Over the last couple of years, Toronto's Greys definitely haven't been slouching when it comes to releasing new material. And with every new release, they keep on pushing the envelope, trying new things and fooling around with things like dynamics and textures. That's once again no different on "Outer Heaven", the band's new album which will see the light of day on April 22nd via Carpark Records and Buzz Records. We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani to find out a little bit more about the new album.
PRT: The songs on “Outer Heaven” come with even more different textures and dynamics than ever before. Do you purposely push yourselves to evolve with every release or does it just kinda happen?
Shehzaad: I think it's a mix of both, with a bit more of the former than the latter. We actively try not to repeat ourselves, so we try to incorporate different elements of things we like into our music that may not have been there before. We've started experimenting with tape drones and repetitive phrases, for example. Or something is just as simple as me singing more than yelling because it feels better to me. But yeah, we never want to do one thing over and over again.
PRT: You recorded the new album once again with Mike Rocha. Being a band that likes to stray from your comfort zone, how come you keep working with the producer rather than say, work with someone different for every release?
Shehzaad: Mike is like our George Martin. He just understands what the band is about and knows how to get the best performances out of us, and always supports our need to move in different directions. In addition to that, he is an excellent teacher, and has a very distinct vision. We appreciate a lot of the same things about music and art in general. Having that kind of rapport with a collaborator isn't particularly common, and we've felt his absence whenever he hasn't been with us. Especially on this record, he showed us some tricks that I never would have considered myself. He's a total genius.
PRT: I read somewhere that you used to have the hardest time coming up with album names and song titles. Is that still the case?
Shehzaad: Yeah, I hate naming shit. I have this giant list of potential titles I always refer to when it comes time to make a record. I was playing the newest Metal Gear game and just thought the name Outer Heaven sounded cool and applied to some of the themes on the album, so we went with that. The next best title was "Footjob," so I think we dodged a bullet there.
PRT: I thought you have pretty evocative titles. Tracks like “Blown Out”, “Sorcerer” and “My Life As A Cloud” sound like you would imagine them to sound judging from the title. Which made me wonder if the title is always the last thing to take care of when you make a song or if it’s maybe the other way around?
Shehzaad: I've rarely thought of a title before I have the music or lyrics in mind. We also have tons of meaningless working titles for songs. Those come first, sometimes.
PRT: What’s with the sleigh bells in the middle of “In For A Penny”? Who came up with that?
Shehzaad: I had pictured sleigh bells in that section since coming up with that part. Mike hated it. He tried to bury them in the mix, but I wouldn't let him. We're Canadian, we love winter.
PRT: In your lyrics you address issues like the aftermath of the shootings at Bataclan or being in a relationship with a partner who doesn’t fully understand depression. Do you ever think about whether or not the noisy outbursts overshadow some of the things you would like people to grasp onto?
Shehzaad: I think my parents often ask me that. "Why do you have to yell? People can't understand what you're saying!" That's okay, I guess. If someone is compelled to read further, then they will. It's 2016, you can figure out the lyrics somehow. But I know what you mean - people might miss the point and focus on the loud or aggressive nature of some of the songs. I can't help that, though. We aren't the kind of band that wants to slow down to share our message with other people. Rock bands are supposed to challenge you, so if you can get past the noise and hear what we are saying, more power to you.
PRT: You already built up quite the discography in just a couple of years. If someone is still unfamiliar with your band, which release would you suggest as the best introduction to Greys? And why?
Shehzaad: I will always suggest the newest thing because I get sick of old songs so easily. I think the Repulsion 7" is a pretty good indication of where we've been and where we're going.
PRT: What’s up next for you once the new album comes out? Touring straight into 2017?
Shehzaad: Yeah, hopefully. That and eating a lot of Wendy's. I hope we cross paths with PJ Harvey this year.