Toronto-based band, The Nursery, and Montreal-based band, Das Blankout, are currently on a cross-Ontario/Quebec split tour this fall. Beginning September 12, the bands are touring together for 11 shows and have an upcoming show in Toronto at The Piston on October 7. Das Blankout EP, Player 1, is being released October 6, so be sure to check it out before the show! RATSmagazine spoke to Alex and Victor of The Nursery and Matt of Das Blankout about their upcoming shows, the new Das Blankout EP, and what to expect in the future.
RATSmagazine: How did the two bands come together and decide to tour this fall?
Das Blankout: Our band was speaking about the idea of doing a split tour at the starting of the year; the only thing we knew for sure is that the partner band would have to be from Toronto for it to work. And so we spent several hours listening to and evaluating bands from TO and taking notes on their sound, image, presence and management etc. After some time, we ended up with a list of 3 bands, with The Nursery being no.1 on our list. Shortly after, we contacted them and they were pretty welcoming to the idea!! I should also mention that after playing the two first shows together, we couldn’t be any happier about having them as the partner band, they’re a great bunch!
RM: What kind of dynamic do you think your shows will have?
The Nursery (Alex): I think it’s still a little too early to fully tell, but so far I’ve found both bands contrast really nicely and complement each other in an interesting way. Das Blankout have a nice dark, gritty almost sinister quality to their music while we’re a lot more colourful, ethereal, and neon-y. What ties it all together is the energy that both of us bring to the shows. Lots of sweating and dancing by the end of the nights.
RM: Are there any shows in particular you are looking forward to the most?
DB: There’s a bit of “looking forward to” in almost all these shows. But let’s say Ottawa because they’re always so receptive to us; Montreal because our expectations are high and Windsor because it’s just the furthest we’ll have ever travelled!
TN (Alex): Definitely the string of Quebec shows. It’s the most amount of time we’ve ever spent over there. We had a great time in Montreal last time and can’t wait to come back.
RM: You’ve been traveling a lot through Ontario and Quebec, does Canada translate into your music?
TN (Alex): Canada has always been good to us but the only hurdle is what most bands will tell you are the long distances between towns. We play Buffalo often because it’s close to Toronto and the scene there is really vibrant and constantly growing and like most of the US there are more towns and cities closer in proximity to each other which cuts down on travel time and increases the amount of shows you can play. The most patriotic we’ve ever got is writing a song about Crystal Beach.
DB: Travelling Canada is certainly on our short-term to do list. We planned six of the shows on this tour and just that was a fair serving of work! A lot of the organization behind a show often goes unnoticed, but it requires marketing, renting and graphics costs, other bands, lots of emails, did I mention emails?! And of course more than anything time. Regardless though, Canada we will see you soon!
RM: Are you excited to be playing in your hometowns? Toronto for The Nursery and Montreal for Das Blankout.
TN (Victor): We're super excited. Toronto is always a party and we have some new elements in the live show that we can't wait to see roll out.
DB: Can’t. Wait!
RM: Das Blankout, your EP is being released in a few weeks, can you tell us what to expect from it?
DB: Well it’s definitely the best thing we’ve ever done. Having learnt from past mistakes we really took the proper time to dissect each measure of each song and have it produced as best as we possibly could. We recorded tons of layers on all instruments and that gave us options in the mix. We also had a really good and cooperative mixing engineer (Phil Gosselin) that wanted it to sound as stellar as we did. As for the sonics, it’s got a bit of 80’s, post-punk & new wave; and that renders itself into a lot of danceable, head-bangable rocking beats. I guess that’s called alternative in the end. It also tells a story. The EP is titled Player 1 and it is in fact the evolution of that character. He is young and naive at the beginning (King of the World), but meets with confrontation and dispute (Get Up!), to getting played by a lover (Fun and Games), and then totally frauded (Take Me to the Casino). To which he evolves into a wise, reflected sensible human (Player 2). And as you’ve probably guessed, it largely mirrors our journey as a band thus far.
RM: What are your influences?
TN (Alex): I was just thinking about this the other day and asked myself “what really was the first music that you heard that really gripped you?”. Then I realized when I was around 6 or 7 before listening to radio, buying records or even caring about my parents’ music I was playing video games and hearing the endless soundtracks composed for the games. I’ve come back to that stuff recently and noticed certain sounds, melodies and changes popping up here and there in our music. We use a lot of synths and a big part of that influence comes from there. Other than that, I’ve always been influenced by artists who make music by their own rules regardless of what is happening around them. David Bowie, Sparks, Danny Elfman, Yoko Ono, Captain Beefheart and Lou Reed are some of my heroes.
RM: What would your genre be considered as?
TN (Alex): I don’t feel like we’ve ever just belonged to one genre. Sometimes the music has this 90’s english rock vibe and then it also has these dark dystopian 80’s synth textures going on right before you hear a 3 part harmony that sounded like it came off a 60’s psych record. Every song has a character and some personalities of the song don’t always fit with each other and you begrudgingly have to let some go. Finding out which songs play nice together is one of the hardest parts about creating music.
RM: What should people expect from you when seeing a live performance?
TN (Alex): I’ve always felt that your body understands music before the mind does. We’re just putting out pure feel and energy hoping to get some back. Although some of our music is electronically driven we never play to backing tracks or sequencers. Every sound you hear is being played by one of us. The best shows we play are when we get into that game of catch with the audience where you are throwing the energy back and forth. It becomes so human.
DB: Uncontrollable swinging feet and arms!? Nah, honestly just as much energy as we can translate towards the crowd — we tend to sound heavier live, which is a good thing we think. It’s much different from a recording — when a band goes live, so we’re always trying to make our live performance as captivating as possible. One thing we started doing (that’s also different from what most bands are doing) is connecting our songs together, not at all but most of them anyway. We try to avoid those long aching moments called dead silence.
RM: Where are some of your favourite places to perform?
TN (Alex): The most memorable show on this tour so far was at this festival in Quebec called Moktoberfest. It was encouraged for attendees to camp because it’s far out in the woods in a town called Mayo. Half of us pitched a tent and the other half slept in the van. The festival built this giant three story treehouse and the performances took place on the second floor. Stringed carnival lights blew in the wind while the bonfire thickened and licked the sky. Really wonderful people too, they knew how to have fun. When we really got going I felt the floor starting to shake and give. I kept thinking is this going to be way we go? That nervous energy charged the entire set. It was all very magical and harrowing. Just us, them, and the wilderness.
RM: What can we expect in the future and can we expect more touring together in the future?
TN: (Alex): We’ll be releasing our first LP in the new year along with a few singles with it. We’re super excited to finally share what we have been working for so long with everyone and let this music run wild and free into the world.
DB: We already love hanging out with The Nursery, so we would definitely be in on the idea of working together again, but doing a second tour together may remove some of the majestics and beauty it created in the first place. One thing we’d like to do, if Al and the gang would like to anyway, is to record a song together. It could be a “featuring The Nursery” kinda thing or vice versa; we’d really like to do that though, Alex is great at producing music too. As for our individual band though, we are seriously looking into covering the Maritimes and doing a new music video sometime next year, maybe even two videos. I can’t spill the beans about one of those videos, but I can promise it will be awesome.