Some Q and A with Calgary band Go for the Eyes
These champs make music and money, and love every minute of it
Author: Liam Fitz-Gerald
Last November, Calgary psychedelic/rock band Go For the Eyes graced Regina with a performance at the German Club, playing with The Revival and Screaming Daisies. Last Thursday they returned to the Queen City in support of their new E.P. Fifteen Through Twelve, released last May. Working again with Calgary producer Kiril Telichev, Go For the Eyes continues to improve as musicians and songwriters, pushing themselves to create better rifts, better solos, better grooves, and better lyrics. Indeed, the Mercury was a rocking place on Thursday night. After the show, bandmates Jeff Turner, Scott Perrin, Nathan Raboud, and Elise Roller sat down and chatted about their new release, life on the road, and what comes next.
First of all, how are you guys doing? How’s the tour been? Any interesting stories from the road thus far?
Jeff Turner: Fantastic! We went on tour with [Toronto band] Secret Broadcast and that kicked off our 2014 year and it’s been snowballing ever since! Have you ever been to the Enchanted Forest [Revelstoke]? In terms of stories, we don’t really have them, but there’s this little basement dungeon thing [in the enchanted forest] if you go into it…I don’t know if I want to give it away, check out our Instagram.
Elise Roller: It’s like a creepy goblin thing behind jail tours and Jeff gives it a little bit of commentary and it’s an instagram video. It’s inappropriate and it’s awesome!
Nathan Raboud: Well we played Cards Against Humanity for three hours. That always reveals quite a bit about everyone.
Scott Perrin: May and June were very busy. We toured from Calgary to Vancouver with Secret Broadcast. The Enchanted Forest is a great place of ridiculousness.
Tell me about your new EP, Fifteen Through Twenty. What was the process like for recording this album compared to other albums?
ER: We worked in pre-production for a lot longer. Probably a few months where we recorded our songs in practice and sent them to our producer [Kiril]. There was a lot more back and forth. It was different in production as well because the first time we worked with Kiril in his new studio we were the first ever band [he recorded with]. By [Fifteen Through Twenty] he had a studio for a year, he had worked with us on an EP before and he knew our limits and the kind of language to speak with us. Last time we told him we wanted to keep it very raw and this time we told him production wise do what you want to do.
JT: It was a much smoother recording than last time.
NR: I think this one was a little tighter but at the same time we were going for a little more polished angle whereas [Six Through Twelve] was a little more raw. I would always like to experiment with doing stuff live off the floor to find a balance between raw and polished.
SP: There’s a pretty noticeable difference. Fifteen Through Twenty is more polished. We tried new things and new ideas. We had a reggae song, poppier songs, etc.
How was working with Kiril again? What’s working with him like?
JT: It’s fantastic! He plays in a band similiar to us and I think we all have similiar music tastes. In terms of who we are, he gets it and it’s much easier to work with a friend. He does the producing and we do the rocking!
ER: He’s very good at communicating what he wants from you. It’s hard for a producer to always explain what they’re looking for but he’s really good at that, and he’s really patient and calm.
NR: He’s great. He lets us do things naturally and he’ll make suggestions and tell us he doesn’t like this or that. He can be blunt but he’s a rad dude. Top notch.
SP: It’s like having a fifth member of the band! Musically, we’re very similiar and we were able to apply this understanding to the album.
The last time we talked you guys had said your previous album [Six Through Twelve] was a different approach. You had changed your work style and were going to work on fewer songs and really refine your work.
JT: Yeah, before Six Through Twelve, we would just write songs and put them on records. For Fifteen Through Twenty it was sort of the same process [as Six Through Twelve] more pre-production and more just more of it.
You said your goal was to “raise standards.” Do you think you hit that?
JT: Honestly, no. We’ve changed and we’ve learned. In terms of “raised standards” on Fifteen Though Twenty we did something different then on Six Through Twelve, and we learned. We did things on [Fifteen Through Twenty] that we’ve never done and that we’ll never do again. “Raise standards” is for the listener to decide. We’re continually learning.
NR: We would like to think so, but you’re always your own worst critic. Sometimes you write an album and it comes more naturally than before, but sometimes the songs don’t come out as you envision it. But we’re proud of our newest work.
Q5. What were some of your inspirations for the new E.P? Events in life, new music, etc?
JT: Hip-hop music is big. We were really going for beats and grooves. Songs like “The Devil” are honest songs. We write a lot of songs in the area of truth; not direct truth. Songs like “Devil” are direct truth, but “Cosmo” is in the area of what the song is all about. So I mean, inspiration wise; fucking-up, being shitty people, etc. [laughs].
ER: [laughs] Being on the road is a huge inspiration. How it changes the way you live your life and the things you see. It’s not a normal life. Normal people don’t do this; they have 9-5 jobs and have two weeks’ vacation whereas we’re home ten days at a time.
NR: I’ve taken a huge liking to Arctic Monkey’s and Queen of the Stone Age’s new works. I’ve been listening to that kind of stuff. I’ve had my latest electronic phase.
SR: I’ve practiced to dream beats or metronome and have played to hip-hop and Michael Jackson.
I understand from a recent Rocky Mountain Outlook article that you guys plan to take winter off to improve “as musicians and songwriters.” Is there a full-length album planned?
JT: Honest to God, man, there’s always a full-length album planned. I hate to quote one of our idols, but we would rather come out with material all the time. In terms of EPs, it’s easier to give you guys six songs we love and hit the road again, and next time you see us give you another six songs. Five is too little, and if we do seven, we might as well do eight and make a full album. We’re going to give you some songs. If you like them, you like them; if you don’t you don’t, there will be six more in a year.
NR: The question is do we have the money and songs. We don’t want to write a full length and have six filler songs and six good songs. We plan to pump out material we’re comfortable with and keep growing and pushing it.
SR: We’re taking time to write, and we need to hit, restart, and write a lot of songs. My dream is to have 20-25 songs ready.
You discussed in that article some of the challenges of holding day jobs and playing music. I’d like to go further and ask how you guys try to find that balance?
ER: Almost impossible [laughs].
JT: Yeah, you’re trying to hold down a job to feed the music. If you can quit your job and do a band, do that. I mean money is money, love is love.
ER: Having a day job is brutal sometimes.
NR: Let’s put it this way. We play Winnipeg Saturday night, I have to be at work in Calgary Sunday night, and I work until 9:00 AM.
Since we talked last, what would you guys say has been the biggest event or change you have faced?
JT: I say the biggest change we’ve made is being more honest. We’ve met a lot of industry people and after this record, we want an honest to God opinion. You’re never going to quit doing what you love, and if you do, you’re dead. We love this, and we don’t want to suck at it, and you don’t want us to suck at it. Don’t think that because you’re in a rock band that you’re a rock star. We want to love this as much as we can. Give it your all, and do whatever the hell you want. Make the music you love, but just be honest about it.
NR: I think we’re just trying to find ourselves and grow as musicians. Always pushing it.