EP review and interview with The Nursery – Carnival Nature
An indie band in Toronto called “The Nursery” has completed their new 6-song EP called Carnival Nature. Alex Pulec is the main driving force behind this band (and he is formerly of the band The Ruby Spirit where he was asked to leave). He’s a very talented individual whose skills are all over the internet. If you google his name, watch what comes up. Amazing. I hope to meet him personally in the future.
The EP was produced by Tony Malone, and when I heard this EP I knew that it had been mastered by Joao Carvalho (David Vertesi, Shad and By Divine Right) whose mastering skills are just amazing. The EP was released on 29 June 2013, and the links for Tmblr and Bandcamp are listed at the end of the review, as well as a video. Another ally in the project is Nathan C. LaLonde (photography), whose personal site is worth a serious look. He is definitely someone who I’d like to meet in the future. I love his work!
I had a chance to ask Alex Pulec and Victor Ess some questions and their responses are as follows:
How did you form your current band “The Nursery”?
Alex: The band developed between a collaborative relationship between Victor and I. We had gotten into this habit of spending evenings ditching parties and events early to go work on songs. Eventually we realized a whole set of music had been written and we started getting excited. After having the songs ready we needed to find musicians to bring them to life and perform so Victor brought Nate in and I brought in Jared.
Where did the band name come from?
Alex: To me a Nursery of any kind represents life as much as it represents death. I love the play between light and darkness. The pleasant and the macabre. Those dualities always find their way into our music. It seemed appropriate.
What drove you to leave your last band “The Ruby Spirit”?
Alex: I never left. I was asked to leave. Too many cooks in the kitchen to make a loaf of bread.
Most artists have a “process” for writing songs. How do you write your songs? Do you concentrate on the melodies, or the lyrics, or the entire structure of the song?
Alex: For me it usually starts with an impression of an idea or a hazy image. Sometimes it’s a melody with words or sometimes it’s just a sound. I like to allow the idea to lead me further and further into what it’s supposed to be. It gets shaped in the process of trying to discover why this bit of music is having such an effect on me. Eventually the pieces start falling into place as you get closer. It always gets shaped even more with the band before it can be called finished.
Victor: I’ll often have a basic skeleton or structure in mind, or perhaps a particular melody or vibe that I want to emphasize. If I don’t have a completed idea, Alex and I will usually take an evening to work on it together and help it take shape.
As an Indie band in the land of social media, how do you find gigs to play?
Alex: I have used social media to connect with bands that are based out of our town to swap gigs with. I see Twitter as some sort of ice breaker platform to get in touch with bands, promoters or venues that may seem out of reach otherwise. It’s great to use if you are booking all your own gigs and don’t have someone handling that yet. I also really like putting on shows with friends and other bands I love from in and out of town. It’s fun to put on shows with your friends. I feel it resonates with an audience on a level that feels honest and genuine. Pulling together with people for something feels good. Trying feels good.
What’s your take on supporting yourself in an Indie band in the age of social media and networking? Do you find it works to your advantage or disadvantage?
Victor: Social media done right can actually be really effective. I find a lot of people trying to promote themselves, bands or otherwise, put in the bare minimum with social media/networking and it comes off as disingenuous, like they’re just going through the motions cause everyone else does it. Nobody wants that. I think social media is great because it really gives you a chance to share your journey and tell your story to people.
Alex: It’s discerning between ASKING for things or GIVING to people. Focus on giving not asking. Social Media is free. Give it away.
What have you “personally” learned and sacrificed by being a creative artist through your life so far? And how did you incorporate that lesson or emotion into a creative expression?
Victor: I’ve turned down some great job opportunities because they might have cut into my ability to make music. Same thing with relationships. I’m doing this because I love it, plain and simple.
Alex: You have to genuinely love your art or else you’ll start to resent it when obstacles come in your way. And they will always come, because it’s not easy. There is no set path to follow. You need to cut your own. It’s always easier to travel in the dark with something you love.
Because of the over-saturation of DIY bands in the Toronto area, how will your band stand out above the other bands?
Alex: I don’t believe it’s over saturated. Just under exposed.
On the EP, Carnival Nature, you name many other musicians who play and arrange – who are the other permanent members of The Nursery, and what instruments do they play?
Alex: I never made a record that had so many people on it. It was like a making a film with big cast of characters. Tony Malone who produced it served as the director and helped organize everyone’s contributions. He also did the horn arrangements. I asked Athena Babayan to sing harmony on This Wild Heart to get a ghostly female voice on it. Her parts are some my favourite bits on the record.
Victor: From the beginning I have been a permanent member of The Nursery but ended up taking over the synthesizers instead of bass on ‘Carnival Nature’.
Alex: He was kind of our Brian Eno to Roxy Music on this record programming most of the odd sounds and atmospheres that swirl around the songs.
Victor: Sam Morton, a great bass player and friend of ours handled bass while I did all synth work. Now I play Bass, synths, sing harmony and any other effects or sounds that I can get my hands on.
Alex: Now The Nursery consists of Nate Finucci on drums and Jared Roth taking over keyboards as well as myself and Victor. They both bring such a different and fresh energy to the whole thing. We have started to work on an LP together.
What bands/artists/performers have inspired you musically and creatively over the years?
Alex: There are too many to list and even talk about. But I often take a lot of my inspiration from films, poetry and spontaneous discoveries in my everyday life. Sometimes a child yelling a strange sentence on the street may inspire an idea or lyric.
What was the inspiration for the song “This Wild Heart”? I find this song very interesting musically as well as lyrically….
Alex: It was a combination of old western songs and the work of David Lynch initially. Lynch is a master of creating a surreal world that consumes you and that you can get lost in. So I tried taking this approach to a seemingly familiar song format by putting it in a whole new context. Victor and Tony’s textures are really what creates it’s juxtaposed and hypnotic environment. Lyrically it’s about coming to the realization that you are completely bound to someone regardless of the journey you’ve had with them and weather you like it or not.
You yourself play many instruments including the Mellotron on this EP. Which instruments are your favourites to play onstage and off-stage?
Alex: Onstage I play guitar when I sing. It’s most fun and comfortable for me. I sometimes play Theremin onstage with my guitar when I can. That’s the best. You need a large stage to even use it properly, so it doesn’t always happen.
The members of this band are:
Alex Pulec – Vox and guitar
Victor Ess – Bass
Jared Roth – Keys and Synths
Nate Finucci – Drums
The song listing for the EP is as follows:
1. Lysergically Yours
2. It’s A Sin
5. This Wild Heart
6. I Was I Was Someone Else
“Lysergically Yours” is pure kitschy and chaotic. Progressive, edgy and with a touch of fun mixed with madness and fears, it’s a song about overpowering someone who is perhaps more passive. There is symbolic duality in the melody of this song which gives it a fun but mad feel.
‘It’s A Sin” is a bold and brash song which is pure progressive psychedelia pop. The melody is strong and makes a bold statement as the vocals wrap around the words beautifully. Again, there is duality in this song which I think of as good versus evil but it’s more lyrically than musically. Musically the song is upbeat and on the bright side. Perhaps that’s another duality of the song itself.
“Lucy” has a good beat, is upbeat and chaotic in spots but these unusual spots hit a nerve when you realize that this is about life versus death (suicide). The music belies that fact which is a brilliant disguise in song structure!
“Domino” sounds like a death dream that one lives in a song, if that’s possible. Duality in life and death, whispers, Munster-like music which symbolizes being hypnotized while dying as the eyes close on life. One of my favorites on this EP!
“This Wild Heart” is another favorite. Sounding like southern psychedelia pop with vocal work by Alex this song reminds me of cowboys who have had a hard life and can’t be tamed in anyway, but instead, find a kindred spirit in the melody of songs. I really like the big sound to it as well as the feel of the music.
“I Was I Was Someone Else” is a ballad like song but instead of being a traditional ballad its again a duality of being ignorant of one’s feelings about another person. We all grow and become older and may change our lives, but, internally, we don’t change our personalities. This is one of those songs that makes you think about how you’ve treated past lovers and yourself.
The EP is everywhere, but the Bandcamp link is provided so that you can buy the EP right from the band without a middleman. You can also visit the blog on Tmblr for info on the band and follow them there. There is also a link to see video on YouTube below (produced by Nathan C. LaLonde). I invite you to have a visit to Nathan’s site Eccentric Exhibits. It’s a very interesting site of artwork, photographs and video works. Other artwork on the CD comes from photographer Genevieve Blais (who has a website you should visit) and Amy Janine Wong sketched out the poster which is awesome.