I have learned a lot…
speaking with Places Erupt about their music and the new single, Bloggers. Lee from the band takes up most of the responses and tells me how the guys came together and what we will get from their upcoming E.P., 45 – I ask whether we need to punish those who are trolling and attacking people on social media (Bloggers looks at trolling and its effects).
I discover the type of music the band respond to and, given the choice, which artists they love to support; if there are some new acts we should turn our attention to; if there are gigs booked in the diary – the Canadian band tell me whether a U.K. jaunt is a possibility.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! It’s been exciting. We premiered our video on a projector screen at a wicked venue in The Junction; a neighbourhood in western Toronto.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We describe ourselves as a tempestuous sextet. Visualize orchestral music, Rock; Shoegaze and Post-Punk swirling about in a tornado and this band is at its centre; flanked by defiant, dancing black swans.
Can you tell me how your single, Bloggers, came together?
Lee: I wrote the words and vocal melody and they instantly clicked with Greg, who matched a guitar part to it in minutes. The song came together very quickly. Content-wise, I had been meaning to write about trolling for a while. Once I had the first line written, the rest flooded out. Bloggers was the first of the family of new songs that comprise the E.P., so marked a significant sonic turning point for us.
Its themes of trolling seem ever-more relevant. Is it something we need to be more hard-line on – when it comes to punishment and prevention?
It’s hard to support hard-line punishment because you would be wading into free speech territory - and free speech is a sacred thing. In extreme cases, where people feel threatened, people can be prosecuted in Canada and the U.K. Regarding prevention, then absolutely; engaging with kids from a young age on the harmful effects of cyberbullying is crucial.
Similar to when you don’t feel like you’re spending money when you use a credit card; a lot of people are disconnected from the consequences of their actions online. There’s almost a sense that their words go into the cybersphere and stay there, apart from the everyday world. The more we talk about the adverse effect these actions have on people and on public discourse, the more we can hopefully discourage it. It’ll never go away entirely but maybe it can be like smoking - where many people still do it but significantly fewer people than before.
There’s an interesting podcast called Conversations with People Who Hate Me in which the host contacts people who have sent him hateful messages online and has a civilized conversation with them on the phone. In each of these conversations, the people he speaks with express regret and embarrassment at having written such terrible things to him. But, they likely never would have second-guessed their actions if they didn’t actually engage with him in a direct conversation. This behaviour can change but it requires a full societal effort.
What was it like working on the video for the song? How did you come to select Pedja Milosavljevic as the director?
I was in a video that he shot for another band and met him that way. We were all so impressed by his work ethic, enthusiasm and dedication to the project. The most hilarious part of the process was going to a Rage Room in northern Toronto to shoot the footage of smashing plates and bottles that you can see in the background (in the bridge section of the video). Dressed in protective gear, we were given baseball bats and golf clubs and a couple boxes filled with breakable objects: plates, bottles and old stereos. We blasted the Pixies and Snapped Ankles and went to work for an hour.
Probably, the only time I’ll ever go to a Rage Room but I have to admit it was an incredibly entertaining and satisfying sixty minutes. So, yes; it was tons of fun working with Pedja. Ha.
Your upcoming E.P., 45, explores various issues. How would you define it? What sort of thing will you be talking about?
Our music has always tackled serious subject matter: our previous work is a bit more sombre. This E.P. marks a shift with our sound in which the songs are feistier than any of our previous material. The songs cover everything from tourists to Tinder; to trolling to entitled film producers; to the current and forty-fifth President. The lyrics tend to both laugh at and lash out at the terrifying times in which we live.
Of all potential things to be anxious about in this world, the President sits right at the centre of it all. So much pain and anxiety can be sourced back to him, so we felt it was appropriate to acknowledge that with the title of the E.P. Never mentioning him by name, of course - because he doesn’t deserve that much.
How did Places Erupt get together? When did you all start playing together?
Greg and I started writing songs in a grimy apartment in Little Italy a few years ago. I met Anna backstage at a concert we were playing with our previous bands, where she was serving people caviar. Anna brought her lifelong friend Katie into the band and we all performed as a quartet; practising on my balcony in Baldwin Village, where passers-by would stop and listen in the street and applaud. We shared a few bills with Mike Legere’s other band, Century Thief, and he offered to join. Finally, Mike Johnsen joined the band last summer to help heighten and diversify our sound…
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We’ll be performing Canadian tour dates in the fall. Show dates will be posted on our site: www.placeserupt.com
Will you come to the U.K. and play at all?
We would absolutely LOVE to. Fingers/toes crossed we’re able to pull it off.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We have a couple other videos we’re preparing to film that we’re REALLY excited for. Releasing the E.P. in the fall, after which we’re ready to take our sound anywhere. Maybe we’ll petition Elon Musk to be the first band to play in a Martian desert.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
One of my favourite memories is from when we were on tour in northern Quebec up in Gaspesie. We performed at a place called the Sea Shack, which is a series of tepees, yurts and cabins right next to the Atlantic Ocean. We were put up in a huge yurt for the night, which was heated with a wood stove. We played two sets, during which I spoke broken French the entire time - and we all saw the Northern Lights for the first time ever. It was unbelievable.
Greg: I saw Nine Inch Nails on their Year Zero tour. I still can't understand how they pulled off the huge transparent digital screen that Trent Reznor used to physically program the drum machine for Zero Sum at the end of the set…and that was in 2007!
Mike J: We have this festival in Toronto called NXNE and it used to be a club-hopping dream! Every venue in the city would have five or six bands playing each night for a whole week from all over the world. The first time I went, when I was nineteen; my friends and I biked around the whole city and must have seen about fifty bands. Never forget that summer!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Lee: I’d love to support St. Vincent. She’s been a HUGE inspiration over the years. She’s five albums-deep and her music hasn’t lost any of its richness or lustre.
If I could choose my own rider, it would contain smoked salmon, Montreal-style bagels; raspberry and lemon gelato, freshly-squeezed pineapple juice; concord grapes and Hamilton microbrewery Collective Arts’ Mash Up the Jam dry hop sour beer.
Greg: I’d love to tour with the Philadelphia band Man Man. They’re creative and accessible and they always get the crowd moving!
I’d need a Soda Stream, limes and single-malt scotch - and an endless bowl of original Ruffles chips (crisps).
Mike L: I would support Wye Oak.
My rider: soda water, craft beer; veggies and hummus.
Mike J: I’m not too particular with who I’d play with. I’m happy to hang with anybody.
As long as the venue has a seven-foot-long couch for me to nap on and a pair of long black socks (can’t have enough) then I’ll make it through alive...
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Lee: Capture the music while it’s fresh - and don’t look back.
IN THIS PHOTO: Wye Oak
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Mike L: Wye Oak.
Greg: He’s not brand-new, but Nick Hakim has been on all of my playlists for the past six months. The Green Twins album came out last year and it’s perfect.
Lee: I loved the Snapped Ankles album, Come Play the Trees, last year. Waylon Jennings’ album, Dreaming My Dreams, is one of my favourite discoveries of the past year. It was made in 1974 but was new to me. Nils Frahm’s All Melody, released this year, is excellent as is his new E.P., Encores 1. Also, Pusha T (Daytona) and Tinashe (Joyride).
Mike J: I’ve been listening to the new Bombino album on-repeat. That guy has got some serious talent, I’ll tell ya.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tinashe
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Lee: I actually spend a lot of my free time screenwriting, which isn’t always relaxing but is one of my absolute favourite things to do. As far as unwinding, reading a Tennessee Williams or Martin McDonagh play; watching classic films, catching Shakespeare in the Park; going to arcade bars, dancing at D.J. sets and playing Frank Ocean and T. Rex on my organ (music relaxes me too).
Greg: I take my chill time just as seriously as I take my music. If it’s summer, I ride bikes and jump into lakes. All other times of the year, I brew and drink beer and listen to Beastie Boys with an old friend.
Mike J: Playing in three different projects leaves me with almost zero time to chill away from music. But, that’s cool because music is my chill space…or a very long R.P.G. (role-playing game) that I play through over a couple of months.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Lee: Elvis Presley - Early Morning Rain
Greg: Nick Hakim - Bet She Looks Like You
Mike L: Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs
Mike J: WHOOP-Szo - Another Show
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