On September 7th, we caught up with Xavier Poitras from the Montreal-based group Solids on the rooftop of The Bodega Social Club in Hockley, before their set.
IMPACT: Have you performed here before?
Xavier: No, it’s our first time in Nottingham. The whole UK tour was offered to us by our good friends PUP from Toronto. We had a show scheduled in Shanghai a week and a half from now so we were like “we can go to the UK and then fly to China from there”.
I: How long have you guys been touring for?
X: Uh, it’s a really short run actually. Maybe two weeks? It was perfect timing and we love those dudes (PUP) so…
“Sometimes we played to 3 people…”
I: How did you meet them?
X: We actually toured with PUP three years ago. We did pretty much all the coasts of the US and went down to Austin, Texas during South by South West. We toured with them for like 25 days when we were both pretty unknown so some shows were really really not well attended. Sometimes we played to 3 people…
I: Which do you prefer? Intimate shows or shows with lots of people?
X: It depends. It’s all about the vibe, I guess. We have played shows to really enthusiastic groups of 12 or 15 people and they were really good shows. And we’ve played in big venues packed with people that don’t really seem to be that into it. It’s all about the vibe. Lately, all the shows with PUP have been sold out or near sold out, so we always play for a packed room and people are usually enthusiastic in those shows because, well. PUP does that to people I guess.
I: I’m curious as to how Blame Confusion and Else compare to each other and where they came from? Or if there’s any link between the two releases?
X: Um, I guess there’s a natural transition between the two. That’s why we called it Else because obviously we did not want to repeat ourselves and we started experimenting with longer song structures. All four songs on the EP are near 5 minutes or longer. We started to get really into more repetitive music and it’s started to show in our writing I guess…
“Sometimes you have to look through the noise to get the melody and stuff”
I: Any particular reason for that?
X: Not really. I guess we both like movements like prog rock and stuff like that; songs that really take their time to get in place. They often don’t use that many changes and don’t have a classic song structure like verse, chorus, verse. It’s more like, we have songs that are just one riff that will go for 4/5 minutes but with layers added on top of each other. We wanted to try that, but we also wanted to keep writing proper songs per se, just because we’re both pop enthusiasts also. We like a good hook. But we like to make things more complicated for the listener. Well, not make things, but let the listener do their part too. So sometimes you have to look through the noise to get the melody and stuff.
I: What do you hope that the listener will find when they hear your records?
X: That’s a good question. I don’t know, I just hope they enjoy it. I mean I don’t really ask myself what I want to find in a record when I put it on – I don’t really know why I enjoy music. We like that it’s meant to be played really loud. Hopefully there is a physicality to it in that sense. That’s a really existential question for me! Why am I doing this? I don’t know, it’s more like a way to find the people that feel like us. I like music that is challenging and not necessarily all laid out for people to understand. I like to do my own research.
I: Is there any difference in the recording process between the two records?
X: The first [Blame Confusion] was more like an off the floor kind of recording. All the basic tracks, instrument wise at least, were recorded in the same room. With Else, the core of the songs were still done live with the guitars and drums at the same time but I added a couple of guitar tracks which brought us to another member of the band.
I: I guess that kind of changes the dynamic a bit, doesn’t it?
X: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a whole lot more jammy and gives us a lot more freedom to just experiment, even in a live setting which we could do before but it was more complicated because there were just the two of us and so I had to work with all the pedals and stuff to make sure I could build the sound spectrum as much as possible. And now with two guitars we can actually exchange bass lines and exchange the solos or we can just, like, one guy can make feedbacks while the other is playing a riff so it’s, yeah, a whole new world of possibilities.
“We did not want to become just this technical band that’s only impressive because of the devices it uses”
I: So who was the third person you added to the group?
Guillaume. Recording Else made us question whether we would be able to reproduce it, only the two of us, and we were kinda like “yeah it’s not going to work”. It would be complicated and it would just be more stressful, focused on pedals. We did not want to become just this technical band that’s only impressive because of the devices it uses. We wanted it to really be about the music and were just due for a change I guess so the arrival of Guillaume was perfect timing.
I: Do you have any influences? Oldest and most recent maybe because I’m guessing there’s quite a spectrum.
X: We’ve toured with a bunch of really good bands lately like Stove from New England in the States after the EP came out so they didn’t really influence the record. There’s still that 90s influence that everyone talks about when they talk about our band, but yeah I feel like it’s less like a melting pot because I don’t like the idea of mixing genres.
X: Well I like the idea of having a couple of influences but I find it quite reductive because every genre is like a melting pot of some other stuff that’s been done before. I find it hard to explain something to people using the idea of genres in general just by saying ‘oh it’s like alternative rock’, or ‘indie rock’. Indie rock is probably the one that annoys me the most because it’s not about a sound compared to “indie”, it’s a whole other story in itself…
I find it easier when people ask us what genres we’re playing to say rock. The most precise we will be is alternative rock because we know it’s not a classic rock kind of thing. But I find it hard these days to say, because even if we got into prog rock and stuff we couldn’t say it’s prog rock because that in itself is its own movement.
“We didn’t want to limit ourselves to like, say, we wanna do shoe gaze, we wanna do punk, or we wanna do rock”
I: [This generation] has access to more different kinds of genres and those genres are changing at a more rapid rate. How do you sustain that kind of interest? How do you engage with a group of people who are constantly looking for something new, something different, something relevant that makes some sort of evolving social commentary?
X: Yeah that’s the thing, with certain genres you can say there is more like a ‘fad’ of something. We say we’re playing rock, even if it’s not the typical idea of classic rock or rock and roll, because it’s got this timeless feel that we prefer.
I guess that’s why a lot of people that start by playing in a band that is mostly respectful of codes about certain genres often go through to another genre completely because they feel trapped. That’s something we’ve always been really conscious about, that we didn’t want to limit ourselves to like, say, “we wanna do shoe gaze”, “we wanna do punk”, or “we wanna do rock”.
You can check out Solids and their recent EP Else as well as their previous record Blame Confusion on Spotify and BandCamp.
Image courtesy of Solids via Facebook