Canadian WIDOW’S PEAK blasted me into the other week with their metal. I had to interview them. Answers by guitarist Chris McCrimmon. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-No, it wasn’t hard to come up with the name, because we never put any pressure on ourselves to do so. Eventually the name just happened, and we all liked it. To me, a band’s name has to be like a business card for their sound, and Widow’s Peak is powerful and discomforting, without relying on typical metal band name clichés. That’s more or less what we aim for in our music, too.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Well we all listen to different music, so our influences are quite varied. Some of the more forefront influences would be Cannibal Corpse, Meshuggah, Beyond Creation and Ingested. We try to pull little pieces from different styles of metal (and music in general), and put a twist on them. A lot of the guitar work is heavily inspired by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and bossa nova rhythms, while the drums often have a subtle hip-hop sense of rhythm. It’s all in a brutal context, but it really can come from anywhere.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Maybe so, just in the sense that we don’t think about it too much. On this EP we don’t drop below 240bpm, so maybe we’re a bad example of moderation in that regard. We do have some slow sections, which are often more about creating an atmosphere and pulling the reins in on the technical stuff. Overplaying can totally ruin a good atmosphere.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-Better than in the studio! We hate recording, honestly. We’re much more interested in touring than recording. We’re fortunate enough that the people here in western Canada tend to receive us very kindly, and we always have a lot of fun on stage. The difficult thing is finding a balance between playing note-for-note perfect, and having some energy on stages. 9 times out of 10 we’d rather fuck up while having fun than make people pay to watch us have band practice in a bar.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-The main advantage to a label now is just having money behind you. Labels are no longer interested in finding a good band and having to do all the muscle work; they want bands that can do the work themselves. The music can be made available on all the same platforms, but it does generally need a budget behind it to really succeed. The downfall of the music being so readily available is twofold: market oversaturation and the death of regional sounds. Bands struggle harder to “make it”, and everyone being able to hear the same bands from their smartphones at any given moment means everyone often has similar influences within their genre. The days of the “Tampa Bay sound” or the “Seattle sound” or Gothenberg or Montreal or wherever, are long gone.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-I think that train of thought applies less to extreme metal bands. Metal fans still tend to be somewhat obsessive over their favourites, which certainly isn’t as common in mainstream music. The obvious positive side to that is that it forces bands to keep working hard on new material, and not get lazy and put out shit like Illud Divinum Insanus or Cold Lake or something. People nowadays know that one weak album could lose half of your following.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-I think the colours of an album cover really set the stage for the sound. Covers like Autopsy’s Mental Funeral might be ugly as hell, but the grainy, dungeon-esque nature of it perfectly sets the stage for the music. The same could be said for Nirvana’s Incesticide, Bjork’s Debut, or BTBAM’s Colors. If the colours aren’t right, it’s a bad omen, in my opinion.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-Absolutely! Canadian metal has always been underrated, but it’s always been here. The economy in Canada has been suffering for a long time, so things have dwindled in recent years, but they’re starting to come back up. It’s a hard country to be a band in because everything is so spread out, but the bands that stick with it are often top-notch. If you need some recommendations, check out bands like Without Mercy, Protosequence, and Quo Vadis.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-The sands will shift, but people will learn to adapt and thrive. It’s not 1984 anymore, and record sales don’t pay mortgages. People just need to look for other ways to make a band a worthwhile venture, and a big part of that is not doing it to get rich. Roll with the punches and have a good time; it’s all you can do, anyway.
What lies in the future?
-Well we release our EP Graceless on April 24th, and we have a release show here with Anti-Pattern, Meggido, Protosequence, and Path To Extinction on that day. After that, we’ll be working on summer touring details and playing some Canadian festivals like the amazing Metallion Fest and the brand new Decimate Metalfest. Once that settles down, we’ll be back to our boring life as mid-tier prostitutes.