It was back in August when me and my ET fell in love… with the Toronto based instrumental band; Escalate! at their Pedestrian Sunday performance in Kensington Market. (Click here to read the post!) Grant (bass), Jordan (Guitar), and Tyler (Drums) joined us for our very first interview at the cozy Imperial Pub. We loved interviewing Escalate so much that we have decided there would be three parts of this interview released “bi-daily” (Oct 25th, 27th and 29th...) Here is the "Toasty warm" interview with Escalate! That you can't miss!
Bryen (B): Thank you guys for being here! This is actually our very first interview. So thanks for being the interview subject!
Jordan (J): Nice!
Grant (G): This is kinda our first interview, too. (laughing)
B+ Kanae (K): Oh really?
Tyler (T): We'd never had a review with Exclaim! That's for sure!
J: We had a couple of reviews with Exclaim!, actually.
B: That’s pretty big! How did that come about?
J: It was through a friend of mine. She works with many of the weekly newspapers; sort of like a freelancer. Anyways, she was kind enough to give us some sort of chance as far as like, "Let me see if I can get a few record reviews for the first one."
B: That was in 2005?
J: Yeah, and you know, it was like “let me see if I can get into like a magazine", something like that. I remember the first time, they had a column that explained - I can't remember what it was called at this moment - but it was like “launch pad” for new music or something like that. A group based section. At the time it was only every other issue, so I remember like, “OH, I am excited for the next issue to come out" and I read it and...
B: You read it and it's not there, right?
J: Yeah. I was like, “Oh that's cool. She went to bat for us. But I guess we didn't get in. Apparently, it wasn't in the next issue or one after either. And then it came as a surprise - It wasn't till like 3 years that I discovered the review. I was like, “WHAT?"
B: No kidding. That's pretty awesome!
G: That's our creative nutshell.
J: Pretty much just like that.
B: Many years later!
G: Oh! People know who we are!?
B: "We are from Escalate!” (Bryen doing intro as the band), “OMG!"(Bryen doing the fan's voice)
T: We are looking for a new introduction though.
G: We have a working play list that isn't necessarily ready to start now.
B: We wanna hear that first!!! (Guys make sure to send us more requests to hear from Escalate!)
B: Anyways, I guess it’s kind of a standard interview question - how did you guys come up with the band name?
G: It kinda goes hand in hand with how we got together too. We had all kinds of jams at parties; playing with each other and just fooling around for something basic - but nothing serious. And at the same time, Tyler and I always played in bands with each other.
We were in a rock band with two other guys; a girlfriend of mine the time asked us to play at an art party. It was actually for a fashion show for her school. The guitar player and the singer of the band were like “No way man, like it’s gonna be all about us or nothing”. She kinda wanted us to be the background and just play while people mingle like stuff, right?
When the band was out of the question, she also asked me like "Well, would you wanna do something for this on your own?” I was like "Sure, I’ll put something together." We met with Shandy and Jordan, I kinda ran the idea and passed it by them and they wanted in.
A part of what she was doing in school was a fashion brand that she developed. A part of her thesis was called “Escalate” but it was spelled “Escal8” So it sounded really cool to just to be “Escalate."
T: It was gone to sort of, how our music was at the same time, too. We kinda had a song idea, kinda started jamming on how the song went and talked about what we should do.
G: Yeah we were kinda just jamming. We practiced for 4 hours and then we went to play the four hours show.
J: Yeah, we played like all night!
B+K: Wow, that's great!
G: Yeah - and actually a complete song, "Foreign one" came out from that! That’s a song on out "Grooves. Beats. Science. Soul." album. The 2005 record. It's a product of our first jam ever.
B: That's epically cool!! Not too many bands can say that a complete song is actually a product of their first jam ever!
G: It’s an old song too - we played the song when the cassette was still sticking around.
T: It was recorded on like an old school ghetto blaster. An older silver one, the one of these (Explaining how it looks to Bryan)…
G: …and Tape recording. That's how we recorded
B: Oh it was like A-B in kinda thing?
G: It was really the only thing we had to record with.
B: Ahahahaha awesome!
G: We were trying to take it apart later.
B: People wanna talk about being lo-fi. Here you go!
T: Yeah totally, extremely lo-fi!.
G: We still kinda have the same problem though during a rehearsal. We always like… we even got to the point of setting up a phone or a laptop to make sure we are recording it somehow. Just to record our rehearsal, we do that every time. So we are always looking for a cheesy way to call people’s voice mail or something to record a new song idea.
B: That was a one thing that we were gonna ask. In terms of your writing and recording process, is it based off the entire band jamming or an idea somebody comes up with?
J: There is a bit of both actually.
G: It's both for sure.
J: Someone might bring a riff and we’ll work with it.
G: Yeah and you know what, I’ll have this bass line that I had in my head or whatever. So they’ll jam along while I play the bass line. We go with that and play around - and then it can totally become a song.
J: And there has been also a process where everyone is just fooling around in a warm-up.
G: Oh yeah.
J: Tylor might be playing something and one of us might join in, or something.
G: And somewhere in the mess, we will come to this groove and just like rock it!
T: We landed it!
J: That's kinda of a good feel or that's a really cool part something like that. And we love to come across songs that way.
T: You know, there are some wicked cell phone recordings.
J: Yeah, yeah,
T: I’m sure we’ve all done that, haven’t we?
B: I’ve done that a couple of times!
G: It usually like two weeks later that we revisit that recording, and I got a new song idea of the song, and the track is all crackly - all bassy and crunchy
B: "where is the keyboard?"
J: Oh God. That's our bands whole story!
J: you know, there is an iPhone application, the voice memo one? It is kinda of really nice coz you can get like a group recording. It’s not too bad.
B: I’ve toyed around with it - it's not terrible
J: And that's the best of we have done as far as that – we’ll sit it somewhere between convenient and sounding ok.
G: Oh, and we can email it to each other immediately too.
B: And when you guys are jamming, is it all four of you or sometimes just the two separate groups of brothers?
G: It's mostly all of us. Well, we kinda get together just to have fun and hammer down some ideas. Only all of us make it "Escalate!"
J: It’s interesting that when you bring one idea, like an instrument idea to a rehearsal, how quickly the idea changes. You have an important vision for it, but somehow it becomes more interesting together. It's kinda of like our minds are working together coz because of the one person's vision.