Big Birds

By JM Hunt — Mon, 15/12/2014 - 14:00

It’s always great to see a band go big. And by “go big” I don’t mean rolling in a limo popping bottles of Cristal while Puff Daddy throws dolla bills out the sunroof. I mean really embracing BIG sound; think U2 or Oasis stadium-style anthems we all grew up on. A few contemporary names that come to mind that dare to be epic: M83, Tame Impala, CHVRCHES and Ottawa’s own Those Gulls.

Having been introduced to Those Gulls via a Fevers' supporting slot this past summer, I was immediately blown away by the sheer energy of their music. The band - made up of Andrew Grosvenor (guitar, vocals), Peter Zachar (drums), Kate Schroder (synth, vocals), Jake Ting (guitar) and Kurt Borutski (bass) – has been grinding through the nation’s capital since 2007; growing from a two piece recording project to the five piece indie dance rock outfit they are today.

Those Gulls are on the verge of dropping their first LP in three years (Forevermore); which will be officially released at their show on December 18 at House of TARG. I connected with drummer and co-founder Peter Zachar; we talked about the group’s beginnings, the new album, their live show and sucking hard at pinball.

Couch Assassin: The band started as a two piece (Andrew & Peter) and has since evolved into the five piece you have now. Did you ever envision it becoming what it has?

Peter Zachar: I think we’d be lying if we said that everything has unfolded exactly according to some master plan, but the sound we’ve envisioned has always been big. If you listen to our very first album (2008’s “The Beautiful Progress”), you’ll hear multiple guitar parts, keys, female vocal parts; basically all the same components that are on the latest album. Over the years, the way the band evolved has been a mix of trying to get at that sound, balanced with the practicality of finding and adding new members. 

CA: Talk about Forevermore. How do you describe the sound of this record vs. your previous work?

PZ: There’s definitely more of a stylistic difference between Forevermore and the self-titled album [....] I’ve learned a lot over the years about the technical side of recording, so the final product sounds a lot better, but we purposely entertained every idea we had. As a result, the album is something that we’re totally happy with. Whereas previous albums have things that we wished we had tried, or mixing decisions I’m not happy with, everything on this album is there on purpose and anything that’s missing is something that we tried and ended up dumping. The sound we’ve achieved on Forevermore is as big and full as we envisioned from the very beginning, and we finally have the members and the technical know-how to pull it off. That’s not to say the next one won’t be bigger.

CA: You guys recently played a string of out of town shows; how did that go? Any sordid road stories?

PZ: Every show we’ve played has been a ton of fun, but we always seem to have the most fun at the Spill in Peterborough.  They serve coffee, which probably has something to do with us bouncing off the walls there.  Unfortunately, the stories are pretty tame… turns out Jake snores, which I guess is kind of sordid?

CA: How would you describe your live show to someone who hasn’t checked it out?

PZ: I think the atmosphere for our live show is pretty high-energy [....] We’ve also added a visual component to the live set that ties into the album art for the new album. Overall, we’re striving to make the live show as compelling as possible by making it more about the performance and less about just playing the songs. You won’t see theatrics or choreographed routines or anything, but hopefully the live experience will be what defines your impression of the band.

CA: You’ll be sharing the stage at TARG on December 18 with Kings Quest and Saint Claire; excited about that?

PZ: Absolutely! We had been trying to put a show together with Kings Quest for a while, but something always seemed to get in the way. They’ve been releasing tracks from their upcoming album, and they sound amazing! Can’t wait to finally see them live. Saint Clare is a band I’ve only recently become aware of, and I’ve been seriously missing out. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and check them out. Talk about a huge sound!

CA: What's the game plan for the band over the next few months?

PZ: The focus for the next few months and beyond for Those Gulls will be to get these songs heard as much as possible! We’re in the early stages of getting a new video rolling, so keep an eye out for that early in the new year. We’re also eager to get involved in local festivals. We’ll likely be making another appearance at the Doldrums winter festival this year, and we’d love to play some of the amazing summer shindigs! 

If you’re planning on heading to House of TARG on December 18, bring your dancing shoes because Those Gulls know how to deliver powerful catchy tunes to the masses. Chances are you’ll also see Peter bouncing off the walls since TARG is his Valhalla. “I suck hard at pinball but I grew up playing Area 51 wherever I could find it, so when I walked into TARG for the first time at the grand opening and saw Area 51 sitting there, I knew I had come home [....] Ten-year-old me comes right to the surface whenever I walk through the door at TARG, and everything is awesome.”

Those Gulls //Kings Quest // Saint Claire
Thursday, December 18, 2014 @ 9pm
House of TARG

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