Meeting up for a phone conversation, drummer Daniel Pitout discusses with me how Nü Sensae’s sound has progressed on the new full-length, Sundowning, which follows the previous album, TV, Death, and the Devil. Responding to my inquiries about sound authenticity, Pitout explains, “I think generally a lot of punk bands go through that, where they kind of evolve. I mean, we know how to actually play, so, now that we’re better musicians, we like to make it a bit more challenging a dynamic.” Adding in summary, “I think it’s a mixture of evolution as well as trying to do that.”
To be fair, the sound on Sundowning still avoids anything soft. Neither the chanting in “100 Shades” nor the lulling riff in “Burnt Masks” overwhelms the harsher instrumentation and vocal tearing running through this album. In Sundowning, the lighter components adorn the darker.
Drawing parallels between band and sound development, third member Brody McKnight’s addition is of obvious significance. Pitout explains, “For a long time now Nü Sensae wanted to add a guitarist. Once we did TV, Death, and the Devil, we did another couple singles and then we knew we had kind of reached our potential of what we were trying to do with bass and drums. We wanted to add a guitarist because we felt like nothing was challenging anymore.”
After signing a two-LP contract with Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze Records, the band has moved to the big leagues. Pitout comments on the impact of this record deal: “We used to have to do absolutely everything ourselves: book all our own tours, do all our publicity, and it got to be a lot to do.” Now that Suicide Squeeze has stepped in, Nü Sensae has enjoyed both an amiable relationship with them and the opportunity to focus more intensely on their music. No complaints to offer, Pitout adds, “It’s been nothing but good working with them.”
Sundowning being Nü Sensae’s first album release with Suicide Squeeze, Pitout concedes his contentment at the result. Although a bit of a stressful endeavour, involving listening to first song cuts while on the road touring, the frantic production experience ended well. Pitout reasons, “I’m actually really happy with the way it turned out. I think it’s the best recording for the sound that we tried to have.”
Rolling forward with all these changes, Nü Sensae appears in sustained motion. Enjoying the production of their latest music video “Swim,” the band plans to make videos for three other songs off their newest album. Also keeping them busy is Sundowning’s official release on August 7 and Nü Sensae’s nearly-here August tour of America’s east coast, Central America and Canada.
And so Nü Sensae’s evolution continues, heading optimistically into the future. Trying to catch a glimpse of the future, I ask Pitout who he aspires to tour with. “We want to tour with the Melvins. Andrea will probably want to tour with Neil Young. Neil Young and Nü Sensae, I think that’d be cool. I’d go to that show.” Who knows, maybe one day we both will.
Nü Sensae plays Antisocial Skateboard Shop (Vancouver) on August 3 and the Palomino (Calgary) on August 4. Sundowning comes out on August 7 via Suicide Squeeze Records.
By Alex de Boer
Photo: Gordon Nicholas