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Toronto’s Fresh Snow elbowed onto the scene in 2013 with their punishing and beautiful debut I, an hour of staggering epics that put the mental in ‘instrumental,’ an album carefully and painstakingly reconstructed from six hours of improvised material. Dean Williams caught up with guitarist Bradley Davis to talk about their innermost secrets and the risk of disappearing up their own asses.
Fresh Snow are…
Tim Condon, Bradley Davis, Andy Lloyd, Jon Maki. We are often more but sometimes less.
Fresh Snow are here to…
Make the angels cry.
Fresh Snow aren’t…
Long for this world.
Fresh Snow are going to…
Do anything for love, but we have one caveat; we won’t do “that.”
There definitely seems to be an affinity for fucking SHEETS of noise and feedback. Talk to me a bit about the conscious use of noise, static and feedback in your songs, where your love of it comes from and the thinking behind using it.
I think we all just love sound. Beauty is very subjective, but I think there is the underlying idea of making something beautiful out of sounds that might be considered ugly. The noise and feedback wasn’t really a conscious decision or something that we discussed as a band. It seems to be a natural form of communication for us. It is fun to take something formless or abrasive and to try and sculpt it into the structure of a song. We have been writing and experimenting with the other side of the coin and I am eager to explore that further.
A lot of your songs are longer than your standard wham-bam pop music length and take their time to explore and flesh out an idea – you could say they meander a bit. What are your thoughts on short, punchy bits of music versus long-ass epics?
Some of the greatest songs ever written are short and to the point. “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies, “In My Eyes” by Minor Threat. There is a time and place for everything. I think when you have lyrics to plant imagery in your listeners head you have the potential to transport them very quickly. When you play a song that is 10 plus minutes long, the goal is to freeze time and temporarily alter the listener’s reality. We have been discussing the fine line of getting lost in a song and getting lost up your own ass. I think we are getting better at recognizing which is which. That said we have been introducing a few shorter songs into our sets. I love hooks and urgency as much as I like drowning people in a sea of noise. I think some of stuff on our upcoming EP might surprise people a bit.
Would you be willing to share some of the secrets to your eardrum shredding distortion sounds? There’s a really rich variety of frequencies covered, some super high-end stuff, and it sounds fucking great.
I have to hand most of that to Tim. He has an amazing ear for eq and balance. He uses lots of methods to achieve the sounds on the recording and live he tends to switch it up quite a lot. It isn’t uncommon for us to not know where a sound is coming from. That keeps things interesting. As far as the recordings go he is very meticulous about where things sit in the mix, even if it isn’t always where it would be on a traditional rock recording. It is all very deliberate. I have more of a throw it against the wall (sometimes literally) and see if it sticks approach to recording. It is easy to have that approach with someone like Tim around to repaint the wall.
Would you rather hear sloppy music played perfectly or perfect music played sloppily?
Perfect music is perfect music regardless of how it is played or how it is recorded. I like to take things as they are. I love big slick productions sometimes but I also think “Lets Build A Car” by Swell Maps is one of the best pop singles ever. It is the heart of the music that matters. In the end, I would rather hear Jad Fair play guitar than Eric Clapton.
Would you rather have the ability to stop time or the ability to fly?
I think I personally would go with flight. Why stop time to waste it later?
Would you rather?
I would rather quickly.
Yes. 1000 times, yes.
Into the flood againnnnnnnn…
Photo by Joel Gale
Originally published on June 17, 2014