Sunday, July 7, 2013

Interview: Sunshine, the Beave and shot roulette (Sled Island 2013)

Trevor Risk, Gillian Damborg, Sean Tyson (aka the Beave), Ian Urbanski, Jes, Tyler Quarels
I walked into the Fairmont Palliser carrying a grocery bag containing a beaver costume and and a camera looking for a group of 5 people that made up the band Sunshine. The Vancouver based alt. band was in town for Sled Island, the indie music festival that annually takes over Calgary, starting with greatness and ending in drunken debauchery. Basically my heaven.*

Generally, locating musicians in a ritzy hotel is not hard, but it was the first day of the Sled and the hipsters had taken over the lobby. I finally found the band hanging out in a corner and presented them the beaver costume. It had been agreed upon prior to the interview that the band's drummer, Sean, would wear said beaver costume the whole time the interview was taking place.

(...when I say agreed upon, I mean it was agreed upon between me and the band's lead singer Trevor - I am not sure Sean even knew his task until he was forced into the suit.)

Sean went off to transition into the Beave and I chatted with the other members.  They seemed like a pretty legit group. Not pretentious in a way that would derail my interview plans - starting with the beaver costume and working towards a glorious drinking game.

We took the Beave outside and paraded him around Stephen Ave on our way to the Bear and Kilt. Beave had a slight hold up on the way into the pub because the tourists thought he was some sort of Canadian mascot attraction and needed to take photos with him. I am sure he still hates me to this day.

Once we all arrived at the pub the group got settled and I got to work on setting up my drinking game. I got the bartender to fill 20 shot glasses, half with water and half with vodka. I have never seen a bartender pour shots so enthusiastically in my life. 

It was time to get this interview underway. The bartender delivered the tray of shots as the eyes of each band member popped out of their faces...in pure terror. Needless to say, I loved it.

This is going to go down as one of my favorite interviews of all time. I found out what it's like to be a band in Vancouver, the story behind their fantastic music video, what hipsters thought of the Vancouver riots, which band member really likes getting naked (something about tear-away clothes), who was their University dorm weed dealer and who would be most likely to pick up a hooker. Pretty enlightening stuff...

Jes: These (points to shots) are for the game, but first real questions. The Showering with Wine music video, who came up with the concept for that?


Trevor: Owen Ellis is his name.

Ian: The director. It’s kind of based on a night that those two guys actually had. They were going to see Lady Gaga and they were dressed up and missed their skytrain stop and ended up at the end of the skytrain stop with no money.

Gillian: Wasted...

Ian: ...and they had to fall asleep in an ATM...

Trevor: ...and they woke up with some guy in the suburbs being like, “Good morning”. They had used the jacket as a pillow and their was yellow hair dye all over the jacket in the morning. They’re actually a couple in real life and they got in kind of a fight that night – it was kind of reenacting it.

Jes: I loved the fight part. It’s my favourite when they’re walking down the street and the guy is like, “Ugh, don’t talk to me.”

Ian: It was a glamorous costume fight.

Jes: Was that filmed in Vancouver?

Gillian: Yeah.

Jes: And those people are from Vancouver? And are they friends of yours?

Ian: Yeah, one came second in the Miss Drag Vancouver contest recently. (Looks at the tray of shots) Uhh...

Jes: You’re getting nervous about the shots aren’t you?

Ian: A little bit. It’s just cause I don’t know what alcohol that is. (Points to shots tray.)

Gillian: They’re friends with friends. (About the guys from the video)

Trevor: We see them out we get them drunk.

Tyler: They come to our shows.

Ian: They’re really drunk in that video. That’s like legitimate inebriation. I watched the music video and I felt like I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the people in our music video. I mean, they’re fabulous.

(Ha ha ha)

Trevor: There is also this drag queen that performs with them all the time that is in love with Ian.

Ian: That’s true.

Trevor: And it makes Ian’s girlfriend really angry.

Ian: She works at Dutil, and one time we walked into Dutil and she was like “Oh hey how you doing?” and she turned to Christian and was like “I’d ask you, but I don’t give a shit.”

Tyler: Gay guys can say anything to girls.

Gillian: Well, they think they can.

Trevor: They shouldn’t, but they do and girls let them do it.

Me: Cause we’re like BITCH…oh, OK that’s kind of funny.

Trevor: You fuckin slut Jes. And you’d be like…haha.

Ian: Can that be the tag line for this interview?

Jes: That’s actually going to be it now that you said it.

Trevor: Perfect.

Jes: So are you guys all from Vancouver?

Gillian: I’m from Vancouver and Tyler is.

Tyler: Well my passport says Montreal, but I’m raised in Vancouver 100%.

Sean: I’m from Algonquin Park.

Jes: Hence the Beaver outfit.

Trevor: I’m from a town in Ontario called Arnprior and he (Ian) is from Prince Rupert.

Ian: Yeah, tiny little town in BC.

Jes: None of you have been to Boston? Went to Harvard?

Trevor: Is this a question about the Boston Bruins?

Jes: No. It’s a question about your Facebook page. Bio of who you guys are. Has anyone even read this?

Gillian: Not me.

Ian (to Trevor): Are you in charge of that?

Trevor: Oh that. Right. Ah ha. That’s you know, just a whimsical band bio you know. Band bios are the worst. “Hailing from Calgary Alberta…” and then list off everyone’s credentials and ages and stuff.

Jes: Does anyone else know what it says? It says you’re Americans…

Gillian: Yeah, that’s a lie. It’s all a lie.

Ian: I literally think it’s a band bio that we copied and pasted.

Trevor: It’s a band bio from a weird racist band from the thirties that I found at a Value Village. I just plugged in our names and I took out some of the racist stuff. So no one is gonna claim ownership of that because it’s super racist.

Jes: OK...moving on. Are any of you Canucks fans?

Trevor: I’ve been a Boston Bruins fan since I was 6 years old and I’m kind of watching the game behind you (game 5 of the final series is playing above the bar on a TV) because we are gonna win the cup again this year, it’s gonna be awesome.

Jes: Give your attention to me!

Gillian: I watched the Stanley Cup playoffs in '97, was it '97?

Tyler: '94.

Gillian: There you go. I was really into it when I was 7.

Trevor: Vancouver stops watching hockey once the Canucks are out of the playoffs too. I can’t go to a bar and ask them, “Hey, it’s game 7 of the Bruins and Chicago game…” No one would have it on. It sucks.

Jes: Soooo, the riots. Where were you when they happened?

Gillian: It was my birthday! Bullshit.

Trevor: Answer. I was sitting in my bedroom on the phone with my dad celebrating the Boston Bruins winning the cup drinking an entire bottle of scotch – from the bottle.

Jes: Alone?

Trevor: Well my dad was on the phone it was like he was there with me.

Ian: Black Lips were supposed to play at the Commodore, which was riot central and they moved it to East Van for a safer location for a bunch of skids to walk to and no get beat up by the rioters.

Gillian: I went to some bar to watch it and once I saw the smoke and flames I walked away from that and went to that show (Black Lips) too. I was actually really angry that it happened on my birthday.

Ian: Oh yeah, you (Gillian) wanted to make out with Cole from Black Lips. And you were mad cause he made out with some girl on stage. I remember that.

Sean: I was at the Keefer. I had no idea what was happening. You can’t see downtown. It was awesome, it was great.

Tyler: I got a phone call and it was like “Hey this car is on fire and there is a helicopter” and I was like, “Yeah ha ha, so where are you?” and they’re like, “No I’m fucking serious turn on the TV.” It was pretty aggressive. It was scary though.

Gillian: My friends were going towards it and I was really upset with them. And also I was bummed that I hadn’t left my shitty car downtown so I could collect the insurance on it, cause I really wanted to get rid of it anyways.

Jes: We need to move on because we’ve obviously got to get to the drinking game.

Ian: We’ve got like 10 minutes.

Jes: Seriously we only have ten minutes?

Trevor: We have like half an hour.

Jes (to Ian): You are stressing me out, stop it.

Sean: You’re stressing me out too.

Ian: Really?

Sean: No.

Jes: Are there advantages to being based out of Vancouver as a band?

Gillian: Advantages. We get to see a lot of other bands that come in. We get to see our influences.

Jes: As a new band are there any…

Trevor: I want to give my brief spiel on this.

Tyler: Keep in mind we have 30 minutes.

Jes: You have 30 seconds, go.

Trevor: We all love the city we live in we probably wouldn’t live anywhere else. It sounds like sour grapes coming from a band that is from Vancouver, but Vancouver has always hated shit from Vancouver. Like when Nick Gilder went on tour with the Cars, who is from Vancouver – he was in Sweeny Todd, you know that song Hot Child in the City. He went on tour in North America and his homecoming show was in Vancouver and people fired roman candles at him and threw beer at him to get him off the stage halfway into his first song.

Gillian: When was this?

Trevor: In the 80s. The ‘72 summit series, the last game was in Vancouver and Vancouver booed team Canada at it and cheered the Russians. When I moved there I was like, “Yeah we’re gonna see the New Pornographers and Duotang and Ewoks” and bands from there and stuff….no. They don’t play there. No one goes out and supports it.

It’s hard to say that when you’re a band there because then people just say “Well, you’re a shitty band and no one wants to go see you” but there’s a clear history that people who are like my parents age will tell me about.

Sean: Bands will do well outside of Vancouver, but they never play in Vancouver.

Gillian: But we play in Vancouver a lot.

Ian: And there’s lots of places for a band our size to play at.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s the other problem is that the provincial government tells you what bars can be bars and you can’t open a new bar you have to buy and old bar. And then sometimes the province comes in and shut down bars. So there are more people and less venues. Not even the same amount, there are less venues every year. When we started out going to see shows there were so many more places.

Now, for a midsize venue, like the one we are playing tonight, there are probably like two spaces. The Colbalt, maybe the Biltmore. That’s all that’s left for a city of our size. It’s kind of frustrating. And it’s expensive. There’s not a lot of rehearsal spaces. They’ve shut down. Um…

Gillian: I think the attitude is different than what you are talking about. I think they’re more into supporting local than they used to be. Maybe I’m just glass half full.

Trevor: Gill is just really popular and so when people come to see us, Gill always brings out 100 people.

Ian: At our first show she had 150 on her guest list. Almost all of them showed up. It was bonkers.

Trevor: The owner of the bar was like, yeah I’ve never seen a guest list like that.

Gillian: Yeah, we didn’t make any money that night.

Trevor: He didn’t make any money.

Sean: By the way that bar is out of business.

Gillian: I have a positive outlook on the situation.

Jes: Do you guys have a true rock star story? Where after it happened you were like this would only happen to a musician or someone that was in a band. This would not happen to a normal person.

Tyler: Well I have a story. The shortest story I can tell. In a previous life I may or may not have played base in several wedding cover bands. It’s a great way to make a living and you know…bridesmaids.

Anyways. Driving home one night I saw some friends in the street and they were with some guy with big hair and I’m like “Yo hop in” and I have all the gear in the back and I’m still wearing the suit from the show. He gets in and it turns out it is the lead singer of Wolfmother. I’m like, “Oh fuck.” I was so embarrassed.

The guy is like sitting on my amps and stuff and I’m like Uh. And he’s all Australian like, “Mate, what’s all this gear?” I’m like “Uh yeah, I was just actually playing a show myself bro.” and he’s like “Ah sick where?” And I’m like, “Uh, Todd and Joanne’s Wedding”. And then I dropped him off and I was like “I’m never doing that again.” I’ve never played a wedding again since.

Gillian: I don’t think we have the typical rock band stories. We have them from our other lives.

Trevor: Mike Mills from REM once sat me down and gave me a bunch of music industry advice when I was like 21. That was pretty cool. I once told Katy Perry to man up because she took my glass of whisky away from me.

Sean: We get treated very well as a band. Like today we got upgraded at the hotel.

Gillian: Yeah from a rotten egg smelling room to a cigarette smelling room.

Jes: Where are you staying?

Tyler: Howard Johnson.

Trevor: Don’t say anything.

Ian: We don’t want to ruin the illusion.

Sean: You mean the Swiss Johnson?

Jes: OK. We’re gonna go onto the game because it still has questions that will be used in the article.

So this is the game. I told the bar tender to go nuts so I don’t know what it is (points to the 20 shots on the table). Some of them are water and some of them are not water. This is the game. 

I ask a question such as “Who is the most likely to…” and you guys as a band have to decide who within the band best fits the description of the question and that person has to take one of the shots. I tried to vary the questions so it wasn’t always the same person. 

Gillian: Do we have to answer at the same time or do we vote?

Ian: We’ll reach a consensus pretty quick I think.

Me: Some of the questions you will be like “Totally this person” others you may have to discuss.

Gillian: This is shot roulette.

Jes: Who is the most vain.

Trevor: Sean put on cologne before we came to the interview.

Tyler: That’s true.

Gillian: I vote Trevor.

Ian: I’m gonna go with Trevor.

Trevor: Why would you say that?!

Gillian: Your car, your car.

Trevor: Yeah that’s true. I have driving gloves.

Gillian: He buys clothes to match his car.

Jes: You have driving gloves? Take the shot. 

Trevor: I have two pairs.

(Trevor takes shot)

Trevor: Water. Vanity wins again.

Jes: Who has the strangest hobby?

Ian: Sean plays lacrosse semi-professionally.

Sean: I used to.

Ian: Well up until recently, now he just does it for a hobby.

Tyler: Well there you go.

Gillian: I’m in a book club.

Ian: I track cycle.

Trevor: I collect classic sports car paraphernalia.

Ian: I collect comic books.

Gillian: I do lots of things, but none of them are weird. Book club isn’t weird.

Tyler: Lacrosse for sure.

Jes: Even though it is Canada’s official sport. Go beaver go.

(Sean (Beaver) takes shot) 

Me: Who is the voice of reason?

Gillian: I’m the nag.

Jes: So if someone has a really stupid idea who is like “OK guys put on the breaks.”

Ian: Well I think Tyler is good if someone was having an emotional crisis or something.

Trevor: Sean also told us last week, “Listen guys, no one can hear us play because we are so drunk and so loud. And it’s not fun for us at all.”

Ian: And all of us children were like, “You’re right Sean.” (hangs head)

Trevor: In the context of the band, or life?

Jes: The band.

Ian, Tyler, Trevor, Gillian: Sean.

(Sean takes shot)

Sean: Dammit. It’s Van Gough.

Jes: Who would have the most entertaining autobiography?

Ian: I think Trevor.

Trevor: I did work at a strip club briefly during the afternoon shift. I was the MC and DJ.

Ian: He was a sort of goth in high school, moved to Vancouver and started dressing like Prince.

Trevor: That’s true.

Ian: DJ’d at nights where there were tons of drugs…

Tyler: I also want to put on record that there are tons of skeletons in your closet (points to Gillian) that no one knows about.

Gillian: Lots of people know about it. My autobiography will more promiscuous related.

Tyler: There is like a shadow decade where I didn’t know you. So it’s like, who knows?

Ian: They (Tyler and Gillian) met on a snowboard.com forum when they were like 16.

Ian: Both. (Points to Gillian and Trevor)

(Trevor and Gillian both take a shot)

Jes: OK, don’t do that again though, cause then we won’t have enough shots. Who is most likely to disgust me with their personal hygiene?

Sean: I think we’re all pretty good.

Tyler: Yeah, that’ll be the make up shot.

Jes: Oh, also – the rule is, even if you guys are like “No one” you still have to pick someone. The only reason I am letting this one pass is that two of you did the other one. Who gets with the most groupies.

Ian: We’re all in serious relationships.

Trevor: Are you asking whose number is the highest? That’s really intimate…but we’re willing to share.

Gillian: That’d probably be me.

Trevor: Who has slayed the most men? Gill. Who has slayed the most women? Gill.

Tyler: It’s totally Gill.

Gillian: Let’s go on record and say I’m not a fucking slut.

(Gillian takes shot – water)

Jes: Who has threatened to leave the band.

Gillian: Nobody.

Tyler: I left the band for 6 months.

Ian: Yeah, he went to Australia for 6 months.

Trevor: And the only show we played the whole time was the day before he got back.

Tyler: And it was the largest venue they played.

Trevor: Ha ha, yeah it was like 700 people.

Ian: It was perfect.

(Tyler drinks – water)

Jes: If we were high right now…

Ian: On?

Jes: Whatever.

Trevor: Drugs.

Ian: Got it. Life.

Jes: If we were just smoking a joint. Who would most likely get the giggles?

Gillian: Tyler.

Ian: Uh.

Gillian: No, he and I got really stoned at my house and he and I both giggled so hard.

Tyler: I do remember that.

Gillian: I say Tyler. He’s the giggliest.

(Tyler takes shot – Van Gough)

Jes: Who is most likely to enjoy cow tipping?

Trevor: Cow tipping is a myth. I want to poke holes in it. If you think about it – cows sleep sitting down. OK. Cow tipping isn’t real. But hypothetical cow tipping? I’d say Ian, he’s the incredible hulk when he’s has a few.

Gillian: Yeah.

(Ian takes shot – water)

Ian: Nope. Water. I want a real one.

Gillian: This is a great stag and staggett game. Like a joint party. Thank you for that idea.

Jes: Who is most likely to streak through a public place for money.

Ian: Uh, Gillian.

Trevor: Absolutely.
  
Jes: Gillian’s like, “yeah”

Trevor: Gillian’s clothes are half off right now. She wears like tear-away clothes.

Gillian: This interview is making me sound so naked.

Trevor: When you’re in a band full of boys you need to be able to pee in front of them. Like our last show.

(Gillian – takes shot)

Jes: Who is most likely to be in a situation where they might get shot?

Tyler: The Beaver. People hunt beaver all the time.

Gillian: But of all of us, I like to get in the middle of fights.

Ian: I go into the woods with miners and stuff….not like ‘minors’. Agh, don’t print that.

Jes: Ian really wants the shot. Just let him do the shot. 

Ian: Hope this one is real.

(Ian takes shot - water)

Jes: Who is most likely to sleep in their car?

Gillian: Trevor.

(Trevor takes shot)

Jes: Who has lead a life of crime? Anything from shoplifting to murder.

Ian: I was a weed dealer in first year of university, just in dorms.

Tyler: You know the internet is forever right?

(Ian takes shot)

Jes: Who is the most inappropriate?

Ian: Gillian.

Jes: I knew before I even asked the question.

Trevor: Drink up, drink up. Although, when you were sleeping in the car yesterday we had a talk about some pretty filthy…

Gillian: I wasn’t asleep.

Ian: Gill was recording it all. She’ll send it to you later.

Gillian: I can hear it all. The sexy talk.

(Gillian takes shot)

Jes: Who is most likely to audition for the Real Hipsters of Vancouver

Trevor: You know the guy who directed our video is in it. He got cast.

Gillian: No! Owen did not?!

Trevor: Yeah. He got cast.

Gillian: That’s so good!

Sean: I think Ian is pretty you know…

Trevor: Hipster glasses.

(Ian takes drink)

Jes: Who is most likely to pick up a hooker? I know you’re all in relationships so…

Trevor: Don’t put that we’re all in relationships.

Jes: OK, I won’t put that, but who’s most likely to pick up a hooker.

Gillian: What are we doing with the hooker? Can we just have dinner with them?

Tyler: Well Ian could bench press her if that’s what you mean.

Jes: No. Pay for a hooker and have sex with them.

Trevor: I’m gonna go with Tyler on this one. I mean I don’t think any of us are likely to, but uh, I feel like Tyler in a weak moment in some part of the world where he knows he’s not going to get caught…

Gillian: Haha, Oh my God!

Tyler: But Sean is a semi-pro lacrosse player.

Gillian: He would never, he’s like the angel.

Trevor: I’m not saying he’s likely to, but Tyler would be the most likely to.

Sean: I don’t think any person in this band would do that.

Jes: As I said the rules state you have to pick someone.

Gillian: I mean…

Trevor: Tyler

Ian: Tyler

Tyler: This is such a weird one to get – I’ll take one for the team.

(Tyler takes shot)

Jes: Who is the most likely to venture into the world of rap?

Tyler: Gill’s already in a rap song.

Gillian: Yeah, I’m already in a rap song. I’m in two rap songs. A Kyprios song and I go “More, give me more” and then I’m also in a Swollen Members song.

(Gillian takes a shot)

Jes: Who was the most disappointed when you found out we weren’t doing a naked interview?

Ian: Gill.

Gillian: Fuck I’m gonna look so bad. I’m owning it.

Jes: Who is most likely to have Justin Bieber on their iPod?

Tyler: I think Trevor because he likes 98 Degrees.

Trevor: Have you heard the new 98 Degrees song? It rips. They were making fun of it…

Jes: The Microphone song? 

Trevor: Yeah!

Jes: Gross. No. Take a shot.

(Trevor takes shot)

Jes: Who was the last person to join the band?

Ian: Gill.

(Gill takes shot)

Gill: Well I’m glad they weren’t all shots, I thought they were all shots.

Tyler: Well I’m glad the internet is gonna know that I would take a hooker.

Ian: Ha, we were all at 0 % and you were at .1 % (to Tyler about nailing a hooker).

* Sled Island 2013 was cancelled with three days left of the festival due to the Great Flood of 2013 that ravaged Southern Alberta. This article is about 2 weeks late due to displacement and overall city chaos. RIP basements/man caves all over the city.

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