Monday, 12 September 2011

   “Is there such a thing as Prairies post-rock? If so these guys should be kings of it.”
The Line of Best Fit

   This could be one of the next great Canadian bands.”

  “Channeling the spirits of Neil Young, Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy and Low.”
FFWD Weekly
 Photos taken by Ivory Faces Photography Ivory Faces
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This year Northampton Labour Club had the great honour of welcoming the amazing Slow Down, Molasses. A '7ish' piece Canadian band from Saskatoon,Saskatchewan. With the ability to make you drift into another world, your mouth touches the floor and your knees move to the beat all in a few minutes. A quote from their facebook page "Sad bastard songs"  This incendiary band have created their own unique sound ranging from strings, horns, layers of feedback, perfectly wonderful vocal harmonies and yes, even a typewriter.

Influences such as Mogwai and Neil Young, Slow Down, Molasses have come into their element. With the release of their new album, Walk Into The Sea, Slow Down, Molasses have recently been touring some great towns and cities and in that span have shown that they are capable of pretty much anything they put their minds to.

I had the exquisite pleasure of spending sometime with the band. I sent over some questions to front man Tyson McShane to get the low down.
1. Obvious question I'm sure. Why did you choose the name Slow Down, Molasses?

The name comes from some random notes in an old notebook that I had with me on a tour with a previous band that I had played with.   I had been messing around with song ideas that didn’t fit with that band and had an idea for the sound that I was going for and those three words seemed to evoke the feeling I had in mind.  Kind of hazy, sepia toned, spacey prairie rock.  Eventually it stuck in my head long enough and I had enough songs that I booked a solo show under that name and by the end of the night of that show I had a drummer (Ryan Drabble….who happened to also be the promoter of the show!) and a few months later we had a full band and the rest is history.

2. In one of your songs Jeanette uses a type writer? Have you thought of using any other items to make sounds with?

Yes, yes, yes….we’ve thought too much about that and maybe indulged too much in it.  We have a great jam space filled with many random noisemakers and inevitably they make it onto recordings and occasionally into the live show. For the first few years we brought along a vintage toy piano on every tour.  It made wonderful offkey noises and was a nice addition to the live show, despite it being the bane of many sound techs existence.  Otherwise, we’ve used old melodicas, casio keyboards random organs and whatever else happens to be around when we are writing or recording.  It’s only recently that we’ve started to try to be more reasonable with what we bring along with us on tour.

3. Who would you say your influences are and if you could meet one dead or alive who?

The Dirty Three, Mojave 3, Julie Doiron/Eric’s Trip, Low, Neil Young, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine, The Delgados, Will Oldham, Snailhouse, Spiritualized, everything on Constellation Records, many, many things on Drag City Records, Chemikal Underground Records, Bella Union Records and Jagjaguwar……too many things to name, but that provides the basics of big bands most people may have heard.  Otherwise, we are all pretty inspired and influenced by a lot of our friend’s bands.  We are blessed with a wonderful music scene here in Saskatoon. I count bands like The Foggy Notions, Shooting Guns, The Deep Dark Woods, Maybe Smith and soso amongst my favorite bands to listen to and to see live.

As for people I’d hope to meet…we’ll we did get to have Julie Doiron play on our record and we’ve gotten to know her pretty well., which is such a treat as she is one of my favorite all time musicians, so I feel pretty fortunate about that.
4. So as a big band, when on tour how do cope with each others bad habits etc?

Ha! I think having a bigger band makes the social stresses of touring so much simpler.  If you have 6 or 7 people around it’s easy to both hide away and not be bothered by people or to find someone different to talk to.  I couldn’t imagine being in a 3 or 4 piece band that tours hard.  I am sure everyone’s quirks would be amplified and it would be very easy to get in petty arguments because everyone is tired and in too close of quarters. 

But to properly answer your question, it is great having more people in the band because inevitably, no matter how much you like a person if you are spending hours upon hours in a confined space with someone, eventually you get tired or agitated by them, so with more people you can more easily be distracted and if it comes to it you can always commiserate with someone else if one person is getting on your nerves and hopefully that gets it out of your system so you don’t do something silly like blow up at one of your best friends just because everyone is tired and you’ve been around each other for way to long!
5. So you hit the shores of England and accomplished alot in such a short time, how did you feel when you were leaving?

Tired??? Actually not really.  It was pretty amazing and pretty inspiring, so I was quite wired and excited.  I don’t think we’ve ever had such a consistently great response on any tour we’ve been on, so I left with my mind racing trying to figure out how and when we could return.  It’s such a wonderful feeling playing shows to audiences who seem to really appreciate what we do and obviously love a lot of the same bands that I love.
6. You were lucky enough to play at End of the Road festival. How was it?

It was pretty unreal.  End of the Road has been somewhat mythologized amongst some of the bands we are friends with and the festival directors seems to have an uncanny ability to book both bands that I have loved for years and bands I am just discovering, so it was quite an honour to be selected to play a festival that seems to have such high standards for the bands that they book.  The great thing about playing the festival is that we had very, very, very high expectations for the festival and it more than met them.  The detail that they put into designing the festival site is quite amazing, everywhere you go you stumble upon something wonderful and musically the line up was incredible.  A couple of the shows I saw while there will definitely go down as some of the best performances I’ve ever seen.  Josh T Pearson definitely sticks out as a huge highlight.

The other wonderful thing is how well we were received.  We arrived at the festival on Friday afternoon and didn’t play until Sunday afternoon.  By the time it came to our set, we were a bit intimidated after seeing so many great bands perform.  Fortunately the crowd was incredibly receptive and very appreciative and I think we managed to sell as many records at that show as we did at our hometown album release earlier this year.  So it was very surreal playing to such a welcoming, appreciative crowd so far from home.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

I really hope we can still be making music in some form.  We all have career type jobs that may steal us away from the music world or at least limit how much we can tour, but we’ve been a band for over 5 years now and initially I didn’t think we would last more than a year or two, so I no longer make predictions on what we will be doing too far down the line.  Obviously we all enjoy each others company and love playing music, so hopefully we are still making records and touring in one form or another.

Some non band related questions for fun:

1. What is your fav movie quote?

I’m horrible with remembering quotes and movies have been a bit of foreign thing to me.  I definitely appreciate movies, but the fact of the matter is, I love, love, love music and feel as if I never have enough time to listen to and appreciate all the music I want to listen to, so if ever I have time to watch a movie, I tend to decide to put on a record instead!

 2. Anything you hate?

Hmmmm….hate is a strong word, but at the end of the day, my career life (City Planning) and my music life share a strong ethic of community and it really boggles my mind when people are cruel and malicious to others or are happy to take advantage of others for their personal gain.  It probably means we will have trouble making money as a band and occasionally in my career life I’ll be branded a lefty pinko, but it really seems some people are very happy to live in a world where it is ok for some people to be left behind or be taken advantage of and that does not sit well with me.

3. Fav place in the world and why?

I quite the place I am sitting right now, my home in Saskatoon.  It’s a wonderful ramshackle old house with strange and random renovations that sit next to some of the original old wood from the early 1900’s (yes…I know that is not old by UK standards, but out here it is one of the oldest houses in our city).  I moved into the house a week or two after beginning a relationship with the lovely woman that I married last fall and we actually had our wedding ceremony in the living room.  It’s a great cozy old place that always makes me feel comfortable.  It’s also been the setting for a couple band photos, including the insert photo for Walk Into The Sea.
The bands new album Walk Into The Sea has been realesed this year. Take a peek at the websites below to hear and purchase the bands new album. It can also be purchased through Itunes.

Thank you Slow Down, Molasses


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