Sometimes it takes a little change to remember why you started playing music in the first place. The songwriting duo of Jesse LeGallais and Scott Delaney have been playing together for over ten years, recently embarking on a new musical journey as C T Z N S H P, a reductive take on indie sounds of past projects.
“We had been doing Murder Ford Monument for a few years, but we were just getting to a point [where the direction] we were heading musically was very different than what other people wanted in the band,” said singer/bassist LeGallais.
“We were all pretty broke at that point; we had lost a few cars, lost a lot of money printing a record, so we just decided to start fresh with something simpler that we had a lot more control over, that represented what we really wanted to do.”
Playing since March with drummer Florent Clavel, the duo found the perfect third element to flesh out their sound.
“We were killing ourselves thinking what we were going to do,” said LeGallais. “We had done a bunch of recordings—just the two of us—using a drum machine or getting friends to play different beats and cutting them up, and it just wasn’t working.
“[Florent] has been an absolutely integral part. We wouldn’t be what we are without his dynamic playing, his energy.”
It’s an exciting time for the band, where things are working smoother then ever before for the old songwriting team. With a reliance on infectious chemistry, they’re able to streamline their slightly-dark indie pop into a sound coming from all three members, the vocals sitting somewhere between The National and Wolf Parade.
“I’ve never been in a situation when we’ve been on the same page so much,” said LeGallais. “Any arguments or fights are positive and proactive as opposed to just passive-aggressive or personal.”
With the release of their debut EP Swan Dive the trio is ready to hit the road in a big way. They’re planning their first trip across the border; a task full of logistical hoops that forces even the most independent of bands to become number-crunching businesspeople.
From finding a way a to get their French-expatriate drummer through customs to attaining legal proof of their gigs, pay and itinerary, it’s a whole new side of the game for the band to figure out.
“It’s getting tougher now,” said LeGallais. “The unions want actual contracts now, but some promoters don’t want to give contracts because they don’t want to guarantee anything to bands from Canada.
“[American promoters] would be happy to sign you, but you have to go through the unions and they want their cut of it. It’s kind of gross, the more I’m finding out about it.”
But it’ll be worth it. The highlight of the spring tour will be their trip to Austin for the South by Southwest Festival—a mecca for indie bands looking to showcase their sounds to throngs of hungry listeners and taste-making music journalists milling through hundreds of concerts. It’ll be the first time the band will witness the event, let alone perform in it, and they couldn’t be more excited.
Whatever happens at SXSW, LeGallais aims to share a deep emotional experience with his music. The band wraps a lot of feeling into the muted tones of their indie minimalism, and it shows.
“The music I’ve always kind of related to is cathartic music, creating a mood, an environment,” he said. “I think that’s what we think we do well without going into a post-rock sense, which is extremely epic and long. We’re trying to do it in a more concise pop song way.
“It’s music for people who make a lot of mistakes but are trying really hard not to; they keep fucking up, but aren’t bad people,” laughs LeGallais.
Originally published by The Link Newspaper.