Some bands form because of an un- yielding passion to play music. Some bands form out of necessity. Some bands, like Victoria’s The Dyeing Mer- chants, form because of a combina- tion of the two. A drummer by trade, singer/guitar player Jzero Schuurman became frustrated with his inability to find a band in Victoria to play with. “I played in a couple but it didn’t really work out so I was just like, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to write my own songs on guitar.’ Renee [Crawford] wanted to play drums, so it worked out kind of well. We’re a couple and we decided we wanted to play together.” The two began the band in 2009.
After Schuurman and Craw- ford decided to take the plunge into a band, the next piece of the puzzle, guitarist Rob Coslett, was right there, ready and willing. “We were friends with Rob from Kelowna times. None of us were in a band, none of us were really playing music at the time. It just kicked off.”
While the three of them have been a solid foundation, the final component has been a bit elusive. “We’re just hemorrhaging bass play- ers,” says Coslett. But the hemorrhaging has stopped, at least for now, with the addition of bass player Ramona Struthers. The addition of Struthers came as the band was recording its latest album, Tempest Roar, which was released in August 2012.
Coslett, who played with Struthers in the one-off Saturn Valley, recalls how the band joined up with their bass player. “She came to hang out while we were recording and we just tracked her doing the bass. She put the headphones on and listened to it two or three times and away she went.”
Crawford adds, “She did it al- most perfectly on the first try for every song. She’s a musical genius.”And with that final member, the band was ready to finish its second album, which is as- tonishingly self-assured and perfectly chaotic.
The album, an undeniable leap forward for the band, was created with the same DIY, guerilla-aesthetic that has informed the early life of
The Dyeing Merchants. “We rented a bunch of gear and we made a little makeshift recording area that we set up at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective,” says Schuurman, recounting the recording process. “We did it on our last record as well. Basically, the whole idea is just DIY—doing-it-ourselves recording style without a producer and an engineer and all that stuff. If I’m playing my guitar, Rob’s running the mixer or vice-versa. The guerilla-style is mainly to save money. ”
Tempest Roar is a record built on thumping drums and towering walls of crunchy guitar, brimming with a restless energy and a heavy heart. The recording is clear, warm and inti- mate, all while pummeling the listener with noise. Schuurman elaborates on the process. “The first record we had really washed out guitars and we recorded amps in the gallery so we’d get all kinds of natural reverb. I found that the guitar stuff we were doing got kind of lost in it, so we went straight into recording right off the amps and getting a nice crunchy sound out of it.”
The new techniques result in making Tempest Roar a hard-hitting, immediate rock record that demands attention. Well, it might not be just the great songs and updated recording technique. Coslett has another, more interesting theory. “It’s probably the gorillas running the mics. Fuzzy, kind of shitty, but you can feel it. You can smell the gorillas when you’re listening to our record.”
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