By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON — If you’re at a show surrounded by hippies and happen to breathe in the damp scent of Nag Champa, either the Archaics are playing a set, or there might just be a lot of hippies in the crowd. When Edmonton’s flowery quintet aren’t getting in trouble for burning incense indoors, they’re happily burning it at their outdoor shows. Pairing the earthy scent with their evolving style of mod, Doors-inspired, B-sides is something they’ll do for the time being.
When BeatRoute sat down with guitarist Josh Beatty and bassist Peter Masson over coffee and cigarettes, they happily shared insights into their upcoming record, Soft Focus, and how they keep it fresh after almost a decade of playing together.
“10 years!?” Masson laughs. “Where did it all go?”
Beginning the project before they could even play instruments, the Archaics have spent the last decade educating themselves in the ways of “weird” music and giving each other the space to grow up.
“We’ve noticed our tastes change rapidly, which has definitely influenced our playing styles,” Beatty explains. “Someone will grab a new record and find it fairly inspiring and pass it on to the next person. Or, someone will go through periods of playing a lot while others won’t be playing barely at all. I think that’s the best part of playing with people you’ve known for so long. Even though you’re not progressing at the same pace, we all encourage each other wherever we are.”
The Archaics’ willingness to be open minded led them to Masson’s parents’ cabin near Pigeon Lake in the middle of winter to record the last self titled LP, take a few psychedelics and lay some tracks down.
“We kinda got a bit of cabin fever,” Masson laughs. “After the first week, it got a little tiresome. We couldn’t even escape each other in the bedrooms because we were using bunk beds! That’s what was nice about recording in the city. Work for eight to 10 hours then go home, get some down time and get back at it. Structure is definitely better for us.”
Since their last recording experience in the cabin, they’ve added organist, Dylan Greenhough into the mix. Admittedly, the band was nervous to bring in someone new, but as Beatty reveals, the choice to add Greenhough was the right thing to do.
“With the new record, it was total sonic exploration to see where we could make a new instrument fit in or expand things,” Beatty explains. “Now we’re working on music beyond Soft Focus and we’re writing together or basing parts off his organ. It makes things less dense and it’s gotten to the point where it feels weird when we have to play without him.”
The addition of the organ to vocalist/guitarist Connor Snell’s ‘have I stepped into a time machine?’ type of vocals and the jazzy, simplistic rhythm section that is Andy Trant on drums, softens the sound slightly by adding some surprising pep. With the goal of sounding more technical in mind, the band took their cues from afrobeat, Delta blues and swing records to keep the psychedelia but turn that sound into something more original.
And, sometimes in the midst of recoding in cabins, burning incense and working their buns off at “normal” jobs, people break bones. Thankfully for Beatty, it didn’t stop him from playing a set at a house show recently.
“As I left my house to get to the party, I broke my thumb as I was carrying my amp out,” he chuckles. “It immediately swelled up and I kind of knew it was broken. Our organ player is an EMT and he told me to go to the hospital and not play the show. So, I played the entire set with a broken thumb.”
Breathe deeply of incense at the Archaics’ Soft Focus album release at 9910 in Edmonton with Mitchmatic and Power Buddies on July 16. Local record aficionado Chris Zuk will be spinning vinyl in between sets!9910, AB, Alberta, The Archaics