By Brittany Rudyck
CALGARY – There were no topics left off the table when BeatRoute interviewed I Hate Sex vocalist Nicole Boychuk at the Art Gallery of Alberta. We sat on the brightly lit third floor during Boychuk’s lunch break one afternoon, enjoying an honest and frank conversation.
Since 2014, the socio-politically inclined screamo/powerviolence band has thrived on a fast paced and DIY work ethic that’s allowed for multiple updates and changes based on what has (and hasn’t) worked. Boychuk admitted she hadn’t attempted her unique growl until the very first band practice.
“I thought I could do it and I just went for it,” she explained casually. “I went to a voice workshop led by Not Enough Fest and it was awesome to learn breathing techniques and how to warm up from people I admired like [bassist] Stacy [Burnett] and [vocalist] Corby [Burnett] of Mahria. I can’t sing. That’s why I scream. I’m awful at singing. I can’t hit notes and I sound like a dying whale. People ask me questions about screaming and I have no answers. It’s weird. I just know I can do it.”
The group’s 2015 release Circle Thinking set the tone for their characteristically abrasive, angular sound. On the new record, World of Grief, the shrieked vocals still cut like knives and it’s clear the band has had time to think about what they were laying down. The result is a tighter and more empowering sound.
“When we first released Circle Thinking, we didn’t think anyone was going to listen to it,” offered Boychuk, smiling bashfully.
“We just wanted the experience of being a local band and playing a few shows. I guess now, having two new band members, it gave us a chance to be more self-conscious about our sound. There was a lot more thought about the album as a whole. The first album we made songs and put them together, but World of Grief we spent more time talking about the songs and how we wanted the album to be. It’s also more me. It’s about my life and immediate feelings.”
Between Circle Thinking and World of Grief, I Hate Sex added Matt Wayne on bass and Byron Mayor on drums. As he has since their inception, Ashton Burns plays guitar. The line-up change came swiftly last spring, shortly before the band set out on a nine-day tour of Japan planned by a super fan.
“We got a message from someone saying he loved our band and he set it all up! He drove us around and we stayed at his house,” explains Boychuk.
She adds, “It was just the best experience!”
Despite already touring Japan and soon embarking on a tour of Europe, Boychuk remains somewhat skeptical of the attention I Hate Sex has received. The band is metaphorically exploding in popularity, and it’s left the members somewhat stunned.
“I don’t know why we became so successful. It’s weird. It’s wild,” she says.
“I like it, but I just don’t get it.”
With the support of U.K. based Dog Knights Productions, the all-ages and safe space advocating band will be picking up 500 vinyl copies of the new album just in time for their tour in Europe, which begins in late April and continues into early May.
“We’re gunna pick them up at a festival we’re playing so we have to pack around the records and we’re hoping for the best!”
Massive supporters of the scene as both showgoers and band members, Boychuk believes in inclusivity, advocating for the safety and involvement of all. She seemed optimistic about the hardcore and heavier scenes moving in that direction, which perhaps explains why she stepped into a mosh pit for the first time this past December.
“It was Cold Lungs’ final show. It was such a beautiful moment,” she reminisced.
“I think it’s a chain reaction of feeling welcome, feeling comfortable and making friends. I’ve been going to these shows for a few years now and in December I was finally brave enough to get in there. I was wearing a dress, too!”
The new I Hate Sex album World of Grief will be released April 20th. The band will have vinyl, cassette, and digital versions for sale soon.I Hate Sex, World of Grief