Medicine Hat, Alberta is a long way from New York, but Terra has the Gotham City sound down pat – blending the avant-garde punk of Television, late 70s New Wave, with the post-punk revival of Interpol.
Their excellent EP – Couldn’t Save This, out on Shake! Records also has some street cred having been mastered by John Golden (Sonic Youth’s – Daydream Nation, Ty Segall’s – Manipulator).
The EP leads off with I Fold, a jangly and jaunty garage pop nugget with a tantalizing guitar hook. The title track, invokes the new wave of Tubeway Army and the swagger of Interpol, and acts as the change-up before the fastball – the all out power pop of the super catchy Forest Lawn.
The closer, Incurable Condition swerves back into new wave territory – and maybe even the pop of Missing Persons (I hope they don’t take that the wrong way!) although vocalist Chris Kessler sounds more like the Psychedelic Furs Richard Butler than Dale Bozzio.
The more I listened to these four songs the more I believe that big things are in store for Terra; this is strong release from a very interesting band.
We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Chris K to pull back the curtain a bit.
Brandon Saucier – Bass guitar
Quincy Phaff – Drums
Brayden Charlton – Synth
Chris Kessler – Guitar/Vox
People say we sound like….
The Fall, Wire, Murder City Devils, Interpol… Someone even said we sound like Creed once.
How did you become Terra and what’s with the name?
Brandon and I (Chris) originally met up after I moved back to Medicine Hat from Edmonton, we started out playing some garagey pop tunes I had written but we had a lot of trouble putting a full group together. We eventually got our friend Sam to play drums and that’s when we started writing and playing rock music, I guess it was just a lot more interesting and seemed to work with the dynamic of the group. Sam doesn’t play with us anymore but he lets us stay at his house every time we play Edmonton, he’s a great guy. Quincy and Brayden ended up joining after we recorded the EP actually. As for the name I think we had intended on people interpreting it as the name of a girl, but most people just assume Terra as in the earth, which is okay with us too.
Tell us about the scene in Medicine Hat…
Pretty limited and very DIY, there are a couple of great punk bands here like Ohmwar, who could be described as prog punk. There is also Masks – which Brandon and Brayden play in, they are one of my favorite bands right now. Some other friends of ours play in a band called Tin Tin and they just put out a tape and did a tour. Other than that there are some country and folk artists, and a lot of metal core bands. There is also my friend Greg who seems to put out a new grind core record every month under the moniker “Crease.” There’s a pretty distinct divide between what all the genres are doing in Medicine Hat, and a lot of stuff worth checking out that I haven’t mentioned. Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle being centered out of a small town, its probably not very cool to most people. I’d like to believe there are a few benefits though.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
A lot of late 70’s and early 80’s post punk and new wave. We are all suckers for pretty sounding music though so we try to incorporate a lot of modern pop elements.
Tell us about your live show…
We usually keep it pretty short, and (hopefully) sweet. I don’t like listening to bands that go on and on, unless I am going to see Paul McCartney or something. Yeah, just try to keep it to the point as to hold everyone’s attention and keep the energy up. We’ve been pretty fortunate at a lot of our shows in Medicine Hat and other places. People can get really into it, we are really grateful for that.
What influences the band lyrically?
All sorts of experiences, some good and some bad. I Fold is an anti-work song, I guess it was written at a point where I just hated going to work, I don’t mind it so much now. Forest Lawn was a place that I lived in Calgary for a very short period of time. That experience must have stuck with me enough to channel it into a song.
Best concert we’ve ever seen…?
Tough one, Thee Oh Sees 2011 performance at Sled Island was about as good as it gets. The venue (Broken City) was totally packed with recognizable Calgary musicians that made it really fun to be at. Thee Oh Sees were touring with their double drummer line up at that time which featured Lars from The Intelligence who also opened up the show that night. I’ve become a bit out of touch with what the Castle Face guys have been doing these days but that was one very impressive bill.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
Would probably go back at least a couple hundred years, no real preference as to what year or where but to see music perceived a little differently in another period of time would be something for sure.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Power Buddies – Leave This City
Living Hour – Summer Smog
Hot Sugar – Mayday
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
A Place to Bury Strangers, would love to see and be apart of that band’s live show.
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van/bus/plane what would it be?
Probably York Redoubt’s self titled, that is one of the best records I own.
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Working or hanging with our sweethearts.
From the Random Question Generator:
What magazine do you look for when you are stuck in the waiting room?
Cosmo, those things are fucking ridiculous and they are always laying around.
What’s up for 2015/2016?
Trying to play as many shows as possible, finish recording our LP, tour eastern Canada and hopefully make it down to the states for some shows too.