On this week’s episode, Joe, Mel, Zack, and Jeff will celebrate the ten years they have been in a band by reminiscing about their favourite songs, venues, influences, and more.
We would like to thank Stuart Attard for the track featured in the beginning and end of the video.
What are your favourite New Design songs?
Joe: Favourite New Design songs of all time. So, off the EP, probably “Across The Floor of The Silent Seas” and then the outro to “Failure By Design.” Then off the album, “So Long” and “There’s No Safe Place.”
“Across the Floor of The Silent Seas,” that archetype of song is one of my favourite things, you kind of have this soft pretty intro and then it explodes into this heavy outro with guitar solos, and if you were to describe my songwriting that was kind of a big thing. I think heavily influenced by Smashing Pumpkins style. A lot of the melodies I wrote too, and they came pretty natural to me.
And then “Failure by Design,” which was this really weird song that Mel wrote. In the beginning part, she would just use a lot of like dissonant voicings and odd chord changes that I wouldn’t of personally used. And then Jeff writes this outro that’s more in our realm, and it really ties the song together. And I got to play a lead which was cool because usually I wrote a rhythm part and then Jeff had to play all the leads. And I was fine with it because Jeff is amazing at lead, probably better than I am. But I was like okay, I have the leads here, I gotta to do something like cool. I gotta really hit it home. I decided to like do a non-traditional kind of guitar solo, more of a post-rocky guitar solo. I didn’t even listen to post-rock at the time, and that’s why it was also cool. So it was just like a thread of different kind of, I don’t want to say riffs, but it goes from like kind of sustained notes to a little repeated riff with delay, and then there’s this wah riff, and then there’s like these octaves, and I’m just really proud of the way I built the solo because it’s like not a traditional guitar solo. It doesn’t sound like a classic rock guitar solo. It sounds like a sounds scape solo so that’s like one of my favourite moments in the song. And also everyone else is going off, like Mel and Zack had this part that just sounds like a monster walking. It has really heavy fuzz bass.
On the album, there is “So Long,” which is kind of the equivalent to “Across The Floor of Silent Seas.” It’s the “Joe’s Song Two.” “Joe’s Song” was the nickname of “Across The Floor of The Silent Seas.” And it does that same kind of thing where it’s that soft beautiful landscape, and it builds to this heavy moment, but there’s a lot of other things that we tried that I really like. Like falsetto octave vocals at the chorus, and I didn’t plan for this, but the second chorus rises and changes progressions. It rises and builds into something I didn’t plan for, but it made it that much cooler. And it goes into the gang vocals, which we had on the EP, but for some reason on the album, we did them differently. And it was really like this band we love called Elos Arma, like very Elos Arma inspired. And I felt like I captured that in my own way, and that’s why it was a special song for me because I was like, this sounds like us, and it kinda had that influence the way we wanted it.
Then the other song, “There’s No Safe Place” has every single thing I love in a song. Guy girl vocals dubbed on top. Cool arpeggio guitar stuff. Kinda like a groovy verse, and then the outro just explodes. And then we do these cool structure things. I would say those are my four favourite New Design songs.
Mel: I think everyone has a special place for a song they have written, so mine would probably be “There’s No Safe Place”. Then off our EP, the songs that are most memorable to me are the outro to “Failure By Design” just because it was our first move towards post-rock and then “Omnisphere II”, which I think is the only track on the EP that aged the best. I feel like it’s bit timeless. It’s an instrumental. I feel like that was the move towards the sound we wanted to have as a band and where we actually found our sound.
Jeff: So off Far From Home, I think it’s definitely “I’ve Never Seen the Ocean,” mostly because of the outro rift. It reminds me a lot of the fingerstyle acoustic stuff I use to do. I always wanted to write a rift that was like that and stood by itself. It was very melodic and guitar driven. I just like how the song starts right away, but it ends completely different from the beginning. The structure is also kinda weird. It just keeps moving forward. It doesn’t really repeat that much. It just feels like it’s constantly evolving as you listen to it. Also the outro was really inspired by Toe and Uchu Conbini, having this guitar part that repeated but was in sorta unusual timing, while having everything else accent around it. Not necessarily being busy, but sort of having you hear that rift in different ways. So I really like that about the outro. And for the EP, I think my favourite is still “Omnisphere II.” At least to me, I think it really encapsulated a lot of what we liked instrumentally in terms of feel and mood. And I feel like everyone in the band was able to have a part that is their own in that song. We have big guitar solos between me and Joe, we have a nice bass part, and we have a part where Zack just goes ham. But it is in a way that feels consistent and doesn’t feel cheesy. And now I know we have grown out of that because do don’t do guitar solos that often. They are more contextual. But I still think it’s a really cool song, and I would like to write another song like it but using the knowledge and the experience that we have now. But yeah, those will be my two favourites I would say.
Zack: My favourite songs are both off of Far From Home. They would be “Relapse” and the title track “Far From Home.” “Relapse” beause I had this drum beat, the droney, repetitive drum beat that goes on throughout the whole song, and I can’t remember who I showed. It mighta been Jeff the first time. Maybe we were waiting for Joe, and I was like I have this drumbeat, and I wanna use it, and we are going to use it, we have no choice because I really like it. And then we worked something out, and I think we showed Joe after. We just turned it into a transition, drone, interlude between songs, and it just repeats and repeats and repeats over and over again. You can get kinda lost in it. I think it’s really cool because we don’t have too many things like that where we just repeat over and over and over again the same thing. But it works. It doesn’t feel repetitive. It feels like it belongs. And “Far From Home” would be my other favourite because I like closing the shows with it. We play it last a lot, and it gets a good reception from the crowd. I think the “find your way back home” was my lyric, and Mel and Jeff added to that after. And it all fit together really well, and I really like the lyrics to that song. It’s also a really interesting structure. It’s really just one verse and one chorus, and the rest of it, just repeats here and there, but the rest of it is just a jam, which is really cool. But it doesn’t feel weird, which is what you want. You want it to be unique, but you don’t want it to feel out of place, and I think we pulled it off really well.
What’s your favourite track or part to play live?
Joe: It’s the outro of “There’s No Safe Place”.
Mel: My favourite song to play live is probably “There’s No Safe Place” because by the time we get to the outro our energy has increased so much. I also enjoy the outro of “So Long” just because a lot of people sing along. And it just feels like the iconic song for our set.
Jeff: It used to be the outro of “Failure By Design” just because that outro changes so much. At first it starts with just guitar then I think it’s really cool how the rhythms develop. I don’t get to do that that often because I usually play a tremolo lead. That song is really fun. We have basically loud rhythms, and Joe just plays over top of that. And playing that live, gives us the opportunity to just go crazy.
Zack: Yeah, I think my favourite part would be the outro of “Solaris” cause it’s just huge, and it gets really big, and I get to do cool drum stuff.
What is your favourite song that you have covered?
Joe: Probably the first song we ever learned as a band, “Stand Inside Your Love”.
Mel: I think I have to say Toe but what first comes to mind is when we first started the band we all chose a cover each and we learned it, and I chose “Alive With the Glory of Love” by Say Anything, and I really like that cover, and it was one of the few covers that had stuck with us for quite a few shows.
Jeff: I was going to say “Stand Inside Your Love” by Smashing Pumpkins like Joe said, but I’ll probably just say “Goodbye” by Toe.
Zack: Definitely “Goodbye”, Toe. Forsure. Cause that entire song is a drum solo so I look really cool.
What is your favourite venue to see shows or to play?
Joe: To watch shows at, the Danforth Music Hall. The favourite venue that we played, I don’t think I have a favourite venue that we played. Not that I can think of.
Mel: My favourite is actually one that we haven’t played yet. I think it’s called the Drake Hotel or Drake Hotel Underground. I saw Toe there. I saw Now, Now there. It has a very intimate setting and a very good mood with the lighting and the colours. And then favourite venue to play, I think I might say Sneaky Dee’s just because there are always people there. I just feel like when I think of Toronto music I think Sneaks.
Jeff: I’m going to say Lee’s Palace. I think Lee’s Palace is pretty cool.
Zack: I know Jeff said Lee’s Palace. I do like Lee’s Palace as well. I don’t know if I can have a favourite, but I know it’s not All Stars.
What is your favourite album?
Joe: Favourite album is Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now by Moneen
Mel: Favourite album, that’s so hard. This question I don’t even know how to answer. But I know that there are albums that I always come back to, and I think that’s a good way to measure if an albums my favourite. So if I look at albums I always always play, Brand New, Deja Entendu and The Devil and God. I always come back to Thrice’s Alchemy Index, specifically Air, just because it was so out of their style, and it showed a different side of them, and it has a lot of things I like. It’s sad, it gets super heavy at certain points, even one track has a female vocalist, which I really like. Yeah, it just has everything.
Jeff: I think for me at least, I don’t have a definitive favourite album. I feel like for a lot of people, if they do, it’s something really nostalgic cause nothing can beat sentimental value, but for me, it just changes all the time. It’s probably, if we do a top three, Pneuma by Moving Mountains is up there because it’s been really influential, and at the time we started listening to it, it kinda directed and influenced the way we wrote the album. So that was pretty significant. Then I would say probably the first Uchu Conbini EP, I’m not really sure what it’s called, cause that was kinda the next level. It’s like song writing can be this good. Then if I choose a third it would be like something totally different like the Chrono Trigger soundtrack or something. Cause that’s something I’ve listened to since I was a kid, and it’s just sentimental.
Zack: I’ll stick with the favourite band Paramore, Riot by Paramore is an amazing albums. It’s just full of bangers. It’s so good.
What is your dream superband?
Joe: Okay, so I decided a while ago that my dream super band’s singer would be Freddie Mercury cause he’s the best. He can do everything. And yeah, guitarist, the Uchu Conbini guitarist, easy. Bassist, I don’t pay much attention to bass, but I’m going to pick Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers cause he always has good bass lines to songs. And then I need a drummer. I feel like I had a drummer that I really liked. I don’t know how good he is. I really like the drums in Japandroids songs, but I don’t know if I’ll put him in my superband. Oh the Toe drummer, easy, Toe drummer forsure. Toe drummer, Uchu Conbini guitarist, Freddie Mercury, and Flea. If I’m picking a second guitarist, I’m going to pick Kenny from Moneen cause he can sing and play guitar.
Mel: My dream superband. I feel like this might be a bit boring, but it just seems so obvious that you would take the drummer of Toe, the guitar player of Uchu Conbini, and their singer. She had these light airy vocals that I think are so beautiful. I guess I would throw another singer in there. I’m torn between Thrice’s lead singer and Brand New. They’d both be rhythm guitar and singer. I want both the moods, I don’t know. Three singers, three guitarists is almost ridiculous. I actually think that if I threw in the guitarist from Tricot and how she would mesh with Uchu Conbini’s guitarist, this band can get pretty crazy. But it’s not quite the mood I’m going for. I think for simplicity, we will stick with Toe drummer, Uchu Conbini on vocals and bass we’ll do their singer as well. And we’ll have a second guitar player. We’ll take Thrice’s, and he’ll do guitar and vocals. If we can somehow get the mood of Brand New that would help. I mean Stephan Lesser of Dave Matthews Band would also be a good bassist choice. Victor Wooten cause I just want a lot of bass harmonics, but I don’t want to get too crazy. Lets just not put everyone in my band.
Jeff: I’m going to go with Daijiro from Uchu Conbini. I’m going to go with the Toe drummer cause I’m just gonna make that kind of band. I don’t remember his name. For bassist, I’m going to do with a really groovy bassist like Victor Wooten. So they can do real funky stuff. Or like Jaco Pastorius. For vocals, I would pick a jazz vocalist like Esperanza Spalding. She’s like a crazy good vocalist, and I actually just love everything she does.
Zack: Tom Delonge, from Blink 182 and nine other clones of Tom Delonge, and they only play “Miss You” acapella. Forever.