For the majority of you, the name Adolyne may not ring a bell, but in Western Canada, the Saskatoon noise-niks are on the tips of more than a few tongues as band members Skot Hamilton (vocals/guitar), Tim Arsenault (bass/vocals/piano), Brett Graham (drums/vocals) and Landon McPhee (guitar/vocals) continue their decade-long goal of destroying themselves and tarnishing their legacy in the name of artistic expression. Their latest album, the awesomely-titled of Ash/of Shit/of Shame comes at a weird time for Hamilton. After a long stretch of inactivity bordering on icy inertia, Adolyne’s third album saw the light of day back in June, just as Hamilton found himself diving deeper into the busy world of KEN Mode, the Winnipeg-based metallic noise rockers and friends of Decibel he joined as bassist just over a year ago. This includes the writing and recording of Success with Steve Albini and all the seemingly non-stop touring they do. But hey, Adolyne has a new album out, it’s really fucking good if abrasion, self-loathing, discord and flirtations with the edge of out of control gets you hard/wet. Somewhere between preparing for KEN Mode’s upcoming monster of a North American tour (dates somewhere below) and the recent completion of an Adolyne run out west, Skot took the time to answer our penetrating questions with his own unique panache. We’ve also got a track called “Gnashing of the Teeth” for your listening pleasure somewhere else down below, as well as the premiere of their video for “The Knife Inside” somewhere else other than that down below. So yeah, here’s your Adolyne overload.
So, rumour has it Adolyne has been around for nigh on a decade. I’m not asking for a long form band history, but rather what have been some of the more salient highlights and lowlights for the band over the years?
There was an enormous chunk of time in our formative years where Adolyne was more of an artistic brawl in which no one was ever entirely right or wrong and therefore uniform satisfaction was illusory. I’ve loved playing with all members past and present, but we definitely took the scenic route getting to a spot that I had been pulling toward since the beginning, which makes this new record feel bitter-sweet. The issue of us being a high-school band that never broke up has only recently been a topic of conversation, and I’m not sure if I’m proud or embarrassed by it to be perfectly honest.
What the hell is an Adolyne anyway?
The name was a bit of a mistake really. A misspelling or mispronunciation of another tentative name that went unnoticed for months until the original idea was found written down in a notebook long after it had been forgotten. It was unclear who was responsible for the initial screw-up, but the months of negligence were shared and we agreed to commit to the mistake. We do that a lot, commit to mistakes, it just doesn’t always pan out this well.
How has the band, how you operate, and what the band means to you on an overall and grand scale changed from then ’til now?
I think that we’re enjoying a degree of confidence that we may have been missing in the past, and that stems from a sense of shared conviction. It was the oddest evolution, but when I made my mind up that I was going to commit myself to a less democratic approach and pursue my vision more aggressively, everything seemed to fall in to place very naturally and the whole group just locked in. I surveyed all these hills I was going to die on, and the guys seemed to like the view from each of them.
What challenges do you find yourselves up against now, this many years/shows/albums/etc. down the line that you had never faced previously or in previous incarnations of the band? What would old Skot tell young Skot about this wacky business?
I think we’re still railing against a ton of the same logistical challenges that we’ve always grappled with. Trying to tour out of western Canada is a logistical nightmare, doubly so when the band in question isn’t really a “career band” as such, one that is willing to ruin themselves financially and make themselves scant to their creature comforts. I wish I would have been a little more vigilant in past years to motivate people to make disastrous life decisions, it’s harder to convince people in their 30’s with infants and careers to compromise their health and comfort for art. Not impossible, luckily, just more difficult. The other major issue, and one I don’t really anticipate overcoming, is our ‘square-peg-to-every-genre’s-round-hole’-ness. We’ve been left out in the cold by every scene or movement or boom ever since our early days. Artistically, I couldn’t be bothered, but it makes the concept of mass support seem alien. In western Canada, we have this really committed, engaged crew of people that lose their minds over what we do, but their extended musical families always seem to eye us suspiciously. We’re always too much or not enough of something for every fashion-based crowd, and consequently our audience is this strange mess of non-traditional metal folks, indie-kids with an appetite for noise, and fidgety loners who come alone and stare really intently.
How has being a member of KEN Mode altered business for Adolyne? And what are you anyway, some kind of time management guru and master activity juggler?
The tracking for the new Adolyne was actually complete before I joined KM, but because we were so broke and without an official street date I knew I wouldn’t be stepping on Adolyne’s collective toes too much if I started touring more often with another band. Both bands have been really supportive of the other, and that makes me feel like less of a deadbeat band-dad. I’m away from Adolyne a lot more now, but we’re still playing as often as we were when I was in town, and it makes our activity when I’m not on tour with KEN mode seem very valuable. The shows we’ve done since I’ve been back and the record has been out have been some of our most visceral, it seems that absence made the heart grow a bit more violent.
Be so kind as to give us what you think are the important details and low-down about the new album? Anything about the writing process that stands out as different or unique? How long did the recording take? Who spilt coffee on the mixing board? Was the studio haunted? That sort of thing…
I came to the band with a lot more complete material than I used to. I always leave space for the guys to insert themselves and take ownership, but as I said earlier, I knew what I wanted from the material. I was at an impatient point in my life, I didn’t want to feel things out, I already knew how they felt, which was ugly and hopeless, and I didn’t want to be challenged on that. There were certain tensions and shades that were at my immediate grasp, and I didn’t see any pragmatic purpose in asking permission from the unit to tackle, gut, and field dress them. Not all of the material was assembled that way, but much more of it was than usual. We tracked the instruments live off the floor over the course of about a week for the full LP as well about 30 minutes of B-sides that we’re still trying to decide what to do with. Craig Boychuck was behind the board, and he was an absolute dream to work with, I can’t wait to work with him again. I started tracking vocals as part of that initial session but ended up getting pretty sick early in to the vocal tracking. In hindsight, it was really hard to tell if it was illness or a complete psychological shutdown due to the enormity of the project in tandem with some other demoralizing life changes; I was not healthy at the time in any event. I ended up tracking well over half of the vocals by myself at home a few months later. There was a certain luxury to taking that pace and having that kind of privacy, but because of what the album seemed to represent to me it was like waking up to an unrelenting killer pacing through your home every morning. I’m happy that I tracked that way, but I didn’t enjoy it.
What about the album’s title? It’s awesome, therefore I’m assuming there’s a story or significance behind it?
The title is taken from a key moment in the song “Crown”. Lyrically, it was one of the last tracks I wrote for the record and in a lot of ways addresses the misguided conceit of doing what I do as a writer, a musician of questionable capability, and by extension what we all do as a collective. It’s absurd to do all of this, to compromise your health and lifestyle, burn every penny you make, and to remove yourself from any potential advantage or traction, but it’s a compulsion I’ve never been able to exorcize. I was really preoccupied with a lot of poor decisions I had made at that point, and was ruminating on a lot of recent failure and just this constant, blaring sense of inadequacy. It felt like the only components I had to fashion anything out of were wreckage of so many best laid plans. The first two components felt like the physical material I was working with, but the last one, shame, that was like a really ill-advised guiding light. It’s nothing to be proud of, but I’m not going to lie and say that courage or self-respect were at the heart of this thing. It feels over the top and preposterous now, and it did at the time too, but I know it worked because I can’t listen to this record without getting back in touch with that period and wanting to get out.
Seeing as we’re running a premiere of the video, what wisdom can you impart and share about its meaning, filming, process, etc.?
The video was filmed well over a year ago by our good friend Tyler Baptist. We were hoping to have it for a pre-release album push, but nothing ever seems to come together in a timely fashion with this band. All of the non-performance stuff was a product of Tyler and I bashing our heads together trying to match the tone and frantic nature of the song. All of the weird esoteric bullshit is stuff that I have hanging off of my walls and on my shelves at home, it seemed appropriate to fixate on things that other people find off-putting but that I have in my personal periphery on a daily basis. I didn’t want any kind of narrative, the album to me is more of a mood I want to drag people through as opposed to a story that I want people to follow, and I wanted all of the esthetic material hinging off of it to follow suit.
We don’t normally do this, but here’s the band’s bio. It rules and since it’s unofficially Adolyne Overload Day. Check it out:
FFO: Converge, Today is the day, Neurosis, Old Man Gloom
After a series of false-starts, unceremonious firings and infantile rows, Adolyne officially assembled about a dozen years ago as a means to keep warm through the endless prairie winter that they were either too dumb to abandon or stubborn to admit defeat to. Less a product of their surroundings than a direct reaction to artistic absences in their immediate vicinity, the band spent their initial years harnessing vulgar sonic philosophy and a reactionary base-level onslaught into one of the most incendiary live shows in Western Canada. Noise-rock petulance, post-hardcore abandon, and a spiraling metallic thrust collide violently in to an animal that is as much merciless volume worship as it is nightmarish existential crisis.
Adolyne incites an ugly musical knife fight between 90’s Noise mongers from the heavier end of the Amphetamine Reptile fold and the brooding sonic theorists of the Hydra Head Industries class, while assorted voices from the post-hardcore and math-rock crowds goad them on with unsavory and dangerous advice. For those who haven’t the time or stomach to be entirely educated on the background of this savage rumble though, journalist and filmmaker Craig Silliphant was best able to express what to expect from Adolyne in his review which warned “Adolyne is a cathartic, primal force that will tear down your soul and spit it in your face….. It’s usually a cliché to say something defies categorization, but I’ll take a punch in the face before I’ll offer a definitive description of the music that Adolyne makes. It’s best to just get the hell out of the way.”
Skot’s going to be on the road with KEN Mode for a long ass time starting next month. Come on out and say ‘hi’ and talk to him about Adolyne instead of being asked what it’s like being in a band with brothers who are accountants for the millionth time:
The “Huge Success” Tour 2015
(Featuring the stand up comedy of Garrett Jamieson)
Sept 9 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s Cantina +
Sept 10 – Edmonton, AB @ Wunderbar +
Sept 11 – Calgary, AB @ Broken City +
Sept 12 – Vancouver, BC @ Hindenburg %
Sept 14 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey #
Sept 15 – Spokane, WA @ The Pin #
Sept 16 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark #
Sept 18 – Oakland, CA @ Golden Bull #
Sept 19 – Los Angeles, CA @ Loaded in Hollywood #
Sept 20 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar #
Sept 22 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge #
Sept 23 – Denver, CO @ Three Kings Tavern #
Sept 24 – Kansas City, MO @ miniBar #
Sept 25 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk #
Sept 26 – Dallas, TX @ Sons of Herman Hall #
Sept 27 – New Orleans, LA @ Siberia #
Sept 29 – Birmingham, AL @ Syndicate Lounge #
Sept 30 – Tallahassee, FL @ Liberty Bar #
Oct 1 – Miami, FL @ Churchill’s #
Oct 2 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub #
Oct 3 – Atlanta, GA @ 529 #
Oct 4 – Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway #
Oct 6 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 #
Oct 7 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter #
Oct 8 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie #
Oct 9 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron #
Oct 10 – Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar #^
Oct 11 – Boston, MA @ Mid East Upstairs ^
Oct 13 – St. John, NB @ Pub Down Under ^
Oct 14 – Halifax, NS @ Gus’ Pub ^
Oct 15 – Fredericton, NB @ Capital Complex ^%
Oct 16 – Quebec City, QC @ L’Anti ^
Oct 17 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus ^
Oct 18 – Sherbrooke, QC @ Le Murdoch ^
Oct 19 – Ottawa, ON @ House of Targ ^
Oct 20 – Kingston, ON @ The Mansion ^
Oct 21 – Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha ^
Oct 22 – Hamilton, ON @ Absinthe ^
Oct 23 – London, ON @ Call the Office ^
Oct 24 – Windsor, ON @ Dominion House ^
Oct 25 – Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House *
Oct 26 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class *
Oct 27 – Pittsburg, PA @ Mr. Roboto Project *
Oct 28 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups *~
Oct 29 – Indianapolis, IN @ Joyful Noise *~
Oct 30 – Columbia, MO @ Social Room ~
Oct 31 – St. Louis, MO @ The Demo ~
Nov 1 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge ~
Nov 2 – Dubuque, IA @ The Lift ~
Nov 3 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Cactus Club ~
Nov 4 – Madison, WI @ Dragon Fly Lounge ~
Nov 5 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Total Drag ~
Nov 6 – Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon ~
Nov 7 – Winnipeg, MB @ the Windsor +
+ with Conduct ( https://publictone.bandcamp.com/album/fear-and-desire )
% with Fuck the Facts ( https://fuckthefacts.bandcamp.com/ )
# with Child Bite ( https://childbite.bandcamp.com/ )
^ with Life in Vacuum ( https://lifeinvacuum.bandcamp.com/ )
* with We Are Hex ( https://wearehex.bandcamp.com/ )
~ with Lo-Pan ( https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus
Album art and photos by Cate Francis: www.k8bit.com
Video directed/shot/edited/animated by Tyler Baptist
Produced by Bad Monster Films
Copyright MMXV Bad Monster Films / Adolyne