Friday, September 3, 2010
[eyeweekly.com] After slouching their way toward Bethlehem — or at least, a record deal, thanks to upstart American heavy label Tee Pee — the rough beast that is Quest For Fire has grown into a two-headed monster. Their live show has swelled into a low-end-toting behemoth, with their thunderous set opening for their friends Black Mountain at the Horseshoe last month generating plenty of approving murmurs. (Not that you could hear them over the ecstatic din.) But their second album, the just-released Lights From Paradise, doesn’t just heave under the weight of their viscous psych-garage blend; it covers plenty of ground untouched on their first album, from the acoustic “Psychic Seasons” to the sun-baked boogying of “Strange Vacation.” EYE WEEKLY cornered two of the slavering creatures (singer/guitarists Andrew Gunn and Chad Ross, both of them ex–Deadly Snakes; bassist Josh Bauman and drummer Mike Maxymuik were presumably off killing some kind of adorable farm animal) over late-afternoon beers at Unlovable to discuss Lights From Paradise, the ups and downs of touring and jam-space napping.
The new record is pretty diverse, genre-wise. How’d that come about?
Andrew: It does veer off in a couple of different directions, but it’s pretty cohesive; I think it works well from start to finish. Not that the first one didn’t.
Chad: The first one was kind of a focused mess. This one is, like, we kind of took a lot more of our influences and made them more personal.
Andrew: What happened with the first record is, we were mixing it in Hamilton; like, we’d drive out three nights a week and mix for four hours after work. It hits a point where it gets a little harder to think about what’s actually gonna work best. This time, we recorded everything in April of last year, and we did the overdubs and the fine-tuning, but then we let it rest for a bit before really coming back onto it, after taking a few months off — never getting to that point where it’s like, “OK, I’m going to listen to the same six songs 50 times this week.” We definitely had time to let it breathe.
How do you manage to capture that spooky, atmospheric vibe?
Chad: We recorded it at Halla Music, Pete Hudson’s studio, which has since shut down. It was, like, the greatest live room ever. All the Deadly Snakes records were recorded there; we’ve done everything there, and you know, the Constantines recorded there. It was a wonderful place. It’s weird because a lot of historical places have shut down in the last five years in Toronto. Like they’ve just kind of... the wonderful studios are disappearing and smaller ones are kind of popping up.
Andrew: It’s sort of a victim of everyone being able to record in their bedroom. You’re not going to get the sounds that Pete could get out of his room when you’re moving a pile of laundry off the drum set.
The live show sounds really well-honed. Have you been able to tour more since signing to Tee Pee?
Andrew: Sort of. We went down to SXSW this year expecting to get two weeks of shows on the way back up out of Austin. Like, we had the whole way up the east coast, and then shoot back and hit Chicago — it was two weeks of shows. But the second we got into Austin, we got this call from our label that was like, “Hey man, that band that you’re supposed to tour with…?” I guess they had some kind of massive weird blow-up. But it wasn’t until we were, like, as far away from Toronto as possible; it was, like, all the dates are off, have fun like blowing any money you make just scrambling back home after SXSW. What should have been a pretty prime opening slot, which would have worked out great for us, sort of turned into, “Let’s put hundreds of dollars of gas on my credit card. Let’s see how quickly we can get back to Toronto and to our jobs.” [laughs].
Both the record and the live show sound like you’ve put a lot of work in, though; it’s very intense.
Chad: That comes from us jamming.
Andrew: We’re pretty strict about, like, “OK, every Friday night it’s going to be, like, five hours of being in the room.”
Chad: And that’s the thing; we’ve kept that up over the years.
Andrew: It doesn’t matter if we have nothing booked for the next three months, we’re still going to be in there, no matter what. We’ve even bumped it up to twice a week.
Chad: It’s actually really comfortable. A lot of friends in bands are like, “You guys like to jam a lot. What’s up with that?”
Andrew: It’s not a chore.
Chad: “I can’t get my band to come to practice!”
Andrew: After, what, four years? I’ve been catching myself showing up an hour before when we’ve agreed to be there. Just to show how much I’ve got going on in my life.
Chad: He’s there, like, blasting Lee Perry records, taking a nap.
Andrew: That is completely true. So far, two of us have fallen asleep in practice.
That’s a little too mellow. You might have to move the couch out of there.
Andrew: Oh, there’s no couch. We had to move the couch out in order to fit more amps.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 12:37 AM