Christine from ThisIsNotAScene gets the chance to catch up with Calgary’s own Brain Fever. They talked about the band’s sound, how the band evolved, the state of venues in Calgary and much, much more…
Tell us a little bit about Brain Fever. How would you describe your sound?
Brain Fever is a math influenced skram band. When we formed three years ago our intention was to make power-violence, but due to changes in both our lineup and influences we’ve sort of transcended the conventions of any one “hardcore” subgenre.
During your latest tour of Canada, Europe and the U.K., what was your favorite city to play? Any unique venues unlike anything you’d ever seen?
We’ve been fortunate enough to play countless amazing spaces while on this tour, but if we were to narrow it down to a top three they would be (in no particular order):
– Zoo Zhop in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is a record store, full-fledged venue and artist’s studio space. Words can’t describe the awesomeness of this place and the individuals who run it.
– Container 25 in Wolfsberg, Austria. After touring the UK, we found ourselves traveling throughout mainland Europe without any shows booked. We went to see Converge in Vienna and met with a promoter there who told us about a show happening in another town that we might be able to play. We played. This venue was amazing! A six story loft (a repurposed grain silo) that was home to numerous studio spaces. The kids who put on our show treated us like royalty and we became friends with an awesome dark-hardcore band from Bosnia called Deer In The Headlights.
– Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh Scotland. This place was called “the most haunted pub in Scotland” and that hardly seemed like an exaggeration. It felt like a crypt… Medieval torture devices lined the walls and it was just plain musty.
What made you guys decide to do this whole tour D.I.Y. style?
Well we don’t have a booking agent or a record label other than our own, Pint-Sized Records. We also feel like Canada, the UK and Europe all have very well-supported DIY scenes. Despite doing it ourselves, we really had a lot of help from a lot of people, including Matt Cuthbert who runs A Mountain Far Records, The Bonehouse Boys and many other amazing individuals; promoters, anyone who shared contacts, those who supported us by buying our merch along the way, watched us play, or even filmed our entire set. All aspects fit together, hand in hand. “Do it yourself” seems more to be more “do it together.” We have an amazing community for the type of music we play and are grateful and fortunate that so many people are passionate about music.
When it came to the mainland, we ultimately chose a bad time to go. All the fests had ended so it seemed, everyone was taking off on vacation and venues closed for August. Despite our efforts and those of many friends, we weren’t able to book a single mainland show. We were totally okay with it though as none of us had been out there before. We met a lot of other travelers and have had the time of our lives. If the one show we played in Austria is any indication, touring Europe properly next summer will be the best, ever.
How do you feel like you’ve evolved as musicians with your latest release, La Luna? Your sound seems to have progresses into an intensely dark and heavier place.
I think we really found our own sound with the split 7″ we just put out with The Discord of a Forgotten Sketch. With “La Luna”, we have really developed and expanded upon that sound; writing songs that are more complex and simultaneously more melodic, yet more dissonant; structured and yet more chaotic and as you said, darker and heavier as well. We have also grown individually as musicians and at the same time, become really great friends. We’ve become closer and gotten to know each other better, become more familiar with each others writing habits and gotten better at writing music together.
Presumably, your own music tastes are not limited to the type of music you create. Would you each mind sharing with us a pick of a totally unrelated genre that either, holds special meaning, inspires you, or simply makes you shake your booty when no one’s watching?
We all have very disparate tastes in music, including jazz, classical, electronic, hip hop, folk, and of course blackened apple-core. These are reflected in some of our side projects: Nic plays acoustic singer-songwriter songs under his own name, Noah plays mathy pop-punk and electronic music as If I Look Strong; You Look Strong, Vanessa plays in an experimental noise duo called Vera, and Alex makes instrumental hip hop beats under the name Kid Plagiarhythm.
What’s your opinion on the current Pussy Riot trial in Russia where the band members were charged with hooliganism and face up to 7 years in jail for entering Moscow’s largest church and performing a song in protest of Vladimir Poutine’s re-election? The fact that they’re even facing jail time to such an extent just for expressing their opinion and offending a few people seems like such a violation of human rights.
Yekaterina Samutsevich‘s closing statement really said it all: The Russian government is sending a clear message that it will not tolerate dissent or any attempt to undermine their control of the media, which has grown to encompass the church. It also underscores the importance for us in the West of freedom of speech and freedom of the media, which most people take for granted but that is being eroded every day.
On a larger scale, it is an extreme example of the frightening global rightward shift of all governments, creeping slowly towards greater control of all aspects of their citizen’s lives. Hopefully it can serve as a wake-up call for us because if we as a populace don’t all become a lot more vigilant, informed and self-empowered, our society could easily end up in the same place.
I read an article a while back that talked about the difficulties in Calgary with keeping venues afloat, especially all ages locations because of the extra liability. Is this still an issue or has the help of dedicated people in the local musical community turned this around for good? Has Pint Sized Collective been a solution to this?
There has definitely been and will continue to be a struggle with keeping all ages venues afloat in Calgary. We do have a few venues that have been running for a while now, but it seems most solutions aren’t permanent. Local Library just closed its doors to all-age gigs recently due to the fact that the church no longer wants to host secular events. Tubby Dog is still around, though it’s hard to get a gig or book a show there at times. I (Vanessa) was also running a secret underground all ages venue called Undermountain which has been at least temporarily shut down. We may be able to re open the doors when I return in the fall, but meetings with the existing renters must be had first to discuss past issues and future goals for the space.
It’s safe to say that all ages in Calgary always finds a way whether it is an all age specific venue or house or guerilla type show. The community will find a way to exist. This is only because the youth want it to exist. We are on tour right now and I honestly have to say that Calgary has the most support from a younger crowd than I’ve seen in any other city. We’re simply blown away the commitment and passion every kid has. It is amazing to watch everyone grow with the local music community and I’m excited to see what happens next. Pint-Sized is not the solution, the community is. Without the dedicated show goers, we would simply not exist.
Noah, have you ever had a boa? The track title “Noah Constrictor” really cracked me up.
Unfortunately, Noah has never had a Boa. However, when we write new songs, we always give them a temporary name for fun until the song is complete and the real name would be made. For a little while we were trying to create a temporary title for each of us that would be a play on words with our names. Noah Constrictor was the only one that stuck around.
What was your introduction to punk rock?
Noah: My first introduction to punk rock was hearing ‘What’s My Age Again’ by Blink 182 for the first time in the backseat of my parent’s car.
Nicolas: I cut my teeth on a lot of Blink 182, Sum 41 and NOFX. When I was 16, Vanessa showed me Orchid and Brain Fever was born.
Alex: It took me a really long time to get into punk rock because I guess for a long time my personal musical tastes eschewed anything as simple and catchy as the vast majority of punk rock. If Converge can be considered a punk rock band that would definitely be my strongest entry point into the genre. I was really into metal at the time but Converge was heavier than any metal band.
Vanessa: I started going to shows when I was 15 in Edmonton, Alberta. My gateway was Sum 41 and Blink 182. I started working at a Value Village and learned about local music. I fell in love with it immediately and will never leave it behind. It has saved my life time and time again.
Anywhere you didn’t make it to on this tour that you guys would really like to play at some point?
We want to play everywhere! Anywhere where there are people who would want to see us play. We would love to tour the West Coast down to California. We also all really want to go to Japan and Australia! We’ll see what happens!
Thank you so much for in the in depth questions. We really appreciate the interview and had a lot of fun doing it together. If you need anything else or more information don’t hesitate to let us know!