Babysitter, one of Montreal's gnarliest rock bands, will play in Halifax tonight and tomorrow night and you should almost definitely check them out. Do it for me. Originally from Victoria, B.C., the prolific trio of dudes relocated to the east last year and recently released a seven-inch split on Toronto's Pleasance Records with Calgary's Hagface (side note: last fall, Hagface released one with Shearing Pinx, a band on local Divorce Records. It's all in the family, baby).
Now Babysitter is gearing up to release their self-titled full-length on Montreal's Psychic Handshake on September 16 and singer/guitarist Kristian North says the album is the best expression of the band's music so far. With over a dozen releases, on which some songs appear more than once and in various forms, Babysitter is the hardest jam band you'll probably ever hear.
While they were driving to Halifax, somewhere between eastern Quebec and New Brunswick, I text-interviewed North yesterday afternoon about the record, TV shows and Halifax diners. You may remember Babysitter from OBEY Convention in 2013 when they played with Pissed Jeans.
Kristian: Adria, we are on the highway.
Adria: That rules. I'm sending a question.
Kristian: I'm just sitting here.
Adria: I'm a big Freak Heat Waves fan (who are also from Victoria) & some bands in the west have a whole different vibe than the east. Wondering what you've noticed about living in Montreal, if there's like a different cultural aesthetic or something?
Kristian: FHW spent a chunk of time in MTL, at least Steve (Lind). I'd say the landscape has its inspiration on both of us. MTL is a destination city so it has people from all over. The main difference I see compared 2 Victoria, which is a small place, is more diversity, more scenes.
Kristian: I here of new bands all the time. I can't keep up really.
Adria: Good point about Steve. So you're into "keeping it loose" and playing songs not exactly as recorded and stuff ... Is that how you keep it ~ fresh?
Kristian: We just do whatever we want. It's not planned. Babysitter is best at jamming than practising. Inspiration is there in every band, if you're listening. I think this (new) record sounds like us most. 5 years in, you start sounding like yourself.
Adria: Then what's the difference between jamming and playing a show?
Kristian: The people there ... hopefully.
Adria: Nice. Okay to start from the top, how did you come together as Babysitter?
Kristian: Andy (Vanier) and I started the band. We were working together and started jamming and recording everything on tape. Aden (Colligne) joined 2 years ago after two other drummers had played with us. He first appears on EYE.
Adria: Can you elaborate on the part about "5 years in" sounding like yourself?
Kristian: I'm pretty into most things we did, right back to tape. There's a lot of different sides to Babysitter, if you go through the back catalogue. I just mean at this point we have our thing pretty figured out, even as we keep experimenting with new genres or whatever, it's always Babysitter.
Adria: Why do you like recording reel to reel and/or to tape?
Kristian: It sounds better. There's an authenticity to it ...
Kristian: We've recorded on basically all mediums though.
Kristian: Haven't done DAT yet
Adria: What do you mean by tape being more 'authentic'?
Kristian: To me it just sounds fuller, I guess, like music sounds in a room. A bit more like a band. Like it blends in this way. It's better to my ear. But I'm not sure sounding good has anything to do with clarity or whatever.
Adria: I agree with that. And you have buried tones that sound better on tape, I think. It can feel heavy at times, does that reflect your moods at all?
Kristian: Yeah Babysitter is pretty heavy, is that what you mean?
Adria: Well I mean, you're not making bubblegum pop
Adria: I'm curious where the heaviness comes from...
Kristian: I mean, as far as subject goes, I think I'd like people to decide for themselves. I think the new record is sort of dark but also nostalgic. There's no prevalent or constant theme. I think some of the stuff is pretty uplifting also.
Adria: I agree with that, there are jangly bits. I wanna send some sillies now.
Kristian: OK Let's do the silly stuff.
Adria: Can you get everyone in the band (in the car) to send me the emoji that best represents them? Mine, for instance, might be the sunglasses dude.
Kristian: < beer glass >
Kristian: < devil icon >
Kristian: < pink poodle >
Adria: Who is who?
Kristian: Actually I dunno. Aden is sleeping and Andy's driving with headphones on so I just sent you ones I thought were funny. Emoticons creep me out. I don't like the idea of language being replaced with symbols, like those 'thumbs up' people press on the internet, wtf is that? That's some mind control right there. You ever seen on your page when someone posts an article about some war travesty or something and everyone gives it the thumbs up? It's like reaction without thought. That's the conclusion of symbols as communication.
Kristian: Sorry I just ruined the fun question.
Adria: Haha no that's sick. You're right, it kinda creeps me out too. Like what does the sunglass dude really mean? Okay more fun ones. I'm gonna give you two things and you have to pick your favourite of them.
Adria: 1. Simpsons or King of the Hill?
Kristian: I mean it sorta has to be the Simpsons right.
Kristian: King of the Hill is pretty funny though, I gotta say.
Adria: Haha I know, I love how Hank says "Bobby."
Adria: Okay 2. Smoked meat sandwich or smoked salmon?
Kristian: Smoked salmon for me. I'm still a BC boy.
Adria: That was a loyalty question for sure.
Adria: Okay 3. Sabbath or Zeppelin?
Kristian: Easy. Sabbath.
Adria: Can't agree there but I get it.
Adria: 4. Would you rather win on Jeopardy or The Price is Right?
Kristian: Um, which one do you get more money?
Adria: Let's say you'd win $25,000 on Jeopardy or prizes worth $25,000 on the Price. Same value, different honour, Trebek VS. Drew Carey.
Kristian: I guess Jeopardy. Just seems like a bit more of a badge. Price is Right is all sorta luck, isn't it? I didn't know Drew Carey hosted it now. I remember that old dude.
Kristian: He probably died on that show.
Adria: Hahaha Bob Barker. He just retired. But I think he was a boob grabber.
Adria: Okay last one, if Babysitter could open for any band, who would it be?
Kristian: Maybe Crazy Horse. A man can dream.
Kristian: Or Sabbath. And Zeppelin would open for us.
Kristian: I'm just pullin ur chain.
Adria: My Jesus and Mary Chain?
Adria: Well I'm stoked to see you in Halifax.
Adria: This was an experiment.
Kristian: Stoked to see Halifax. Is Mary's diner still there?
Adria: Ohhh yeah.
Kristian: C u at the show!