WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right, welcome to Witchpolice Radio one of the cool things about doing this show for as long as I have and talking to such a broad sort of array of local artists is that I have on some episodes people who've been doing this thing for decades. And then I have on other episodes people who are in brand new bands that have just sort of just launched their first single. And that's kind of the case with the guests on the podcast today. It's always interesting when I have bands on that are relatively new, because when it's someone I've been listening to for 20 years, it's very easy to sort of instantly think of what I want to talk about because I have this long, sort of personal relationship with the songs. But I've only very recently heard your song because it only very recently came out publicly. So I think this will be a fun conversation just on that front alone. So I think the best way to start this off is if the two of you want to introduce yourselves and the band and maybe just give a bit of background about what you do as artists so people can put a name to the voice. So whoever wants to go first.
CONNOR: Ladies. Ladies first.
DANNY: Ladies first. So, like you or me, babe? Anyway, I'll bite. My name's Danny and I sing in Howtoboilwater. I do the vocals. It's a really fun project. It's, like, my only band where I only do singing, and Connor writes all the music, so I kind of just get to show up and do my thing, which is very fun. It's like a diva moment.
And the band, it's like I don't know, just more, I think I guess Connor would probably be able to describe it better because they write most of the songs.
CONNOR: Yeah, I'm Connor. I play guitar, and I do the songwriting in the band.
That's my general role. And then just being a general drill sergeant, a pseudo manager, if you will.
WR: Well, and there's more than just the two of you in the band. So how many other people are we missing here tonight?
CONNOR: So we also have our other guitarist, Ryden, our bassist Owen, and then our drummer.
WR: Okay, okay. And how long has this been a group? Because, like I said, sort of at the mean, you know, you're very new in the sense that you've just released your first single not too long before we recorded this. So what's sort of the origins of this project?
CONNOR: So I started writing for this project about two years ago, sort of just towards the tail end of my old band, and then I got a bunch of material together, found some people to jam it, and then I guess we've been formed and playing shows for pretty much just since the start of the summer. We had about probably a couple of months before that of just rehearsing and working on the songs and just getting together. We went through a couple of lineup changes, a couple of drummers here and there, but I guess all in all, like, really, about six to seven months.
WR: And so how do you get from that point to …well, actually, you know what? First of all, one of the things I thought was very interesting about what you did is having a release show for a single. And I realize we're in a totally different environment here, where the way music is consumed is not at all the same as it was even a few years ago. With just the way everyone streams things. And singles have this sort of really high importance in terms of getting music out there and they're often hyped up the same way that albums would be. What was the reasoning behind doing a release show for a single? Because I see a lot of people putting a ton of effort and work into releasing singles, but a release show is a new one for me.
CONNOR: I think my mentality for wanting to do it was we have plans to do an EP, but we wanted to sort of throw a couple of singles out at everyone just as a little quick little tasters of what we can do and what we're about. And I normally wouldn't do a whole extravagant release show for a single, but with it being our first song, it felt kind of like a nice occasion to just celebrate the beginning of everything.
CONNOR: And that was sort of my mentality behind it.
WR: No, that makes sense. Yeah. So I guess what was the reception then? Now that you have that single out in the world and now you're on record as being an actual band with actual music, people can check out what has the reception been from people who have either went to the show or have just heard the single since it's been out there?
CONNOR: I mean, on my end it's been great, but I'll let Danny answer this one.
DANNY: Yeah, I've had a lot of people talk to me and say, like, oh, my gosh, the song has been stuck in my head. It's so catchy.
Before it was released, I showed one of my friends who works with my boyfriend and then everybody who works there was like, humming and they couldn't figure out what song it was and they were like, Dang, I want to listen to this song. Is it Paramore? Why can't we find this song? And then they realized it was our unreleased song and I was like, Whoa. That made me feel really good about the demo and seeing people, they obviously do listen to it and have it in their heads, because at the show, everybody was like, singing along to this single. People were crowd surfing. It was just like, whoa, it feels amazing. Honestly, the reception of the single has been super exciting.
WR: Yeah, well, that maybe brings up another question because, I mean, like you said, the single, it is super catchy, for sure. It's an earworm and I think that's probably what you were going for with the song. I mean, when you're releasing a single, you want people to be going back to it over and over again and listening to it repeatedly. Right. But I'm going to ask the terrible question that everyone hates answering. How do you define the type of music you play? Because I feel like as a new band. When you first came out, I saw photos of the band and I was probably prejudging what kind of music it would be based on. Sort of the style of the photos and things like that. And I think it's often hard to tell just from that. I mean, this is much catchier than I thought it was going to be based on judging a book before opening the cover, or whatever the saying is. But how do you define sort of the style of what you play?
CONNOR: Do you want to take this?
WR: Either one of you could take this one.
CONNOR: What is it to you, Danny?
DANNY: I think we should know.
WR: Yeah, I'm actually curious to hear both of your.., yeah, yeah.
DANNY: Especially because Connor writes, like, the musical arrangements. There are no vocal melodies or lyrics that's kind of on me to take up. And this is like my first band that's kind of in this realm of writing. I'm mostly in like, indie pop, super twee bands.
DANNY: And this is kind of more like sexy, emo, mysterious, post hardcore, shoe gazey, droney, atmospheric, that kind of vibe. So I don't know, that's what I would say to it. I think we have definitely some pop sensibility coming from me being the vocalist. And even just in the songwriting it's a little bit. They're dance songs. They're meant to have fun, too. A lot of the songs that we've wrote, but not all of them, but there's a fair amount of dance songs in there.
Like our single just kind of meant to have fun, too.
But also they're all pretty depressing and about being tortured in love and being kind of in that desperate headspace or super emotional, very angsty. So it's like dreamy, shoe gaze, post whatever you want to call it. I don't know. But Connor would probably have a better answer.
WR: Go ahead, Connor.
CONNOR: Yeah, I guess for like, you hit on a lot of the points that I would hit on.
I described it a lot before we actually started putting things out. And it was in sort of a preliminary stage of just describing it as sad songs that you can dance to. I come from a lot of a big background of post hardcore, old school, emo, metal core, a lot of stuff that's very hard hitting and riff driven. But what I wanted to do was just take a lot of those sensibilities and then just put them on pop.
So the songs are very structured, they're very chorus driven. They're made to be super palatable because I just want them to be something that you can just listen to and enjoy. You don't have to overthink it.
And I like to pull in lots of different elements from various spectrums of things. I like I like to pull in atmospheric things and heavy things and just try to blend them all into this sort of soup of just sad, dancy awesomeness.
WR: Is there a challenge combining those? I mean, both of you sort of referred to the sadness of it and the sort of gloomy vibe to it, but then also having the pop element and the danceable element, which are sort of, on paper, seem like they're very opposed. Is it difficult to sort of marry the two and keep those emotions in the song while also making it something that's relatively upbeat and is going to stick in people's heads?
DANNY: I don't really think so. A lot of my favorite songs, like, pretty much my whole life are like pop dance songs that when you listen to the lyrics, you're like, dang, this is dark, or depressing or whatever, or goth music where it's like, yeah, I could dance to this all night, but there is this definite gloominess to it. So for me it feels like pretty natural to be like, dancing and having good time, but kind of still in my feelings.
I was just about to say, I think a lot of people kind of relate to that.
I see you guys on the floor at goth night. I know the vibe is there, but yeah, Connor, go ahead.
CONNOR: I think compositionally the balance for me is all of the songs start on just an unplugged electric guitar and I basically just find the kind of saddest prettiest chords I can and then write very sad progressions. But then what I do is just put them on fast beats and just recontextualize them into like so if you were to just take the guitars away from our songs and you were just to listen to the drums they're basically like pop punk songs or post hardcore songs and then it's just about throwing in those really sad atmospheric chords and then on top of that, throwing really poppy vocals and it kind of creates this balance of like you can tune into some elements and it can make you really sad. Or you can tune into other elements and it makes you want to dance. And then it just kind of creates this, like, crying in the club type vibe.
WR: I like that. That's a good description of it.
It's cool how just adding that one element, though, that totally changes the tone of it. I mean, it still has obviously, like you said, the pop vocals and the danceable sort of beat to it. But yeah, the atmospheric guitars for sure are something that's going to totally switch the overall feel of something.
WR: What is sort of the plan now that now that you have this out? I mean, now that you played the release show, I know you have some shows coming up because when I had Death Cassette on the show, they were talking about how excited they are to play with you. But what's sort of in the cards now, now that you have this single out, are there more singles sort of to be released soon.
CONNOR: Yeah, we have another single that is going to be coming out December 1 is the plan as of right now and I'm pretty sure we're going to stick to it.
WR: Well, now you have to because you said it on a recording.
CONNOR: We're getting everything in order to get that out. December 1.
Yeah. Our last show of the year is going to be with Death Cassette in November there on the 17th. Then we're going to be taking a bit of a break for the winter to focus on some writing. Going back into the studio in January to record an EP that we are hoping is going to come out sometime in spring of next year.
And we've got a show book for February that we can't talk too much about yet. And then the plan is to just have a really busy summer, planning on doing a tour and looking at some festivals and stuff.
WR: So wheels are in motion. Things are going to be happening in the next few months.
CONNOR: It's crack a lacking.
WR: Is the writing process, I mean, but by the sounds of things, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the two of you kind of contribute, but separately. Right. Is that how these songs are written?
CONNOR: For the most part, yeah. I would say the main bulk of the actual songwriting instrumentally is just sort of done with me huddled over my computer with the lights off at three in the morning, just like sobbing and trying to write riffs that don't sound like garbage. And then eventually I create a song and I run a couple of versions by the whole band just to make sure everybody's vibing with it, seeing how they feel about it structurally and the progressions of things. And then I will send it over to Danny and usually we have a little talk about what we think the song should be about, what we kind of want to touch on theme wise. And then a lot of that is built around. I try to use a working title that kind of builds a vibe for what I think the song might be about and then I send it over to Danny and then you kind of take over from there. And then when does that process look like for you once you have the canvas?
WR: I like how you're asking my questions for me, it's great.
DANNY: Love that. Yeah. Once I have the songs that you write, I'll usually listen to them a couple of times, and I don't know the type of person I always kind of hear melodies in my head. In my other bands, I'm kind of used to more writing in a jam setting where I'm just playing guitar, I'll come up with a chord progression that I like, and then it just comes out of me, like, whatever melody I think would fit, I'm like, okay, well, let's just say that out loud in the moment. So I'll just kind of do that by myself in my room while puttering around. And when I hear things that I'm like, oh, I like that. That's pretty hooky or catchy or, oh, I can definitely put that in this part, or whatever. I'll do that sometimes. It's just stream of consciousness. I've had some songs where I listen to it and I'm immediately like, okay, it's there, I can hear it, I know what I want to say.
And other things I kind of stew on for a little bit longer. A lot of the lead guitar lines in our songs.
I kind of mirror them sometimes with certain vocal parts because sometimes I'll get an arrangement and it already sounds, like, so full and beautiful. And I'm like, Dang, I can't compete with this guitar, so just get on the same wavelength as, like it's always pretty fun, always a little bit different, but I can kind of just hear the melodies in my head. And I love the songs that Connor writes. I think they're super catchy, and that helps a lot, too, when it's like, in my head worming around there. I have kind of no problem meditating on it and adding things to it.
CONNOR: Yeah, and then from there, we usually oh, sorry. Yeah, we usually from there bring it to the jam space for everybody. At that point, I'll send Ryden and Owen just like a basic what I wrote, like what I'm playing in the demos, and then they have the freedom to kind of just expand on that, play around with it. Our drummer, Nick, he'll learn the basic structure and the feels of the parts and then toss his own little spice on it. And then it's just a matter of just jamming it out together. And then I think usually that also develops on Danny's parts, like actually hearing them in the room with the rest of the band, and then that's when the songs actually come together, is when we really flush them out in the workshop.
WR: Do they change considerably from sort of the initial version to what ends up happening with the full band?
Are their contributions enough to significantly sort of tweak what's happened? Or are the songs essentially the basic format that you came up with in the first place, but just maybe embellished.
CONNOR: A bit, I would say. Yeah, they're more embellished. There will be certain sections where it's like there will be a cutaway part where it goes to just one clean guitar. And maybe Ryden will have the idea like, oh, we should double this instead of playing it one time. Or honestly, even just like the way Nick will play the drums differently will have a huge impact on the feel, just the way he'll do fills rather than the ones I did, or just like little embellishments on the beats.
And then from there, it's usually a matter of, like, we'll play the songs a couple of times live, and then for one or two of the songs that we've been playing for a while, I just don't like how they feel live and in the room. So then from that point, I'll kind of just take them back to square one and redigest what I think might work better for us, which is going to be a big process for us going into recording the EP.
And then from there it'll be like I'm planning to have it be a lot more collaborative with the writing. I really do enjoy writing the basic structure of things and coming up with parts. But I would like to start having people come in more and giving their ideas on arrangements and lengths of things and where things can go and little embellishments just so that it can feel like more of a full band project rather than just one little goblin crunching away. Yeah, I think it fell into that just because I started this band as like a bedroom thing of just like kind of a songwriting outlet while I was in my old band. And then I just ended up liking the song, so I wanted to start the band. So I'm trying to get myself to gear out of that mode and have it be more of a collaborative experience for everybody.
WR: Okay, what is the significance behind the band name? Because it's memorable.
CONNOR: Well, I feel like that's something everybody wants to know, right?
It's very important part of cooking this is true making tea.
I guess the real story behind it is just in a very early stage of this band, we were trying to think of a band name and we really couldn't think of anything. And I had a four picture diagram on how to boil water on my desktop because just in case I forget.
WR: I don't think that's ever happened where I've forgotten how to boil water. But yeah, go ahead.
CONNOR: Hey, it's tough. You never know.
WR: You never know.
CONNOR: Stove in the oven, microwave, who knows?
And it just on the top of it. It just said how to boil water. And then I said it to myself out loud and then I was like, that's like sticking. There's something there. And then from there, I just took out all the capitals and put it all into one word and boom. MySpace.
WR: That is very MySpace. Yeah, you're right. Well, it's interesting you mentioned MySpace, too, because that whole aesthetic as well as some of the genres you mentioned earlier, I mean, emo and metal core and a lot of these genres that kind of had their peak, I don't know when it would have been like early 2000s, are now coming back in a huge way. And it's interesting to see sort of that. And a lot of that stuff was kind of maligned for a long time. It was like MySpace, remember that? But now it seems like there's a whole generation of people who are ignoring that kind of stigma on it and then getting back to what they liked about it or what was initially popular and cool and fun about it. And that seems to be a thing. Again, is that sort of some of the influence here is taking some of those genres that maybe ten years ago people thought were shit and sort of finding what is actually good about them and why people like them in the first place.
CONNOR: People like them in the first place. Absolutely. Ten years ago, I was 15, so I was right in the middle of it. Absolutely adoring it and loving it. Um, and there's just so many things about that era that I just love sonically and aesthetically.
There's just like a certain sincerity to a lot of those songs and just like an earnestness in the songwriting and the melodies and just the way everything was presented that I've always really enjoyed. And watching it all sort of coming back into modern music blended with better production and different things has just been really cool. And that's definitely a big influence on what I'm trying to do, is just kind of bring that MySpace core stuff into sort of a modern mode.
WR: Is that the same situation as far as the vocals and lyrics go? Or are you pulling that inspiration from somewhere else?
DANNY: Kind of from all over. There is definitely some of that MySpace emo influence in there.
Ten years ago, I was like eleven, but I was on the internet, like, too young, so I probably still would have like I was on MySpace when I was like, nine, right? But I didn't really do anything on there other than go on Ms Paint and make edits of my favorite emo band singers with hearts around them. So I was ready for this project.
I'm ready and just kind of having that fun, cute, whimsical, romantic songwriting that I like to bring to all of my projects that are more kind of like twee and cutesy. And then also I do a lot of screaming and harsh vocals and kind of heavier stuff too. And I love that dichotomy. I love kind of giving people whiplash and being like, wait, this was super cute. What the hell is going on now. Whoa. That kind of thing. So, yeah, I love pulling from everywhere and too like the musical arrangements, there is a little bit of that MySpace flavor in there, but there's also so many other just gorgeous elements pulled from so many different places. So kind of trying to fit that vibe and really look anywhere for inspiration has been what my process has been like.
WR: Yeah, well, it's cool because I'm quite a bit older. I mean, I'm 41 and so for me, that MySpace era, I used MySpace, so did everybody. But that style wasn't really something that I was into as a listener, but I definitely saw it sort of having an effect on the culture and it's really neat to see it come back with people who were really young when it first sort of was a thing. Right.
I'm so used to seeing nostalgia for stuff that I grew up listening to when I was a teenager. But now the nostalgia for the stuff when I was like, in my 20s for those teenagers is coming back. And it's so weird to see how it cycles and it's cool to see again what one of you just said about the sort of impact of that old stuff then being affected by good production values and all the sort of the new technology and new sounds that are getting filtered through that. So, yeah, I'm happy to see it, even though I wasn't an emo kid at the time of that big explosion there. But it's cool to see this coming back and being sort of redefined and remixed and stuff.
WR: That wasn't really a question, that was just more of a statement. So at this point, the good thing about this being a podcast, someone could hear it the day it comes out or they could hear it a year from now. And by then, who knows, maybe you have the EP out already, maybe you're touring. What's the best way at this point to find your music and find out more about what you're doing as far as upcoming shows and things like that?
CONNOR: We're most active on Instagram, pretty much only active on Instagram.
Social media is a hellish nightmare, so I try to relegate myself to mostly doing promotion on just one space.
We're available on any streaming platform. We will be having a music video coming up soon as well on YouTube, so there will be that. But for the most part, Instagram, Spotify, Apple Music Deezer if you're crazy, really, wherever you want.
WR: Cool. And then people should expect another single later in the year. You say, we're saying December, kind of, and then into the new year for a larger release.
CONNOR: Yeah, the goal for this year was just sort of like to get our toes wet, get some songs out, sort of cut our teeth on the stage a little bit. And then the plan for next year is to just go full tilt and. Really see what we can do.
WR: Cool. Did you feel that you've sort of accomplished that first part of getting the word out, getting your names out there, getting the music out there? I know it's all, again, very new.
CONNOR: But I would say I'm very happy with what we've accomplished this year so far.
The single release show we played on Saturday was sold out, and I think that's pretty good for our second headliner. Yeah.
And things have just been great. There's a very strong scene right now, stronger than I've seen in quite a long time in Winnipeg. And we're just really happy to be a part of that and get to play with such fantastic bands that we're happy enough to also just be friends with, because full of great people right now.
WR: Yeah, it's always nice to see that.
I always kind of joke that the Winnipeg music scene has always been extremely incestuous, where everyone plays in each other's bands and everyone knows each other. But there's a lot of good things that come out of that too, right? I mean, everyone sort of has it's like a large community that also seems really tight knit. It's cool to see that generation after generation, that's still the case. And Winnipeg still has new bands popping up every week, but everyone sort of knows each other and is encouraging each other and all that. I think it's one of the reasons I still do this after, like, ten years with this podcast, is that everyone is making cool stuff. And every time I meet one band doing cool stuff, I meet like three other bands that are connected to them, that are doing interesting music. And it just never ends right.
CONNOR: Yeah. For as small a city it is. We have so much talent, just per capita even.
It's fantastic to see.
WR:!It's pretty bonkers.