By Michael Grondin
CALGARY — Calgary’s Tens Only Collective are aiming to break through the standard of conventional music projects in order to bring uninhibited creativity and interaction to their dynamic live performances.
A multidisciplinary seven-piece which got its start at ACAD in 2011, the collective draws a lot of influence from psychedelic and classic rock. They also include conceptual design and storytelling, complete with costumes.
“We were all used to being in other people’s bands, where one or two people had a say and it wasn’t very democratic in terms of direction or sound,” says collective member Jared Tailfeathers, who adds guitars, vocals and bass to the project. “You know, everyone played one instrument, the singer, the guitarist, the bassist, drummer…”
Tailfeathers says he and his friends wanted to try something completely different, accompanying their music with science experiments and performance art.
“When we started this collective, we wanted everyone to have a say, and to write and sing and play what they wanted.”
Tens Only blend many different art forms—visual art installations and hand made musical instruments to name a few—to take their progressive rock to new heights.
“It all started by jamming in a garage together, and we ended up building this community of musicians and artists that can really hone in on an idea, a sound and a feeling,” says David Martin, a co-founder and multi-instrumentalist in the collective.
All members of Tens Only are encouraged to play different instruments, constantly rotating between songs. Martin says they also try to engage with their audience in unexpected ways.
“A lot of our artwork and installation work is designed to get our audience involved. We want to engage the community,” says Martin. “We make interactive instruments that people can play together.”
“Every show we have played has been totally different. We don’t like to be like every other band. Instead, we like to have our own expression and do things in a unique way,” says Tailfeathers.
Tens Only will be releasing their first two EPs this year, which are two three-song trilogies exploring a narrative written by the band.
The first EP is called The Quincy Slick Trilogy, which follows a story based on collective member Kyle Green’s near-death experience.
“The concept revolves around [the character] Quincy Slick falling into a boiling sleep, talking to the devil, Old Nick Switch, and how Mr. Slick will only wake from his [sleep], if he journeys through his subconscious mind,” says Tailfeathers.
“They are both three-song trilogies that are narrative based. The songs are progressive and link together like a three movement act,” he adds.
Martin says Tens Only is excited about their future direction and they hope the collective can add to Calgary’s creative community.
“Tens Only is our mandate for the way we choose to live our lives. We really give it a 10 every day, and no matter what instruments we are playing, or what ideas we bring to the project, we want to try our best and work with others,” says Tailfeathers. “We are excited to be a part of this community but we also want to help the community grow in any way we can.”
Check out Tens Only at their first EP release on March 25th at The Blind Beggar.AB, Alberta, Blind Beggar, Tens Only