Inherent Vices has fun and keeps things fresh

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      Inherent Vices had a few failed attempts at recording before its new tape, Sacred Sigils, finally came together.

      The punk three-piece—which consists of guitarist-vocalist Christopher Burnside, bassist Baxter Hall, and drummer Jeremiah Hayward—formed in 2010, but had yet to release any material.

      With three shelved albums and two years’ worth of songs under their belts, the guys grew frustrated with what they’d done for Terrible Visions, the debut LP that was supposed to come out early this year.

      “We have recorded an album, which is not done,” says frontman Burnside, interviewed at the band’s Vancouver rehearsal space. “There were medical issues with the person recording us, so then we recorded at PAVI with this dude Shelby Denison, and that we still have not gotten all of. We decided it was just taking too long for us, and so we just recorded ourselves in the jam space.”

      A modest hole-in-the-wall just off Abbott and Hastings, the Inherent Vices jam space is a dingy room littered with empty beer cans that has walls plastered with photos and graffiti. GEDDY LEE IS GOD is scrawled upon one wall, with GOD cleverly transformed into GOOF by one band member. Apparently, the guys have differing opinions on Canadian prog-rockers Rush.

      Sacred Sigils, an eight-track cassette set to be released on Thursday (August 9), was recorded in the small but cozy room over two days, with help from friend and fellow musician Evan Brewer, who plays in the Defektors along with Hayward.

      “We had a bunch of new songs, so we just did pretty much all of it in one night,” Hayward says of recording the new album. “We did all the instruments in one night, and we cut vocals live the next night.”

      “We just got frustrated that we weren’t getting anywhere with our recordings,” Burnside says of the quick turnaround. “But it’s more that we just laugh at the fact that it seemed like there was a curse on us.”

      Hayward echoes the sentiment, but is pretty Zen when considering the eventual outcome.

      “Nothing seemed to be working out for a while, but you know, that can happen,” he says. “It’s better for things to happen slowly anyways, I think.”

      “I’m happier with the tape we’re putting out now than the stuff we recorded before,” Hall chimes in.

      Not only are the two albums different in the way they were recorded, but Sacred Sigils is decidedly more upbeat than the group’s unreleased work, which spoke about romantic misery, mental illness, and addiction.

      “There’s going to be bummer songs on it [Sacred Sigils] too,” Burnside says. “It’s all pretty biographical. I’m a pretty emotional writer so it’s just about life, which is sometimes happy and sometimes sad. The other stuff is predominantly pretty depressing lyrically because I was depressed. But I feel better now. You do things like watch a Rick James video, and then you decide you want to write a song about how you love marijuana also, ’cause you’re not bummed out.”

      The cassette is a mostly cheery outing that teeters between Ramones-style bubblegum punk and raw, unembellished protopunk. Sacred Sigils kicks off with “You’ll Never Break My Heart (Sadie’s Song)”, a happy-go-lucky track with up-tempo drums and brightly toned guitars. “You Can’t Come Back to Me” is up next, a slightly grittier, more aggressive work that rides on Hayward’s steadfast drumbeats, Hall’s simple bass lines, and Burnside’s fuzzed-out melodies. The title track takes a more serious tone than the preceding lovelorn tunes, speaking about religion’s effect on female power.

      “I’m really superinterested in paganism and the effect that Catholicism and Christianity had on these existing cultures and religions and beliefs and the earth,” Burnside explains. “I think that with Christianity came the separation of caring for the earth, and a community got broken apart and the power of women in society got pushed down—with the burnings, that sort of thing. That’s definitely what that song is about: the burning times and the kind of loss of female power in society—especially in our society.”

      The rest of the album boasts lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek songs like “Meredith Jane (Bad Girls)”, which is about—you guessed it—Mary Jane, and “Summertime Girls”, a slowed-down punk ballad about checking out beautiful girls in the summertime.

      The overall tone of Sacred Sigils reflects the band’s mantra: have fun and keep it fresh.

      “It’s just fun, there’s no pressure. It’s easy, it’s just really nice,” Burnside says of being in the group. “These guys are wonderful people, and I love them with all my heart. It’s just easy to come and hang out. It’s like a rejuvenation of your spirit once a week.”

      There are other pluses to playing music regularly with your buds, Hayward, the jokester of the band, attests. To much laughter, he says, “When we first started jamming, it was like, ‘Yeah, maybe I should do that,’ and then I realized my favourite pizza place is right on the way to band practice on Mondays. That was it.”

      With a plethora of unreleased songs, Inherent Vices can afford to switch up its playlist for every live show. There’s really no room for boredom when the guys are hanging out.

      “We’re having fun and it puts a little extra cash in our pockets, and that’s what matters the most,” Hall says.

      “It’s just having fun in your life and being passionate about what you do,” Burnside says. “Having this release—it’s just super-positive.”

      Inherent Vices plays Funky Winker Bean’s on Thursday (August 9).

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