Champion Lover: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Lumbering post-punk jams that move from drone to musical assault
File Next To: METZ, Odonis Odonis, Cloud Nothings, Mexican Slang, Sonic Youth
Playing: Wavelength NXNE Showcase, Sunday June 21 @ Smiling Buddha (8pm)

Composed of twins Edward (vocals & guitar) and William (guitar & occasional vocals), as well as James (bass VI) and Erik (drums), Champion Lover is a noise-punk group from Toronto that shifts between playing thundering METZ-influenced assaults to cool Sonic Youth-influenced pieces. Putting out their debut LP last year, and playing both NXNE and Canadian Music Week since, the band have proven themselves to be a crucial part of the Toronto noise rock community. The band will be playing tonight as part of Wavelength’s NXNE showcase.

So, you guys put out your debut LP about a year ago. What’s going on with the band now?

We’re working on new songs. We just recorded a cover for a the blog Quick Before It Melts, run by Jim Di Gioia out of St. Catharines, for his Dominionated comp coming out, uh, soon I think. Then we’re gonna take a hiatus of sorts for a bit while a couple of the guys sort out some personal shit. I’m also trying to work on solo stuff while we’re on a break.

What’s the band dynamic like, with you (Edward) and William being twins? Is it a Noel and Liam situation sometimes, or more like an Avett Brothers relationship? Have you two always played in bands together?

Yeah we definitely have our moments where we disagree. He’s the newest member of the band, so he’s always like, “I can’t hear my amp” and stuff. Bit of a whiner lolz.

You said during the recording of your LP, you were listening to a lot of Melvins, METZ, and Nirvana. Is this sound still shaping your music writing, or has there been some changes?

Yes and no. We still listen to those bands, but also a lot of like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall’s back catalogue . Diggin’ that San Fran psych stuff. Seriously excited about the new Destruction Unit record. Although lately our break time music as a band has been a lot of ‘60s soul and ‘50s doo-wop and stuff. Sonic Youth, of course.

Since this is your second NXNE, do you have the same feelings going into it? Are you just as excited as you were last year?

I don’t get excited until the first night of actual shows on like the Tuesday. Then I get into it. By the time showtime rolls around, you’re so tired though. Too much partying. And by partying, I mean listening to music at sensible volumes and getting a good night’s sleep. And drinking lots of water.

Who’s on your must-see list for NXNE this year?

Needs from Vancouver. The Dying Arts. Girl Band. California X and Mission of Burma. This super awesome band called Gods from Edmonton (I think). We saw them last year with Nu Sensae at P&L and they had so many technical problems, but they’re super young, and they just were like, “Fuck it, let’s just have a good time, Toronto!”

You describe your band as music to fight to, does this motto ever feel constraining? Even some of the greats slowed it down from time to time.

I don’t really worry too much about it. Someday I might decide I wanna make a drone record, or pastoral folk. If that’s what I want to make, then that’s what’s gonna happen, I don’t care if people say, “but thats not what you doooooooo.”

You mention wanting to work on solo stuff while the group is on hiatus. Is this stuff that you’d like to seriously pursue or is it demos that will never see the light of day?

No, it’s all stuff that I’ve been writing for a few years and I just figured I’d use the extra time away from the band to finish this stuff off and see what comes of it. It’ll be totally shitty and lo-fi and probably only a Bandcamp release or whatever. William said he wants in on it and that’s cool — as long as he doesn’t fuck around.

As well I’ve been kicking the idea around of starting a record label. Something small but hopefully able to represent some of the awesome underground stuff Toronto and surrounding has going on.

So, the Bass VI that Jimmy uses; is that standard guitar with some effects to get a bass tone, or is there some other mods going on? (If you’re willing/able to do into it)

The Bass VI is an actual bass. It has a shorter scale than the Fender P-Bass and uses thinner strings, but depending on your preference, maybe not. Fender only made them originally from the mid-‘60s to the early ‘70s. They started reissuing them in the mid-2000s. Jimmy’s is custom-made by a local guy who runs Shyboy guitars, and was the prototype for that guy’s Bass VI clone. But then Jimmy goes and messes it even further with distortion pedals, and he has some weirdo fuzzbox taped to the upper arm. He’s a converted bassist — he was always a guitarist. but we needed a bassist so he made the switch. Took one for the team.

Any shout-outs for some local bands?

Oh fuck. SO many bands. Connoisseurs of Porn. Familiars. The Two Koreas. Several Futures. OBGMs. Mad Ones. Kurt Marble. 92 Jays. Rulers of the Moon. Pet Sun. Dead Broke. Oh, TERRORISTA. They’re amazing. Teen Violence.

Our drummer is also in a side project called The Spare Me’s. They’re okay, I guess. Just kidding, they’re actually good.

— Interview by Kristian Johnson