Artist: ART the Band
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Peanut Gallery: Sounds
ART the Band! What a name! Who is representing the band for this talk? Who are your human_friends in the band?
Hey haha, yes, it started as a joke but it stuck. I’m Sean Clarey and I play Guitar; my bandmates are Austin Gembora (Drums), Stuart Brignell (Sax), Sean Dennis (Bass), and Nick Marshall (Trombone).
ART the Band @ ANAF Club, Guelph, 2019 - Photos by Nicholas Cooper / Scope Overseer Photogenics
As we unfortunately did not get a chance to talk in person, I would like to thank you and the guys for being part of my concert curation last September 2019 at the ANAF Club in Guelph with La Greffe, The Naked Harpist and Mark Honestly. How did you feel about the show?
We love playing in Guelph any time we get the chance. The Student population mingles with an already vibrant Art community to create some really great projects. There are also tons of spaces open to hosting live music. Silence, Red Brick, and some of the houses we used to play come to mind. The La Greffe show was no exception.
How did you come up with the group’s name, ART the Band? Is it symbolic in any way?
The Band has always been an art project. We have little commercial ambition because we know that our music is a bit esoteric.
Would you mind describing the TIGHT musical style that ART the Band creates from your talented collective minds?
We love listening to groups that push what is possible rhythmically. Knee Body, Steve Lehman, Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders, and Tigran Hamasyan are all influences on our writing. I think it’s this interest that pushes us to try to refine our own approach to playing. People experience limbic resonance more quickly when hearing a challenging and exhilarating rhythm.
How did you all come together to form this band? Apparently, on Bandcamp, there is a single track called ART TEST from 1994… does the band go WAY back then?
I wasn’t alive in 94... so I can’t say for sure.
What are ART the Band’s usual rehearsals and compositional sessions like? Do you all compose together or is there a central composer/arranger?
Usually a skeleton is brought in and we add tissue. Usually the role of leader shifts depending on whose tune we’re workshopping. We spend a lot of time focusing on articulation, dynamic, and blend.
Sean, it has been great to hear the band’s sensational compositions of energetic and smooth jazz fusion. I first heard you guys through the Snacks EP from 2017, eclectic bundles of joy which I have featured on my radio show, The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope. The EP seems to be ART the Band’s most popular release, especially with two feature artists: Ayrah Taerb and Ravi Naimpally (I have had the pleasure to meet Ravi last year: wonderful individual!). Can you talk about Snacks EP and how it was made and about how you got Ravi and Ayrah involved on this record?
I studied with Ravi Naimpally in college where he exposed me to the beautiful style of Indian-Jazz fusion. He led an ensemble that Austin (Drums) and I played in, which looking back was one of the best and most functional groups I was in during college. He was kind enough to lend his Tabla playing to our record since we had a good relationship. He also played the release show, which was an amazing night. Ayrah Taerb is a long time friend of ours and an accomplished artist in his own right. I encourage anyone reading to check out Pagan Child on YouTube.
Your most recent studio releases have been two 2018 singles: ‘Finna Skedaddle’ and ‘Well Priced Victorian’, in which I got to review the latter work over on Ride The Tempo (RIP). Do these pieces show an evolution in the band’s musical direction compared to your previous works? How have these singles been received?
These tunes are close to my heart. We decided that an Album would have to wait because of just how different these tunes are. We have a full length ready to release now, which you can expect to see this year.
Being an instrumental band, with interesting track titles and artwork to your pieces, are there any underlying hidden concepts and themes you guys try to highlight, or do you focus on conveying and imposing impressionistic moods into your listeners?
We want our music to feel compassionate. We’re telling stories we think are really beautiful. Our themes revolve around the experience of coming to terms with the mind-numbing complexity of life and the human experience, and a very palpable sadness that takes the air from your lungs when you think about things or people you love, about the pitfalls of human nature, and being surrounded by stupid waste.
What are your live performances like in terms of stage presence and atmosphere? I have heard you have held residencies in downtown Toronto! How did you acquire them?
We like to stay relaxed on stage and try new things. The challenge is putting on a tight and compelling performance while experimenting with the parts. We usually try to find a room we like and play there until something else comes around. We like to keep our environments fresh.
How did you find out about Splendid Industries? How do you find this artistic community thus far, and how would you like it to grow over time?
I love that we can have online arts communities that are decentralized and collaborative. It’s been and will continue to be one of the best things about the internet since it’s conception. I want more traffic to pages like Splendid Industries because It’s giving a voice to so many under-represented artists that deserve notoriety. I found out about Splendid Industries through my Guelph friends and Nick Marshall.
True to its adventurous nature, will ART the Band be coming up with new projects and performances in 2020 and beyond?
We are releasing a big full length this year. It was recorded at Union Sound Company in Toronto and engineered by Darren Mcgill. We tried to really expand the music into a different realm, using any texture or sound it was asking for. This included Synth, Percussion by Juan Carlos Medrano, Lap Steel Guitar, Nylon String Guitar, Triangle, Zither, etc. you get the picture. Overall, it was the best studio experience I've ever had to date and I’m beyond stoked to get it out into the world.