Soon after the release of their great new songs & music videos “To Our Dead Friends” and “Cicatrice“, orchestral post-black metal / post-hardcore / screamo outfit RESPIRE are about to release their long-awaited new album ‘Black Line‘ on this Friday, December 4th on Church Road Records. To celebrate, we have teamed up with the inventive ensemble to give you for a special journey through their past shows, recalling some of the greatest memories encoded with valuable people met on the road, and noteworthy places and experience that contributed to the substance of their cultural identity.
Canadian DIY collective Respire have been crafting cinematic, genre-defying soundscapes since forming in the bitter winter of 2013, when they spent evenings and weekends in a frigid west-end Toronto basement. Blending lush, emotive orchestration with the fervor and aggression of blackened hardcore, Respire aim to create hopeful music for troubling times.
With an army of collaborators in tow, the six-piece have released two critically-acclaimed LPs (Gravity and Grace, 2016, and Dénouement, 2018), and toured Europe (2017, 2018) and Mexico (2019). They are back in 2020 at their most ambitious and incendiary – weaving an anti-fascist narrative of redemption against the backdrop of impending global climate catastrophe.
Written over two years and produced over six months, Black Line finds Respire turning away from the sickness of the self and onto the sickness ailing the world. Yet despite its towering inferno of anguish, Black Line is a call to arms – to burn away the ugliness that threatens to divide and destroy us, to reclaim agency in a world spiraling out of control, to find beauty in destruction and hope in rebirth.
BLACK LINE, the newest mastepiece from Toronto Post-Everything Collective RESPIRE is out December 4 on Church Road Records.
Words by RESPIRE
Durango, Mexico, 2019
Joliette – Cecapsis
Touring Mexico was a really amazing experience. The people are incredibly warm and friendly, the food is unreal, and the urbanism/architecture nerds in us were endlessly stimulated. Having only spent time playing shows in Canada and Europe, we’d heard from friends that touring Mexico would be a much different, hands-off experience.
When it comes to concerts in Mexico, things are planned pretty loose and everyone simply goes with the flow (which stresses us out as show organizers and promoters, but less so as a band). All our shows in Mexico were zany in their own way. Our show in Durango was a highlight of said zaniness. A six band bill started a couple of hours late while we ate some amazing Discada tacos. A stray dog wandering into the venue, which guests and bands fed tacos to while the first band played. The venue was massive and yet somehow actually filled up with people, all arriving on their own schedules. Our set was one of the most fun we played on that run. Egin got crowdsurfed while playing their guitar. People were extremely receptive of our music.
The last band was done well past 3 am, and by that point nearly everyone in Respire had found a dry/quiet corner to nap in somewhere in the venue. Which was good, because we needed our energy for the Mexican Country Music dance party that followed for yet another couple of hours.
New Friends Fest, Toronto, 2019
Majority Rule – The Sin in Grey
New Friends Fest is planned and run by Egin/Rohan from Respire, along with Vanessa, who directed and produced our music videos for ‘Cicatrice’ and ‘To Our Dead Friends’. Our first year in 2018 was a lot of fun, with I Hate Sex playing their last-ever set as a highlight – but it was all planned a little to quickly. We knew we wanted to do something really special for 2019, and were lucky enough to put together an amazing lineup that included our heroes and absolute LEGENDS City of Caterpillar and Majority Rule.
Our set was extra special on this night. Never having played the US, we had a room full of Americans who had never seen us to impress. We played as an eight-piece, and definitely felt some feelings as the whole room yelled along to the words from ‘Catacombs’; “nothing changes if nothing changes”.
Montreal, with Loma Prieta / Jeromes Dream – 2019
Loma Prieta – Worn Path
We’ve been fans and friends of Loma Prieta for almost a decade now. On this very special run, they were joined by 2000’s screamo legends Jeromes Dream. We couldn’t play with them in Toronto on this tour since it was only a few days before New Friends Fest, so we were ecstatic to be invited by our friend David (of the fantastic band Gulfer) to play the Montreal date.
Montreal has always been a home-away-from-home for us in Respire. We have so many warm memories of playing there and of the wonderful people that comprise the Montreal DIY community. It makes the six hour drive (on one straight highway with absolutely no scenery) always worth it. This show was no exception. We played a great set amongst all our friends, and got to revel together in the emotional performances of both Loma Prieta and Jeromes Dreams together, arm in arm.
Dénouement Release Show, Toronto, 2018
Ostraca – Waiting for the Crash
We planned our hometown record release show perfectly – right after two weeks of touring Europe, so we were ‘tour tight’ – and with Dénouement producer Paul Mack as the house tech in the venue, The Garrison. We planned a long weekend Ontario/Quebec run with Ostraca, who we are all big fans of. It was our first time seeing them play, so we were extremely excited to catch every minute of their set and introduce them to our Canadian community.
In Toronto, we played the whole album front-to-back as an eight-piece, plus a couple of Gravity and Grace extras.
It was great to see friends and family that don’t normally come out to see us. It’s always hilarious to see their reactions after the show – ‘wow I had no idea you could make those noises from your throat’, ‘I don’t love the screaming but everything else was amazing!’ This show was an extremely emotional culmination of everything we had accomplished from our first record to that point.
Family Fest, Slovakia, 2018
Shallov – IV
We had no idea what to expect from this fest, but the lineup looked hilarious – a wild mish mash of metalcore, screamo, post-rock, and techno. It was in the middle of nowhere, Slovakia – and the first outdoor show we had ever played, not to mention the first outdoor camping festival. It turned out to be a true highlight of tour and we ended up hanging out with a ton of friends we made on that run – our tour mates Love/Lust, plus Malisa Bahat, Shallov, Nionde Plagan, Tengil, Zmar, Kruhy, 52 Hertz Whale, etc. We had just picked up our trumpet player Emmett from the airport, and this was also his first intro to Euro-DIY shenanigans.
Everyone was so incredibly drunk (it seems like beer is more of a chaser beverage in Slovakia, where liquor flows like water), and our set was a riotous party. We passed a bottle of whiskey in the crowd and it was dry by the time it reached back to us. Everyone got crowdsurfed, all our instruments becoming unplugged in the process. The night ended with DJs in a techno rave. Lots of hilarious anecdotes from that night, most which we will never remember, and one in particular we’ll never forget.
Cry Me A River Fest – 2018
June Paik – Aleska
We had all been reading about CMAR forever – a legendary European screamo fest that carried a certain mystique on the internet forums of the 2000s. We were beyond thrilled to have a chance to play it in 2018. The overall atmosphere, sense of community, organization, commitment to social justice, and outside activities like a pool day and mini golf tournament opened our eyes, and became an inspiration for New Friends Fest.
We had some great times with old friends, spending our second day bathing in the warmth and love of community. Egin got a massive parking lot stick-and-poke tattoo from inebriated Germans. We learned UK drinking games and made new friends left and right. We got to watch a band we never thought we’d be able to – June Paik – and freaked them out by begging the members for autographs.
Budapest, Hungary, 2017
Oaken – Killing Fields
This was the last show of our first European tour. We got to the venue – which was a very fancy club in Budapest, and were instantly treated like rock stars (we are not rock stars). The owner sent a staff member on errands to buy stuff for us, and they even helped us load in. The room was packed, and we (with two weeks of tour under our belt) were on top of our game and having a great time playing our songs together. Of course – as with all shows in venues that seem too nice to be true, I think we had about 2 minutes after our set to breathe before staff were basically throwing our stuff off the stage to get the club night started. A fitting end to our first major tour.
Solingen, Germany, 2017
Love/Lust – And Drift Away
Our 5 hour drive from Kiel to Solingen turned into a 9 hour drive – turns out it was the end of a holiday weekend and everyone was coming back from the sea. We pulled into the venue about 30 minutes before curfew, and after the fastest set up ever, played a quick ripper of a set. The real shenanigans started after the show, when we found and broke into a random German carnival ground, snapped pics with gnome statues, and hijacked some rides, having the time of our lives. Unfortunately, we were soon confronted by a very angry security guard with a scary looking dog, and (no joke) a katana. Luckily, our friend (and 2018 tour driver) Marta talked him down off the ledge. Turns out he was a cool dude who liked punk and was just sick of all the amateur pornography being filmed at the carnival grounds after hours.
Hamburg, Germany, 2017
Lentic Waters – Absent
Our first European show ever happened to be at the legendary Rote Flora, a decades-long DIY squat/venue in the heart of Hamburg. It’s a truly inspirational place and one we’re lucky to have had the chance to play multiple times. While the venue was amazing, our set was… less so. After an overnight flight, we had all been awake for around 36 hours, and barely got through our songs. Travis’ crash cymbal flew off his kit and struck Egin’s hand mid-tremolo, gushing blood all over their guitar. I think we had to re-do a single part three different times to get it right. Sorry to everyone who attended – we’ll make it up to you one day!
First Show Ever – Thigh High Clubhouse, Toronto, 2014
Alaskan – Inferno
Our first ever show was in a tiny living room in a Toronto house venue, with a fantastic now-defunct Canadian Post-Metal band we were all fans of, Alaskan. It was the middle of winter, and everyone was huddled in this small room – it was impossible to set up. These were the days when we actually set up a glockenspiel between Egin’s and Rohan’s vocal mics. I remember handing my guitar to a guy standing right in front of me saying ‘if you’re gonna be in the way, help me out’. We finally got going, and people seemed to dig it! Looking back, it’s pretty unreal how far we’ve come – we’re proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish since that day in February 2014.