars and movements. A lot more for the rhythm section to chew on, and we're trying to make some less obvious narrative choices for the kind of sub genre we're in. I lost a lot of family the last two years and don't feel the need to revisit apocalyptic themes and am trying to inject our kind of sludge metal with some subtler subcontext, from real places of pain.
10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We're all up on our Mastodon, High on Fire, that sort of thing for sure, but the sound is just a simple mashup of the shit we like. Mix some Eyehategod riffing with some more epic metal melody, throw in some octave pedal, pull it back with a prettier delay-laden passage, a little hardcore flavour from the vocals…. Some of us digest more black metal and raw punk, some more indie/post rock, and some of us actually have much different projects on the go entirely outside of the metal locus. We all dig our classic rock etc. Currently it's really just "Pyres" that's informing my song ideas and the way we as band play together in the rehearsal space.
11.What are some of your non musical interests?
We all have pretty demanding jobs and personal lives that keep us pretty busy. Some of us do a lot of home recording and writing. Craft beer. We're all pretty avid cooks.
12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for the time!