The Detractions are Calgary’s communal sweatfest

Tuesday 03rd, January 2017 / 13:02
By Michael Grondin

On-stage insanity in focus for The Detractions.
Photo: Michael Grondin

CALGARY — Beneath the poppy horror-punk of Calgary’s The Detractions are shreddable surf-ready tunes made by four dudes who live nowhere near a beach.

Meeting over beers at The Palomino in Calgary’s downtown, The Detractions explain how they haphazardly stumbled on a working formula for both writing and shredding a live show to smiling shambles.

“By the end of a show, we want everyone involved to be a quivering mess on the floor,” says guitarist Jesse Gillett with a laugh. “There should be no walls, you know, no barriers. We want our sweat and your sweat to become everybody’s sweat. The Detractions’ sweat is communal.”

Avid showgoers themselves, The Detractions’ main mission is to connect with people, killing the “disillusion between performer and audience.”

“We all want to be at the same level,” says drummer Gus Rendell. “And that’s really all we are: a bunch of fuckin’ garage dudes playing punk rock music. We want to get in people’s faces and get as close as we can to people and all be a part of something for a few minutes.”

The band’s name is a play on words, combining Elvis Costello and The Attractions and diminishing the mix to a more primal, and instinctual level.

“When we play, we want to be as exhausted as possible by the end of it,” says singer and guitarist Nathan Iles.

“You can listen to an album on repeat, over and over again, and know every single beat and note and word, but seeing it live, and seeing a band, big or small, commit to it… that’s where the magic is,” explains bassist Shawn Savard.

And there’s truly no pretensions found within this crew of misfits. It’s just buds, beers and fun tunes in their sights.

“I read this Alice Cooper quote where he said the first step any band should take is to be the best live band on the block, and we’ve really taken that to heart,” says Iles. “And I’m not saying we are at all, but we can still play as hard as we can and have the best time.”

To which Rendell adds, “Fuck privacy. Everyone should be totally engrossed in what’s going on. You get a kinaesthetic experience by watching a human body do shit. We’re just bags of meat playing songs and shredding along.”

The Detractions are releasing their first EP (Jorts) this January, a quick and explosive six-song journey into beer-soaked buddy anthems.

“The music is a total embodiment of us as people. The lyrics range from silly, like ‘Frankenstyle,’ where it’s like ‘look at all these goofy hipsters,’ but we can get serious too,” says Gillett.

And after a couple member changes in the crew, they have found a zone to explore new avenues.

“A couple years ago, our music was about drinking beers and riding bikes, which we still love, but now that the chemistry is more complete,” explains Iles. “I think we feel more comfortable to be vulnerable with the songwriting.”

Which eventually leads them to “bounce ideas until our sound ends up becoming this weird perverted mess,” says Rendell with a laugh.

“We all sculpt it together, to the point where our sound is created by The Detractions,” says Iles.
They have plans to tour and start recording their first full-length album going forward.

“We don’t really hold ourselves to particular sound, or genres or crazy, outer boundaries. We just play what we want to play,” concludes Savard.

The Detractions will be releasing Jorts at the Palomino alongside The Ativans, Ghost Factory and The Ringwalds on January 6th, and will be playing the BIG Winter Classic later in the month.

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