It’s the time of year when everyone starts throwing their tips for 2016 into the hat. Not that we want to be left out, we’ve got plenty of tips up our sleeve, but for now let’s talk about a band who are quietly readying their debut album for the new year. A band who’ve been slowly achieving success over 2015, whose music is as individual as it is infectious, and who put on a live show that’ll have you gripped in the palm of their performance from start to end.
From Toronto, Weaves are audacious vocalist Jasmyn Burke, inventive guitarist Morgan Waters who can often be found screaming into his pick-ups, effortlessly cool bassist Zach Bines, and human powerhouse on and off the kit, Spencer Cole. Between the four of them they’ve picked up praise from The Guardian to Rolling Stone to Stereogum. They’ve played CMJ, Glastonbury, and Iceland Airwaves, completely reworked a One Direction hit, and released an infectious original earworm in summer single Tick.
Sitting down with the quartet in a London pub and following a quick appraisal of Camden and it’s lucrative market, talk turns to the first time I saw them play, a couple of years ago at SXSW. After a day of the over-hyped and mediocre, watching Weaves was a kick to the gut of ingenuity and idiosyncrasy, each member stealing the show with their own element of controlled chaos.
“If you like our music, it’s something to see live, I think,” Jasmyn considers. “It’s an experience.”
“That’s why we’ve been trying to do more live off the floor stuff in recording, so it’s all of us just playing takes,” explains Morgan of their forthcoming album, before turning to 2014’s Weaves - EP. “That little EP offering doesn’t in any shape, way, or form explain what it actually sounds like live.”
“The record’s ready,” nods Jasmyn. “The majority of it‘s done but you never know, our band is always evolving. So it’s not like a set amount of time where we write, it’s just I go in, then I send it to [Morgan], if he likes it we work on it, then we bring it to the rest.”
The band began life as an effort between the two, before Spencer and Zach joined a year down the line. Despite having played bass in bands before, Morgan chose six strings for this project. “I get to do my impression of what I think a guitar player would do,” he tells me. “Maximum impact, least amount of technical ability is my motto.”
Jasmyn and Morgan picked up local drummer Spencer, who in turn brought in Zach; “We did one rehearsal with this other fellow, who I actually went to school with, who’s the bassist in Alvvays. And then he got really busy, and I was like, ‘I know the perfect person’, and so I phoned Zach halfway through the rehearsal.”
“We had a show in like, two days,” continues Jasmyn. “Our test for him was Motorcycle, and if he could play Motorcycle…”
With it’s sprawling pulse of a bassline that crawls under the song, it’s certainly a fitting first challenge. Watching Zach and Spencer fight over the rhythmic intricacies live is like watching a game of wits played out with increasing nerve. “For me that’s the most fun part,” laughs Zach. “Just not knowing rhythmically where anything’s going to go.”
“It’s a puzzle.” Interrupts Jasmyn. “It’s kind of weird, you need to find each other, but there’s nice parts where we actually connect, it’s a good chemistry.” Morgan nods in agreement, “Sometimes I test myself, like during Hulahoop, I’ll just not look the whole time and just see if I can feel, and figure it out.
“Hulahoop is actually verse, chorus, verse, chorus. It’s pretty straight up. We’ve Weaved it. It’s only one chord. We played at a girl’s rock camp with twelve year old girl’s learning how to play instruments for the first time and Zach couldn’t make it so we had a twelve year old girl play bass on that song, and no one could tell the difference.”
Releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2014, they’ve followed it up with a string of singles, videos and remixes, each as intriguing, elaborate, and illuminating as the next. Thinking of a Weaves album, it all seems a little too run of the mill for this adventuring quartet.
“We initially thought, let’s just put out singles,” explains Jasmyn. “I mean, people don’t consume records necessarily in their entirety anymore, so we thought it would be pretty fun to release singles and see what kind of reaction we get. So that seems to have helped this band, it seems like people are more excited about singles. A LP is sort of an afterthought, which is kind of a weird thing, but we will release one. Some sweet vinyl.
“It’s riding that crest between freaking people out, but then also pop sensibilities where you don’t really know what’s going on, but it’s exciting in a visceral way,” continues Spencer. “It’s pop music at it’s core.”
“I definitely want to do a children’s record, that’s my goal,” grins Jasmyn. “I’m kind of an old lady at heart. I’m obsessed with writing a children’s record.”
With tracks that bulge in colour and naive charm and artwork that burns with the kind of endless otherworldly imagination that would make Pendleton Ward jealous, it doesn’t seem like an unrealistic dream.
Weaves are a difficult band to pigeonhole. They don’t sit in any one genre, any one grouping or scene. Coming from a city like Toronto that over the last few years has given us bands as disparate as Fucked Up, Drake, and Doldrums, is it any wonder that they shirk such categorisation?
“I love that about Toronto,” grins Morgan.
“Canada has no identity.” Zach shrugs, as Morgan continues, “And there’s a freedom in that, not being tied to one thing.”
“People move to Toronto because Canada has a pretty small population, so you’re gonna have different influences for a start.” Suggests Jasmyn, before Mogan finishes, “We’re just trying to show them all off.”
Whatever you want to call it, however they choose to release it, and regardless of what time of year we start to take notice, Weaves are the kind of band who’ll keep creating utterly wonderful, embracing, and undeniable slices of brilliance. Our tip - listen to them now.