Several Futures: The Wavelength Interview

File Next To: Slint, NoMeansNo, Fugazi
Purveyors Of: Tinnitus
Playing next: WL 619 – Saturday Sept. 27 @ Handlebar with Wrong Hole, Lee Paradise and Shrines

Several Futures are a banged-up jalopy cop car commandeered by strung-out punks on a mission. Rock-crusher cacophony as symphony, clang-bang post-hardcore white-knuckle piston pulverization. Wavelength’s Adam Bradley sat in a cavernous Neutrino catcher for four days and finally caught a glimpse of the band. Drummer Evan Davies, guitarist Matt Nish-Lapidus and bassist Jonny Dovercourt (also of Wavelength) cast him these answers telepathically on their trip through Earth.

You guys have all played in excellent bands over the years and Several Futures is a really badass conglomeration of your talents. How did you come together for this project?

Evan: A while ago I’d mentioned to Jonny that I was interested in playing in a band again, and he passed my name on to Matt, who is a nice guy with great fashion sense and an eye for design. I joined his band, This Mess, and we started writing music together. We clicked creatively, and the music we worked on sort of developed organically past the “punk-y hardcore-y” thing we were doing. I’m rambling now, but suffice to say that playing/writing with Jonny (in Republic of Safety) was always a really positive experience for me, so when Matt and I wanted to do something different, I think it was a natural fit. Plus Jonny has really big, strong hands — ideal for playing bass and doling out confident handshakes.

Matt: The three of us have a shared taste for odd music, and a love of combining the more out-there type stuff with a post-punk feel. When it came time for a new band, the three of us just kind of fell into it together. We had all played together in different formations over the last 10 years, so there was immediate comfort and freedom to be creative and try new ideas.

Jonny: It’s kind of a neat triangulation of several histories that made up Several Futures. As Evan mentioned, he and I played together in the dance-punk band Republic of Safety in the mid-‘00s, while Matt and I were concurrently making instrumental electro-rock in the dearly departed Three Ring Circuits (due for a comeback anyday, if only to finish our album from 2005!). After Republic of Safety fizzled out, I was over playing in “bands” for a while, but not done with making music, so Matt and I devised Hybrid Moments, a mostly improvised space-punk guitar duo. We had always talked about expanding HM to a full band to flesh out our ideas, but never found the time. At the end of 2013, I picked up the bass again and realized how much I missed playing loud, distorted bass in a loud, distorted band. So everything came together at the start of this year, and the creative flow started happening pretty much immediately at our first jam together.

This show is in part celebration of your EP release, which you’re putting out via cassette. Tapes are very awesome, but why in particular did you decide to go with that medium? Released on Cassette Store Day no less!

Evan: Tapes weigh a bit more than MP3s, granted, but I think people like having something tangible to have when they decide to purchase music. Tapes can also be rewound with a Bic pen, which is handy if you’re listening to tapes while using a Bic pen. They’re also relatively cheap to produce, and are technologically obsolete if you’re in the market for a new car (the last automobile produced with a functioning cassette deck was the 2010 Lexus, btw).

Matt: To be honest, I don’t really get this whole tape thing… but the youngsters seem to like them. CDs are a total waste, vinyl is really expensive and complicated, so tapes are a great cheap way to get your music onto a physical thing that people can enjoy. We pass those saving on directly to you, our customers.

Jonny: I didn’t even know it was Cassette Store Day – thanks for the tip! It’s funny how nostalgia works; as you get older, you start to miss things you hated the first time around. Cassettes sound crappy and have tiny, awkwardly oriented artwork, but there’s something adorable about them as a “dead” format, and nowadays they are the cheapest, fastest way to deliver a digital download code while also giving the die-hards an analog thing to play.

I think I hear pretty clear influences in your work, though you have a sound all of your own. Is there a particular aesthetic you’re reaching for, an homage to a time or movement in music?

Evan: I think that, while we share similar influences, there are other things that don’t necessarily overlap. When they come out in a writing session, or when they colour an idea we’re working on, it can be a good thing. I’m not sure if there’s one solitary aesthetic that informs that notion though. For me it can be anything from what’s happening in bass music these days to the natural leanings I have towards post-hardcore and rhythmically engaging music.

Matt: We have enough overlap in our musical taste that we have a common ground, but also lots of variation. I think we’re trying to play with the whole post-punk/no wave/noisy music style, but bringing in elements of experimental new music/avant-garde, dancehall, and whatever else seems interesting in the moment. We definitely embrace our influences, not trying to hide anything, and I hope we’re bringing something new to it.

Jonny: For sure, we are influenced by certain things, especially certain seminal indie records. And we are definitely exploring the classic post-punk power trio format. But we all listen to a huge variety of music from all eras, and now collectively have an equally wide range of experience creating music ourselves, so it’s not just a retro exercise – whatever we create is inevitably going to sound like us and no one else.

What do you think of the notion of musical influences? Can a band or artist ever truly exist outside of them? Do we exist in a time beyond true cultural innovation?

Evan: Imagine you’re out walking in the deep woods like Thoreau, and you encounter a bearded feral person with wild, hungry eyes and really long fingernails, who’s never heard music before. I’d like to hear what they could do if you stuck them in a room with some instruments and a case of Red Bull.

Matt: I love influences! But I like it when a band can bring something new to it. It’s great to exist in a history of music and culture, and acknowledge that history. I don’t really see the point of trying to exist outside of influences and music history, and claiming that you do is either denial, ignorance, or narcissism. I definitely believe there are still new things to be played and heard.

Jonny: I agree influences are great, but there are definitely good influences and bad influences. I think our influences are less common, or at least I don’t hear many bands coming from a similar lineage nowadays. I agree with Matt that I don’t see the point of being ahistorical. And I want to hear Evan’s feral-child band. Did you hear about Maine’s North Pond Hermit? Even after 27 years living in total isolation, he never gave up his love of classic rock. I think as long as there are new listeners, music will always be heard and interpreted in new ways. As for your last question, I think we actually live in a time of excessive, compressed and near-incomprehensible cultural innovation, as described in Douglas Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, which inspired our EP title, Narrative Collapse. In terms of how this affects music, it means all styles are back in vogue at once, giving the impression of progress grinding to a halt, as Simon Reynolds also observed in Retromania.

What do you expect for the future of Toronto municipal politics?

Evan: Good things. Good and dignified things.

Matt: A multiverse.

Jonny: More nonsense about food trucks.

– Interview by Adam Bradley

Photo by Sam Kadosh