Free music and free people

Shearing Pinx brings improvised noise rock to Calgary

Since 2005 Shearing Pinx has been a consistently restless band touring several times across the continent while also producing numerous releases on Isolated Now Waves the band’s prolific label. The Vancouver-based noise-rock group has spent the past four weeks touring across Canada and will be returning to Calgary to perform at Local 510 on Sunday June 17. I phoned drummer Jeremy Van Wyck in Toronto and we spoke as he walked back to the Shearing Pinx tour van.

“We haven’t [toured] Canada in about two-and-a-half years. It’s been neglected so we were feeling kind of bad about it especially since we all come from little towns in Canada. There’s actually three LPs that have come out since the last time we’d [toured the country] plus who knows with cassettes and whatnot.”

Accompanying Shearing Pinx on this tour is Random Cuts the current project of ex-Mutators member Justin Gradin. Van Wyck has been filling in on drums for the latter — double duty sure but it certainly has gear advantages when travelling across the country. “We can stuff it all into one van! A miracle at times” he says with a laugh.

Given Shearing Pinx’s relative longevity as an actively touring noise-rock band it’s no surprise that the group has seen some shifts in the musical climate.

“I think when we started for what we do we were really lucky because there was definitely a burgeoning kind of noise-rock thing happening… it was almost like there was a period of time where everyone who was even remotely into music had to check out noise and experimental music or loud and abrasive stuff just to say they did it or checked it out — poked their head in the door and took a peek.”

But these shows while packed were decidedly less focused — less potent in a way.

“I much prefer an audience that’s there because they’re really well informed about it and I think when you play to an audience like that — especially because we improvise — you can go way further. I totally consider the audience a part of the group when you’re improvising live like that.”

This is also the band’s second tour with its newest member former Calgarian Sydney Koke. Last summer due to health issues second guitarist Jesse Taylor was unable to tour. Exchanging messages nationwide at the last minute Van Wyck and guitarist-vocalist Nic Hughes decided to have Koke fill in attempting to learn the songs quickly so that they could rehearse as a trio in the few days before the tour.

“Nic and I have toured as a duo before so we can do that but once you get used to playing with an extra guitar it’s fun So why not see if Sydney can learn? And not only did it work it worked really well. Sydney is a genius when it comes to learning songs — in that little bit of time I think we had her learn 20-plus songs.”

After this tour the band plans to write and record a new LP before heading off on tour again. “There’s always a million avenues in front of you and you’ve gotta keep ’em all ready and open” says Van Wyck.