Monday, June 3, 2013

People Like Us - The Interview

People Like Us enjoy coffee and living rooms.

So a few weeks ago I had the extreme luck and pleasure to stumble across a nifty little band from Canada called People Like Us. I think I was just searching bandcamp for prog rock or prog metal or maybe just prog, and two album covers, you'll get to learn more about them below, really caught my eye. I decided to click on one of the covers and spend some time listening. Initially I was pretty floored at what I was hearing. People Like Us are a blend of progressive post hardcore and metal, with complex song structures and a surprising amount of melody and harmony. They sound like a mix of Protest The Hero and Coheed and Cambria, which is a good combination if you ask me. In mid-May these guys released two albums, A Nightmare and The Royals for FREE, or pay what you want via Bandcamp. They were kind enough to conduct an email interview with me. I encourage you to go grab those albums immediately, turn them up, and then read my interview with the guys from People Like Us.

The Drawer: How long has people like us been together in it's current form?

PLU: This 5 member lineup has been running strong since about 2010, so 3 years. Two current members, singer Shane and guitarist Bradley branched out from the founding band Cellar Door adding drummer Benjamin around 2006 and later bringing in guitarist Jordan and bassist Mark in 2010.

The Drawer: Where are you guys from/currently located?

PLU: We are all originally from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Bradley and Benjamin are brothers, and they met Shane and Mark way back in elementary school (we’re talking 1995 here). Jordan came into the picture in our high school days and currently members are spread out over Burlington, Toronto, Waterloo, and even sometimes California.

The Drawer: You recently released two sort of longish EPs A Nightmare and The Royals via bandcamp. First off, why two releases at the same time? It seems like there was enough material for just one record, but you guys broke it up, why?

PLU: The reason we have them split up into two EPs is because they are each their own story. Both were recorded and released together, and their respective artworks were designed to match in order to give them the appearance of a double album.

The Drawer: The song titles seem to suggest that there might be a concept behind both records. Can you give me any insight into what A Nightmare, and The Royals are about?

PLU: Yes, the two EPs are each a six-song short story. Here’s a brief overview of the concepts:

A Nightmare is about a man who is unsatisfied with his daily life and finds more enjoyment in his dreams. He approaches a Doctor for help and the Doctor’s interest and curiosity leads him to take his experiments a little too far. This collection of songs includes a peculiar love story that details the patient’s dreams and nightmares from the perspective of both doctor and patient.

The Royals is set in a society that has been plagued with corruption throughout all of history. Finally, one citizen decides to stand up and make a change. He forms The Deathmachine: a collection of fellow citizens whose goal is to start a revolution by kidnapping The King. Little did they know that The King was merely a puppet to The Advisor: a dark, malicious man. As the Deathmachine attempts to change history, things do not go according to plan.

The Drawer: Over what kind of time period were the records written? Was there a process of "hey guys, let's make a record." or did you just sort of come in with a bunch of material already written?

PLU: Unfortunately, making music is not yet our full time job so the exact timeline is a bit fuzzy, but a few songs from A Nightmare date back to 2006. Our new line up in 2010 really kick started the band into writing mode and inspired us to revamp the old songs and gave birth to our second album. The 12 songs we’ve just released were completely written by 2011 when recording began.

The Drawer: Is people like us a collaborative thing or is there sort of one driving force behind the song writing? Walk me through the process for putting together a song.

PLU: Getting into the second half of The Royals EP the writing became very collaborative. This is when the chemistry of the current lineup literally caused an explosion. Prior to this it was mostly Bradley and Benjamin writing the musical arrangements of the songs while vocalist Shane wrote the majority of the lyrics and concepts. But with all the rewriting, revamping, and rearranging of the older songs throughout the demoing process it is hard to look at a song and remember who did what, so we just credit all songs as written by People Like Us.

The Drawer: You made the records available for free/pay what you like. Was that a tough decision and why did you choose to basically give the records away?

PLU: This was not a tough decision at all, we just feel it’s better that we get heard and get our music out there making it as easy as possible for the listeners (and especially our friends and family). We’re proud of what we’ve made and we want people to hear it, if they think it’s worth something then they can pay what they want, but we don’t want to lose any listeners because of a price.

The Drawer: I stumbled across you guys on bandcamp just searching for prog rock or something. How large of a role does your internet presence play in what you're trying to do as a band?

PLU: At the moment the internet is our most important tool, next to our instruments of course. The fact that you were able to find us, hear us, liked us, and are now blogging about us is incredible. Having access to all these free tools like BandCamp for distributing music, and Youtube for presenting our music videos makes it really easy for new independent bands like us to be heard around our country, and apparently outside our country too!

The Drawer: Are there any plans to make physical copies of A Nightmare, The Royals available?

PLU: We have said all along that if enough people want them, then we’ll make them. Be it CDs, or vinyl, we’ll take on the cost to get them made if people are interested. Right now we’re just starting with the free online digital-only distribution to get out there and get the interest we need to be able to make the physical copies.

The Drawer: How do you feel about digital vs. physical media? If it were up to you would you rather someone hear your record on vinyl or cd as opposed to an mp3 file or does it even matter as long as someone is listening?

As we mentioned earlier, to us it is most important that people get to hear these songs we are so proud of, but obviously we’d love for people to get the full physical experience of holding our album art in their hands and placing the needle down on the vinyl. Physical media is really special to us, all of us enjoy all types of art other than just music: Shane being a photographer specializing in film photos, Bradley and Jordan being graphic artists, Mark having a large film and vinyl collection, and Benjamin being on the iPhone/iPod design team at Apple. In fact, both album covers are physical collages made from bits of magazines that are glued together and photographed. It took forever to find that perfect vulture head for the Royals cover, we couldn’t believe it when we finally found that guy! To drive home our love for physical media, as we sit here typing these responses we are drawing a poster for an upcoming show using crayons. We just love making homemade things ourselves.

The Royals Cover, featuring the perfect vulture head.

A Nightmare Cover

The Drawer: When I listen to your records I'm reminded of groups like Protest The Hero, Coheed and Cambria and even early Thursday, I guess the whole "progressive post hardcore" melange. So, who has influenced you stylistically and do you mind being compared to bands like the ones listed above?

PLU: We are honoured and amazed that you picked out our two favourite bands from listening to us! Or maybe that’s a bad thing, maybe we just stole their songs entirely... But to add to the list of bands influencing us we would say The Fall of Troy, RX Bandits, Tera Melos, Boys Night Out, The Darkness, and Rush along with the obvious two of Coheed and Protest. We all agree that a song with a typical pop-structure is just not fulfilling enough and does not fuel our musical A.D.D. as we call it. We like to explore time changes, and tempo changes, and genre changes, and instrument changes as much as we can to keep ourselves from being bored.

The Drawer: What are you guys listening to at the moment? Any albums you just can't get away from?

PLU: Ourselves. That’s why we made it! You’ve got to be your own biggest fan, right? But seriously...We’ll break this one down member by member for you.

Bradley: Drugs to the Dear Youth - Tera Melos

Benjamin: Everything Under the Sun - Jukebox the Ghost

Jordan: The Afterman: Descension - Coheed and Cambria

Shane: 20/20 Experience - Justin Timberlake

Mark: Stay What You Are - Saves the Day

The Drawer: Are you associated with a label, looking for one, or content to self release stuff?

PLU: We are not associated with a label at the moment. We’re not actively looking either, but the kid in all of us does want to be a real band, on a real label, and live the dream the proper rockstar way. But for now we are content to self release stuff and continue with our homemade/do-it-yourself mentality towards everything we do.

The Drawer: Are you currently touring or are there any plans to tour behind the records in the works?

PLU: We’ve been playing as many shows as possible in the Greater Toronto Area since the release of our albums. Not really a tour per-say, but we’re just working on gathering local interest. However, an experience like this, with being found online has made us start to think about the possibilities of gaining popularity in other cities. We all are definitely looking forward to one day hitting the road with our music.

The Drawer: If you could tour with anyone currently living who would it be?

PLU: If we could tour with Coheed and Cambria that would be unbelievable! Like, did you see that recent biker crowd surfing video from the Coheed show?! That’d be fantastic. If we’re really dreaming big it’d even be a three way lineup of Coheed, Protest the Hero, and us!

The Drawer's Note -  I would totally go to that tour because there are never enough Coheed shows.

Speed round: Brought to you by Pizza, Coffee, and Tera Melos

Favorite album: Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Vol. 1: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness - Coheed and Cambria (Another note from Me: This might also be my favorite record, I think these PLU guys are pretty smart.)
favorite food: Pizza - every band practice has pizza.. and coffee..
favorite movie: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
favorite book: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
favorite zoo animal: Elephant
favorite amp: Orange amps are cool
favorite place to play: Any house party / outdoor bonfire

There you have it. Please check these guys out, especially if you're into story driven prog metal, both albums are concepts, or short stories as the band described it. They deserve to be heard by more people.

 Also, if you're going to be in the Toronto area June 21st, go check out their show, they'll be playing

Here's the aforementioned  hand drawn flyer:

  You can find more info on their facebook page.

Fun with mirrors.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know who I am on here.

    Excellent interview, excellent find. I'm listening to "A Nightmare" now, very cool.