Priors: Montreal Punk’s New Pleasure Seekers

May 24, 2017 in features

 

With the release of LP1 eminent, Label Obscura will get you up to speed and go in depth to unveil all past mistakes that have lead to Priors.

Being no stranger to the landscape tread on this record, it’s matriarchal protagonist Chance Hutchison, a member of Montreal’s Sonic Avenues and captain of Brain Gum records, set out to beat songs out of his mind in the middle of the night. Once all of the material was hammered out, Hutchison assembled a band capable of achieving his sonic conquests. Pulling in Seb Godin (Sonic Avenues) on guitar, Drew Demers (the Famines, Pentagon Black) on drums and Alan Hildebrandt and Stuart Buckley on bass and guitar respectively, the band holed up at Drones in Montreal with engineer Christian Simmons and smacked down the album in only a few short days. Urgency used as a building block, this group of outliers wrestle with sounds and themes as ugly as they care to broach.

First single “Story Blind” kicks off LP1 introducing us to Priors razor sharp rhythm section, with biting guitar propelling the point. “Disgrace” lurks around the corner, jumping out with subtle yet unsettling synthesizer bubbling over. “Intermediate” is a guitar work-out, “Hungry For Love” a fuzz bass blasting garage rock exercise, weaving its way into “Reality”, a stand-out track, chock full of Hutchison’s manic vocal diatribes. “I Don’t Kid” is the last song on the record to surpass the two minute mark, but what this band can accomplish in ninety seconds is startling. “Bottom Feeder” offers up one of the catchiest hooks, “Big Love” follows suit. “Internal Wasted” and album closer “Old Boys Club” shape shifting tempos and phased guitar licks lock together with uncertain ease.


I Spoke to Hutchison in the week leading up to the LP1 release party…

KB: What was the process like for you writing and demoing these songs?

CH: Well first thing was I’d never ever in my life played guitar for more than two minutes before last year. I’ve played bass since I was 12 and I just figured that was my instrument. Didn’t have a lot of self-esteem to try anything else. I kind of grew up a bit and got bored so I bought a $200 Mexican Strat and just started hammering on it. I wanted to get the ideas down though so I bought the cheapest IMac on Kijiji I could find and stole logic and started to demo songs. I wrote around 12 and then started showing a few friends what I’d done and they were stoked so it gave me some confidence to keep going. I ended up doing around 50 like that.

KB: was it a struggle to find people to play the songs the way you envisioned them? Or does the band latch on to your vibe pretty smoothly?

CH: I asked Drew Demers from the Famines over one night and asked him if he’d be interested in playing with me. I had only talked to Seb Godin about maybe helping also before drew. Drew had two guys lined up to jam that I’d basically never met before. In my mind this project was going to be more of a lo-fi psych kind of thing but after the first jam it had already taken another form, which I was very ok with. We were a lot heavier than anticipated but that’s more my background anyway. I guess it was always going to be that way I just didn’t know it yet.

KB: What inspired the bulk of the material? Was there a pocket of bands you were listening to? Or was it just plug in and see what comes out.

CH: To be honest it was very much Australia. There are so many good bands from the past and present that really turned me on to wanting to play. Aside from other bands though really I think it was just time for me to start writing and be creative at home. When I was younger I could never find the time to write alone and now that I’m sort of settled in Montréal I wanted projects to work on so I’d keep busy and stay happy.

KB: What was recording the record like?

CH: Completely a new experience for me. We recorded at a DIY space called Drones with Christian Simmons. It’s got a really cool vibe but does not feel like a studio in the live room at all. We did everything off the floor, no click and to tape. Basically no overdubs, except vocals. Max Desharnais mixed it and that was a breeze cause I’ve worked with him in sonic avenues for five or so years and he really gets what I’m going for. We recorded the record in a day and mixed for a week I’d say maybe less. I’d never recorded everything to tape before. I’d passed a mix through tape to get the feel but never completely analogue. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back.

PRIORS LP1 ART

KB: What’s the plan for the physical release of the album? I know you and Drew put out records on your own labels, is that the idea for this one?

CH: I’m handling tapes in Canada via my own label, Brain Gum. Drew and Raymond are doing a Poster release via Pentagon Black which is a 20×30 copy on newsprint with download code like they’ve been doing with their Pentagon Black compilations and I’m talking with a label right now in Europe about doing a vinyl run over there.

KB: What else is in store for Priors this year?

CH: We’ve got a handful of shows booked in Montreal for the summer. Our tape/poster release is May 26th. Playing Ottawa explosion in June and le Knockout festival in Quebec, which is in August. We’re going to do a few shows in Ontario in August as well and then it’s possible we’ll go to the east coast and maybe Europe late this year or early next year. We’re also going to record the second record in July, which I’m really excited about.

Catch Priors live in Montreal this Friday May 26th at L’esco to celebrate the record’s release, which can be heard here: https://priorsmtl.bandcamp.com/album/priors and check out their track from the Pentagon Black Compilation No.2 while your at it.

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By Kevin Bell

Kevin Bell is a Hamilton based musician, writer and record enthusiast.

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