by Natalie Bohrn
Saskatoon’s post-metal groove band The Basement Paintings are making their way through Winnipeg on February 21 playing the Cavern in Osborne Village. Stylus caught up with the band to discuss inspiration and influence as they embark on a wicked Canadian tour.Stylus: If Basement Paintings could choose to be a big time, super successful band in a past decade,
which decade, and why?
Calen Miller: I don’t think we have ever had a discussion that started with, “Man, I wish we could be those guys”. That being said, I think it would have been cool to be part of Pink Floyd’s team in the late 60’s and early 70’s during some of their more abstract albums. The commercial success of those albums are important to me, at least, in knowing that a market does exist for what we do.
Justin Thompson: Hopefully this sounds focused rather than arrogant, but I agree with Calen that we really don’t talk or think about being any band but the one that we envision this one becoming. It’s mostly a discussion of taking the steps towards building the art and the team behind what we’re doing into what we want it to be. That being said, I would probably choose to be someone like Caribou right now that has quite a bit of creative freedom, but still has a broad touring appeal with a crazy live show that gets people partying.
Stylus: What is Basement Paintings’ ideal rehearsal/music-making situation?
CM: For us, writing is an ongoing thing. There are always riffs and grooves floating around, and if they make sense with what we are trying to do at artistically at that point in time, they kind of gain traction and start coalescing. We have also been fortunate enough to be able to jam in the same space since we began this project, so there are no changes of scenery and getting accustomed to different surroundings.
JT: With writing, I like it best when we have a full weekend day and night to hang out in our basement jam space together and have a few drinks or whatever. We have a good sound system and a projector screen at our place, so its nice show each other cool stuff we’ve been thinking about in between jamming. Not even just music, but whatever ideas or themes that have been on our minds. That sort of thing definitely filters into our aesthetic and I really enjoy our discussions. Once jams begin to emerge during these sessions we are almost always recording, so then later during the week we all listen to the jam on our own and kind of pick out the most inspired chunks and think about what direction to take them in. This repeats for however long, and eventually a song emerges.
Stylus: If Basement Paintings could be the opening act for any somewhat-current touring band, which would you choose? Do you want to do the world tour, just the prairies, or what?
CM: For now, we are focusing on Western Canada, and as we learn more about other markets in Canada, we will spread to them. If you try to spread out to quickly, nobody will come to your shows and you will get burnt out trying to figure out why. We have plans to record our second full-length album and release it by early 2016, so if all goes well, we will try to do a cross-Canada tour then.
JT: Yeah, it’s kind of a step by step process for us. We expect that with our next album we’ll be able to support a full national tour. We’re pretty focused on that goal right now, but beyond that, it’d be nice to be doing larger tours eventually if things keep going well. If a more established band similar to us like Godspeed, Russian Circles, or Tool or someone asked us to head out, I’m sure we’d be down.
Stylus: If Basement Paintings could be based in any city in the world right now, where and why?
CM: For the most part, we are proud of being from the prairies and being able to grow up in a place where we aren’t completely surrounded by sprawling urban landscapes. The downside to this as a musician is that there are close to 700 km’s between major markets in Western Canada. So, when you’re trying to do a tour, you have to drive large distances just to play one show. It would be cool to be based out of Saskatoon, and just travel to largely populated areas and hit 5 major centres within a week, and then move on to the next one.
JT: As far as being inspired, and being able to carry out our process, I am pretty happy to be where we’re at and I don’t see it holding us back a whole lot creatively since our ideas come very much from within ourselves. The only thing is like Calen said, it’s a lot easier to play lots of shows in more populated centres, and that translates into being able to put more energy into a project. For that reason, I might like to be based out of somewhere in the states with a larger established audience for our type of music like Chicago or LA, but I’m happy with where we’re at if we can make it work with the realities of touring.
Do not miss The Basement Paintings live at The Cavern on February 21 with locals Palm Trees, Ossific, and Soul Killing Female. $8 at the door.