Interview with The Slyde. (Band Interview)
Today we interview Canadian Prog Rock outfit The Slyde. The Slyde has played over 170 shows on the Eastern Canadian circuit, sharing the stage with such bands as Protest The Hero, Down With Webster, Pain of Salvation, F*ck The Facts, Dana Fuchs, and Timber Timbre among others, and have made appearances at Ottawa Bluesfest, Canadian Music Week, IndieWeek, and Wacken Metal Battle Canada.
Answered by vocalist/ guitarist Nathan Da Silva.
Let’s start with this: What’s the history of your band?
The Slyde has been around since 2009 (formerly known as just ‘Slyde’) forming from the death of a previous band I was in (a melodic death metal band called Atma). The drummer and bassist from Atma and I formed The Slyde and recruited Sarah Westbrook on keyboards. We wanted to work with the textures and tones that you can create with a keyboard workstation and write a style of progressive rock that had multiple elements (metal, pop, punk, alternative rock, grunge, etc). We released two demos in 2009 and 2010, experimenting with different musical directions. In 2011, Dino Soares joined the band on drums, and we released a concept EP ‘Feed The Machine’, which helped us establish this mix of sociopolitical, environmentally-conscious subject matter, with our high-energy progressive rock and metal. The band started in Ottawa, Canada, and relocated to Toronto, Canada in 2012. We released another EP ‘New World Sympathy’ in 2012; our long-time bassist Nick Favretto quit the band in 2014 and that triggered a hiatus until Alberto Campuzano (Warmachine, ex-Annihilator) joined us in 2016. We returned in 2017 with our EP ‘Back Again’, and we are now gearing up for our latest release ‘Awakening’. We’ve played over 170 shows in Eastern Canada, taking a strong DIY-approach, and shared the stage with an eclectic mix of bands (Protest The Hero, Down With Webster, Pain Of Salvation, F*ck The Facts, Dana Fuchs, and Timber Timbre, to name a few).
What’s your musical history? (Trained or Amateur)?
Sarah and I (Nathan) met at Carleton University in Ottawa while studying Music Performance. Alberto studied Music at Humber College in Toronto. Dino has been playing the drums and touring with bands for years and is one of the most musically inclined people I’ve ever met.
So what can you tell us about your latest album? (Inspiration. Sound. Style.)
Our latest album ‘Awakening’ is a sort of follow up EP to ‘Back Again’: it adds 6 tracks to ‘Back Again’s’ 4 tracks, making it a full-length album. Following suit with ‘Feed The Machine’ and ‘New World Sympathy’, ‘Awakening’ sticks with the thought-provoking lyrical content we’ve been writing. It’s less of a concept album, as all the tunes can stand on their own, but as a whole, ‘Awakening’ refers to the process of invoking change, and seeing certain things in a different light. For example, the opening track ‘Awaken/Walk With Me’ is about media control and propaganda; ‘Back Again’ is about the beauty and fragility of our planet, and how we constantly take it for granted. ‘Awakening’ brings a heavier, aggressive edge to The Slyde, as we feel we are incorporating more elements of metal and punk this time around. The end result of The Slyde’s music is described as: “protest progressive rock for fans of Rush, Dream Theater, Haken, Coheed and Cambria, and Megadeth”.
How did you go about making it?
We recorded the drums at Pebble Studios in Ottawa with Mike Bond. Then I recorded the rest of the instruments in my bedroom studio. This was the first time that I took up the engineering and tracking duties for an album, so it was a great learning experience for me. I hired our friend Andres Puche to mix the album, and I had Matt Glover do the mastering.
Anything you’ve learnt as you’ve gone along? Or have you simply tried a bit of everything to see how it works?
As mentioned, I learnt a lot about engineering and tracking instruments in a studio (microphone placements, post-audio editing, phasing issues, layering techniques, etc). There was a bit of trial and error involved, but I had some prior experience/exposure in the studio, and learnt a lot from working with my friend Eric Disero (who engineered, mixed and mastered ‘Feed The Machine’ and ‘New World Sympathy’). As far as music composition goes, I tend to be the lead songwriter in the band, writing all the instruments and arrangements. I then present the music to the band, and we tweak it as we work through it, with the members giving it their own flavour to it.
What sort of technology and instruments do you work with?
In the studio, my DAW of choice is Cubase 8. Among other microphones, I have an Avantone CV-12 large diaphragm condenser microphone that I used for vocals and guitars, and the tried and true Shure SM57 for guitars. On stage, I use a Fryette Memphis 30 guitar amp, and my guitars for The Slyde are my Ernie Ball MusicMan JP6 BFR, a Schecter C-7 Custom 7-string, and I’ll sometimes play a modified Gibson ’67 reissue Flying V. Sarah uses a Korg TR-88 workstation, an Alesis Micron, and a Roland SP-404SX sampler. Dino plays a 60s Gretsch kit and has recently been endorsed by YC drums. When asking Alberto about his onstage gear, his response was: “The spirit of Danko Jones is all I use.”
Anything you’re keen to use on your next album?
Sarah has been wanting to rebuild her rig from the ground up, going with a MIDI controller and laptop with VSTs, over the ageing TR-88. I am certainly planning on writing the new album mostly on my 7 string guitar, for that extended low range.
Any future plans for your solo work, or do you have other projects on the horizon?
All of us are always busy with other projects: I work a lot in the Franco Ontarian music scene, as well as in the bar circuit as a cover artist; Sarah works a lot as a classical and collaborative pianist; Dino plays a lot with Reuben And the Dark, among other artists; Alberto plays in Warmachine and a couple tribute acts. The Slyde has many future plans as well, such as another new music video and writing and recording another album, but is currently in the promotional stage of their upcoming release.
Any plans for upcoming live shows?
We have a string of shows coming up in May and June 2018 in support of the album release, mostly in Ontario and 1 stop in Montreal, Canada. We are looking into festival spots and other higher profile shows, and later this year, we are planning to do a Web Series of live performance videos, with an A/V crew and a sound engineer.
Let’s have a few general questions now.
What do you see as a musicians role in society?
Generally, musicians can serve many different types of functions in society. We are talking about bands. A musician has to serve society in a responsible manner; it is part of what they consume, think and feel. The Slyde’s lyrical content often reflects an empathetic view to those who suffer. Sometimes the music is quite aggressive and can communicate better to those who need that outlet. Aside from that, each musician and as a band member hold themselves to a high standard of playing and musicianship. The songs cannot be shitty. There is too much music in the world that serves to placate the masses, and The Slyde’s role is quite the opposite. In addition, members, solo or in The Slyde, have been able to use their playing skills to do concrete things, such as fundraising for charities.
How’s the scene different in your country to what we’re familiar with? -Anything unique to your country?
A unique thing about Canada’s touring scene is that it’s difficult to tour because it is very big. So there are large pockets of less populated areas, which mean you are spending a lot of time and money for fewer shows if you want to travel west of Ontario. Also, Driving becomes dangerous in the freezing rain or heavy snowstorms. In the past, we had to cancel a show due to a hurricane. They had to close the bridge to Prince Edward Island. Meanwhile, the venue owner said the weather was not a problem for the audience to attend!
Where do you stand on music videos? -Do you see their value in today’s world?
Let’s face it: everyone judges a book by the cover, and because people are usually more visual than auditory these days, music videos are extremely important in promoting awareness for musicians and the music they do. It’s an expected part of the music business now.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, it would be equal opportunity for everyone: rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, men and women. Just like any industry.
Any advice for new bands?
Do what you really love to do. Genuine is always best. If a band wants advice they are probably hard workers, and to those hard workers, we say, keep working hard!
Let’s have some generic questions.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek, obviously.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy?
Books or Comics?
Trump or Putin?
Anything you’d like to tell our readers?
Check out our music!
Any last words for our readers?
We love you.