An Interview With Des Arcs
A new full album release from Des Arcs brings out a tasteful and refreshing pop rock vibe that hits with a great edginess and boasts tons of character that just bleeds through on every single track along with heavy-handed but incredibly catchy guitar hooks that you can't turn away from.
The Masks album is packed with a soulful heart and the ability to write songs that grab at you and keep you right where they want you.
So many tracks on this record just feel great to listen to and when you do, doing it loud is one of the best ways to do it.
There are layers to this record and a sort of connectiveness between the songs that makes it almost feel like a concept album even though it might not be.
These guys really showcase a certain indie rock swagger and an insane presence that just oozes fun which in return is incredibly infectious.
The album boasts a soiree of outstanding guitar work, slamming drums, and vocals that push the envelope in such a colorful way that you get this amazing atmosphere.
You can hear a number of different influences peaking through from song to song which includes everything from classic rock to '90s grunge and so much more in between.
This is a great aspect because even though you know it's going to be good and you have a feel for the staple soundscape of the band by halfway through the album, you still don't quite know exactly what to expect. And that's really something.
A lot of the time you also get a sort of live band feel which is amazing because the energy that you need to portray that on a recording like this it's hard to capture.
But these guys do it without a hitch and pull it off with charm to boot.
This really is an epitome of pop rock at its best and some of the songs are a little bit heavier, sort of head bangers which still keep to that pop Sensibility, and other songs are bouncier and cleaner.
Either way you're going to end up dancing around the living room or singing along in the car after the first go round.
We need more open armed, hands in the air, fun but still edgy Rock like this in the world.
So I'm very happy that Des Arcs dropped this one on us because it's really a killer album all the way through.
And on that topic, there are definitely several gems here that stand on their own two legs however listening to the record from start to finish if you have the time that is, is the way to go here.
With such a massive rock release, we wanted to have a sit-down with Des Arcs to find out where this actually came from and what might be next for the band.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay guys, let's start with Masks LP. This record has a classic feel that blends pop rock, punk, alt-rock, and! How did this album come about?
We had a swack of new tunes written coming out of COVID isolation and knew we wanted to do a full album, something that felt like a cohesive grouping of songs. It's challenging because we have the two song-writers/singers (Travis Davies/Mark Rudd) in the band with different styles and approaches. We worked with the same producer (Lorrie Matheson) as our last EP (Thief Valley) and tried to do the actual bedtrack recording and fundamental stuff (guitars, vocals) in as condensed a timeline as possible to keep relationships between songs tight. We recorded 14 songs and kept the 12 that hung together the best.
We laboured over the production through 2022. In January, we lost our drummer, Dave Alcock, tragically, just before the record was ready for release. He was responsible for the killer drums, and mix. He made us all better players and writers. He was proud of the record, as we all are. Bitter sweet that he isn't here to celebrate its release into the wild...but also cathartic. This one's for you, Dave.
Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you guys as a band?
In 2015, I wanted to record a tune I had written for my first daughter. We came together to record that tune, and then just kept writing and playing, which resulted in our first LP, Take me to Your Island (2018). We all knew each other from past projects and had been friends a long time. When you are lucky enough to find a group of like-minded musicians who have the same expectations and goals for a project it kind of creates its own momentum and you just keep going, which is what we did.
Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
To me, a good song is one that pretty much anyone can put on and wear in their own lives. If the words and vibe can translate easily to something meaningful in any given listener's life, then you've got a good song. So, I like to focus on those bigger, broader emotions that we can all identify with and then drawing a more specific sonic picture around that emotion or feeling. Iyrically, I like to use stark and unusual images to do the story-telling work, and evoke emotion. You'll hear a lot of that kind of approach in both mine and Mark's songs on this record.
Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles combinations on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
Oh man, we listen to a wild variety of stuff. You can hear some of that disparate influence on the record. I really dig those first two or three Frank Black and the Catholics albums...Devo, Gang of Four, early Rocket from the Crypt all come to mind. Some of it is pretty anthemic as well....think Tom Petty, early Elvis Costello, Clash. Some of Mark's stuff especially has a dirtier, darker vibe to it, like MC5, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy.
Buzz Slayers: What are you guys doing when you're NOT working on music?
We all have jobs and families, partners...you know, pretty full lives. Mine and Mark's kids are still little, but super fun times cause we get to act like kids to, you know, ripping at the bike park, splashing in the pool. Dave Anderson has teenagers...so they are out discovering who they are. We spend time outside the band together as well...family bbqs and such, watch a little hockey, go fishing for trout. We all like the simple things.
Buzz Slayers: Who's in all your headphones right now?
Hmmm, the last few LPs I had going under the headphones are laying right here: Frank Black and the Catholics (Pistolero), Jenny Lewis (On the Line), Gram Parsons (Grevious Angel), and Cheap Trick (Heaven Tonight).
Buzz Slayers: Are you guys doing any live performances right now?
We are planning a vinyl LP release for Masks, that will also be a tribute show for Dave Alcock. He was a very well known and loved music engineer and producer here in Calgary...played in a bunch of other bands over the years...and we all want to celebrate his life. That will be in mid-May, watch our Instagram page for details (@desarcsrocks).
Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
We went into OCL studios, which is a big, glorious room with great mics and other gear, to get the drums and bass bedtracks. We brought that back to our friend Lorrie Matheson's garage studio (Arch Audio) to do the guitars/vocals and other pixie dust-type stuff, basically picked away at it for a couple/few months. Lorrie and Dave Alcock mixed the thing and we sent it off for mastering (Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service) last fall.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
We have invited a new drummer to join the band, Brendan Tincher. He is fitting into the fold nicely and we are just bringing the live set up to snuff for the vinyl release/Tribute show in May. Masks will be up on all streaming platforms at the end of this week (March 17), and we'll turn our minds to doing some mini-tours in support of the album. And then, I don't know, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, start working on new songs.
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Thanks for all the support, go buy the album on BandCamp, and if you like it, tell your friends. Hunca munca rock and roll forever! Be kind to one another and try to stay in the moment. Life is short!