CD Review and Interview – Se7enSided – The Silver Lining

CD Review – Se7enSided – The Silver Lining

Released: May 19, 2009

by Jade Sperry


Se7enSided the band. Photo by Nicole Ashley Photography.

Se7enSided are an interesting and solid rock band currently residing in Edmonton AB Canada. This is a band that has been together for over 7 years, have shared a stage with the likes of Canadian acts Default and Social Code among others . This is a band that is driven and passionate about their music which is powerful and original. The current members of the band are: Darren Nakonechny (lead vocals/guitar), Graham Bissell (lead guitar/backup vocals), Aaron Hanley (drums) and Jon Squires (bass).

The 10 song CD starts with the song “Break Me Out” which has some tight bass playing that are under the vocals and guitars which gives it a really solid backbone for the melody to float on. Darren’s vocals are sung with passion, Graham’s guitars are choppy and fluid and the drums pull it all together. Lyrically, this song is about a breakup that leaves you feeling that even though its hard to let go, you need to follow your instincts in matters of the heart (I hate goodbyes/but I think its time we’ll say it anyway/I’m letting go). “Watch Me Burn” is a kick ass song that starts out slow and mellow and builds to a solid chorus. The acoustic guitar works so well with Darren’s vocals and the timing of the song is impeccable. Lyrically, this is a song about feeling trapped with one person who may not be the best match for you personally (have you ever felt broken/had your everything/your whole life stolen/ I am running out/out of air). “Your Fool” is in this writer’s opinion the best song on the CD. Musically, its an odd time signature but it works with the vocals very well. The bass break in the song is played really well and is kind of ominous and foreboding. Darren’s vocals are passionate and edgy. Lyrically this song is about being in a relationship in which the other person is making you feel like a total ass (call me a fool/cause I miss you/well its not right/you’re on my mind/you’re off with him/I’m losing again). Another standout song is “Rust”. The melody is very catchy as is the riff. I totally dig the beginning and I like the fluidity of this song above the others. The drumming is superb with timing changes in the bridgework. Lyrically, I love the way the lyrics really speak of being in a “rusty” relationship (hello how are you feeling/when you’re cell phone isn’t ringing/I thought you always had my back/What the hell would ever make me think that).

Se7enSided are currently recording new material which should be out in the near future. In the meantime, you can find the band on their website, Myspace page and watch a video for a live acoustic performance right here:

The band has a couple of shows on December 28 & 29 at The Rose and Crown in Banff, AB where they are headlining. Tickets are $10 at the door and the doors open at 8pm.

I also had the opportunity to interview the band via email, and here is what they had to say about all things Se7enSided….

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

The last year has been extremely busy for us; last March (CFBR) 100.3 The Bear & Astral Media sent us to Canadian Music Week to take part in the RADIOSTAR contest as Regional Finalists for our song “Rust” off our debut album ‘The Silver Lining.’ We met a lot of great people, cool bands and learned a lot about the industry. In July we played at the Kin Slo Pitch Festival in Edson, AB to a crowd of 5000 people opening for Default! We also shared the stage with Soul Side In, and Social Code in the past year as well. We feel as though we have accomplished a lot, and continue to try to do bigger & better things in the future!

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

Currently we are writing and recording pre-production tracks for our upcoming album. We’re just begging the process but it’s definitely exciting to start writing again!
We’re looking into producers, studios, and all that kind of stuff – but it may be a while until you see a new Se7en Sided record on the shelves!

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

So far, the best thing for us was playing with Default at the Kin Slo Pitch Festival in Edson! I mean, 5000 crazy, screaming fans… you can’t go wrong! & they loved us, so it was a great time!!! The worst? We haven’t had horrible luck, but we have shown up to clubs with like 5 people in them and had to play – and been double booked (we were double booked with a burlesque show in Calgary last year haha!!)

How do you see the current state of the Corporate Music Industry in relation to your band? How do you see your band in the big scheme of things (ie/ indie Canadian band) in comparison to counterparts in other countries? How does being an indie band bring the creativity out of yourselves? Do you feel you have to compete for an audience? What’s your take on all of this??

Well as an independent, unsigned band currently we just have to be hopeful. We work extremely hard, practicing and rehearsing countless hours every week, playing as frequently as we can, continually getting better as musicians & song writers and trying to get as many people to hear our music as we can – that is all we can do at this point. Being a Canadian band trying to make it is tough. There are only 32 million people and are all very spread out. Maybe it’s good? Maybe it’s not? It sure makes touring tougher… you need to drive 8 hours a day to get to the next city… sometimes longer! Who likes 15 hour drives? If we were in the UK there would be the same number of people in the size of Alberta… you could tour it easily! So you really have to make your music something great, as well as the live show. You have to be noticeable enough that people on the other side of the country are like “I wanna see these guys! I wanna buy their record!” But as long as you play good music and give it all you got, people respond to it and that’s all that counts.

Do you feel that the band have control over how your music reaches the fans? If yes, why do you feel this way and what factors into that?

It’s sort of a yes/no answer. We certainly try to put our music out in every way we can; whether that’s building up a fan base online (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.) or playing live as often, and in as many places as possible. We also have our songs on a number of radio stations across Canada. Just in Edmonton alone, we’ve received high rotation on 100.3 The Bear for our song “Rust” and on 102.3 NOW radio for our singles “It’s Over” & “Face Yourself.” All of this has come through hard work and perseverance, but if we were signed or had higher connections success would be much easier. You can’t make someone listen to your music, but you can definitely try!

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

A musical experience that can only be appreciated by heading down to your local HMV or hitting up iTunes, or Amazon and grabbing a copy yourself.

Who are the primary songwriters in the band? Collectively, how does the songwriting process go within the band?

Darren (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) usually writes the skeletons of the songs, and then brings them to the band and we flesh them out there. Whether it needs some lyrics or just musical parts or whatever, we figure a lot of stuff out as a band and just try stuff until it works and feels good. We all come from very different backgrounds literally and in terms of what we listen to musically. So it’s great to have a bunch of different ideas flying around – it keeps things interesting!

How did you come up with the band name?

It’s a question we seem to get asked all the time. Although we get this question on a regular basis its always been the same simple answer…. a seven sided figure is a unique an uncommon shape, we like to believe this is very true with our music as well. As a seven sided shape does exist (Heptagon), so does our distinct, original, diverse style of modern rock music.

What is your opinion on the current state of the Edmonton music scene? Do you feel that there are enough venues for bands to book club shows, or, do you feel that there is too much competition for the club slots? What’s your experience with this issue?

There are a number of great venues in Edmonton and it’s got a great scene! If you play good music, people will like you – if people like you, places will book you. That’s my impression of it, and it seems to be working for us. There are great bands on the scene as well, and when you can hook up with two or three other bands and get a real bill going it’s a lot of fun!

Q & A with City of Glass

Q & A with Vancouver’s City Of Glass

by Jade Sperry


Michael Champion and David Phu are City of Glass. Photo courtesy of the band.

Jade: What was it like to work with Winston and Shawn Cole? How would you describe the process that resulted in the EP Equations?

City of Glass: Overall, a fantastic experience. The reason we initially contacted Winston to produce the record was for his pop writing and producing, and we figured we could get him to fight with us and help focus some of our more “geek-out” musical moments. We did fight a lot and that was great because we’re very happy with the end product; by halfway through the recording we were all on the same page and having a great time. Shawn is the greatest. I don’t know anyone who’s met him that doesn’t love that guy; a real pleasure to work with and very skilled at engineering and mixing. We consider both of those guys good friends of ours now.

Jade: In 2008 when you decided to put City Of Glass in motion, made the demo, and had it quietly take on college radio in 3 countries/continents, how did that encourage you to find your way in the digital age? What has that demo done for you both personally for your careers?

City of Glass: It is an interesting time to be making music. There’s really no exact model of how to get your music out there so that was definitely encouraging to hear it popping up in some unexpected places. That was also the first time we realized we might be able to actually do this for real, to have people get on board with the music who have no connection to us personally. We work very hard at all aspects of City of Glass, so when good things happen there’s sort of a dual reaction of, “Really? Wow!” but at the same time, “Let’s keep this going, what’s next?” It’s stressful but fun and exciting. Overall, the feedback has encouraged us to continue on the same path and constantly research and develop all the best ways to get our music out there (digitally and physically).

Jade: You currently have toured twice – in September 2009 and this past March 2010 – what venues were your favs based on crowd reactions to your music? What venues (or city) did you personally like the best, and why?

City of Glass: Some of the shows that really stand out in hindsight aren’t necessarily the ones I thought would. On the last show of our most recent tour in Ontario we played in the basement of this cool old mansion called the London Music Club. Now they usually book an opener before the touring band to get more of a crowd but they couldn’t find a band for that night, and the one band usually watches the door while the other is playing. So, we played this show for two guys with no cover and we ended up having a great time, partly because it was really funny and awkward to play to just two people, and partly because those guys were awesome and it was really rare to put on a private show, ha ha. I think and hope that will be the last show with those attendance numbers, but we will always remember that one.

Jade: How did you write the songs for the EP Equations, and how does the writing process generally come about? Is there something you’ve been working on presently for a future release?

City of Glass: Our writing process is strange. We build songs like puzzles, sometimes we’ll start with a drum idea or a bass loop, whatever springs to mind, then we sit down at the computer and build from there. Sometimes we’ll end up building and rebuilding a song enough that we end up with none of the parts we started with. So to answer your question, there really isn’t a set writing process. We have around 150 demos right now, ranging from indistinguishable blobs of sound to fully written songs, and we’re going to continue tweaking and writing more until we have a really strong catalog to pull from for our first full-length album. We’re really happy with the way Equations turned out. It was a mix of songs we played live and a couple that were completed in studio, but, to have the opportunity to road test a whole bunch of songs before we next sit down to record is exciting.

Jade: What inspires you to write music? Do you write about personal experiences or do you write about others’ experiences in life?

City of Glass: I’d say they’re fairly personal songs, not biographical but personal. We really try and take the most intense things we’re feeling, whether it’s frustrations with things in life we can’t change or that overwhelm us, or even love and relationships and the positive things that come from that, and then distill it down to music without spelling out what we’re trying to say. It really appeals to us to make songs that have a bittersweet feeling to them because life isn’t a wholly negative or positive experience. There are sad and happy times but there is always an underlying context. And that is definitely a challenge to try and make that come through in a three and a half minute pop song so we can drive ourselves a little crazy at times.

Jade: What is your view on the Vancouver club scene in general, and how does that hinder or help City Of Glass?

City of Glass: Vancouver is a really interesting place right now. On one hand there is quite a volume of exceptionally talented artists coming out of the city, and they’re making some intelligent and accessible music that we find really impressive and inspiring. But on the other hand part of the nature of this city seems to be quite introspective and isolating, and there isn’t the same sort of interest in going out to shows you might find in some other large centers. But that does seem to be changing a little bit with the recent focus on local musicians, so I guess we’ll see if it’s it a momentary thing or the beginning of a sea of change. But we love this city very much. Vancouver is a big influence on the writing, I think some of that isolated feeling spreads into the music and is a part of why we buried our heads in music in the first place. Vancouver is a very new city and that comes with its challenges and opportunities across all the arts industries.

Jade: And how do you feel about the new “digital” age of the Music Industry? What do you like and dislike about the innovation of the bands being able to “DIY”?

City of Glass: It is an interesting time to be a musician. The old model is gone, the labels don’t have nearly the same money or clout as they used to, and everyone’s still trying to figure out what exactly is the best way to go about making names for themselves. Part of that is really exciting because there are no rules, but for that exact reason it can be a little intimidating and overwhelming. I think what you’re seeing is a lot more intelligent and business-minded artists start to stand out from the pack, and because they’re able to do this cheaply and from home there’s substantially more specialization. The value of music and information in general has changed substantially because of the Internet; people are looking to get something a little different out of their music-buying experience now, something a little more personal. I think it’s great, it probably makes it a little more difficult to make large amounts of money in the industry, but there is room for more artists having careers. It’s definitely an exciting time.

You can find the band on their MYSPACE page. And they are playing a show tonight in Vancouver at the Bourbon. Doors are at 8pm and showtime is 9pm.

Interview with Greyawake

After 6 years of playing in a damp basement, writing and then forgetting song after song, Kyle Baker (Vocalist/Guitar) and Tyler Lawson (Guitar) finally decided enough was enough.

They asked long time friend and ex-drummer of the band Nimfo, Matt Waszonek, to take part in a new music project to allow his interlligent and flowing drum beats to be heard outside of the garage.  After working with over half a dozen drummers in the last 6 years, it was a relief to find someone with the talent, dedication and cohesiveness to flow with Kyle and Tyler.

The fourth and final member was a testament to the saying “last but not least”, as bass player Dave Rodgers joined the gang and immediately put his unique spin on the music.

With the four members finally together, the easy part was over.  Now for the music…….

GREYAWAKE, photo by Claire Foster

I had a chance to send some questions to the band to find out some general things as well as ask about their opinions on different subjects.

First off, I wanted to know what was the reasoning behind Kyle and Tyler forming a band and taking it to the next level. They both replied that “there were a lot of really awesome underground bands that we listened to such as Choke, Belvedere and Propahandhi that really rocked our worlds. These bands evoked such powerful emotions that I think we always wanted to have the same effect on people that those bands had on us. We also want to expand the Punk genre of fast, aggressive music to people who normally might not give it a chance.”

This band has that raw and powerful emotion that resonates within the group and shows in their music. I wanted to know what inspires the lyrics to the songs and was it a personal statement or was it something imagined. Kyle answered this question by saying that “the lyrics for the song ‘Know This Tension’ came out as an aggravated, sarcastic view of the things going on in my life that either pissed me off or was troubling me. I try and say things in a way that leaves room for interpretation so anyone can listen to them and find something that relates to their own experiences. This allows me to get things off my chest and really say what’s on my mind, while avoiding a certain vulnerability.”

Getting more into how a young and intelligent band sees the “music industry”, I asked them what their opinions are on the current state of the industry as a whole. They replied that “music has become more accessible over the years and we think it’s great. Not only for the musicians and/or artists who want to promote themselves, but for the listeners as well. Music is so easily accessible through multiple mediums on the internet and this allows for more variety and progression with each genre of music. With a positive side, there’s also a negative side which is how the music scene becomes more diluted which makes it more difficult for listeners to find what they are looking for. With so many bands out there promoting themselves, it’s difficult for the great ones to be noticed.”

With many talented bands out there, how does the lack of media coverage on independent bands and the scene in general affect Greyawake? They replied that “in this genre of music there just isn’t a lot of mainstream coverage, and we knew that beforehand. A lot of bands that we grew up on became shitty as they got more mainstream attention. There are ways to get your foot in the door at the mainstream outlets. They won’t come to you unless you’re a band that is making some big waves in the scene which basically means you have to be making money.”

Coming from Cambridge ON., I wanted to know how the guys felt about the lack of venues in which to play unknown and unheard songs. Cambridge is a smaller city to other more urban areas such as Kitchener and Guelph, and it was no surprise that they responded “in Cambridge there are very few venues that play original music by local talent. We are forced to go to surrounding cities to get any paying gigs. Bar owners also want to ensure that you can bring in enough people to make it worth putting on the show. What this means is that we end up playing a lot of shows with no specific genre and we end up playing for a metal crowd one night and a pop rock crowd the next. And that in turn forces bands in general to not only have a tight set but to also be exceptional performers so that even if the genre isn’t the crowd’s first choice you’re at least entertaining to watch.” I think that they hit on a good point here. In this day and age, not only should you have good tunes but you need to have a “show”. Individual talent within the band is becoming commonplace. Greyawake also add that “these days bands really need to network with other bands that are in the same genre and put together shows themselves. And by doing that you reach more of the listeners that want to hear your music.” This is another good point – self promotion is done by musicians that don’t have a label to do that for them.

When I asked the band about how they would describe their music to someone who has never heard the songs, they answered “we consider ourselves a Progressive Punk band. There is a strong focus on the vocal melodies as well as the technicality of our instrumentation and arrangements.” I also asked the guys about what kind of statement that they’re trying to make, and is there a message of any kind. They find that “Punk music doesn’t have to sound shitty. Musically, we want to melt people’s faces with our chops. There seems to be a stigma about Punk musicians who can’t play their instruments and in many cases this is true. We would really like to change this perception.” With that being said, I believe that they accomplish this goal extremely well.

Finally I asked what were the goals of the band over the next 2 years and where did they see themselves. They replied that “we are really focused on playing shows and promoting our EP but in the future we would like to tour extensively GLOBALLY. We also want to finish writing and recording our first full length album by the end of 2010. We’re all just very excited to play everywhere and anywhere that will have us. We’re ready to put in the work to get our music out there.” They also added that they were in discussion about getting their own line of action figures. That could be an excellent idea, Punk action figures, complete with moving arms and guitars that work!

All in all, Greyawake present a powerful, intelligent and progressive Punk band in their debut EP called KNOW THIS TENSION.