Ottawa indie-folk rockers Amos the Transparent are celebrating 10 years as a band with the release of their new album Anniversaries Saturday night at The 27 Club. And why not celebrate the occasion with some delicious craft beer? Music and beer go together like wine and cheese. The band has collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to release a special limited run of Amos Anniversaries beer—a 5.2% pilsener that will please the palate for many.
A decade and four albums later, Amos the Transparent have cemented themselves as a quintessential folk-canadiana. They have performed at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, CityFolk, SXSW, WayHome, The Strombo Show, CBC’s Q, and even the Big Sound Festival in Australia. They’ve also hosted an annual holiday show around Christmas time that always sells out. Needless to say, Ottawa loves Amos.
I caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Chandler to talk about the band’s longevity and the new album. Have a read below.
Amos the Transparent releases Anniversaries Saturday, May 12 at The 27 Club along with another veteran Ottawa group who have gotten back together for a few one-offs—The Love Machine—as well as Rumfit Mosey. Ticket and show information can be found here. Upcoming shows:
May 12 — The Ottawa 27 Club
June 21 — Ottawa Dragonboat Festival
July 8 — RBC Bluesfest
August 25 — Neat Café (Burnstown)
Interview with Jonathan Chandler of Amos the Transparent
This band has been together for 10 years now, which is much longer than most. What is the glue that has kept Amos around until now?
JC: Honestly, the fact that we are indeed friends has kept it fresh over the years. Because we genuinely like each other, I think that creates an open space for everyone to feel valued and feel free to discuss concerns or ideas. A band is indeed a relationship—a big complex family relationship—and just like a regular one, you need to work at it.
How have families, new business ventures (like Shoebox Recording Studio) and the passage of time affected how Amos approaches writing music?
JC: Scheduling has never really been an easy task with this band and it’s numbers but with growing families and big boy (and girl) careers, the windows become even smaller so that element of compromise and understanding has to be pretty strong. That said, we have our regular scheduled time that we meet weekly and everyone knows that that time is precious so we use it to the best of our abilities. Be that writing, rehearsing or just having everyone present to chat about concepts or ideas.
The band collaborated with Big Rig Brewery to make an Anniversaries beer. What is that about, and how did this partnership come together?
JC: Last summer Chris ended up running into Big Rig’s Brew Master Lon and Chris Phillips and they ended up, you know, sharing compliments about each others ventures. The idea of celebrating the 10-year milestone with a record came up and Lon expressed interest in helping out in any way he could, because, you know he’s a gem. Fast forward many months and we reached out to Big Rig and the plan of launching the Pilsner together was put in action. We’re really stoked about it—the beer is awesome and it’s just a cool piece of memorability to hang on to.
Is there anything you can think back and laugh about now when looking at yourself in your early 20’s being in a band?
JC: I laugh at the idea that I once thought we could take a 9 piece band on the road. Mind you when this band started, I wasn’t a newb to touring but my expertise was definitely not… seasoned. There are photos of us playing NXNE or festivals of the likely with trumpets and a line of singers… just absurd.
The new album explores many sounds and textures, keeping listeners engaged throughout. Can you talk about a common theme or meaning behind ‘Anniversaries?’
JC: From a writing perspective, these songs span a couple years. When I listen to the finalized album, I listen to the music and arrangements that we made as a collective, as opposed to the lyrics. I feel that musically speaking, the band is at its best and most comfortable right now and it shows with what we’ve made here, as a collective. I’ve always found myself struggling a bit with lyrics, trying to not sound redundant or foolish (which I know I’ve missed a couple times!). Regardless, there are many songs here about reflection and acceptance and I do feel that some of the words are among those I’m most proud of.
It seems like the band is still having fun. Does this mean we’ll get another anniversary in 10 years from now?
JC: I think we’ve explored the option of calling it quits enough times that we know where we end up at the end of that conversation—making another record! So, as long as folks might be interested in hearing new songs, I’m pretty sure we’ll supply some in one way or another.
Ottawa punk rock veterans The Creeps are back, releasing their first album since 2014’s masterpiece Eulogies on May 4th. Formed in 1999, The Creeps are by far one of the capital’s most accomplished and appreciated punk bands. I should also add that personally, Eulogies is my favourite record released by an Ottawa band. So what could we expect from a new album? How would new material measure up to the immensity that was Eulogies.
Well, fear not. The Creeps have spent years playing shows, touring, and continue to have fun doing it. Sure, they may no longer be teenagers, plus there are a few kids and grey beard hairs in the mix now, but that hasn’t changed the fact that this band knows how to write damn good albums—front to back.
Beneath the Pines is an 11-track offering, and it’s packed with goodies. The group has taken a new direction on this record, one they have never taken before. Traditionally The Creeps have written crunchy, uptempo, and in your face pop-punk that many of us have come to know and love. Skottie’s soaring melodies always rode the over-driven tones of his guitar, carried by Ian’s flurry of bass notes and Jordy’s percussive onslaught. Moreover, their music usually uses disturbing imagery to touch on themes such as death and suicide, and other things that are generally…creepy. These are staple characteristics of The Creeps, and the band actually released Old Crimes: Singles Collection 2009-2013in April of 2018 in advance of the release of the new album, and one listen through this collection will give listeners a great sense of how the band approached music in the past.
The Creeps’ new album Beneath the Pines will be available on vinyl May 4th. Photo taken from Facebook.
But Beneath the Pines is a departure from what The Creeps have done before. To call this album “slower” than its predecessors would be selling it short, and imply that it doesn’t have the same grit—that just isn’t true. While the band moves away from the darker themes that they faithfully pursued in the past, Skottie’s irresistible vocals and lyrical phrasing and the group’s catchy buildups to epic choruses are what weathered fans will recognize instantly, and fall in love with. The compositions are recognizably The Creeps, but the band experiments with different tempos, guitar tones, and a more open sound.
Songs such as “Bottom of Things”, “Scared”, and “In My Mind” are all more restrained instrumentally than most of us are used to. However, that doesn’t take away from the tracks, as Skottie’s vocals come through much clearer, with slight reverb, giving a lot of depth to the melodies he and the band weave. It is pop punk taken to another level, illustrating the maturation of a band that started as kids, now translating their ideas through the lens of adulthood. Old fans who have grown with The Creeps will almost certainly love the direction Beneath the Pines takes, and new listeners will surely fall into this album and appreciate its subtle intricacies.
What’s a better party than a bush bash party? Arboretum Festival has re-imagined the seventh edition of the festival as BON-FIRE, happening August 17-18 at Rideau Pines Farm just outside Ottawa in North Gower.
So, what exactly is BON-FIRE? BON-FIRE is an end-of-summer weekend party featuring groundbreaking independent music and dance parties, fueled by feasts of regional food and drink. It is the full vision of Arboretum Festival realized, and this fun at the farm arguably features the festival’s best lineup to date.
Arboretum’s roots as a one-of-a-kind boutique music festival in the capital followed the spirit of other small-scale indie fests across the country, such as Sappyfest, Hillside Festival, and Camp Wavelength. Over the years, the festival has evolved in its programming, physical space, and overall experience for fest-goers. This year, BON-FIRE is sure to feature everything that we love about Arboretum Festival and more.
“There are limits to what we could do downtown. We wanted to throw the weekend bush party you’d hear about Monday morning at your high school locker, ” says Rolf Klausener, Creative Director.
Attendees will feast all weekend long at the festival’s expanded food court. Supplied by Rideau Pines Farm produce, Ottawa’s most trusted cooks and restaurants will showcase a mouth-watering array of food, and attendees will also be able to pick their own fresh produce from the farm fields.
“Being at Rideau Pines last summer, our original vision for the festival came together. But we also felt like we’d given birth to a new baby. The name BON-FIRE captures everything we were trying to manifest with our summer event, both intimate and familiar,” says Stéfanie Power, Managing Director.
Le1f lights up the stage at Arboretum Festival 2017. Photo by Els Durnford.
BON-FIRE lineup goes big
Arboretum is pulling no punches this year, as headliners include by Montreal’s legendary electro-punks Wolf Parade, Kaytranada collaborator Shay Lia, Calgary psych veteran Chad Vangaalen, Polaris-shortlisted dance queen Jesse Lanza, and art-folk visionary Jennifer Castle. Needless to say, there will be no shortage of BON-FIRE party material August 17-18.
WOLF PARADE (Montreal, QC) | CHAD VANGAALEN (Calgary, AB) | JESSY LANZA (Hamilton, ON) | SHAY LIA (Montreal, QC) | BAMBII (Toronto, ON) | JENNIFER CASTLE (Toronto ON) | CASPER SKULLS (Toronto, ON) | BONJAY (Toronto, ON) | CORRIDOR (Montreal, QC) | WITCH PROPHET (Toronto, ON) | BONNIE DOON (Ottawa, ON) | MAUNO (Halifax/Montreal) | ANSLEY SIMPSON (Peterborough, ON) | NAPSTER VERTIGO (Montreal, QC) | CONSTRUCTION AND DESTRUCTION (Halifax, NS) | SHAQ FRANCE (Ottawa, ON) | CHIPPY NONSTOP (Toronto, ON) | HEAVY MEDICINE BAND (Ottawa, ON)
Early bird weekend passes are available for $50 on Ticketfly.com and include return shuttle bus transportation from the downtown core. Day passes, schedule, and food program will be announced in June. Facebook event here.
Montreal’s Pallice are gearing up to release their debut EP Aesthetic through Ottawa label So Sorry Records this spring, and we’re excited to premiere their brand new track “Prince Charles” here on Showbox. Pallice’s minimalist synth pop balances simplicity in songwriting with textural and sonic mosaics that bloom with colourful flourishes. The comforting rhythm of drummer Jeff Kingsbury ties expressive guitar work and warm, flowing bass lines together.
The band is wrapping up a six-date tour of eastern Canada, and they will be playing the final tour date in Ottawa this Sunday, April 29th, at Pressed along with Shadowhand and mal/aimé. Advanced tickets can be found here. Listen to the new track “Prince Charles” below, and read through Gregg’s interview with multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Morgan O’Leary earlier this week.
Interview with Morgan O’Leary of Pallice
When did you write these songs?
MO: These songs all came about between fall 2016 and fall 2017. They started as little pieces and ideas early on and grew into what they are on the record over those two years.
How did you know they were done?
MO: It’s so hard to know when a song is done—is it ever done? We did a bit of arranging and added/removed parts in the studio. They only really felt done when the mixes were done!
What do you write about the most?
MO: Mostly I write about nostalgia, friends, family, dogs. A lot of it is about being young and taking your time in your youth.
What inspired “Prince Charles”?
MO: “Prince Charles” is named after a street that I grew up on. I met my still-best friend who lived across the street from me then, and we shared lots of dreams about growing up and being adults. Now that we’ve reached that we sometimes think back on that time and how funny it was that we wanted to be older. This song is kind of an homage to that youthfulness.
What’s different about the live show compared to your record?
MO: I think the live show has a lot of dynamics that you can only create with live instruments, especially after the addition of another synth player and vocalists on stage. The recorded songs are meant to be pop songs, but in the live version we stray a bit away from that by extending instrumental sections of songs and trying to play with audience expectations.
How many members are in the touring band? What instruments do they play?
MO: We’re touring as a five piece. It’s Yolande Laroche on synth and backing vocals, Wesley MacNeil on guitar, Julien Dussault on bass, Jeff Kingsbury on drums, and myself on vocals and synth. Yolande, Julien and Jeff are all members of the Ottawa band Pony Girl and those three together play in a project called mal/aimé who are playing sets on this tour as well.
When I say “Ottawa” what comes to mind?
MO: Ottawa is filled with friends of Pallice.
Your dream act if Pallice could open for any artist, dead or alive?
MO: Dirty Projectors
Your one wish for this tour?
MO: I hope that we can surpass some expectations of what people might have assumed we would be like—we all want to put on a really fun and energetic set. We hope that the live shows we play on this tour will get people excited for the album release.