By Colton Siemens
Sitting at the long table are four young men. Speaking to them, it’s obvious that there’s a strong unspoken bond between them. This is Viewing Party, a four-piece band consisting of bassist Samuel Lavergne, vocalist and guitarist Oliver Farkas, drummer and keyboardist Evan Fry Sykora, and guitarist and contributing vocalist Johnathan Seburn. Even though they have only been playing together since last October, there’s a shared vision that seems to be understood. They’re all “on the same wavelength” as Sam says. Drinking tea and talking about desert island albums, their musical influences, and favourite television shows, their differences begin to show. As they said themselves, these differences are what make them interesting as a band. They all bring new and unique ideas that they believe create a better future for the band. A future that looks bright.
Hot off the release of their debut EP, on., Viewing Party have no intention of lazing around. Talk of future releases, songs in the works, and creative directions fly around the table as each member speaks of their ideas. The energy between them is palpable. Even though they admit that they have not sat down to discuss what they see for the future of the band, they all agree that there is a future. They even hope to release a full-length album sometime soon. When asked what it might sound like, they all agree they haven’t decided where they want to go sonically, but they all have their own ideas. Finding inspiration in various sources, anywhere from Royal Canoe, to Tom Waits, to Wagner.
Lead singer Oliver describes what he’s been working on as sounding like “a funeral with confetti”. Not to be confined to any one topic or sound, they say that whatever comes next is going to be a fresh reinvention of their current sound.
Television is a running theme is Viewing Party’s aesthetic. Why TV? According to them, it’s both an ode to it and social commentary. “It’s this entity that we all grew up with, […] It kind of raised out generation in a way”, says Sam. In what could be described as a postmodern repurposing, they like to use samples from old TVs shows and works from the past to make something new. Even their album cover is a thrifted photo, found in an antique store. They treat TV as a non-musical influence of sorts, with shows like Twin Peaks and Angelo Badalamenti’s score impacting their work in various ways. Also citing David Lynch and Mark Frost’s writing and use of surrealism as something they’d like to incorporate in their future work.
To Viewing Party, their music is treated as a production, not unlike a film or television show. Equally important to their sound, they believe a live show should be a visual experience as well. John speaks about using TVs in their practice space and stage set up in order to get the mood right.
on., is an incredibly strong work that pulls sounds from post-punk and art-pop together in a moody but danceable seven track EP. Rather than sides, it is broken into two separate acts, a nod to the fact they view their work as a production. When asked what their favorite track was most of them agreed they liked “Night Shoes”, but they all agreed that they preferred to think of the EP as a unified experience, like a single work meant to be heard from beginning to end. Their ability to combine poppy and somewhat upbeat melodies with gloomy vocals and surreal lyrics, make them a versatile and interesting band to experience.
A new addition to their label, Birthday Tapes, they have nothing but gratitude for them. The group credits their manager, Austin Boulton, with getting them off the ground and helping them become what they are today. When they talk about how Birthday Tapes has affected the band, nothing but praise is heard at the table. Not only for their manager and label, they continue to speak about their love of the entire Winnipeg music scene. “It’s just so welcoming,” says John as they all agree.
It seems Viewing Party is passionate and confident in themselves. Hopes of a full length being completed and released sometime in or around late 2017 to early 2018 are spoken about with feverish excitement and endless possibilities. One thing is for sure, the group has no intention of slowing down or giving up. Check out on. and An Evening With Viewing Party, the band’s new live recording, on their Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and Facebook pages. Also, be on the lookout for performances throughout the city, as they plan on playing gigs throughout the year.