Canada’s output of musical talent has always been class A, with a thriving underground scene and a tight live circuit it’s one of the best places to be right now for a new band.
A perfect consequence of this ever developing scene comes in the form of Babysitter, who caught out attention back in May when Lindsay from Fist City tipped us off about their garage filled punk tones. We caught up with singer/guitarist Kristian North to find out where the trio’s headed next, and how they make their psychedelic concoction sound so damn good.
Please run us through how Babysitter all started.
Me and Andy started jamming in summer of 2010, Babysitter was just a name suggested by a friend that stuck, some different people were in the band, we made some tapes and played a bunch of shows and now it’s 2013!
By the looks of it, you guys have produced quite a few releases since you got together, how do you manage to put that much input into the band, are you all doing it full time?
We’ve been doing it as often as possible, we all like playing music so it’s easy because we all make an effort, we make no money though, we’ve been on tour, unemployed a good chunk of the year and I’m sure we’ll have to go get jobs somewhere soon. Just getting together as much as possible and recording on some of the earlier tapes got gears turning and new songs coming out and we just work with that momentum. In 2013 though we’ve really focused on just touring the album.
There’s a real gritty punk aspect to your sound but you can also grunge that shit deep. How has your sound changed over the time you have been together as this band?
We’re all interested in different types of music and we don’t think of the band as having a sound or style necessarily. We use improvisation in our shows and on our albums as well so the creative process is more organic i think, we’re just sorta playing what we can and what sounds good and it changes on it’s own.
You sound like the kind of band that likes to either put on a riot of a show, or cook up some acoustic smoke around an open fire under the stars. Do you spend any time outdoors crafting your wares acoustically before the rehearsal space jams take place?
We all camp on tour when we have days with no shows or whatever. Usually we just make noise wherever we are jamming, songs are introduced and just slowly learned over time. I guess we’ve had some acoustic guitar jams on the tapes and record but i don’t remember ever showing the dudes a song on acoustic guitar, i do like some acoustic though. Usually the song writing process is pretty collaborative, if i write a song it’s pretty skeletal and it gets fleshed out a lot in the jam space or on stage.
What did you all grow up listening to? I kind of guess you have a record collection that has a bunch of different stuff in it from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Devo to Mudhoney, Minor Threat and The Men, would I be close?
That’s such a broad, unanswerable question man but we definitely all love Neil Young, can’t say as much for Crosby, Stills and Nash. These days we just listen to the tapes we come across at thrift stores on our vans’ shitty sound system. In Kingston, Ontario we picked up a reggae greatest hits album that’s getting pretty heavy rotation right now.
It’s rare these days to see bands going down the analogue route to record, how did you end up choosing this route over home based pro-tools and computer programs?
We are just interested in it, particularly Andy – he records a lot of our stuff. It just sounds better to our ears and the simplicity puts focus back into the playing of our instruments and writing of our songs. We have digital recordings released as well.
The fact that you have captured such a raw, live sound from this process should be a lesson for most bands that struggle with releasing records that feel static, how important is that live to you guys, I hear you change your sets on a dime?
We’ve been playing some different types of sets on the road, we had our friend JLK join us on stage in Montreal and Toronto for a few psychedelic sets together which were all improv and turned out awesome. We’ve been touring a lot and not introducing many new songs into the sets this year so we do some more jamming in between songs to keep it fresh. Spontaneity is important to us.
What’s the most random situation you have been in whilst in the middle of a live show?
Nothing’s really coming to mind, it’s all a blur really. Back in may in Decatur, which is sort of on the outskirts of Atlanta, we played a show in a house where the power had been cut that day and they had gotten a generator so the show could go on, when it got dark everyone was walking around with their cellphones as flashlights and the house was all lit by candles. We got on maybe around 11 and by about our second or third song the cops arrived so we stopped playing assuming our set was done. We’ve had our fair share of sets cut short by pigs now, strangely though they just told them they were having a show or whatever and the cops just said to close the door and carry on. Sorta reasonable, but I thought that was pretty weird.
What other labels other than Psychic Handshake are doing the business?
We’ve done releases with Dub Ditch Picnic, Planet of the Tapes, Electric Voice, Totally Disconnected, Student Loan, and Onec.
Likening your process to black and white photographs is a pretty good way of processing the thought behind the making of your music, if you were to cast a flash on one of the most insane times throughout the history of the band to date, what would be printed?
Again everything sort of melts together in my memory, right now we are really doing it out on the highway and everything so I’m going to say that the present and the future are looking pretty good. What we’ve done is cool and i have fond memories and everything but what we are going to do soon is what I’m excited about.
The Canadian music scene has always delivered amazing bands from D.O.A to Fist City, Black Mountain and Fucked Up. How is the underground scene moving forwards out there, how tight knit is the live circuit, and what bands should we look out for who are new and on the up?
Canada is doing great these days, but Weird Canada has really helped strengthen the music community across the country. There’s consistently good music on there, all Canadian content, they have been getting grants and putting on shows and they are starting a Canadian distribution system and all this cool stuff.
There’s lots of rad bands, some favorites include JLK, Mormon Crosses, Shearing Pinx, Pink Noise, Cleopatra and the Nile, Cindy Lee, Iceberg Ferg, Krang, The Slabs, Mourning Coup, White Poppy, and Bash Bros…. but I’m probably forgetting some. There’s lots of strange and good new bands popping up all over the place.
So finally, when will Babysitter be working their magic on UK crowds?
We’re ready now or anytime! Someone help us!!