By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – It took only one listen to the new No Problem album to understand what vocalist Graeme MacKinnon meant about some of the songs being “strange.” Let God Sort ‘Em Out follows in a similar vein of the knife-to-the-gut hardcore post-punk the band is admired for, but sonically they’ve grown darker and more political.
“We wanted to create a sense of anxiety and nervousness,” explains MacKinnon. “It feels like the world is on a ledge with so much uncertainty and madness and a lot of music coming out seems to be missing that. We wanted to make something with a messed up outlook. Maybe things will get better someday, but for now I figure we might as well go down with the ship.”
The kind of anxiousness the four-piece intended creeps in during the “Intro,” full of clamorous sound effects, vocal samples, severe slices of guitar and a punctuating horn section.
No Problem wastes no time diving into their catchy, riff driven style of punk rock, forcefully powered by lead guitarist Steve Lewis.
But that’s not all you’ll find on the album. MacKinnon asserts they were more intentional with the kind of songs they laid down for the release.
“We made some songs on the last album like “Different Shades of Grey” that were out of our comfort zone and I realized the songs I like the best now or people responded to the best were the ones we had to challenge ourselves to write. We attacked this album with that mentality.”
“Let it Bleed Pt. II” is one such example. It’s a song that would give the pit a bit of a break (a bit), with what sound like faze effects and an almost new wave vocal approach.
“There’s an Ice-T song called “Peel Their Caps Back” and it’s got the same vibe,” explains MacKinnon.
“It’s got a lot of tough meat to it. I have a lot of friends who work on the front lines of addiction and they see a lot of stuff. They take a lot and they have to know how to let it go. It’s about quelling PTSD and knowing it’s okay to live with it and humanize it. The lyrics worked better when we slowed it down a bit and gave the song an honest treatment.”
Let God Sort ‘Em Out was recorded at Audio Department with Nick Kozub, another first for the band. Their first time recording in a studio allowed them to explore, adding new dynamics and sounds that skulk around the edges of the tracks. Kozub also pushed them to create something with a more visual component, resulting in their first true music video (the recycled footage video for “Never See the Sun” notwithstanding). Parker Thiessen directed the video for “Eyes of a Killer,” which is a post punk satanic dance party with a sense of humour. The video is an unsettling black and white affair depicting a robed ritual to the soundtrack of reverberating, cold guitars and shouted lyrics.
“I didn’t want to have an intellectual record. But I wanted to make a record that has something for everyone,” reveals MacKinnon.
“I wanted a sense of violence, but I also wanted to make songs that I could listen to by myself in my headphones when everyone’s gone. With our sense of humour, I felt like we had something to say in our own bizarre way.”
Let God Sort ‘Em Out is out June 25 via Deranged Records. See No Problem with Sister Suzie and Languid on June 29 at 9910 (Edmonton). You can hear the EP at https://noproblempunk.bandcamp.com/Deranged Records, Languid, Let God Sort ‘Em Out, No Problem, Sister Suzie