Tuesday, 13 November 2007

New Music Series: #1 Enemies & Allies

Our first featured artist in our New Music Series is Ottawa band Enemies and Allies. Consisting of David Pierce, Isaiah Hollander, Jeff Bertrand and Bradley Martel, the group was born in September, 2006, though their roots are steeped in St. John's, Newfoundland and Timmins, Ontario.

As part of our feature, Vocalist/Guitarist David Pierce was kind enough to take part in an interview to discuss the band, and his past, present and future plans for their music.

Thanks for doing this David. Lets start off by asking you to tell us a bit about yourself and your bandmates, and how you came together to form Enemies & Allies.
Well, I moved to Ottawa in August of 2006 with my girlfriend to find work and also with the hope I could find some musicians to work with, and I got in touch with the guys via a web site http://www.punkottawa.com/.

They had posted looking for a guitar player for their band, as they were moving to Ottawa from Timmins, and one guitarist wasn't coming…

Timmins is in ON, I believe?
Yep, home of Shania twain for trivia purposes..

Anyway, their post went beyond the usual "band needs guitarist, must do this and that, we like band a, b, c, etc.

How so?
It was more spiritual maybe, for lack of a better term...they basically said they lived and breathed music and they wanted to create something amazing! I could tell straight off they were fervent listeners and they had a deeper appreciation for most of the heart and soul of rock music.

Which I can imagine must have been enticing?
Yeah, I got really excited...and this was right before they moved here! But as soon as they did, they got in touch...

So did you have a trial of sorts, or was it a 'lets see how it goes' sorta thing, or did the band fit like a glove from the get-go?
Well, here's where it gets interesting...

I went over to their place to jam, having learned a couple of their songs; Their band, Amalgamation, which incidentally still exists and is going strong, is a kinda prog jazz, Radiohead meets RHCP kinda thing...

So we played a couple of songs - their stuff is a lot more technically sound than mine...

Did you feel you had to step it up a gear, so to speak?
I'm a slasher... I learned from Neil Young playing electric, Joe Strummer, Eddie Vedder... that kinda thing

Anyways, I suggested we just jam, which they were open to, and I tossed out Uniforms, which you probably heard on the Myspace...

Its actually my favourite of the 3 songs you guys have up there...
I kinda bastardized something like Off He Goes by PJ and Powderfinger by NY, and Jeff, the guitarist, instantly came up with the lead and made it what it was... and it really blew me away!

It was really exciting to hear an idea I'd been strumming away by myself turn into this thing with a full band; It was still simple, but it had some really cool parts.

So what we can hear is pretty much the original version? It certainly has a raw vibe to it
Yeah, that's the song as it came out from the get go.

We had actually cobbled together a piece-by-piece recording of it that wasn't too too bad, but when we got a demo recorded in August, the guy who did it wanted a crack at Uniforms, so we re-did it and that's what you've heard.

You mentioned RHCP earlier. Are most of your songs, like theirs, born from jams? Or is it more like the PJ (or for that matter, most bands') process of someone brings in a piece (like Uniforms) and the band develops it into something more?
Thus far, I've written everything at home and demoed it on a little 8-track with a drum machine or whatever and then given it to the guys to play with

So is it fair to say you are the primary songwriter in the group?
To just go back to the original story for a sec, we basically determined early on that I wasn't the right fit for their band, but we still wanted to play together.

So now both bands exists - their other guitarist actually eventutally moved here and completed that lineup as well, but yeah, I've written everything so far for Enemies & Allies, and the guys kinda write collaboratively for their other band... For a while, I had to nag at them to stop referring to themselves as Dave's backing band!

They're all friends from public school, and I'm the "new" guy...

The Eddie Vedder of the group...
Haha! I wish! But yeah, same idea I guess!

Sticking with PJ, I guess I should ask what your relationship with the band has been, you told me earlier you had become a fan when the whole Seattle scene blew up.
Yeah, thats right. The rest of the band are actually all a few years younger than me and only had a passing knowledge of/respect for Pearl Jam.

So you did the righteous thing and converted them...
Well, I always loved them and respected them, but being where i was from, I had never seen them live...

It was the 2000 bootlegs that sealed the deal for me... hearing 20,000 people who don't speak English singing along with a b-side - that sold me!

But Brad, our drummer is hardcore now, and the other guys are a lot more into it too, not that they weren't before, they were just unaware!

The other thing that sold me was the personal nature of every show; Subtle comments and mututal respect...

So do you look at PJ's as a blueprint that should be followed with E&A?
I look at it as music being a way to convey something pure and honest, not to make yourself famous or score with girls, but to create and share, and do it purely based on all that is good with music.

Perhaps certain aspects of this blueprint, like you say, the personal relationship between band and music then?
Exactly! I think I have a lot of opinions on the world and I'd love to see us all work together to make things better...and maybe music is how I could see myself connecting with other likeminded people.

Pearl Jam were the first band I saw do that...and I've come to be aware of Neil Young doing that and The Clash, The Who, even Bob Dylan in some ways

Earlier, you made a comment to me about Ottawa and its politics. Is that something that influences your lyrics, and like you say, can you see the music being a vehicle to carry your opinions to influence others?
Well, I don't want to slag Ottawa, because it's a beautiful city, but sometimes it reminds me too much of how apathetic people can be, especially when they have all their comforts; Salary, benefits, house, car...

And we have a terrible Prime Minister in my opinion, someone who would rather people don't question things. It's the politics of fear - it lets conservatives come in and take over because we have to clamp down and protect ourselves from the "evil doers" and all that foolishness, but to me, the solution is not to ask less questions, rather to ask MORE questions!

Eventually, it all comes down to Education...

So do you feel you are in a position to educate others?
Am I? Probably not... But I feel compelled to sing about topical subjects, because that stuff excites me...

You know, there are times I wonder if I'm just a whiner... but I love people and I just think we could join forces and make this world so much better.

Haha! I know the feeling, but i genuinely believe you should speak your mind rather than hold back and tow the company line, if it is something you don't agree with.
Absolutely! And yet I'm compelled to point out that I'm not this big left wing communist either...
I also believe there are people on both ends of the spectrum who have totally lost sight of the big picture.

Again i can empathise, I feel my political views are based more in common sense than extremist left or right wing policies.
Yeah, that sums up how I feel in a nutshell. Too bad everyone doesn't see it as common sense!

But music, there's soemthing everyone can enjoy...

True. I think music can genuinely make a difference in peoples lives, whether it be by helping them air their anger at governments, or by taking the form of pretty pretty pop song that can put a smile back on someones face.
Exactly. It just needs to be honest.

Our Favourite Song (another E&A song) is just a love song. I wrote that after my Gran passed away in January, kinda for my grandfather, who passed away when I was 3 or 4... She finally got to be back with him in some sense... And theres nothing political there.

Looking forward, where do you see you and your band in the long term?
Well, we're just getting our toes into playing some live gigs, and we seem to have some real honest emotion and a bit of intensity, and I want to take that as far as I can take it, without compromising any of what is real in that.

In the immeadiate future, You have a show coming up at the start of December?
Yep, we got a Radio show coming up in December... nothing big...we'll play some songs, talk a bit and it's a phone-in deal as well...

Any festive numbers lined up, PJ style?
Haha! Like Don't Believe In Christmas or something along those lines? You know, I never considered that...might be a great idea!

I guess we'll just have to tune in to find out...
Indeed... It'll be a learning experience for us all...

OK, so, to wrap up this Q&A, its been a pleasure to talk with you David, I've enjoyed listening to your stories under the guise of being an interviewer and I feel I've come away from this with a greater appreciation for your music, so thank you.
Thank you... Hey, if it ever goes anywhere, you gave us our first interview, so i appreciate your time and effort!

Well, who knows what the future holds...


We will now offer you all a chance to sample Enemies & Allies for yourselves, with this 3-track EP. It features two of the songs discussed in the interview, Uniforms and Our Favourite Song, as well as Say What You Mean, and comes with exclusive artwork.

Download Link: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KRX3IK9D

The aforementioned Radio Show will take place on 6th December. Further details are available at www.myspace.com/enemiesandalliesband. Here you can also see an exclusive video from the band's first ever show, and listen to the 3 tracks listed above. You can also find links to Isaiah, Jeff & Brad's other band, Amalgamation.

PLEASE leave feedback and let us know what you thought of this feature, the interview, and most importantly, the music.


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