Saturday, June 18
The Hifi Club
Sunday June 19
Johnny Rays (Banff)
Saturday, June 25
The Castle Pub
When you sit down to talk to an artist about their music, you expect a bit of a sales pitch. Its forgivable, but after a while, hearing about how great the tour is, how wonderful everything sounds or how well everyone is getting along gets a little old. Thats why its so refreshing to talk to Jeremy Gillespie, guitarist for Winnipeg shoegazers Projektor.
"Ill give you the dirt," he says. "Our record kind of got hijacked by our producer." The album hes referring to is Projektors second full-length on Endearing Records, Young Hearts Fail. "He basically went off and radio-rocked it up."
Anyone who heard the bands debut, Red Wolf Glass, knows that radio-rock isnt what theyre about. Taking the trappings of Brit pop and wrapping them in layered guitars is classic shoegazing technique, but so are distorted seven-minute epics not your typical radio fare. The rocked-up sound is even more surprising when you consider that producer Brandon Friesen worked with the band on Red Wolf Glass. Presumably he was familiar with what the band was trying to achieve, but according to Gillespie, Projektors goals had little to do with it.
"That is what (Friesen) was wanting to do. He really was in a totally different state of mind, I guess," says Gillespie. "He thought he was going to be Mr. Famous Rock Producer or something. He had the record for months on end and we didnt hear squat about it. Finally I guess we just harassed him to the point of getting it back and it was what it is."
Before you get the impression that Gillespie is all sour grapes and acidic resentment, its important to know that his comments come with a shrugging disappointment rather than a bitter rage. "Im proud of some of the songwriting on it," he says. "I guess we were disappointed in how it turned out because its really not the record that we started out trying to make."
To be fair to Friesen, he wasnt totally off base. Lineup changes and musical evolution had been leading the band in new directions since their first album. Gillespie joined the band when one of the original guitarists left, and since he was jamming right across the hall with his band Nemo, Gillespie was familiar with Projektors swirling sonic racket. The thing was, by that time, the band was trying to streamline their sound.
"I joined the band and at that point they had been doing that sort of thing for so long that they wanted to move in a new direction," he says. "That isnt to say that they wanted to play AC/DC or whatever. I guess they were making a conscious effort to rock it up a bit."
The emphasis being on "a bit." Despite his feelings about Young Hearts Fail, Gillespie admits to loving rock music and thinks that albums shortcomings may have stemmed from the band and the producer spending too much time on it.
"A lot of the songs on the new record were written over a year or two a ridiculous amount of time, actually," he says. "We just ended up writing a bunch of crazy crap that we didnt think matched with each other
. Then we went into the studio and spent another two years, or something equally stupid like that, recording it."
Since the recording of Young Hearts Fail, Projektor has been in the throes of even more lineup changes, which has affected their sound every step of the way. The core rhythm section of bassist-vocalist Jahmeel Russell and drummer Darren Achorn has remained the same, but the remaining guitar position in the band has been a revolving door of sorts. Sean Stevens, who appears on Young Hearts Fail, left Projektor when his first band, Novillero, got back together. They had temporary help from Jay Chirko, but now have filled the position with John Stewart, from Calgarys Mico. Its only when the subject of Stewart comes up that Gillespie shifts into requisite salesman mode.
"I couldnt be happier that John is in the band," he says. "Its ridiculous, actually. He is the greatest guy ever. We are going in a different direction lots of effects and lots of crazy shit going on. Were waaaaaay louder now, which is ridiculous because we were pretty loud to begin with."
Theres really nothing like the soft sell, is there?