WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right, welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with a band that should have been on the show probably more recently, but it's been like, a ridiculous amount of time. I think it's been like five or six years now since we did an episode with a version of Clipwing. So I think that first of all, it's cool to see that you're back doing shows. I think when I saw you guys pop up on social media and it was like, oh, we have a show coming up, it was like, oh, I didn't even know you were still actively abandoned. I think part of that was because of the epidemic and because it was sort of hard to know for that two year period who was still active or whether bands even existed anymore or whatever. So I think the best way to start this off before we get too deep into it is if the four of you want to introduce yourselves and what you do in the band. And then listeners can put a name to the voice. So I think, based on how I'm seeing the picture here, starting with Steve will make sense. He's on the left from what I can see. So we'll go from there.
STEVE NELSON: Yeah, man. I think we've met each other before, but anyways, I'm the bass player of Grandma's Navy. No, I'm the bass player here in Clipwing. I've been kicking around for a while and I do some vocals, but not all. There you go.
MARTY LAFRENIERE: The same applies to me. I do some vocals and not all of them. I'm Marty.
DYLAN JAMES: I'm Dylan. I play drums and do some backup vocals.
ML: But not all of them.
RANDY FRYKAS: And I play guitar.
WR: Right on. So I think that maybe… do you play all the guitars? Yeah, I think the best way to sort of frame this is I'm so sick of talking about the pandemic. I'm sure you guys are too. Everyone's sick of talking about it. But it has affected the last couple of years of everyone's lives, especially doing something creative that is heavily reliant on live performances. So what has this whole two year period been like for you guys? Just in terms of trying to be a band and trying to even have the ability to get together, work on songs, rehearse, any of that stuff?
ML: Well, I think the best part of being a band, like you mentioned, that people are like, oh, are they still a band? Is that you don't need to do a lot. We just kept doing what we were doing. We've been writing constantly between life changes and band changes and then the pandemic and whatever. We've had things in the works, but we just sort of kept doing what we were doing. So there was a good chunk of time where we couldn't rehearse and then otherwise we just kind of kept up. So we've been writing like crazy and rehearsing and that's pretty much it. So we've got a record ready to go, and that's kind of what we've been doing.
WR: Cool. Was there a point where the band was over for a while, or were you just sort of under the radar and working on stuff?
ML: Yeah, mostly just working on stuff. Like we never really went away. I guess at a certain point we sort of stopped booking headlining shows for ourselves locally. We've done a certain amount of touring and stuff like that. And when it came to local shows, we were basically like if there were gigs that people asked us to play, we would usually say yes and did some opening slots and stuff like that. But we just weren't booking our own kind of headlining shows because it didn't really make a lot of sense, after a certain amount of time. And so that's kind of why we seem like we weren't around as much, I guess.
WR: So has this new material you're working on, like you said, you have a new record that's in the works. Is this stuff that's been kind of happening over the past few years, or is it like something you've been working on basically since the last record came out, which was a few years ago now?
ML: Yeah. So the last thing we did was in 2017, we put out a two song EP called Dirty Lights and Wet Streets. And then since then we had demoed a bunch of stuff. Like enough for maybe an EP. We had lots of other bits and bobs kicking around. And then since Dylan has joined the band roughly two years ago…
DJ: Yeah, I joined the band maybe two years ago, but I was doing some little fill-in spots with them because they had a few shows. Like, for example, I believe it was Tony's… from Union Stockyards. It was his last show with the band. And I think because Clipwing played their first show, they brought Clipwing back for their last show. And so I was filling in for a few shows around that time. And then finally I joined as a permanent member. So yeah, it was around then.
ML: Yeah. So since Dylan's been in the band, we've written stuff with him as well. , and then just today we were kicking up stuff back. Some of the new songs are riffs that we wrote seven or eight years ago. And some of them are things that we wrote a week ago. So it's a healthy dose of both.
SN: Definitely nice to have the extra energy that Dyl brings to it too. And him being a great songwriter as it is, it's just adding to what we do. And it's nice.
ML: Significantly younger than the rest of us. 22 years old. Nice.
SN: It definitely adds more to the tank.
WR: Was he the obvious choice for you guys too, when you were looking for a new drummer?
ML: Yeah, he doesn't like to admit it, but I asked Dylan to join Clipwing before Clipwing was the thing. And I think he said, get fucked. I hate you. And I was like, man, I just asked you to join a band and you said, stop fucking talking to me. And so then he played in Danger Cat. He did the Distances thing. And when that all fizzled about… they were very mediocre bands. That petered out and finally he was like, hey guys, can I join Clipwing? And I was like, I don't know, man. You're going to have to shape up a little bit. And so six months of like drum lessons later, we took him on.
SN: Wow, the Axl Rose response.
DJ: I knuckled down and I was like, you know what, I'm going to do this thing.
ML: The true part legitimately is I did ask Dylan to join the band, but he was in Danger Cat.
WR: I guess. Dylan, maybe a question for you then is, I assume that you obviously know these guys before joining the band. And I mean, there's this kind of tight-knit scene of all these bands that you're all in a million bands and shift members and everything all the time. But what was this band to you? What did you like about Clipwing? Why did you feel like you would want to actually play in this band. I know you know these assholes, but what was the appeal for you? I guess what do you think you could bring to their sound?
ML: I have the same question. Why would you want to play?
DJ: If I'm being honest, Clipwing was my favorite active local band. Like when these guys started to come out and we're releasing songs and they were my favorite band in the local scene. I love their music and I just had a good vibe to it. I always found Clipwing to be in that happy medium of like it's not super fast, but it's also not super slow. It's like this really nice pocket of rhythm and what they have and it allows them to be very melodic, and Marty has that skill of writing really melodic stuff and melodies and whatnot, right. So hearing them for as many years as I did, I've always been a huge fan and then joined the band. It was really cool. I was really happy to join and for them to even consider me so cool.
WR: What does the new stuff sound like? I mean, it sounds like Clipwing, obviously, but have things changed over the years? I mean, you said your last release was 2017. That's a while ago now. What should people expect, I guess sonically from this new record that maybe they wouldn't have heard on some of the previous stuff?
ML: That's a good question. I guess it's not really a departure from other stuff because if we look at our track record, we've really released three EPs. So we've got eleven songs out in the world, which is not a lot considering we've been a band for ten years kind of thing. So this stuff basically we really like, continued to find and hone our sound, I think. I was thinking this to the bands that I love are well, there's lots of bands I love, but if you think of, Flatliners and Menzingers and to a lesser extent like The Swellers and stuff, these are bands that you can kind of identify. If you hear a song, you know it's them right away. And so that's kind of what I feel like we finally landed on with Clipwing where it's like, if you hear these songs, they're not going to sound homogeneous, but you're going to pick up our melodies. You're going to feel like, you know what I , mean, it's what you've come to expect, but new and fresh and a little bit more refined and a little bit more mature. Dylan definitely brings a lot into the stuff we like. Steve and I, especially, come from a background of skate punk and really fast shit. And the goal from Clipwing out of the gate was to kind of buck that expectation of us and the older we get it, the more we settle into like we just want to make music that feels good and we don't give a shit if it's fast or it's technical or whatever. So a lot of emotion, a lot of feeling, and hopefully a lot of good songwriting.
DJ: Yeah, I think the good word is emotional and I think also mature. I think I don't know… things have happened to us, whether it be any aspect of life that you go through, but it just seems like the songs are more mature. As an outsider, from hearing what I heard before, as a fan kind of thing, and then hearing these new songs, I think the songwriting has matured in the best sense of the word.
SN: And vocally, too, I think Dyl brings a lot to the game vocally as well. So I think that we're going to see a lot more on this new record, a lot more cool things going on, like whether they're really subtle or right up front.
ML: It's fatter and older.
SN: That too.
WR: You can't get away from that. Yeah.
SN: Sounds easier time, but not necessarily real beef.
WR: Right, of course. What you said a few minutes ago about kind of just wanting to do the stuff that you like, are you in a better position now just in terms of where you are in your lives and where you are in terms of playing music and the experiences you've already had with other bands and with this band, to be able to just do that and just say, fuck it, we're just going to do a record that we want to do, rather than having to fit into any kind of category or play a style that you think people want to hear?
ML: Yeah, I think there's a lot of freedom in having been past your first couple of bands. And not that we're not trying to make it, but we're beyond giving a shit about what anybody else thinks. This is something that we do for ourselves and we're obviously hugely appreciative if people enjoy it, like, you want to share it with the world, but there's something super freeing about that. So we just get to write whatever we feel like and whatever we think is good for us. So having come this far in our career as a band, you just kind of get to just be yourself. And we don't have a label to answer to. We don't have anybody. And there are certain expectations when you go into shows or you release music oftentimes, okay, well, what do the fans want? Whatever. And it's like, as much as we take that into consideration, we get to just be like, we don't fucking care. Actually, we do this because we really love it. And I think that's the thing that's also what we love about the bands that we love is that I just want you to do. You know what I mean? Like, I don't need you to placate me or pander to me or whatever so we just kind of write what we like and we get to put it out there. And there's something super liberating about that. Because when no one else is helping you, you don't have anybody else to answer to.
DJ: Yeah, I think the new songs specifically because since joined the band, I don't know, it just seems like the songs are very organic and they're just kind of happening. Marty or Randy, whoever brings a certain thing to the band to practice. And we're pretty open with each other. We've known each other for years now, off and on, like, whether in the scene or whatever it is. And I think jams happen. If we bring something to the table, we'll work with it, and if it doesn't work out, we'll kind of like, throw it to the side for now and we'll try and work on something else. And it's like, whatever, we play something during jam and then we just roll with it for a while and they're like, Oh, that sounded cool. I don't know what that was, but it was like an organic little jam session that we did for two and a half minutes. And with technology now we can record stuff and make sure we remember type of thing. And like I said, coming back, it all happens organically. We write something and we see what happens with it, and if we like it, we keep it. You know what I mean?
SN: Yeah. There's something to be said to you. Like Marty, you were saying the other day about best bands don't break up. I'm not saying the best man, by any means, but, I mean, there's something to be said for just sticking it out and seeing that wave come back, seeing some of those people that you might have seen at the beginning come back around, or they pass it on.
WR: Just jumping off something you just said. There are identifiably --I mean, for the listener, not you guys. You guys can clearly tell the difference, I'm sure -- But is there like, something that's obviously a Marty song or obviously a Randy song, or obviously when you guys bring songs into the jam, does it eventually just come fully formed by the end of it as a clip wing kind of all encompassing song, or are there distinctnesses that you recognize and that you think listeners might be able to pick out in terms of who brought a song at the table or who was the main writer on something?
ML: I don't think so.
SN: I think your vocal carries it really whatever you do a lot of writing, obviously.
ML: But if the chorus is pushed or you hear me refer to myself as an asshole, it's definitely my fault.
ML: As much as I hate to admit it, I have a lexicon like everybody else. And I'll use Rise Against as an example because they're an easy target, which maybe nobody has thought of in a while. But there's things that, like I said, that are identifiable for bands, and there's words in the Rise Against dictionary, which is like bricks, smoke, angels, that kind of shit. Usually there's a lot of self deprecating stuff in what I write, and so that to me, is like, what kind of sticks out. But Randy has written a couple of tunes that we're still working on, but for the most part, I'm usually bringing mostly whole songs. And then the guys help me largely with arrangements, which is like, Steve was throwing a couple of lyrics at me. Like, all the guys will usually contribute or whatever, but for the most part, I guess I'm writing the bones and the structure and the lyrics and stuff like that.
DJ: Yeah. I would say the skeletons are already there, but then we add all the organs and everything else to that body of music that Marty will bring, and we'll think of a different transition. Or instead of doing the verse like this, do it like this, and then we all kind of throw in an input and then we're like, Yeah, that sounds cool. I guess that's wrong with that, I think. But it's good to have someone like Marty is a great songwriter and he bring something to the table and we can all work with it. And we're all talented enough where we can add our own two cents to it and make it something new and exciting.
WR: Were you going to say something, Steve, or is that just a yeah?
SN: Randy's not saying much right now. I know. And often sometimes he doesn't say much.
SN: But he's like most of us, we all met as songwriters, like punk songwriters. I think we kind of had our own things already going on a long time before this. So it's kind of just a matter of bringing those all together. And that's why it made so much sense to have Dylan in the band. Everything he's done with Danger Cat, Distances, and all the writing that he's done. Randy with Doc Brown, like, we played years ago, you know, that sound, too. And we've all been around Marty as well. So it's just like finally bringing four songwriters together is something that you don't often get. And that's why I think we're in a really cool spot right now.
WR: Have you had a chance to play live yet since the pandemic has been… well, it's still on, but since things open up a little bit?
DJ: Once, yeah.
ML: Twice. Twice.
DJ: Once in December. Right. December.
ML: And then the Brew Banger got missed. Yeah. We opened for we played with Mobina Galore.
DJ: Oh, December 14.
ML: Yeah. We played pretty much shut down one other one. I don't know if it counts, but we played what we considered to be the last show of the pandemic.
ML: Literally when things were, like, ramping up and it was Death Cassette’s CD release. And basically some of the bands had to decided to drop off because things were getting crazy. And we were like, oh, we don't really know yet, whatever. And then we played. And then I think that Monday the lockdown came into play. So we really made it count at the last minute. And then I think we've only played the one time since then. We've got the show coming up with A Wilhelm Scream on June 7 is going to be our next one. Yeah. Wow.
DJ: I'm thinking that we had another one, but yeah, I remember the December 14 one. But then I thought that we had Ripperz.
SN: We had planned a giant event.
ML: Was Mobina, Ripperz and us. I don't know if you check our MySpace page. What I was getting at?
WR: There with that question is, what do you think that playing live shows will look like now? It's been a while for everyone. I mean, people going to shows, they're still sort of starting to trickle back in. I mean, I haven't been to a show since the Propagandhi shows, which was now a while ago. How do you feel about playing a show now? It's going to be different. I think there's going to be some of the same vibe for sure. But people are still a little nervous. Some bands are still nervous. I know a lot of people have postponed shows even now. What are you feeling about getting back out there?
ML: I think we're going to plow forward. I was at the same Propagandhi shows and it was wild because that was like, really when things had just reopened and those places were just packed.
DJ: It was like super nerve wracking.
ML: Kind of weird and terrifying. An odd vibe. And then more recently, I just went to Comeback Kid and Cancer Bats at the Albert, actually…and then I know people that went to the one….
DJ: At the Park Theatre.
ML: And we've been to some other gigs at the Park Theatre and just went to Metalfest. And , I don't know, I think people are like, there's so much fatigue with the lack we've had. This is such a thing. This is like a lifeblood for so many people, like ourselves included. We just talked about that. It's like, despite you get older and you go to less shows, but we're all cut from the same clock here and we'd go Thursday, Friday, Saturday, to three different gigs in the city. And so to go from that to literally nothing, no matter what age you are, what you got going on in your life was like, it was debilitating in a sense. So I think I think people are already just ready to go and like, I don't know, the reality of COVID, is it's here? And whatever. We don't need to get into the specifics of that. But I think most people over it is not the right word. But they're willing to accept the risks and they're moving forward. And they're just like, life has to rese as normal or we're just going to be stuck in this for a very long time. So from a band perspective, it's like we're not being flippant about it. And we still want to be safe. And so we're going to exercise caution. But otherwise the show will go on the same way that it has. And we're going to do our absolute best.
SN: It totally takes a toll, too, like, on ourselves, I think, not being able to have that avenue to play music. I know how much it just completely crushed me personally, not being able to meet with the guys. And like, it's not the same passing demos along online. Obviously, I think a lot of people feel that way. But I am happy about the progress we made during that time.
ML: Yeah, absolutely.
SN: Sure. I think we used the time well.
ML: Yeah. I got better at drinking over the pandemic.
WR: What are the details of the show coming up? Because this will come out before that. So it's, I guess, the first big show for you guys back now that things are opening up. Right.
ML: So June 7th, Park Theatre. Us, A Wilhelm Scream, Brendan Kelly. Kelly Warren of Lawrence Arms, Make War.
ML: I don't know, Sam, if you've listened to Make War, so go check them out. They’re a new Fat Wreck Chords band and they sound suspiciously like us.
RF: It's what I felt like.
ML: It's weird to hear another band and be like, what the fuck? It definitely feels like it's up our alley, which is great. It's also a little intimidating. You're like, are they better than us? Have we been doing this wrong? But no, the bill fits together nicely. And A Wilhelm Scream is like that's… I saw them at Warped Tour when I was 19 years old. I fucking love that band. And yeah, like, High Five Drive, we opened for them in Austria and we've toured with them a little bit. And we played with them in Winnipeg years ago. So they're buddies. And we're super excited for it. And their new record is fantastic. Sorry, I’m going to be all burping through my fucking answers.
WR: It's all good.
ML: I'm done.
WR: Do you have an idea of when your next record is going to come out? Is that still to be determined? Or is that kind of chugging along with a date in mind?
ML: I'd like to try to get it done this year. We have a lot of songs, it's about getting just getting organized and getting it down. Like, so many things pop up. And then this was like a show we couldn't say no to. And so you kind of shift gears and everybody like, we don't have three days a week to devote to the band, unfortunately. So we shift into like, okay, we're going to get prepped. We want to get tight to the show. So we're doing that and then we're going to be right back on the riding train. So going to try to push forward a little bit and get it done before the end of the year. But the idea is to, I think, record it and then shop it around for a while and see if we can get some people on board and then just put it out in whatever capacity we can.
WR: If people have not heard you before, or even if they have and they want to see what you're up to now, what's the best way to find you guys online, both for listening to the music you already have out and finding out about upcoming shows and things like that.
ML: Sweet spot is probably going to be Instagram. That's the place we live. We do not have a TikTok. We're probably not going to get one. Facebook is slowly dying a terrible death, thank God. So Instagram, Dylan's on top of the Insta and it stays relatively updated, so anything of value will be on there. We have a Bandcamp if you would like to do that. We're on every streaming service, of course, but Bandcamp pays more. So if you want to go there, have a look. We've got lots of vinyl and shit left too. We can mail you that if you want.
WR: Awesome. Very cool.
SN: I was going to say not only that, we have a number of side gigs that we've maintained during this pandemic. One being Outdoor Hockey League right over here. Dyl with a brand new vinyl channel on Instagram.
DJ: Oh, yeah.
ML: He has the brand new vinyl channel. Yeah.
DJ: @thatvitalvinyl, yeah.
ML: Vinyl. Vinylhockyleague.com. Marty's been doing [email protected]
SN: Working with Mobina Galore and tons of awesome other videos.
ML: Steve’s been brewing beer for Barn Hammer.