Oct 30th, 2015
Repulsion finds Toronto post-punks Greys evolving yet again. Where their debut full length, If Anything, had the band maniacally bludgeoning the listener with cacophonous noise and gingerly placed hooks, this new EP sees the young four-piece stretching their muscles. They experiment with dynamics and embrace melody, while still retaining their knack for raucous squalls of guitar feedback. Greys take their time scraping the needle over these seven inches of wax, expanding upon the ephemeral, ethereal moments found on its predecessor.
“We wanted to take ourselves out of our comfort zone,” says singer-guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani. “It’s still the same ingredients, but we’ve recontextualized everything so that these songs aren’t just a continuation of If Anything.” The change of scenery came with the band traveling to Montreal to record at esteemed studio Hotel2Tango with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor), which gave Repulsion its more spacious, analog sound. Lead single “I’d Hate To Be An Actor,” mixed by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Holy Fuck), eschews the band’s usual breakneck speed for a slow, churning dirge, with Jiwani’s tranquilized voice sitting somewhere between modern day Michael Gira and vintage Jason Pierce.
Elsewhere, album closer “Nothing Means Anything” (mixed by the band’s longtime producer Mike Rocha) launches a motorik beat by Braeden Craig through Cam Graham’s guitar swells and Colin Gillespie’s syncopated basslines, with playfully sarcastic lyrics evoking Blur’s “Parklife” by way of Courtney Barnett. That all of this creative growth happens in under ten minutes is a testament to Greys’ devotion to songwriting over noisemaking. Not only are they unwilling to repeat themselves—they demand your attention every step of the way.
1. The Voyeur
2. I’d Hate To Be An Actor
3. Nothing Means Anything
North America: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Radio by email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
• Limited vinyl pressing of 300
• Recorded at Hotel2Tango in Montreal with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor); mixed by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Holy Fuck)
• September tour opening for Viet Cong
• Video for “The Voyeur” coming soon
• More live dates in the works, including CMJ
Hi-res TIFF album art:
Photo by: Ebru Yildiz
Presented here is a conversation with noise rock outfit Greys. The Toronto quartet is comprised of singer/guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani, guitarist Cam Graham, bassist Colin Gillespie and drummer Braeden Craig. They are about to release their third album, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, on Carpark Records. Here are some things they had to say about it.
Q: Does the title mean you guys are getting older?
A: Not exactly. We mean this current age, the present. Your era. Your past. Your generation. It doesn’t define you. It’s rebelling against the notion that you are a product of your time. We’re taking a snapshot of things exactly as they are, from our perspective, if only to break free from it.
Q: But you aren’t kids anymore, either. This is your third album. How does it feel?
A: If nothing else, we’re confident that we are doing our best to push ourselves forward without looking back. Albums like Check Your Head, To Bring You My Love, Fear Of Music, Microcastle, Reign In Blood, To Pimp A Butterfly, Some Rap Songs… All of these artists cast off their shackles on their third albums and they were reborn as a greater version of themselves. That’s what we had our sights on – a reincarnation of sorts. I couldn’t tell you if we accomplished that, but I can say that we tried to push ourselves about as far outside our own perception of what a “rock band” can be while still retaining certain characteristics that make us sound like Greys.
Q: When you say “shackles,” do you mean you felt restricted creatively prior to this?
A: In many ways, yes. Constrained by our own self-imposed limitations, like speed, or volume, or methodology, like only recording live to tape. We existed primarily as a live band and our old records reflected that, but lately, the traditional rock setup just wasn’t inspiring us. This time, we spent a year in the studio, wrote about 20 songs, and embraced the challenge of making something more cerebral and cinematic. Recreating it live never factored into the equation. We entertained every idea that came to our heads using whatever we could get our hands on: samplers, drum machines, synths, tape loops, whatever. It was more about experimenting with tension, dynamics, space and textures than brute force.
Q: The lyrics seem to embody that, sitting more in an abstract zone than your usual, topical approach.
A: We tried to do something more impressionistic than literal. The socio-political stuff is still in there, because it’s impossible not to internalize what is going on around you, but the gaze is inverted back inward to dissect how your surroundings can shape you, and how you either resist that or become a product of them. The goal was to spark several conversations at once, not just home in on a specific subject for each track. If your takeaway from “Kill Appeal” is that it’s about gentrification, police brutality, Indigenous rights, mass shootings, drug dependency, James Baldwin, or all of the above, there’s no wrong answer.
Q: The music similarly goes in many different directions at once. Were you concerned that the variety of sounds on display might cloud your overall vision?
A: We’ve been a band for eight years. The four of us playing together will always sound like ourselves, no matter what. The bands we grew up listening to incorporated many different styles into their music. The way algorithms work – on social media, on streaming services, whatever – they want to shepherd you into boxes that make your personality easy to compartmentalize. People aren’t like that. Life isn’t like that. This record speaks to the chaos and unpredictability of our day to day lives as we skirt the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation. It represents where we are at right now, particularly as this middle child generation who grew up without a workforce to enter and without technology being an extension of our bodies and minds. It would be a betrayal of our age not to address these complicated situations in our music and lyrics.
Q: Do you think people will hear that and embrace this record?
A: We like it. Aside from that, who fucking cares?