Known for wielding a penchant for ‘infectious melodies mixed with soaring guitar and crushing B3 organ’, Bend Sinister plays The Vat on June 15th.
Their latest disc, Animals, was released in early 2014. And the couple of years prior to that were steady with the release of their American debut Small Frame. During that time, their touring brought them to such events as Canada Music Week and Breakout West.
“We did a pretty big year of touring through Canada, the U.S. and we also did part of Europe with that album (Animals), and now we are in writing mode – working on new material for a new release,” explained singer/keyboardist Dan Moxon.
A swing through Europe also saw the guys opening for a Los Angeles-based band, and the response to Bend Sinister was extraordinary. “Here, it’s harder for something to catch on if it’s different. But I’d love to go back there and find a label for more representation.”
Meanwhile, it’s good to be home and focusing on crafting material for coming projects.
“This year is a bit of a year off from heavy touring, and we are just sort of playing a few shows and more focusing on the writing and rehearsal aspects of things; hanging out three or four times a week to write new songs.” The next project will hopefully drop by spring or summer of 2016.
Animals was produced by Grammy-nominated Joe Marlett at Signature Sound in San Diego. There’s not a dull moment to be found anywhere, as the guys swing from shades of various genres seamlessly. It’s strikingly original to be sure. Of course, there are more conventional moments that work well – You Remind Me courses along effortlessly in fine, polished pop/rock fashion, and Through the Week begins as a relatively simple but compelling ballad, building in momentum throughout.
But for the most part, the blending in of other structural elements throughout the project, musically speaking, makes for quite the sonic experience.
Moxon describes Bend Sinister as a kind of pet project for him since his high school days. “We really got going and started rehearsing around 2000.
“We really started touring Canada in 2005 when we put out our first real full-length album,” he said. “We just kept going with it – there’s been a revolving door of players over the years but the line-up we have currently has been there for the last few records.”
As pointed out in the band’s bio notes, Moxon’s ‘soft-spoken and warm demeanor belie the frenetic stage antics and vocal gymnastics that have made him one of the most unforgettable front men in the Canadian indie scene.’
His songwriting draws from a wealth of influences. And the rest of the band is just as dynamic. Rounding out Bend Sinister are drummer Jason Dana, guitarist Joseph Blood and bassist Matt Rhode.
Although often categorized as a ‘prog’ band, the group strives to be more than just guitar solos and technique.
“I think ‘prog rock’ is too specific – it really typecasts you as being this band that’s all about big technical riffs and what not. But I’ve always just written from my influences and tried to embrace a lot of stuff that’s older – 60s and 70s music – but also incorporating new sounds in there as well. It’s hard to define – typically we say it’s ‘keyboard-driven rock and roll’, or ‘classic rock-inspired’. It’s a little challenging because we don’t know really how to classify ourselves – we just do what we do,” he says with a laugh.
For the next CD, Moxon said the guys are aiming to be a bit more adventurous by bringing in a number of guests to collaborate with.
“We want to bring in other people and write a batch of 30 or so songs and get them down to the best 12 – it’s about getting out of your comfort zone a little bit and having friends come in and write with us.”
Ultimately, Moxon relishes the recording experience. “By the time you are in the studio, you have a pretty good sense of the song. So it’s really fun to see how it will all fit together,” he said. “You get that gratification of being able to layer it, and put it all down.”
Meanwhile, other performance highlights over the past years include the Dawson City Music Festival, Envol at Macadam in Quebec City, POP Montreal, Sled Island in Calgary, Olio Festival in Vancouver and Live at Squamish.
For Moxon, there couldn’t be a more fulfilling path to follow.
“I’d say working on music is the most exciting thing,” he said. “Touring is great, but the most interesting thing is to be able to continue releasing music and having an avenue to push yourself to keep putting out content.”