In­ter­view

Odo­nis Odo­nis

NOW Magazine - - NEWS - By LIISA LADOUCEUR

OdO­nis OdO­nis and Be­liefs at the Gar­ri­son (1197 Dun­das West), Fri­day (Novem­ber 3), doors 9 pm. $12.50. ro­tate.com, tick­et­fly. com.

Odo­nis Odo­nis are un­sta­ble.

The Toronto trio, four al­bums in, have proven un­able to sit still, to stick to any one mu­si­cal formula. With their lat­est No Pop, they have ar­rived, by way of howl­ing shoegaze spiked with surf and rau­cous post-punk noise, on purely elec­tronic in­dus­trial dance.

Aban­don­ing gui­tars hasn’t ex­actly been with­out con­se­quence.

De­spite the fact that Canada birthed one of the most im­por­tant bands in in­dus­trial mu­sic – Skinny Puppy – and Toronto has al­ways had a healthy ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the stuff (our own Mal­havoc was do­ing Min­istry be­fore Min­istry), it’s fair to say at this point that the genre is not gen­er­ally a spring­board to any kind of main­stream suc­cess. For Odo­nis Odo­nis, turn­ing in­dus­trial is both a log­i­cal cul­mi­na­tion of past deriva­tions and a left turn that means build­ing a whole new au­di­ence.

The band – Dean Tzenos, Jarod Gib­son, Den­holm Whale – first emerged from Toronto’s Buzz Records crew and soon signed to pres­ti­gious Bri­tish in­die FatCat. The tra­jec­tory from weirdo bed­room project to in­die dar­lings was swift.

“There was lot of hype for us in Europe to be the next thing,” says Tzenos.

Then last year, they put out Post Plague (on Toronto’s Tele­phone Ex­plo­sion and Brook­lyn-based Felte), which fully em­braced the NIN/Min­istry sound they had long toyed with. They briefly con­sid­ered chang­ing the band name but de­cided to stick it out, which caused con­fu­sion while tour­ing.

“Ev­ery­body who came out was ex­pect­ing one band and we were play­ing this full dark in­dus­trial set,” re­calls Tzenos. “We played this club in New York and this one drunk fan was yelling out old songs she wanted, swear­ing the whole time. I thought, ‘Oh, we just to­tally fucked our­selves.’”

For the new record, the band dou­bled down on re­ject­ing com­mer­cial as­pi­ra­tions by sign­ing on to the “No Pop” man­i­festo – a “dec­la­ra­tion for a new al­ter­na­tive” writ­ten in 2015 by anony­mous lo­cal mu­sic blog­ger Lonely Vagabond. The al­bum is named after this move­ment.

“When the in­ter­net took over, I thought things would be more demo­cratic,” ex­plains Tzenos. “Now the gate­keep­ers are dif­fer­ent. Clear Chan­nel owns ev­ery­thing. It’s hi­lar­i­ous that Bey­oncé and Kanye West are mak­ing arty al­bums, but be­low them the indies are try­ing to be main­stream to get into the pop cir­cuit. The idea of No Pop to me was the op­po­site of that.”

He compares it to the 80s, when “sell­ing out” still car­ried a major stigma.

“Maybe I’ve got rose-coloured glasses, but it seemed to be more about the art. By def­i­ni­tion, No Pop means there are no lim­its to what we are able to cre­ate now. We don’t have to try to be any­thing.”

While based in the same roots as Post Plague, No Pop is a less in­tense lis­ten, both lyri­cally and mu­si­cally. While the last record shouted about a dystopian near-fu­ture, this new one is more con­cerned with present-day anx­i­eties sur­round­ing so­cial me­dia and other pri­vacy-in­vad­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Its ex­am­i­na­tion of man vs. ma­chine is done with a gen­tler touch, with longer songs and more am­bi­ent rests.

“I want peo­ple to get lost in it,” ex­plains Tzenos. “Al­most our en­tire cat­a­logue be­fore that was an as­sault. We were at­tack­ing you. Now we are invit­ing you in to be a part of it with us. To en­joy the mu­sic as it’s hap­pen­ing.”

One chal­lenge to switch­ing up their sound to such a de­gree has been learn­ing new in­stru­ments. On No Pop, they cast aside the drum ma­chines and sam­plers they used for Post Plague and built new ana­logue kits. So even if they wanted to toss in some old tracks at their up­com­ing shows, they’d need to travel with two gear set-ups, which isn’t currently doable. They’ve fully com­mit­ted to the new regime.

“I feel that we’re an is­land now,” says Tzenos of their place in the city’s mu­sic com­mu­nity. “The old in­dus­trial crowd – they haven’t nec­es­sar­ily been look­ing for new bands. But I feel we’ve fi­nally got a lot of new fans from the O.G. in­dus­trial scene in Toronto. We’re on the radar.” mu­sic@now­toronto.com | @Li­isaLadouceur

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