Sometimes a band just materializes right in front of our ears. ROOM CONTROL is a space-jam-psych-funk trio that has a great vibe. Since appearing in the Nuit Blanche last year, at the Piscine Schubert, they’ve been playing steadily. It’s hard to believe three guys can make such a trippy, intense, psychedellic sound. It draws a mixed crowd, which synth/effect pedals master Byron says attracts everyone: young, old, French and English speaking people, fans of rock, indie, prog, noise, electronic, metal. I wanted to find out more about this Montreal band. Tuck their name away and when you hear they’ve got a show, check them out.You can find out more via Brothers and Sisters Records.
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Rachel Levine (RL): When and how did you guys get started as a trio?
Byron (B): Richard [Bunze] and I have been best friends since early childhood, we grew up sharing and listening to similar music, and played in several bands together starting in late high school; Richard being the lead guitarist / singer and me on drums / percussion. We both met Dan [Stefik] while working at HMV and became very close friends ever since, sharing many of the same musical, film, and art tastes. We also have very similar personalities, sense of humour, values, and a deep mental connection.
ROOM CONTROL started when I was trying to assemble a live band for my solo project (VAGUE MÉMOIRE). Richard had played bass for my album launch (With The World Of Dreams) and I loved his playing, style, and tone. He’s a fantastic guitarist which translated very well to his bass playing. I had asked Dan to play drums because I had heard him play a few times while hanging at his apartment and his technical abilities were incredible. Dan is a very talented multi-instrumentalist in general and is quite well versed in musical theory and knowledge.
While we were rehearsing for VAGUE MÉMOIRE, we would start each session with a jam to loosen ourselves up and these jams were fantastic! They were completely different from the VAGUE MÉMOIRE vibe and we all realized that we had something special. We eventually decided to pursue this new found sound and ROOM CONTROL was born.
Our first show was for the 2015 edition of Nuit Blanche which was organized by our record label Brothers & Sisters Records and held at Piscine Schubert. It was a very unique and surreal first show. We were performing as the crowd was swimming. Thankfully, no one was electrocuted! We’ve been performing around Montreal at a steady rate ever since.
RL: What is the process for putting together a song?
Richard Bunze (RB): Simply put, we just get together at the practice space and jam. Our warm-up jams before each rehearsal tend to be really productive. We’ll be inspired by something that just seems to hit the air. We hear it. We feel it. And if there’s a “vibe”, we’ll take it from there. As well, if one of us is inspired to bring in an idea or riff as a jumping off point for a song, that’s cool too, but 95% of our songwriting comes from those initial jams. In the end, I think it comes from the chemistry we have as a band. I think us being friends for so long and having a sense of each other as people and players, that goes a long way.
RL: As a band that uses electronics so heavily in crafting songs for your EP, how do you bring that to a live show? How do your live sound and your recorded sound differ?
B: Our two-song EP (ROOM CONTROL) was recorded live off the floor at CCTV studios with just some minor percussive overdubs (tambourine and hand claps). Our live sound does not differ much from our recording except that In The Valley Of Dying Starshas been shortened a bit because when we recorded it, it wasn’t fully fleshed-out yet. We also tend to be much louder and more intense live.
I use two analogue synths with effects pedals and a sampler for the manipulated vocals and sound effects / field recordings. All that you hear “electronically” on the EP is performed live.
RL: What is the best part of making music — recording it? creating it in the first place? playing it live?
Dan Stefik (DS): Playing live is definitely really thrilling, especially since we’re really proud of our sound, but a lot of learning can take place while recording, and last year’s recording stint at the Oscar Peterson Hall in NDG (with Alessandro Pappadia) was a perfect example. I learned a hell of a lot over the course of a few days.
RB: Creating and playing live are tops for me. The initial birth of a song or idea that seems to appear out of nowhere while we jam to me is an amazing part of it all. When it just clicks, we feel it in the room and we just go with it…It can be a very freeing experience. Makes you feel alive. As for live performances, this is the first band in my life that I can truly say I love playing live with. We’re a loud band and we try to put forth a full on, textural “Wall of Sound” to the best of our abilities as a trio. So, when the energy & stage sound is cooking, and the room is right…it’s a thrill for me.
B: They all have their special moments. The jam sessions are where all the initial ideas come from and I love hearing these new sounds. It’s very exciting! The live shows give you that adrenaline, a good nervousness, and you get that instant connection and reaction from a crowd. I also really love recording, manipulating, and mixing music. That’s a huge passion of mine.
RL: How have you found a place in the Montreal scene overall?
DS: Our sound is continually evolving so we hope that the range of bands that we can play with will vary in the future. Also, since we’re an instrumental outfit, we hope to get involved with scoring films as well, especially since we’re all film enthusiasts (and we’ve done some scoring for short films in the past).
RB: There are so many great bands in Montreal and we look forward to playing with more of them, but I suppose a few of our musical kindred spirits and bands we respect would be: Tonnes, Felp, Chienvoler, Yokofeu, Pang Attack, and our own Brothers & Sisters Records’ label mates, Pachyderm. In the end, like many bands, we’re trying to find our way on the scene and finding new ears to slip into. But I think we do have a sound that lends itself well to this city, especially at night. As far as our place on the scene… We tend to lean more towards the cerebral psych rock realm, with electronic elements that push the sonic boundaries even further “out there” for us. Truthfully, I’m not really sure what is popular anymore these days. We just try and be honest with ourselves in what sounds good to us and we can only hope that people will like what they hear.
B: Richard and Dan summed it up very nicely. We are very lucky because we get to perform with all types of great local bands and artists since our sound incorporates many musical genres. Other local bands that I like are Organ Mood, Le Révélateur, label mates Pecora Pecora, and Duchess Says.
RL: Are there any other musical projects the band members are involved in?
B: I have a solo electronic project entitled VAGUE MÉMOIRE. I’m slowly working on the follow-up album to With The World Of Dreams which will be released sometime in 2016. I’m in an improvised (live and recordings) experimental electronic project with Tom Jarvis of Pachyderm and Hey Majesty entitled V O Y E U R. I did a rap / trip hop / electronic / lo-fi noise album entitled Songs In The Key Of Low with the very talented Ella Grave under the project name Low-Ki, play drums / percussion in Dust Bowl Era, and have performed live or have been a guest on several other musical projects.I also DeeJay with Dan Stefik and Tom Jarvis under the name DJ Sons of Suns. But most of my attention is focused on ROOM CONTROL and V O Y E U R. Both projects really fulfill my musical cravings.
DS: I’ve been eager to get my solo project, The Wellspring Vibration, off the launching pad. I have written a bunch of material for it and I’m looking to record an EP in the near future. It’s an opportunity to express myself on a number of different instruments, and to compose, since I started on guitar initially.
RB: My main musical project is ROOM CONTROL. However, with us being involved with the Montreal based creative collective/label “Brothers & Sisters Records”, and with everyone involved being the close knit group that we are, I have in the past and do play live bass with other bands on the label, such as: Dust Bowl Era (Psych-Americana), Vague Mémoire (Electronic), and most recently live guest spots with Psych/Krautrockers, Pachyderm.
RL: What is the future for Room Control?
B: We are currently recording and mixing an EP entitled Past The Breakerswhich is set to be released in late spring / early summer and have a few shows booked in the coming months. We are also planning a small tour for the summer / fall (Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, and surrounding areas).