Call & Response: Provincial Parks
Provincial Parks are a passionate local four-piece who live together near Bloor and Ossington. I recently mentioned a series of acoustic shows they put on in their garage. They were called Howl at the time.
Now they're called Provincial Parks and they're about to release an impressive EP called Iron Ponies at the Mod Club this Saturday. It was produced in their basement, but don't expect any old mediocre home recording. It's as slick and shimmery as DIY gets: top notch instrumentation, high quality melodies and delicate harmonies all wrapped up in a well-produced blanket.
What's it like living with bandmates? Why are they too indie for the CBC? I spoke with bassist Scott Andrews about this and more.
blogTO: You guys live, rehearse and record together. What's the best thing about your arrangement?
Scott Andrews: The best part about living with each other is knowing everybody's faults to a tee and being able to call them on their bullshit, know how to handle their bad moods and push their buttons. The arrangement has made this album a much more genuine representation of us. And stumbling upstairs is way easier than catching a cab at the end of a Delaware House show.
How do you divide household and band duties?
We're easy going enough, but also professional enough to keep them as separate as we can. That being said, some days are harder than others. We sometimes fight like families and brothers do but never lose focus as to why we are all living in that house in the first place. The band comes first.
Why did you call your new EP Iron Ponies?
Because Viva la Vida was taken! At first, we overanalyzed (such as bands do) and were seeking the perfect name for the EP. But in the end, it was penned after the track of the same name because it seemingly came out of nowhere and was born in the basement (as was the record). The song and the record have something in common this way: being entirely conceived in our own space and created, more or less, off the cuff. Iron ponies and the rocking horse are also very surreal images symbolizing childhood and nostalgia which are two things that I think any art requires. Will's Mom even had a band back in the day called Rocking Horse, which is fitting.
Your EP sounds like something made in a proper studio - not your basement. How did you manage to get the sounds you wanted at home?
Two words: Inaam Haq. He's the head engineer at Cherry Beach where we did our demo two years ago and a close friend of ours. Much of the gear used for the record was rented under Nam's suggestions and he oversaw many details that gave the record a raw but polished sound. As an awesome addition, Brent Bodrug recorded "Open Grave" and "Young Bride" in his basement with that 'producer's touch'. We were fortunate to have these talented individuals work for basically caffeine-free tea, and Thai delivery as barter.
I like the Ossington subway sounds recording you mixed in at the end of "Scenes and Faces". Is that your way of paying homage to your neighbourhood?
Definitely. I have a trusty hand held recording device that I often carry with me at times and Scott's idea was to capture the neighborhood and/or get it involved somehow. Ossington station was an attempt at exactly that - record people walking and getting off at Ossington on their way to the next Delaware House show! We love where we live, and the community definitely helped shape this record. It would have been more strange to not have the community involved somehow.
And what about the ice cream truck chimes at the end of "Open Grave"? Did you guys indulge in some soft serve while recording your EP?
The sound of the ice cream truck that drove up our street many an afternoon is as child-like as it is dreamy and surreal. In keeping with the images that I mentioned previous, we knew it would be a perfect segue way from one song to another. We have Shawn Jurek to thank (who mastered the record) for finding exactly where we could would fit it in (again, community involvement at every opportunity ). Plus, we've learned that we can't work on anything musical without at least 2 Itzikadoozles and a Fudgesicle.
I have to ask about the last song: "Too Indie for the CBC". Is there a story behind that title?
"Too Indie for the CBC" is a reference to the fact that Pete set up our CBC account and left it blank for months, and given that at that time we were too indie to have jobs and too indie to eat anything but potatoes and rice, we decided that we were too indie for the CBC as well, thus leaving it blank to this day. We were furthermore, in a sense, "too indie" because nobody who listens to Radio 3 would know who we were. A tongue in cheek reference to the role of CBC Radio 3, being the gatekeepers of cool in this country it seems. Is it still cool to be indie, or is that passĂŠ now too??
Do other bands use your basement? Any plans to produce other bands?
Our basement space is an incredible asset that we share with people as often as we can. For obvious reasons we get priority on the space, but we have definitely had a few bands come in and out and record/practice in our space. We're also addicted to side projects, because of freedom of access to gear.
What do you like best and least about living in Toronto?
Best: the accessibility to the arts and events of all kinds opportunity, more organized indie scene, inspiring peer bands, sense of community where we live.
Least: The financial district and sad people in the subway. An increase in firearms. Way too corporate, constant hustle, crowding.
What can people expect to see/hear/feel at your EP release show this Saturday?
The spirit of Delaware Avenue is heading a little south and is going to take over the Mod Club for a little bit. It will be a show, and we're looking forward to creating a spectacle.
Provincial Parks EP Release w/ DJs MRK, Bobbi Guy, Benny K
The Mod Club
722 College Street
Band set: 11pm
$10 cover or email guestlist requests to: provincialparks [AT] gmail [DOT] com
Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Stef Town.
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