Considering Quest for Fire's roster spot on Tee Pee Records, a Brooklyn-based boutique label known for churning out some of the world’s finest psychedelic jams, it's hardly a surprise that the music tends to be filed under “stoner rock” — an example might be this very author's recent review of the band's sophomore album, Lights from Paradise. According to riff-master general Andrew Moszynski, though, it's an epithet he and his cohorts would like to shed.
“I don’t want to say it's negative, but it’s got such a specific image associated with it,” he explains. “Maybe it’s because of the label we’re on or because of certain things that end up coming out in our records. We do get tagged with it off and on, but when someone says ‘stoner rock’ to me, I think about a guy singing about whatever he just painted on the side of his van and how fast it goes down the highway. I find it very limited and I don’t want anything to do with it.”
As such, it's no surprise that the band's more recent material has branched out quite a bit from the formula of their self-titled 2008 debut, which was a rather rushed affair to begin with. Stitching together six of the first eight songs, written by the band as a team, it was a rugged snapshot of Quest for Fire at its inception. Along with some auspicious release-date related circumstances, this gave the members plenty of time to cook up a refined sequel.
“On this new [record], we had more time to think things out,” says Moszynski. “We were on a weird release schedule where the first one only came out in the States and Europe a year after it did in Canada. By that time, we had already recorded the second one and we had to sit on it for a year. So we had all that time to pick away at it, revisiting things once or twice a month, bringing in friends to throw in a couple new instruments on songs.”
One particularly striking addition to the mix is the violin, which appears on several tracks, provided by Montreal's Sophie Trudeau, a member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mount Zion, who connected with the band after spending some time with members Chad Ross and Mike Maxymuik while they were touring with Vancouver's Pink Mountaintops.
“She’s clearly the most amazing musician we’ve ever met,” explains the gushing Moszynski. “She hadn’t really heard the songs before, but picked things up instantly and changed the songs in the best possible way. I had gotten used to listening to the bed tracks before she had come in, but when I got the new mix with the violins added, I couldn’t even believe it was our band at that point.”
“I’ve sort of switched up a few of my [live] guitar parts to try to get a few more elements of what she was doing into it, but I’d really need a third arm and a double-necked guitar — the most ridiculous one-man band setup — to even come close to what she was doing.”
That sort of once-in-a-lifetime attraction may be a necessity on this visit to Calgary, part of a quick western Canadian tour that will find the band onstage at Broken City on a cold Sunday evening. Moszynski admits that even he has a hard time being convinced to go out to shows on nights like those, but he thinks he's found a surefire way to make sure people come out.
“I’ve just got to tell the right lies about the ridiculous stage show that we’ll put on. Promise some explosions, promise some lasers, promise we’re going to build a robot that dances to all of our songs… then I’ll just put a little discreet 'no refunds' sign at the door.”
Truth is, robot or no robot, no one in their right mind will be asking for a refund. Whatever kind of “rock” they want to call their sound, Quest for Fire puts on a scintillating show. Complaints from the audience will be due to elbow injuries suffered during ecstatic fist-pumping sessions, not the quality of the tunes.