Solids’ music combines all your favourite post-Cobain bands
Forty shows in nine countries on two sides of the Atlantic Ocean in a span of three months is enough to render any group of human beings good and pliable. However, the critically-lauded hard-rock duo Solids are as sturdy and as vibrant as ever. Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking they weren’t two musicians I was speaking with in a Cafe Express near Papineau Metro, but two Montreal-bred, industrial sized Rubik’s cubes, seated in the two comfy armchairs across from mine.
And the analogues don’t stop there: if we take the bright September sun streaming through the window as a giant stage light, Louis Guillemette (drums and vocals) and Xavier Germain-Poitra (guitar and vocals) are presently the spitting image of their live sets: Germain-Poitra is inclined a little forward, not demanding so much as politely requiring our attention, while Guillemette is more casual, taking more or less full advantage of the back of his chair.
G-P: We played [The London Calling Festival] in Amsterdam and at first it was weird…the drums were all the way far behind.
G: Usually I play [alongside him] up at the front of the stage, but it was a festival with really fast changeovers. So he was playing up front…totally alone.
G-P: Exactly, at first we were like “ahh this is going to suck,” but then it ended up being super wild. People got crazy.
One can imagine. The official London Calling website puts it best: the Solids guys have what is called “veel enthousiasme,” the kind that can’t help but rear its banging head. Their live shows manage to be visceral while remaining metronomically flawless, with Germain-Potra’s guitar running through a fairly massive guitar amp, a bass amp and a bass cab; achieving a wider range of frequency than most four-pieces can attest to. And who needs a four-piece anyway, when you have what can only be described as Quebec’s answer to Dave Grohl tearing through the measures beside you, the aural inclination is inevitably towards assault.
But that’s not to say Solids’ music is emotionless: listen to the first track on their debut LP, Blame Confusion, and it’s quickly apparent that you should really be listening to this on your Sony brand non-skip discman, traveling back to a soul-destroying, early-90s high school. In short, their songs have that beautiful dynamic of angsty introspection and cathartic exuberance that both characterized and dominated the post-Pixies alt set for most of the early ‘90s:
G-P: I’d say for our influences, of course, the bands that are always mentioned; Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth.
G: Because when we were in [our first band], Expectorated Sequence, we were listening to a lot of Breach and Converge and we still like that kind of style.
G-P: I think there’s a new Breach, eh?
G: A new Breach?!?
The Concordian: A new “Bleach”?!?
G-P: I think there’s another band, like, called Breach.
The Concordian: Oh… I thought you meant “Bleach” like, the Nirvana album.
Both: Ohh nononono!
G: The Swedish band.
G-P: Yeah it’s like a Swedish…noise-metal I’d say? Maybe?
The ‘90s are confusing, folks. But, returning to the matter at hand, one is inclined to ask whether Solids brings anything new to the table set by all the above-mentioned bands. The answer is yes and no. The remarkable thing is how Solids manages to be so much a synthesis of all the different strains of Cobainism – everything from My Bloody Valentine to Swans is traceable here – while still maintaining a certain individuality. Good vocals, heavy drums, and dense, detailed production are what make Solids’ album, Blame Confusion, stand out from most of the other throwback bands currently making a resurgence.
Another thing that is immediately apparent both on Compact Disc as well as face-to-face is that Solids are having extreme amounts of fun doing what they do. Their primary focus is on hammering out fresh tracks as much as possible, hitting their fan base hard and often.
G: At first we wanted to do only EP’s so we could get something out every 6 months, always writing new jams and having new jams coming up, but doing an LP is a whole different process.
G-P: Yeah we try not to overthink but it happens anyway.
The Concordian: Do you guys prefer working in the studio or doing live shows?
G-P: We really enjoy both, it’s just that at some points in the studio the feeling can get lost. In the studio it’s more zen, but [sometime you hear] something so many times that you don’t know… “Is it even good?”
G: And now the only thing we do in life is play music. So for the next album for the first time we’ll really get the chance to work a fuckin’ lot.
That is, right after they finish another three months of touring. After performing at POP Montreal on Friday Sept. 19, Solids are heading west to Ontario and then down into State-land. They’ve set themselves the goal of having a new LP on the shelves by Fall 2015, which means having the recording done around February. They also offered the vague clue that they were planning to experiment a little more. So…Keytar, I’m assuming?