By Jenna Lee Williams
EDMONTON — Electric Eye Music Fest described indie act Versions as “If Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was enlisted into Fugazi, it might have sounded as good as this.” A fitting description, as the acts that they mentioned have influenced vocalist and guitarist Tim Hatch, bassist Keith Olson and drummer Troy Dykink. “We are about pushing limits, and seeing what beats work what and just having a good time,” notes Dykink.
BeatRoute discussed contrasts between their last release Blasted to Something and their upcoming release Hex Beat. Compared to Blasted to Something, they spent more time recording and got pickier when making their upcoming release. “You constantly have to evolve your own playing to play to different beats and different time signatures all in the same song. We took an entire week to record this album,” explains Olson. “We didn’t really take the whole week,” clarifies Dykink. “We recorded the album twice in one week, the kick drum mic wasn’t right… the bass guitar wasn’t right the first time either. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” adds Olson. “I am a big fan of the raw Steve Albini type of recordings. I think it is a really honest recording,” explains Hatch.
In the past, Versions had taken all aspects of the band into their own hands: booking tours, recording, mastering (Hatch has a background in sound engineering), making album art, videos and merch — the works. If all of those elements were a hamburger, Versions made and loaded the whole thing from the top bun to bottom.
For Hex Beat, Versions enlisted the help of Stu McKillop from Rain City Recorders in Vancouver to master the album. In a sense, one of the condiments was added by a third party this time around. Hearing the album mastered really allowed the band to listen to their music more objectively, explains Olson. “When we got the mastered version back, I could tell you… fireworks!” Having someone else master the album also allowed the band to focus on other areas of music making. “We have been writing tons of songs. We are ready to record more, even before we have release Hex Beat,” says Dykink.
The Sweetie Pie Records compilation contains a sneak peek of an un-mastered version the track “The Rules Have Changed Again.” The mastered edition of the song will appear on Hex Beat. Although the track begins with the lyrics “What a glorious day,” Hatch explains that the fast-paced track is lyrically quite grim and is about “taking things one day at a time when you are feeling low. You don’t control the rules, the rules are always changing. ” Ride the Tempo reviewed the track: “There’s been a lot of music that harkens back to the New York art rock/post-punk period of the late ’70s. If only it were all as good as this.”
BeatRoute asked Versions about some of their favourite bands from that period. “I really love Richard Hell and the Voidoids, with Markie Ramone on the drums,” says Hatch. “Collectively as a band we all like Television and all that kind of stuff,” adds Dykink. “We would listen to Television cranked way up cruising in the van, late at night on tour,” recalls Olson. Growing up in the ‘90s, bands from that period also played an important role. “We all love Guided By Voices,” notes Hatch. When Versions first formed they bonded over old soul, specifically Motown music.
Going forward the band plans to release more videos for tracks off Hex Beat, and recording analog to create a warm sound.
Check out Versions in Saskatoon on March 24th at Vangelis, on March 25th in Regina at the German Club and on March 26 in Calgary at the Palomino. Their album will be available on Bandcamp on April 2nd.AB, Alberta, Palomino, The German Club, Vangelis, Versions