The Rest have a CD release party tonight in Toronto that you should really be a part of.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
The Rest have a CD release party in their hometown of Hamilton on June 30 that you should really be a part of.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
In late September of 2011 Adam and I gathered for beers at The Brain in Hamilton. At 5:00pm on a Tuesday the bar was quiet and I sat by as Adam and the barkeep discussed shows happening at This Ain’t Hollywood. This went on for about an hour but it didn’t drag. Adam seemed embedded in the happenings of the city and very aware. What’s more, he included me in a conversation I couldn’t possibly add that much to in a way that didn’t seem obligatory. Now that I’ve hung out with Adam a few times I can say that this lends to my statement about The Rest’s ability to engage. Every time I’ve been by to see a set Adam stops to talk shop, new listening habits and projects. He’s a music and conversation enthusiast.
After a while Adam and I took a corner table next to some board games and a rad little lamp and the conversation began to flow freely.
EN: So first off your set at Supercrawl was fantastic. I’m still beaming from the whole day because it was such a success for the city but to see you guys pull in a crowd in the early afternoon was great. You seemed really busy that day. Was it nerves or are events like that always hectic?
AB: That day turned out being really great but at the start of it I was a bit out of it. Our guitar play Steve was in the hospital and it was pretty bad and no one had heard from him so we were all a bit frazzled. And the beginning of a festival always seems a bit disjointed no matter how much anyone plans for it but things came together really well and the crowd was amazing.
Supercrawl was a crackling success as anyone who attended will attest to. For a quick set under the blistering sun of mid-day The Rest amassed a large and enthusiastic group of crawlers (Hamilton’s term for Artcrawl and Supercrawl participants). I went around after talking to people about the band and most of the people in front of the stage had never heard of The Rest before.
EN: I did a little interaction with some random people after you guys left stage and the unanimous vote was “Wow those guys were incredible”. What’s interesting is that most of them hadn’t heard of you before. Are The Rest purposely flying under the radar?
AB: (Laughs) No I don’t think we purposely are but we really like winning new people over from a live experience. I think genuine energy bleeds into a crowd and we’ve never felt it as much as we do now.
EN: Is the band doing something different…maybe some sort of pre-show ritual or practice method?
AB: Well we haven’t practiced much lately but I truly think we are getting better. [Author’s Side Note: The Rest ARE getting better. Currently I’ve seen them six times and their live show always outdoes the previous one]. As a band I think it is about levelling and it is tough knowing your band mates so well. The Rest started eight years ago and we have our original seven members so something is going right. I think we’ve cracked a code and we talk a little less now when we’re practicing or recording. A lot of it is by feel and that’s great.
EN: I think what you said about genuine energy bleeding into a crowd is very true and something The Rest should be proud of. Nothing feels contrived. The live show feels urgent, almost like the band has no choice but to unleash the songs on the crowd.
AB: Yeah and that’s what keeps it going! It’s a smash…creative bliss. And we strive for it, that transcendent feeling.
At the time most of The Rest’s set list was comprised of new cuts from their new album SEESAW. During this conversation the album was still making its rounds on an event horizon around a black hole. What’s important is that the songs they crafted for the album had wandering structures. The Rest left room for improvisation, allowing seven musicians to experiment and create in a live setting. That’s one of the premium reasons to revisit The Rest in concert.
EN: In July you The Rest played a small but experimental show at Casbah Lounge. Because of spatial constraints the seven members set up in a circle with the crowd enjoying the show in the middle. How did that whole thing come about?
AB: Ah that night turned out pretty cool! It was just something to keep us fresh while we’ve been dealing with the record being gone. I think that was what we needed…something fun. Trying to balance sound in such a small place with so many factors was interesting but giving the audience something new was also what we were after.
EN: Yeah that whole thing was pretty unique but worked out really well. It forced a little bit of interaction from the audience, scanning the band members in full rotation, always taking in new things.
As the night started to drag on the talk becomes charged and it was right about then that the brews kicked in and we dove into the saga that is SEESAW. One thing I’ve learned is that interviewing Adam requires a fast pen and focused eyes. His facial reactions give depth to his excited conversation, lending weight to his emotion.
EN: So here we are again. Talk to me about SEESAW’s development. Has it been found? Will it see the light of day? If so…when? For people like me now ensnared by this unicorn chase we deserve a reward! (If that seems a bit harsh I was laughing and so was Adam).
AB: Okay so we’ve got it back (Adam’s eyebrows rose as if to say “who knows for how long” but in hindsight I realize that it was simply relief). Get this. We had to go through the guys responsible for black box recovery. Those songs were long gone man. But we have them and their being mastered by Bob Weston who is so good. We know it will still be a while because his schedule is pretty full, but we know that the songs are going to get the depth they require. He’s going to get a sound from those songs that will represent what we want.
Although Adam was genuinely stoked, and rightfully so, about Bob Weston’s involvement there was an undeniable air of impatience in his voice. However, Adam seemed torn and how could he not. Everything the band had slaved over was now in their hands ready to give to our greedy ears but still we would have to wait. Of course, Adam had an answer for this.
AB: So we’re going to do a double A-side release really soon to give everyone something for the wait. It will probably be “Always On My Mind” and “The Last Day”. We didn’t really do b-sides for this album. I think it was all about quality. “John Huston” was one of the first songs we wrote for this and it has undergone some changes but it has been released for a while. Everyone’s had that in their hands for a while. We’re excited to get these two tracks out.
EN: What is it about those two songs that you think will hold people over while properly giving us a taste of SEESAW? Your Southern Souls video for “The Last Day” teased at a pretty sprawling track. From what I remember of “Always On My Mind” it is far more paced and straight forward. How will the two pair together?
AB: I think the new album is much more straight forward. A lot of the metaphors are gone and that wasn’t really intended…it just happened. I think its less ambiguous…more direct. We hope it is going to be an interesting listen because we’re meshing a lot of musical ideas together and “Always On My Mind” and “The Last Day” seem like a nicely balanced way for people to get introduced that component of SEESAW.
The double A-side would go on to receive unanimous praise from indie blogs and columns across the vast stretches of the interweb. It was a bold choice but one that further solidified my belief in The Rest’s ability to create an honest indie rock gem.
EN: I wouldn’t mind hearing a little more about the process. You mentioned Dan Achen and how his tragic passing fuelled the album, but tell me a little bit more about SEESAW behind the scenes.
AB: Dan was such a huge influence on my life as I’ve mentioned before. In the studio though, he taught me so much about how to really capture the sound we wanted. I mean, he used to rip on me a lot and it sometimes took a lot for me to give up on an argument. In the past I would mull over the most minute details and Dan kind of taught me, and us, how to shape those details into what we wanted. His voice carried over into SEESAW. We definitely brought Dan’s spirit into the studio as a guide. After the album got deleted, or whatever you want to call it, we didn’t write at all. I think we all knew this was the album we had to release next.
A short time later Mike Keire (of Threshold Studios, a good friend of Adam’s and another large piece of the SEESAW puzzle) came in and a few more beers followed. Very naturally, the conversation drifted away from SEESAW without any of us noticing. We talked about artists we were listening to (Japandroids, St.Vincent, Girls). Adam told me about the first record he ever owned. It was the Cool Runnings Soundtrack. His dad wanted him to get Nirvana but Adam loved John Candy so that was that. Soon, the sun was down, traffic was low and my eyes were heavy. We said our goodbyes and it was only hours later that I realized I still had no idea when I’d hold this album in my own hands. Adam probably didn’t have a clue either and I don’t think I could tell you now who was more frustrated about that.
2012. Remembering the order of events is hazy. The Rest posted a very brief message on their facebook announcing that SEESAW was ready. That was March. On St. Patrick’s Day I went to a bash at Threshold Studios where Adam and I served Steam Whistle to friends and fellow musicians. Everyone laughed and shared from the bottle and Adam and I barely broached the subject of the album. In a drunken fade he promised only one thing about its delivery…soon! Then, in late April my friend Dan, who I had turned onto The Rest way back in June at that fateful first meeting, told me about the new Broken Social Scene/The Stills combo band Eight and a Half playing at the Casbah. Then I bought tickets for that show and heard that The Rest were opening. Around the same time The Rest started to release a song a week from the new album, giving fans and newcomers an opportunity to hear the sound. Then at the cusp of May I received an email announcing a video project. The Rest created a vivid, surreal and inclusive in studio video for Always On My Mind complete with animal costumes, choir vocals, chalkboard art and one long take. And oh yeah…SEESAW had a release date. June 19.
May 2 saw The Rest open for Eight And A Half, scooping up heaps of new fans with an energetic and captivating performance. Before the show I caught up with Adam and Jordan. Adam mentioned how it could be hard for the show-goer to keep coming back for the same songs over and over again, ironically talking to a guy (me) who’s been to almost every show they’ve played since I first heard them. It’s something Adam’s voiced concern over before but one of the best qualities of The Rest’s music is its ability to be appreciated repeatedly. It flows so naturally and finds new paths, not relying on structure. I do my best to assure Adam that the songs are always refreshing but I’m sure the thunderous applause at the end of their set is a bit more convincing.
Just days before the release of SEESAW I sent Adam a quick message to congratulate him and confirm a few things before the article was released. He calls me back in a bit of a rage.
“Hey man, we were just practicing sorry I missed your call,” Adam huffs.
“No problem. I’m just getting ready to finish up the article. How does it feel to have control again?” I ask.
“You know what…the curse continues. I just sent out over a 1000 CDs world wide and am getting messages back that they are full of static. I’m a little calmer now but you can only imagine…” he trails off.
And I’m speechless. The album is out now on the Internet and vinyl but the CD is the complete package…the last check box on the list for the release. “No shit” is all I can muster.
“Yeah but I think it’s fixable. Well, it is fixable but can you believe it?” he asks.
“Listen, the vinyl is all good and vinyl sounds best so don’t worry about it. I’ve read the reviews and haven’t come across a single negative word. Congrats man and I’ll have the piece up tomorrow.”
“Thanks so much Luke, for all of the support” Adam finishes.
SEESAW was released this week in all of its glory. I think The Rest would finally call the position they’re in “exciting”. The complete package is stunning. Blake Bowman, the enigmatic drummer for The Rest, did the cover art featuring some of Adam’s family members in the 50’s at the beach where Hutches now stands. The image has a children’s slide set over top creating a hazed out tunnel effect. For once I’m a little lost for words. I know that I will continue to play The Rest for new friends, to attend shows at great frequency and spread the word. I feel like a part of the journey and if nothing else comes from this project I couldn’t care less. I’m extremely thankful for the insight and invite to participate in this whirlwind of a ride. For the first time though, I think I’ll let Adam wrap this one up for me. When asked about if this is The Rest’s grand success Adam has this to say.
“I’m hoping so. I want to live like every moment is the last time I’ll be able to play in something significant again. This record has been so all consuming that I don’t want to leave anything behind. I want to make sure that everything gets each ounce of my energy. I do intend this to be a band forever.”