Video Review – The Nursery – Lysergically Yours


Toronto band The Nursery released a new video from their EP Carnival Nature called “Lysergically Yours” which hit their YOUTUBE channel on July 9, 2014.  They’ve been touring and doing shows from Toronto to Buffalo and back again.  They just met a new band member, Jocelyn, who is their new drummer, and life couldn’t be better than it is with lead singer and guitarist Alex Pulec right now.  They are recording new music, planning new tours and maybe a surprise or two along the way.  I had the pleasure of contacting Alex and doing a fast Q&A with him just a few days ago, and here’s what the interview went down as by email:

The Nursery, July 2014.  Photo by by Geneveive Blais (copyright).

The Nursery, July 2014. Photo by by Geneveive Blais (copyright).

Jade:  You’ve been doing quite a few shows in Toronto and Buffalo recently.  Which gig has been the most fun for you and why?

Alex:  You can see Toronto across the water in some parts of Buffalo. It’s not often you get to peer at your home from that far away while bring in another country. We’ve met some of the most amazing people there, for example we’ve met producers, engineers, show promoters and artists alike. We’re really excited about our next Toronto show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto on August 15 as well as a show on August 8 at The Hub in Oshawa.

Jade:  You mentioned that there is a new band member.  How did that come about and what are the details on the new band member?

Alex:  We were in between starting production for the video Lysergically Yours and the moment it was finished, we started working with our new drummer, Jocelyn. That’s why you can’t see her in the video.  The change was very amicable and we’re looking forward to adding Jocelyn’s new energy into our songs.

Jade:  Are there any new plans on new music coming out soon?  And if not, when do you think that might happen?

Alex:  We’re recording an exciting batch of new songs right now that we’re planning to release in the fall of 2014. We’ve been mostly working out of GCR Audio in Buffalo. That city has an energy that no urban town or cabin in the woods could ever come close to.

Jade:  How did the video of “Lysergically Yours” come about?  Whose idea was it and how did it all come together?

Alex:  I had the visual ideas and sketches for a face to be covered in coloured “Jimmies” around for an independent photography project I was planning on doing a year ago. “Jimmies” are the actual name of those tiny multi-coloured sugar shapes, typically rods and balls.  When it came up that we were going to do a video for this song, I felt those ideas fit much better with the colours and mood of the music.  We collaborated with Toronto photographers Devon Stewart and Genevieve Blais to help crystallize and capture the vision.

Jade:  What’s coming up in the future of The Nursery?

Alex:  More new music, more touring and a maybe an 8-bit style video game with Famicom versions of our music for the soundtrack.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sounds awesome and a game plan of some sort.  Whatever the final outcome, I’m sure we’ll all enjoy what The Nursery come up and out with.  Great musicians and great visual ideas in general for the two videos by this band so far.  I personally can’t wait to hear some new tunes in the fall from this band!  And to see more artistically creative videos.

The video is really well done.  The funny thing that stands out in this video are the coloured candy bits on those sugary doughnuts, the “Jimmies” which I never knew the name of and I will remember that.  I have to say that when I first saw this video, I was laughing because I found what they were doing was funny, but in a good way. Anyway…..the band is in a room that is covered in aluminium foil (much like Andy Warhol’s The Factory was like from 1965-1969) which I thought was a good move as Warhol was a visionary artist much like Alex in some ways.  The band performs the song and in some parts it’s kitschy and fun.  You can tell all members of the band are having fun.  This video is kind of like Warhol’s Factory in the sense that adding simple props to make it seem timeless in some ways works well. Devon Stewart and Genevieve Blais have given the video artistic life in a sense, as well as the original idea by Alex. Photographers are some of the most artistic people I’ve ever met and can be an added value to any video setting.   I especially like the goggles worn by Jared Roth on keys – gives it a good feel with the silver background.  And Victor Ess’s haircut is a big plus as it just looks good on him playing bass.   And then there’s those candy sprinkles (Jimmies) around the mouths of Alex and the mystery lady…..have they been eating the same doughnuts?  And, are they Lysergically each other’s mate?  I could guess but I’d rather revel in the mystery.

Isn’t it funny how sugar, music and candy sprinkles, or “Jimmies”, look good in a silver room with a rocking good song?

The video is right here – let the band and myself know your thoughts on it by sending some comments!

Interview with … Vancouver band The Niche’s Gabriel Savage


In early September, I had just sent out interview questions to a few people when I had to stop all work and ended up in the hospital due to a major drug reaction that took me down literally.  I’m at home and recovering now, but, I’m kind of in a weakened state due to the burns on my legs and feet.

I have just received these back from Gabriel Savage of the Vancouver band THE NICHE who were the Band of the Month with CFOX this past October 2011.  There is a lot of buzz about this band because they are a performance based band with terrific music.  They don’t have a lot of music online yet, but that’s only a matter of time before that happens.

I’m reviewing a song that was sent to me called “A LA RUE” which sounds like a carnival trip on the psychedelic side of life.  I’m reminded of 1960’s band The Doors, but, Gabriel takes the song and makes it his own vocally.  I’ve seen this band in action onstage and they are dynamite! Kaylar definitely rounds out the band with her odd sounds from the keys or her sax, Ryley does a great rhythm and lead guitar in this song, new member Chris is funked out with his root bass chords through the song and Mario’s drums carry the song on into infinity.  I really dig this band and its not hard to figure out why.

The current lineup is as follows:

Gabriel Savage – Vox

Ryley Kirkpatrick – Guitars

Chris Seversen – Bass

Kaylar Chan – Keyboards/Sax

Mario Beer – Drums and percussion

The Niche

The Niche live @ the Railway Club, Vancouver BC – photo courtesy of the band

What goals in relation to the band are you setting now to work towards over the next year?

We’re working towards releasing our EP within the next six months. We’ve just trained a new bass player so we had to take a break from recording for a while. We’re hoping to be able to get everything done by Spring. The songs are all there and ready, now it’s just about having the funds and resources to back us in the process.

What personal goals has the band as a whole achieved in the last year?

For the most part, we’re happy with where we’re at. Everyone’s enjoying the stages as they come and are looking forward to the next steps. Being Fox’s Band of the Month for October had its benefits, and so does playing shows regularly. We’re always happy to hear the good things people have to say after we play for them, so that’s always a bonus. As far as goals though, we’re just happy to have come this far in only a year, and are looking forward to the next stages of our career together.

As a band, what has been the best thing that has happened, and the worst thing?

The best thing is that we’re all still playing with each other and are enjoying our time together. Like I said, it’s always great to hear such positive feedback; it keeps us enjoying what we do knowing that others are enjoying it also. I can’t think of the “worst thing” yet. I think everything has happened in good time and for a good reason.
At first it was a bit of a drag losing Cory and having to go about finding a suitable replacement –which always takes a long time— but now that we’ve got Chris on the team it’s been really great. He’s been a great addition for the band and we all really enjoy working with him.

How do you see the current state of the Corporate Music Industry? Do you think it has changed since the “old” days before the internet? And, how do you feel about the DIY bands that are becoming mainstream? (arcade fire for example)

There’s no doubt that it’s changed, but that’s the way things have to happen. We have to evolve with the world around us. That goes for all aspects of the media. These days, if you want something, you’ve just got to work all that much harder for it, which makes it all the more worth it when it finally happens.
Arcade Fire are doing really well for themselves and that’s great to see.

Do you feel that the band has control over how your music reaches the fans? And if yes why do you feel this way and what factors into that?

Yes, being Indie has its benefits. There isn’t a lot of censorship, and we can pretty much say, do, write, and perform anything we want without any legal binds. There’s no doubt that it would be easier to reach people if we had all of our ducks in order (a finished album/EP/quality videos, etc) but right now, we’re doing everything on a real tight Indie budget so it does make it hard to do the right things all at once.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard your music before?

The mood I get from it is a sense of being aware but not quite at home with your surroundings. Kind of like a sailor who goes out to sea, prepared for the storm, but not necessarily ready for it to happen, you know what I mean? It’s got sort of a heavy, dark, gloomy feeling, but there’s more to it than that. There’s a sense of depth that people probably won’t hear if they’re just dancing or drinking at the bar, but that’s not to say they won’t enjoy it. They just wont walk away as satisfied as the people who were paying attention. I’d really like to try something a little different than what we’ve been doing. Maybe a couple hip-hop tunes, or something considered more “Pop”, just to give it a try and show people that we’re not stuck sounding the way we do, we just choose this sound over others because we feel it gets our message across in a way that isn’t really being done these days.

The Niche on tour – photo courtesy of the band

Who are the primary songwriters in the band?

So far I’ve written all the lyrics, but as a band we all of an equal say in the songwriting process. Sometimes I’ll come up with most of the idea on a guitar or bass, but after the initial blossom I usually pass the idea on to Ryley or Chris to give it some extra flare. I use instruments as more of a songwriting tool. That’s why you’ll only ever see me with a microphone and maybe a maraca on stage. (laughs). Although I do have a harmonica mic, but I just use it to achieve a sort of Tom Waits vocal effect, kind of like a megaphone.

Collectively, how does the songwriting process within the band go? Do you jam it out in rehearsal space?

We all work together to write the songs. Most of the time it starts with lyrics and a melody, but there are a handful of songs that have emerged from just a guitar or bass lick, or some sort of sound from the keyboards. Usually I’ll come into a session with an idea, and then the band will work some sort of arrangement around my lyrics. It all comes together pretty naturally though, it’s really quite a special process to be able to be involved in.

How did you come up with the band name?

I got the idea from “The Birth of Tragedy” where Nietzsche talks about the artistic elements of the ancient Greeks. ‘The Niche’ is meant to refer to the joining of the two different opposing art forms, that of Apollo, god of structure and stability, and that of the more dreamlike & ecstatic creations of Dionysus.
We’ve got an interesting balance of artists in the band, we’re all very different from each other, yet are perfectly suited for each other creatively. I think the name just really sums us up to a point that no other name would be able to achieve. Anyone who reads the Birth of Tragedy will probably get a pretty good idea as to what it is I’m trying to do.

What is your opinion on the music scene in Vancouver? Do you feel that there are enough venues for bands to book shows? And is there a lot of competition as well?

There are lots of venues and lots of bands to play them. There are a handful of swell promotion companies out there, however not many of them have touched us because we’re considered “too different” from most of the other bands in the circuit. I don’t blame them though, we haven’t got enough quality tunes online to really give the promoters an idea of what we’re about. So it’s been a struggle, we’ve had to book a lot of our own shows or team up with bands that we’ve become friends with. But its been fun, I’ve got no hard feelings, I’m pretty patient and forgiving! (laughs)

What bands/singers/songwriters did you all listen to growing up? And why are/were they important to you now that you’re in a band?

We each come from different musical and artistic backgrounds which, when blended together, sound like something that isn’t quite jazz, isn’t quite funk, and doesn’t fall under the typical blues structure, so we’ve been calling it ‘Sonic Rock’. Just sounds, man. A lot of the music is written to be a sort of soundtrack to the lyrics and images we try to convey with the songs.
I can’t really speak for everyone else, but my biggest musical influences were Elvis, Sinatra, and Johnny Cash. One was a performer, the other could croon, and man, could Cash tell a great story.

Before this band you had another band – what happened to Kick The Ashes?

Yeah, I joined Kick the Ashes as their songwriter. It wasn’t really my project, I was just another member. We were together for just under a year until we decided it was time to kick the bucket on Kick the Ashes.

How did you meet all the band members in The Niche? Are there members from Kick The Ashes?

I met Ryley and Mario through Kick the Ashes. We started playing with each other again in 2010 and decided to form another band. From there we had auditions for a bass player, and then Ryley’s girlfriend, Kaylar, came into the picture as the keyboardist & saxophone player.

What’s the best part about being in The Niche?

I just love that my words are being put to use, It’s great to have the opportunity to be able to present your artistic creations in such a personal and engaging manor. It’s really quite special. Plus, it’s awesome having the opportunity to work some of my closest friends on such a regular basis. I don’t think I could ask for anything more, except for maybe a good record contract, that would sure help us out financially! (laughs)

You can find The Niche at the following locations:

The Niche website

Facebook

Twitter

Supernova.com

CD (EP) Review – The Ruby Spirit – Born Under A Veil


CD (EP) Review – The Ruby Spirit – Born Under A Veil

Released: September 5, 2010

by Jade Sperry

JadedPhotography

The Ruby Spirit. Photo courtesy of the band

In the fall of 2010, The Ruby Spirit released their debut record Born Under a Veil to a crowd of 500 eager fans at The Great Hall in Toronto. Since then the band has garnered a flurry of glowing reviews from independent blogs and printed newspapers for their ambitious and breakthrough brand of alternative pop. There are no signs of looking back.

This stellar EP was produced and mixed by Tony Malone and mastered by Joao Carvalho in various studios in Toronto ON. My first impressions of this EP: a lot of focused energy, dramatic music and fanciful lyrics in all 6 songs that are interesting and well written. The members of the band are:  Paige Boy (vocals), Alex Pulec (guitar and vocals), Mickey Donnell (bass), Jay Cipparrone (drums and percussion) and Juliana Eye (piano, organs, synth and vocals). This is a band that has a dramatic flair in their costumes and actions onstage which gives the music a “theatrical” feel to it (think “Cabaret”).

“Tin Can Bees” is the opening song which has an odd time signature and count but it works well with the melody and lyrical arrangement. Fuzzed out guitars, operatic vocals and samba drums are the backbone to this song. This song is based in emotions that speak of “we hate where we live but love the view”.

“Sound of the Bell” has a bit of an evil feel to it but at the same time, it has a fun feel to it, musically speaking. Lyrically, it speaks of being free, having the touch, and about having nothing to fear. It does have an uneven time signature but it works with the melody. The vocals are done very well by blending in with the music and setting the pace of the song in general.

“Ruby Dog” is for this writer the standout song on the EP. The piano and synths have an “Eddie Munster” campy kind of feel to it. The bass line and drums work well in the song giving it a great backbone to work off. Lyrically it’s about a dog that is lost and found again by his/her owner after spending a few days roaming the streets.

“From You It’s True” has a classic rock feel to it. This song has a slower time signature, a whimsical melody and great vocals. The lyrics are about not asking questions because you won’t get an answer anytime soon, if ever.

“Fix and Repair” is a stream-of-consciousness type of song. It’s fast paced with a slow break in the middle. In some parts of this song, there is a Spanish feel to the lyrics which flavors the music in a good way.

The final song “Caligari” has a jazzy time signature to it but also has a rock feel to it as well. The vocals are delivered in a very good way with emotion and feeling. Lyrically, this could be about anyone pondering the meaning of fame, money, evil intentions and the like.

Overall, this is a very good debut EP that has well crafted songs, interesting music and has a classic rock/theatrical vibe to it. The Ruby Spirit are starting life in a good place. The band is playing a show this evening Saturday June 25 at the famed El Mocambo with special guest Jumpie. You should check out the band as I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Video – Tin Can Bees by The Ruby Spirit – Wood and Wires Sessions