Seems like no matter what Andrew Neufeld touches, it's worth listening to. Doesn't matter whether you're talking about Figure Four , Comeback Kid or his latest outfit Sights & Sounds, you're gonna get a bunch of solid songs. Couple to that to some rigourous touring (or maybe because of the extensive touring) and you're looking at some very tight acts. Recently Sights & Sounds released their debut full-length "Monolith" and it's been in heavy rotation ever since over at PRT HQ. Check out the email interview we did with Andrew!
PRT: Before your debut full-length was released, Sights & Sounds was known as this band with members of Comeback Kid, Figure Four and Sick City. Do you notice a difference now that your debut album is out? With Sights And Sounds becoming more of an entity of its own?
Andrew: I think so. I think using the reference band names of other projects we are/have been involved with can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it may spark interest in someone to check out S&S based on the other band's affiliations, or it might give someone a totally wrong impression. Sights & Sounds doesn't sound too much like any of the aformentioned bands. We haven't set out to be a side project, this is a band that considers itself its own entity and we are looking towards the immediate and distant future. We want to take this band's music as far as we can. Hopefully our album "Monolith" gives that impression. We're still really excited about it.
PRT: I read somewhere that you all live in different parts of the country. Is that a blessing or a curse when it comes to writing music?
Andrew: It is what it is. We don't have the luxury of calling each other on the fly and getting the whole band together for a jam session. We have to plan it out. But it always brings us to really intense sessions. We block out a week ( or more ) and that is all we will do all day. Practice and write without many interruptions. Then we go out and party together. It's a very relaxed and open environment. Right now 3 of us are in Toronto and just my brother Joel is in Winnipeg. Adrian has his own studio here so he is doing tons of writing, though I'm holed up with Comeback Kid starting to record a new record this month. Always on the go.
PRT: You've been recently been on tour in Europe with Billy Talent. Kind of like a Canadian invasion. Is there a lot of solidarity between Canadian bands or are the scenes there just as dispersed as in every other country?
Andrew: The scenes are definitely dispersed in Canada as well, but there is something to be said about Canadian bands. A lot of different styles of bands will end up playing together or just get along in general because it is a smaller scene. With the Billy Talent thing, we met them through the Cancer Bats guys and we're just really lucky to be out with them since Billy Talent is probably one of the biggest rock bands in Canada at the moment. They have been so cool to us on that tour, and really go out of their way to make us feel comfortable.
PRT: Something I've always wondered about? is it as hard for Canadian bands to get out of the country as for American bands to get into the country?
Andrew: One interesting thing is that I think its easy for Americans to focus on America and tour their own country over and over. The fact is, being Canadian we still have to get crazy expensive visas to go play in the USA and its a big hassle crossing the border most the time. Oddly enough, its easier for a band like us to come to Europe then to go play in the USA. We've been to Europe twice now in the last few months without treading US soil. I think that is a case for many Canadian bands where they will be doing well everywhere in the world, but America for some reason doesn't catch on. It's quite interesting.
PRT: About the band name... I get the Sounds part alright, but where do the Sights come into play? Is it because a lot of the songs have more of a cinematic feel to them?
Andrew: That's one reason, also we have some ideas about the future of the band and where we want to take the live show visually. We've always talked about projections and different lighting options. Some of it is in the works but it takes a lot of planning and money. Right now we always control our own lights. Sometimes from stage with a very simple setup to set the mood. We've talked about doing more instrumental tours with modern dance groups as well. The cool thing is we feel like we can take S&S in any direction and do what we want with it. Try new things, yknow? So we definitely want to step up the visual aspect.
PRT: You've got a wide variety of styles going on on "Monolith" ranging from metal and hardcore to more atmospheric parts. Is it harder to be in a band that doesn't really belong in one specific scene?
Andrew: We don't belong in any scene. I don't hear the hardcore in our band, other than the fact that I come from HC. We are a heavy atmospheric rock band that is chill at times. We have some harder hitting songs and some that allow more room to breathe. There is no niche scene for this style of music. Just music lovers in general. Our influences range from punk rock to world music.
PRT: Something you probably get asked in every interview, but what was it like to be working with Devin Townsend?
Andrew: Devin is an amazing man, producer, musician, artist. He lived up to all the hype we heard about him before we recorded. He got very involved with our album. I think we all did. We were on the tip of British Columbia in his studio in the wilderness. There were bears running around the backyard. Devin was great at adding samples and layering elements to our songs. We had a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each other.
PRT: "Monolith" has been released on a bunch of different labels ranging from Redfield to Smallman and The Militia Group. How come you chose to work that way? And how hard is it to stay on top of things that way?
Andrew: It is kinda hard to follow up all the time. We did that because we couldn't find a label that would be dedicated on a worldwide level, and our band is looking to go across the globe. We ended up licencing to 6 labels. 5 different territories and another label in Germany doing Vinyl. Its worked out really well because each label is focused on their own territory so we actually see attention in different countries. Rather that then all our eggs in one basket yknow? Everyone we've worked with so far has been really cool to us for the most part.
PRT: Comeback Kid is known for its rigourous touring schedule. As if that isn't enough yet, you go out and start another band that goes on tour as well. What?s it like being on the road for the better part of the year?
Andrew: I have all my stuff in storage or at friends places. I haven't paid permanent rent for the last couple years. If I have 3 weeks off out of 5 months or something, I'll rent a room but I am pretty much always on the go. Its been a lifestyle for me since I started touring at 18. I don't see myself slowing down anytime soon. It's exciting to start touring w. my brother and friends in Sights & Sounds. It allows a nice contrast for me and I can switch it up when jumping between tours. I better get some travel points worth using soon! Gold Club! Though I always book my plane tickets on the internet so it never seems to add up to enough! I often sleep in airports haha.
PRT: What's up next for Sights & Sounds? Are you already working on new material?
Andrew: Yes, Adrian has been holed up in his Toronto studio writing and recording a ton of ideas. Im currently as I type this in the studio with Comeback Kid recording a new album. S&S will be touring Europe/ North America this summer and most likely Australia before the new CBK disc comes out so we'll still have time to tour the Monolith album for a while, since it only came out less than a year ago.