FI) Hello Andy (Pyres)! Thanks for taking the time to entertain these questions. So, how did Pyres come to be?
Andy) Thanks for taking the time for us! Bassist Devin and I had grown up together playing in punk bands. I was cooking at a restaurant where drummer Matt was bartending. We shared a mutual appreciation for a number of heavy bands. We swapped music and talked metal and punk every smoke break, and decided to try jamming. So the initial blueprint was to be a three piece doom outfit. Fortunately my ADD made sure we wouldn't ride a riff for more than a few refrains and that's sort of how our formula began. Stitching together riffs that sequentially compliment one another without convoluting things but without getting bored, haha.
We took on a 2nd guitarist about a year in, and I suppose that's when we really started coming together, particularly in the dual harmony department. Most of us lived together in this huge 3 story apartment downtown where Marc recorded our first demo. Most of the songs were either written or wrapped up while in this living/jamming scenario. Marc joined about a year or so before recording Year Of Sleep, and that's when things really started to click. I think you can hear that there's some real chemistry amongst us on this record.
FI) What's the sludge scene like in
? Do you get to play many shows? Toronto
Andy). There are so many adventurous, deranged and fully dangerous bands here cranking out very bizarre and intriguing music on the regular. And seemingly without convenient descriptors. It's hard to compartmentalize the way you could for some other North American cities, with their regional sounds and sort-of 'lynchpin' characteristics. The city has a reputation for 'trailblazing' indie rock, punk and hardcore, and it seems the sludge or progressive metal community is catching up with really exciting results. Heavy is for certain here, no question. It's the how and why that makes
unique. As far as playing live...it's a large city with a lot of fascinating things going on at all times. We play regularly, and the turnouts are usually decent. But Toronto 's a multifaceted beast. There's less of lore, a foundation for ' Toronto Toronto Metal' than say, Chicago or Brooklyn. Though there are some amazing and dedicated people here that work tirelessly and often thanklessly to promote bands and engender a sense of community.
FI) How did the relationship with Granite House begin? That vinyl is pretty damn hot.
Andy) We might actually have The Sludgelord to thank! It's a case of a very poor early demo of the band's limited capabilities being appreciated by people of superior taste. (ED, we reviewed this debut in 04’12) Granite House approached us with all sorts of options, from remixing the demo to EP possibilities. We thought, "fuck it, let's buy the horse", and go full bore into a lengthy LP. I had always wanted to work with Greg Dawson (BWC Studios rep!) from enjoying his work on THE WOMB's "This is the Doomlodge", as well as work on
doom legends SONS OF OTIS' last effort 'Seismic. I think the relationship with Granite House began in earnest modesty and got stronger with the obvious devotion to the project we both exercised, from our drummer Matt supplying the brilliant artwork, to the level of time, money and commitment the project required over the winter months we spent putting it all together. Toronto
FI) 'Year of Sleep' is gaining some serious praise indeed, and deservedly so. What was the recording process like?
Andy) Thank you! It's probably the case with every band's debut that you're either A) overconfident or ultimately disappointed, or B) scared shitless and just hoping someone will give you an encouraging affirmation of your efforts. For us it's the latter. We're a band made up of dudes from all sorts of punk/metal/rock backgrounds, and had varying expectations of studio work. I had a mindset from the get-go that we were going to march in there, bang out our ragers and do some finessing with a few guitar pedals or whatever afterwards.
What actually happened was we got our gears changed by a producer with high standards. The heavy was there. The riffs we were pretty confident in. Had our parts down. When it came time to actually NAIL, say, clean guitar parts...that one drum fill that's always hit or miss...or god forbid taking a risk on clean vocals in the title track, that's when we really had to re-examine our prowess and go back and clean shit the fuck up. All in we had a blast. Not without some discouraging moments and second guessing, but getting your ass kicked by your own music and learning to pull better from the talent pool than you thought yourself is something every band should experience.
FI) Have you done any bigger tours yet? If not, do you have any planned?
Andy) We've been a band for a number of years now and while I wish we had jumped in earlier and cut our teeth on the road, it's a secret blessing that no, we haven't been on any bigger tours. We have hard drives full of discarded riffs and old tunes. Enough to fill a double album, really. Taking the long road and learning to trim the fat, establish a model for our sound, and hone our chops a bit has helped to prepare for the inevitable outpouring of worship and adoration we're clearly poised to receive (laughs). Now we have 'Year of Sleep' to feel confident about, and touring is more timely and appropriate.
FI) In terms of weapons of choice, what is some of your favourite kit?
Andy) I fell in love with the raw power of the Sunn Model T quite a few years ago. It's a challenge to take a simple machine and manipulate it to do the things your brain hears. It takes patience, practice and pedals. We also play
, Acoustic, Ashdown and Ampeg. A lot of bands muck about with overly-techy gear, tunings and whatnot. I'd like to think that when someone hears certain 'naked' moments on our record, they know it's just a guy in a room with an amp playing that shit. Even when we indulge in more psychedelic moments, there's nothing on 'Year of Sleep" that couldn't be executed live. Orange
FI) Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Andy) We didn't doubt there'd be the usual Mastodon, High on Fire or Baroness Equations. The 'big three' you might say. Bring on the comparisons; those are some of our fave bands. Our influences run a lot deeper and are far more varied than the uninitiated first time listener might draw from the music though. Some of us grew up deep into punk and hardcore. There's also, I feel, a current running through our record in terms of sequencing, structure, melody that's probably a result of us being kids of the 90's. Whatever, in the end, a lot of riffs or chord progressions might be subliminally informed by classic rock or heavy metal, or the grunge we grew up on, as much as the obvious sludge metal elements.
FI) What would be your absolute dream bill for Pyres to play on?
Andy) We're starting to establish a firm footing locally, mostly amongst our peers, and working hard to be prolific and have a body of work and fan base. So the dream bill is something down the road. For now we'd like to be getting out there and doing some bigger shows with touring bands. Unless of course, you know someone that can slap us on a tour with any of those bands mentioned above....?
FI) What are the long term goals for Pyres?
Andy) To have respectable canon, maybe to leave a lasting impression. Most recently there was a blurb about us and the record that suggested Pyres were a work in progress. In fact that is indeed the goal. As musicians we're pretty chameleonic. I hope to push and pull Pyres' genetic makeup in all sorts of twisted ways. There's enough groundwork on 'Year of Sleep' to inform the next record. But will it lean more heavily on our psychedelic side? More punishing and visceral? Maybe we just want to do one 35 minute song next time round? There's no sense of sandbox, here. Just heavy, man.
FI) The floor is yours. Do you have anything that you would like to say to or inform our readers of at all?
Andy) Thanks so much for the support, as far back as highlighting our demo in early 2012. The record is officially out now, so please do visit GRANITE HOUSE RECORDS and get yourself a copy. There's some fantastic vinyl from Meek is Murder and American Heritage available there as well that isn't to be missed.
Thanks to Andy and the Pyres guys for taking the time to take part in the interview. Also massive thanks to Granite House Records for helping us organise it. Combined, you guys are doing great things. As ever, show your support to the band by checking them out at the various links. You can buy the record here. This record is available now on vinyl and as a DD.