quinta-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2018

Anxious Dreams with Away Forward - An Interview

Quando sofisticação, elegância, beleza e intensidade juntam-se no mesmo lugar, é basicamente impossível não se render ao resultado.

Cruelmente, tomei conhecimento do debute dos canadenses do Away Forward, basicamente um mês após o dia que ele veio ao mundo, ou seja, no início de 2018, pois a obra homônimo conheceu a luz deste mundo nos primeiros dias de Dezembro passado.

O Away Forward, banda e disco, são genuinamente um tesouro dentre outros tantos no submundo dos bons sons, mas existe algo de especial com eles, um toque de beleza profunda vai penetrando lentamente conforme as oito pérolas constantes no álbum vão se perfilando. Obviamente que a essência esta no shoegaze clássico, leia-se MBV e Slowdive, mas toque eloquentes fazem-se presentes dão um ar de pairar sob as nuvens no paraíso.

Muito acima, simplesmente o Away Forward é muito acima.

***** Interview with Away Forward *****

Q. When did Away Forward begin? Tell us about the history…
Andrew: We have all known one another for more than 20 years, but we’ve always played in different bands together despite playing, touring, helping one another and hosting parties for all that time. Greg and Lisa were the primary vocal, guitar and songwriting engine in the Mean Red Spiders and then played in psych-art rock improv group Ghostlight. Paul and I had rhythm section duties in Neck and Christiana and then formed Soft Copy.

On July 14, 2015, Paul, Greg, Lisa and I were attending the Swirlies / Cryptorips show in Toronto at the Drake Underground. We had all descended on the show because the Swirlies are an incredibly underrated Shoegaze-cum-Sonic Youth band from Boston, Massachusetts who we loved since hearing Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (1993) and all of us had opened for the Swirlies in various bands together. The opening band, the Cryptorips are a kind of Nova Scotia indie rock supergroup, and we knew Mark Mullane from playing in North of America. It was a fantastic night. Over the course of the night Paul and I were standing at the front of the stage and after the set, Paul turned to us and said “Why isn’t there a Toronto shoegaze super group?” There were enough Toronto shoegaze bands, and certainly Greg and Lisa had played in the Mean Red Spiders. Thus the idea was born.

Paul: Andrew and I had folded our former (post-punk) band Soft Copy, we kinda hit a wall and were at a crossroads of keep playing the same old or shake things up with a new direction. I was out of commission for years due to injury so my drumming abilities were limited to slower beats, sadly that crossed fast post punk off the list. At the Swirlies reunion show Andrew and our friend Dave/former band mate who are both massive shoe gazers were chatting and in the back of my mind I wanted to nudge them to start up a dream pop/shoegaze band so I jokingly provoked them saying "I'm not sure the great 'Canadian' shoe gaze album has ever been made, has it?" and anyone interested in putting together a one off project. If I said supergroup it was tongue in cheek, since I find the label "supergroup" cringe worthy. Fast forward, we played Greg new rough tracks, and Lisa was interested in getting back to playing after a hiatus and to our delight they were excited to join and explore our shared love of all things reverb.

Q: Who are your influences?
Andrew: In the 90s it was always UK shoegaze/dream pop versus US post-punk. I was always into Sonic Youth, Mission of Burma, Gang of Four, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr and but then I also loved My Bloody Valentine and of course Slowdive. Of the shoegaze bands, my favourites were the the Cocteau Twins, Pale Saints and Moose. I remember seeing Ride and Slowdive in the 90s and being completely blown away. I think I still have my concert ticket somewhere with Rachel Goswell’s signature on it.

Q. Make a list of 5 albuns of all time…
Andrew: “To Here Knows When” was the My Bloody Valentine record that really did it for me. I recall buying it on my friend Dave's recommendation and simultaneously thinking that I had wasted my money and also being completely compelled by it. It was only after repeat listenings that it really sunk in. Back then, paying $20 or more for a CD or record was done with caution because money was tight, and all of this music was typically imported. We traded a lot of tapes, as that’s what we could listen to in the care on the way to a show. After that, Sonic Youth’s "Daydream Nation", Cocteau Twins "Heaven or Las Vegas”, Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” and finally Steve Reich’s “Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards”. I’m a huge Steve Reich fan. If I could have a sixth record, I would simply add the Yo La Tengo catalogue.

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Andrew: I’ve always been partial to the songwriting and recording process, because I’m probably too control conscious. Playing live is an exhilarating way to connect with people, which is the best part. However, it’s extremely chaotic, and all kinds of variables can get away from you and it’s a craft I’m always trying to improve.

Q. How do you describe Away Forward sounds?
Andrew: I’m more interested in how it sounds to other people. I’m like a pickle in brine, so I don’t have your perspective on what it sounds like or means to you.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
Andrew: It was a DIY project. We recorded the bed tracks at a secret studio location in Toronto that had very high ceilings, largely to live track the drums. Greg and I then did overdubs as needed at our rehearsal studio that we’ve been at for decades and at home. I’m a competent engineer, but we relied on Greg to give the album a sound: he mixed the entire record, and I mastered it. Toronto has some excellent studios but the stars did not align this time around, and we like the flexibility of DIY.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
Andrew: The new Alvvays record is amazing. Beliefs are a great shoegaze/noise rock unit from Toronto. DIIV’s last 2016 album was great: I think the drummer is the star of the band, and this KEXP video proves it. I’ve also been listening to ambient electronic things like Benoit Pioulard,Colleen and Bing & Ruth who are all beautiful.

Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
I don’t think you could necessarily top the dramatic, epic character of Codeine, but giving them a blissed out treatment might add something. In the same vein, a very slow, noisy version of Slint’s “Washer” off of “Spiderland” would be interesting.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
Andrew: I’m currently writing new material for our next release, in a new altered tuning. I would love to have a new release out for the Fall. All of us in the band are very creative people with multiple projects.

Q: Any parting words?
You folks run a great blog. Thanks for asking us to participate. Watch https://awayforward.bandcamp.com/releases for new releases!