As the dust of Canadian Music Week settles, Montreal’s unique brand of shoegaze and psychedelia departs town in the form of Suuns. Releasing their first LP, Zeroes QC, back in 2011, they’ve been looked to for an equally eclectic mix of electronic and rock sounds in their follow-up. On March 4, Suuns released Images du Futur, their most accomplished effort, produced by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes. With a spray of noise rock laid out across their expanse of hypnotic rhythms and murky vocals, Suuns remained a band capable of keeping control of their sound, no matter how chaotic, in forming one of the critical Canadian releases this year.

I managed to catch up with Joseph Yarmush, Suuns’ guitarist, as he navigated the frantic streets of Montreal, before heading to Toronto. He discussed the nature of the band’s unique sound, enlightened me on some of the noises sprawled across the new album, and recalled the story of the band’s harrowing encounter in the Portugal club scene.

Anthony Boire: Coming into Images du Futur after Zeroes QC, how did you change your songwriting?

Joe Yarmush: A little bit, I guess. I think it all just got a little bit better. All those songs [on Zeroes QC], they were kind of roadtested, before we had recorded them. So we had been playing them a lot live. So we kind of knew them inside and out. With Images, we basically started from scratch. We recorded a bunch of songs that had never been played live. It’s just a different thing. You’re not really sure, what will work, and what won’t. It’s tiring, because you’re just in there for hours making sure everything sounds the way you want it to.

Anthony: How did you come up with the riff in “2020”? It’s got some noise elements but somehow definitely gets stuck in your head.

Joe: That one wasn’t me, but if you’re just playing one note on the bass you’re pretty free to do anything. [Laughs] I mean, I was doing a lot of slide. Like on “Pie IX”, live I always used a slide even though on the album we didn’t. Originally it was called “Son of Pie IX”, I think. That was the working title [for “2020”].

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— , March 25, 2013    1 Comment

February 23, 2011, London, England – Dark, damp and sweaty, the CAMP (the City Arts and Music Project) was the ideal space for Montreal-based Suuns’ London premiere. The space was initially set up as a temporary arts locale, but has blossomed into one of London’s best-kept concert secrets. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the band who are currently touring to support their debut album Zeroes QC that was very much adored by the British press. While I find the album completely engrossing, I wasn’t sure how it would come across in live form, with its somewhat genre blending and restrained mix of prog and electronica with a few classic rock riffs thrown in.

The band essentially blazed through their material offering little in the way of in-between song banter. These guys can engage a crowd just by doing what they do best: playing a tight, forceful and penetrating set. Songs like ‘Armed for Peace’ and ‘Gaze’, generally the more guitar-based offerings, led way to the more beat-oriented songs like ‘Arena’, which definitely took on a more dance feel than on the album. Some of the typically calm London crowd even managed to bust a few moves. The band fed off of the crowd and vice versa, and as the venue got hotter, they play even harder.

Lead singer Ben Shemie is an interesting character to watch onstage. He appears almost in physical pain as he sings, which certainly adds to the overall mood of the gig. Drummer Liam O’Neill is spectacular to watch, especially on some of the more post-punk songs such as ‘Marauder’. Overall, this show really defined for me how a band, a physical space, and an entirely engaged audience come together to create an overall atmosphere. This is a mature young band that take their craft seriously. An intense and worthwhile experience, it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Suuns – Armed for Peace
Suuns – Arena


— , February 25, 2011    1 Comment