Interviews

SANS GRAS interview

SANS GRAS is an experimental / indie / post rock band from Melbourne, Australia. Recently they caught our attention with their work, live performances and unique approach to songs. We talked to the band on May 23, 2012.

Hi. It’s always good to welcome a band representing a different style or genre. You’re definitely of them [smiles]. How have you been doing lately?

Thanks! We’ve been busy finding our new dynamic with our new line-up. It’s been a – very rewarding – baptism of fire having a residency all this month at a very cool, very intimate basement venue. The room isn’t a great leap from our rehearsal space, so it’s been an easy transition, just working out things like where we should set up so as to have a direct line to play to each other.

Your music takes me on a quite interesting journey through different soundscapes. Where exactly are you placed on the curve of post rock music? Please explain our readers what can they expect?

It’s been quite an interesting journey to get to this point! It’s the first time we feel really solid about the music we’re making and it’s unifying elements. Obviously every song is very different, and could be called post-rock or experimental (Tyler wants to call it psyche-hop, but that doesn’t fit in the mind for two guitarists, kit and bass!). The music we want to explore is exactly that of a journey, a dynamic exploration of a theme that is most often in the music rather than the lyrics. We have a lot of space, but everything is always held together by a groove. It can be equal parts contemplative and explosive, but never can you not dance to it.

What are you musical backgrounds? Any previous projects?

Between us they are many and diverse. Our new guitarist Josh is currently in three other projects, including Ella Hooper’s new band, a balls-out rock trio THEM 9’s and his own psyche-funk outfit SEX FACE, who ANS GRAS have a long history with and it was always inevitable that we would snaffle him. Previously he was a part of Ballarat hero’s EPICURE until they called it a day last year. Our drummer Ryan had been away from a kit for a few years before we put him back behind the stool, playing percussion for live dance outfits to pay the bills. After the departure of our previous, adored drummer Kent, with his professional interest in Latin percussion and rhythms we didn’t think we could find someone to fill his shoes. In hindsight, and in practice, Ryan’s a perfect fit and he brings a great drive and colour to the songs. Ryan and Cayn have actually worked together for years as the live part of a DJ outfit that entertains the hungry St.Kilda crowd every Saturday night. That’s only one of Cayn’s musical alter-ego’s.. from solo male diva, to sax prodigy, to stints building his rock chops with the sadly defunct stoner-blues trio THE LEGS and also with the DARDANELLES as their wave was breaking. It was his need for a bass-player that convinced his long-time heterosexual life-partner Tyler to pick one up. He’d always considered music a passion, and it was in him, but had instead chosen to do a myriad of other things. Now he’s spreading his wings and diversifying into 90’s-throwback pop-grunge with outfit CONSTANT KILLER, so as to not try to bring his inner 15-year-old to the SANS GRAS table.

How do you remember your “Shed Your Woes” EP session at Tender Trap Studios? How different was it compared to your first EP, “Retrogade Motion” session?

We deliberately approached Shed Your Woes in a way that was oppositional to Retrograde Motion. That first EP was quite disjointed in it’s recording and have a very studio polish that served Cayn’s visions of his ideas, and it was a great result. But after so many hours playing together and feeling each other out and being more collaborative with the finished versions of songs we decided it was best to have three days in a studio, without a producer, to just capture exactly who we are when we’re on stage. It was a great time, and another successful collection of recordings. We even had plenty of time to just push record and play off the cuff, recording some great jams – one of which was given as a download to punters at one of shows a while back. Probably next time we’ll go for the balance between rawness and intricacy that both prior EP’s represent.

Do you successively change your attitude to making music from jamming to standard writing method?

Each song has it’s own history of development, but generally their seeds are sown in Cayn’s compulsive play with sounds, melodies and ideas. Sometimes he’ll bring in something with all the parts mostly complete, others just a riff or sound and some idea of where it should go. The gestation for each song differs, too. Wildflower evolved over twelve months on the stage as much as in a studio, while the new track Face Done Follow simply came together in two runs to crystallise Cayn’s vision. It’s always a palpable feeling in the room when we try something new and it works. It’s a great feeling! Then the labour of getting into the intricacies of each part by each of us can take some time but has it’s own surprises and excitement. Becoming intimate with a new song or sound is what drives us along.

Did you crystallize ideas for a full length? What and when can we expect?

It’s high time we put out a full-length, now that we have collectively discovered that thing that lies between each of us that is SANS GRAS. Cayn’s busy working on new material and wading through the old to throw at us. In evolving from the first incarnation to the current we’ve jettisoned some old favourites in favour of cohesion, so we think that some part of the album will be definitive, contextual versions of the some of the tracks from our past as well as a bunch of new material. We’re confident enough now to throw our belief behind the full-length statement. Shed Your Woes is more like a statement of intention, a full-length is an assertion of contention.

Ok, and how about live shows? Have you played many gigs before?

The old line-up of SABS GRAS played extensively around Melbourne and Victoria supporting the all manner of acts such as THE FUMES and TOM UGLY…we’ve also thrown a few parties. Tyler used to live in a house in North Fitzroy that had a massive flat roof. We’d set up a stage and get bands to come and play. Until we got a huge fine. The new line-up is about to play it’s fourth show, the last in our residency at the Grace Darling Basement.

What else is coming up from the band?

We’re releasing “Shed Your Woes” on 10″ Vinyl, really excited about this. Also a tour of the East and South Coast of Oz in August/September.

How’s Melbourne these days? Tell us more about your local music scene and good artists worth recommending.

Melbourne is a veritable melting pot of art, music and community. One of strongest points as an arts hub for Australia is the commitment and support displayed by artists and punters. People want to get out, see some music, go to an opening, throw a party to fund a communal veggie garden…I have this theory that it’s the cold weather. Up north the weather is gorgeous/fucking hot all the time. It’s all you can manage to do – crawl out to the beach and lay about with a beer. In Melbourne it’s unpredictable at best in the Summer, and down right mean in the winter (by our standards). We’ve got to work hard to keep the grey skies away…

Melbourne bands to check out: CUBA IS JAPAN, HIGH TEA, DEAD RIVER DEEPS, SECOND HAND HEART, AINSLEE WILLS.

Thanks for your time. Cheers!

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