To be a member of Norway’s experimental jazz band Jaga Jazzist is kind of like …
Tonights line-up of Biblical and Death From Above 1979 (DFA 1979) at the Crystal Ballroom is an intense one. Both bands are rock powerhouses, both are energetic and enigmatic. Both enjoy pounding, shredding, and howling. It’s for lovers of psychedelia, thrashing, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Red Fang, Holy Fuck, Fucked Up, Foo fighters, and possibly the occult (not a band).
Sebastien Grainger heads up duo DFA 1979 with Jesse Keeler to create clenching, edgy noise rock. They released You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine a decade ago, and soon after broke up. Last year, Grainger dropped a solo record. This year he reunited with Keeler to play Coachella as DFA. Things started falling into place; “Trainwreck” hit the airwaves, and a second album, Physical World was presented. They even sparked a short documentary, Life After Death From Above 1979.
Both bands and their members respectively have a long history of playing in Toronto’s noise rock, punk, and power pop realms, It’s such a positive thing that Grainger met back up with a former bandmate (and former Toronto first kid), Nick Sewell, who now fronts psyched out Biblical. Biblical is poetic and introspective to DFA 1979’s neurotic rough-housing. There is extended, organic, guitar and organ solo’s to DFA 1979’s infections breakdowns of funk and electronics. It’s the psych introduction before the infectious breakdowns are unleashed.
The two bands have united in support of each other, sharing a U.S. Tour, (the first for Biblical). They both rage on stage. It’s a chance to see each band’s technique of booming, blasting, sometimes political, sometimes emotional, always intense rock.
We got a chance to talk to Biblical’s Nick Sewell over the summer, when the band was playing their first U.S. show at NYC’s Mercury Lounge.
11: So was this performance at the Mercury Lounge your first in the US?
Nick Sewell This was our first performance in the U.S. as Biblical, yes.
11: Because you have also been a part of the Illuminati, and a few other bands. What is some of the other work you have done?
NS: The most recent thing previous to this band, I played bass for Sebastien Granger (from Death from Above) with & The Mountains. I spent about three years touring with him, we went all over the us.
11: And then everyone split off again into different projects?
NS: Yep, Andy also was in And The Mountains, he now plays organ and second guitar for Biblical.
11 Does he do those simultaneously sometimes?
NS: He does, he really does.
11: So how did you guys come up with the name Biblical?
NS: Well when we got together we wanted to make a heavy rock band, and we just wanted to come up with something that conjured the sound we were trying to go for, something epic.
And the actual nuts and bolts in the name, came from i guess in like 2010, AMC was playing Ghostbusters all the time. Here we are in NYC. When they are trying to convince the mayor to let them go fight Zuel, Bill Murray gives a little speech that goes “The city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions!”. And I was like “Biblical Proportions” and brought it into the guys, but we ended up solidifying on Biblical.
11: Yeah, I wasn’t sure if old Bible stories played into it somehow.
NS: People always ask us if we’re a religious band and it’s like nah, nah, hah, it’s more like Raiders of The Lost Ark. That kind of fire and brimstone.
11:What’s the inspiration for your sound? I keep hearing this term proto-rock.
Cars honking in NS: Proto? That period in the early to mid seventies before heavy metal was actually a thing. So you had rock bands that were experimenting with heavier tones and darker themes.
It;s very psyche, but we try to stir in a lot of different flavors and genres just to keep it interesting. You find a lot of bands that whatever genre it is, dance-rock or doom-rock , all they are listening to is the contemporary versions of the same thing. We want to constantly draw on new things, it’s the only way you can find your own sound. Well, not new things but new ways to bring new genres or records in that wouldn’t necessarily fit, but like if there is a really cool drum pattern and we are like “yeah! we can put a crazy guitar part on top of it!”
11: So going back to your self-titled EP, one of the songs that momentum was Oubliette. Why do you think people are drawn to that song and what is that song about?
NS: That song is pretty heavy for me personally. In 2010 my step-dad who had been with my mom for thirty years, died. Like rather abruptly, from cancer. And that song was written and recorded in the basement of my moms house. He was a videographer and a real tinkerer of technology and had this rad set-up in the basement. So we turned it into a recording studio and his vibe was there.
11: So it’s not like a dungeon where you put people to forget about them? That song resonates with a lot of dark tones.
NS: Well, it was a man-cave. And it’s funny that you mention that, because that song is the inspiration for our full-length. We were like people really seem to dig this song, so we used it as a springboard.
11: It stretches out, it’s six and a half minutes, with a lot of organ, it keeps going with guitar tings.
11:What is “Second Sight” ?
NS: We all have those moments when we look back on a period of your life and you wonder if you could have anticipated things that have happened and could have I done anything differently.
11: How do you guys usually record?
NS: Well we just make it up as we go. We’ve all made a lot of records, and the technology is such today that it’s a lot easier. You don’t have to go to a big fancy studio to record. Not that there aren’t distinct advantages in doing so, but we just didn’t have the resources. So for Monsoon Season, we had a little bit of money so we went to record the drums at a good place, then the rest of it we did in our practice space or in the basement of the guitar store where Andy works. We would just pull equipment from the store after-hours and had a jam space where we would just recorded. It’s really organic and i’m really happy with the results. It’s going to be time to do a new record soon, and i’m not sure I would do it any differently.
11:So you’ve played with Kyuss, Red Fang, Fucked Up…
NS: Yeah, we have played festival stuff with them. We are also playing Heavy MTL in Montreal with Metallica by request, Slayer, and a shitload, like 50 bands. And there’s Summer Thunder with the Obits. We are just chasing down more opportunities.
11: What are you working for with the new record?
NS: We are trying to make the spaces bigger, trying to create atmosphere. So many heavy bands get obsessed with being as loud as possible. But we like to buttress our loud parts with spacy parts, or quiet parts, or intimate parts, so that when the distortion kicks in, and it all crashes down, it’s that much more traumatic.
Be sure to get to the show early tonight!
Doors at 8. Show starts at 9! See you there: Tickets here!
Words/Photo by Brandy Crowe