Tulip Frenzy Exclusive Interview With The Auras, Our Psych Band Of The Year

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Last week, Tulip Frenzy named The Auras, an amazing young band from Toronto, Psych Band Of The Year.  We did this based on the strength of their three-song maxi-single, Tess Parks & The Auras, which includes one song sung by the cross-Atlantic chanteuse, “I Believe In Everything,” as well as just the boys singing “Island In The Sea”and “Charlton Heston.”  When we saw two new videos get released in recent weeks, and evidence of new output equal to or even better than what’s on their previous two EPs from 2013 — The Auras EP, and EP 2 — we were so moved to reveal that The Auras had been occupying our earbuds pretty much non-stop since mid-summer.  So we sent some questions to the band and guitarist Robb Schaede graciously sent back some answers.

1. When “Saturn Day” comes out in January, it will be, by my count, your fourth EP (including this year’s three-song single.) Is producing EPs, as opposed to creating a full-length album, a function of money, or record company support, or is a 3-6 song collection the way you’re choosing to introduce your music to the wider world?

We’ve always been big on self editing. We’ve never wanted to be a band where one out of every ten songs is great. Average is our enemy, no one likes average. Whether or not we hit the mark is up to each individual listener’s own opinion, but we always strive for doing the very best we can do with whatever we have to work with.

2. The songwriting across your various EPs is strong, and seems varied. Tell us about the songwriting dynamic in the band: everybody pitch in? One or two principal songwriters? How does that work?

Everyone in the band writes songs. Each person is the boss of their own song, more or less. At this point we can pretty much fire into a new tune and everyone will know exactly what to do, but that’s taken years of working together to get to. We have become more and more collaborative as the years go on, especially since we have acquired more and more of our own recording equipment, it makes it a lot easier for us to work on song writing while recording.

3. We can hear certain key influences in your songs — both Spaceman 3 and their The Darkside offshoot come to mind, and so do a number of the Nuggets-era garage bands — but tell us about the bands that had an influence on all of you, especially those bands that gave you a common reference point as six individuals seeking a sound.

Bands like Spacemen 3, Singapore Sling, Asteroid #4, The Pandoras, The Cramps etc really hold a centre reference point for us as a group. On the fringes you can hear that Peter is a huge shoegaze influence, and that Hank got his beginning singing in hardcore bands, Aaron also draws hardcore influence into his drumming from time to time. I sneak in influences from Frank Zappa, Cocorosie and weird stuff like that, I try to get flutes and weird loops into our recordings as much as I can. I also studied Jazz as a kid, which oddly enough does still influence my guitar work with the band. Dallas’s biggest guitar influence is Poison Ivy from The Cramps, David on keys loves the darker heavier psych and you can hear that in his droning.

4. You guys have stayed together for six years and are all roughly 24, if our math is right. Did you go to school together? Come from the same neighborhood? How did you six become The Aura?

I went to school with Dallas and Aaron, and they met David and Pete in Brampton, who went to school together as well. Me and Hank met at an open mic and he ended up joining after we had been playing shows for a couple years. It’s hard to describe what keeps 6 people together for 6 years; it comes down to the love of friendship and the love of music. It’s hard to walk away from the amazing feeling of playing overwhelming psychedelic sounds with your best friends.

5. Did recording a track with Tess Parks open doors for you outside of Toronto? (It certainly put you on the map for us.)

Working with Tess has given us a lot of international fans. We are working on more stuff with her right now, she’s made one of our music videos for an upcoming track from the (forthcoming – ed.) Saturn Day EP, the live shows have been dope too. It’s a blessing for sure, and also feels really natural. She fits in with our group, which is very tight knit so that’s a big deal for us, and she can handle our craziness, which is a relief considering how whacky we can get, it would probably scare a lot of people away. Not Tess though, she’s the real deal.

6. Tell us about other Toronto bands you think the world should know about.

We’d like to give a shout out to Crosss, B17, Sunshine and the Blue Moon, Sun Stone Revolvers, Mexican Slang, Tailbreakers, By Divine Right, Saffron Sect, Flowers of Hell, Bodies That Matter, Mimico, Planet Creature, BB guns and probably many others we are forgetting.

That’s it for now.  We’ll keep people updated on The Auras as time goes on.  Look for the Saturn Day EP in January, and a U.S. tour in 2016.

 

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