Terrorista Interview: “Watching my roommate’s cat, Darren, fight a paper bag”

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According to their Facebook page, Toronto’s Terrorista is a, “two-PEACE post-post-post-punk band. We play fast songs consisting of guitar, drums, and vocals.” Lols aside, in reality the duo is more like a post-hardcore version of the White Stripes. Their stripped down approach reveals the pure essence of their songs: earnestness, humour, and enthusiasm. In the midst of their unusual decision to release eight songs on four cassette tapes over the course of roughly six months in lieu of a traditional LP or EP, the band took the time to sit down with Overblown to talk about that decision, the Toronto music scene, and Darren, Sam’s flatmate’s cat.

Instead of releasing a full EP or LP, you are releasing tapes roughly every three months. What made you want to try this approach?

Rich: We recorded the bed tracks all at once in August, but the vocals and mixing got stretched out over a few months. So we were able to focus on two songs at a time, which made it a bit easier. Also, I thought it’d be more effective to release 4 tapes instead of one. That way there are more opportunities to get press coverage…it seems to have worked.

I read an article recently that claimed the EP and the LP as concepts are obsolete. The article claimed that a band’s sound cloud stream could now serve as their ‘album’. What is your opinion?

Sam: For me, once songs are put out in a group, they have to have some narrative or theme tying them together. When we decided on singles instead of an EP or LP, the songs that belonged together sort of fell into place. I usually think that a group of songs is only as good as what ties them together, but the realities of making time and paying for that shit usually make these playlists turn into a mesh of whatever people responded to over a long period of time.

Rich: I disagree with said article. I mean you could use streaming that way (and people do), but an album as a whole can be something greater than just individual songs. The artwork, the sequencing, the overall tone of the record are all important and can make something special.

Terrorista Interview: "Watching my roommate's cat, Darren, fight a paper bag"

After all the tapes are released, will you be packaging them together as an EP or an LP?

Sam: We’ll have a couple of packages for all four tapes. I’ve never been sure if I think of this group of songs as an album or not. The first four were done within a week, six months later the same happened for the next four.

Rich: I think the plan is to put them up as a compilation of singles. Just so people can download them all at once and listen to them together. The actual tapes will sell out (we only made 40 copies of each), and that’s the end of that. Sam and I like to move on from things pretty quick. We haven’t even release the third tape and we’re recording new material for a 7”.

On your first tape you have a song called “Phillip Seymour Hoffman”. Why did you decide to name the song after the late actor?

Rich: I was pretty shocked to hear that he died. I’m not really into movies or “favourite actors”…and I’m not easily impressed. But he was always great. Sam writes the majority of the lyrics, but I was adamant about the title for this one. It seemed to fit.

In our feature on the Purple Tape, Overblown describes the track ‘Darren vs Bag’ as, “the soundtrack to the hapless Darren struggling fruitlessly to escape from an enormous moist carrier bag.” You said you enjoyed this description. Why is that?

Sam: “Darren Vs. Bag” is a song about (re)learning to enjoy your own company. It was originally called “Kick the Can” but was renamed after watching my roommate’s cat, Darren, fight a paper bag. Your description made me think of the self as a wet paper bag, something extremely uncomfortable that you’re desperately trying to escape. C’est la vie.

What draws you to the lo-fi/DIY approach to music that you employ?

Sam: I’ve been making music with Rich for about a decade now. I like the sound of it. If we get a good live take, I’ll put anything out. Rich needs to reel me in and make sure I sound half-decent.

Rich: Haha, well I think it comes from wanting to control everything about the music. I’ve never recorded in a “real” studio, and I think it might drive me crazy. Also, it was so much fun to record at Sam’s parents house. It was summer and they have a pool and a BBQ…

It seems to me that Toronto has cultivated quite a fruitful scene. Why do you think that has happened?

Sam: When I like a Toronto band, I usually ask them if they’d be into playing a show together. I’d like to think that’s common practise. I’d like to think that there’s some sort of snowball effect from that. Probably not. Probably Drake.

Rich: Well, everyone knows that it used to be Broken…

You recently shared a video for ‘Dirty Smile’ from the upcoming Green Tape. Who directed the video? How did the video come about?

Sam: We were asked to play a show for a zine launch party. The zine is called The Dionysus Experiment. It turned out to be one of our best shows. We became good chums with the folks who put the zine out. Two of them, Emma Arkell and Genevieve Latour, asked us if we would like to a video. How could we say no?

Recommend a band, old or new, that all our readers should listen to.

Sam: I just missed a show last week featuring two of my favourite Toronto bands, Bird Death (wtf?) and Good People (yesthefuck!). Listen to them.

Rich: Our friends Fuss are great. The singer, Owen, is singing with us on both Dirty Smile and Sean Drums.

Will you come to Ireland to play at my 30th birthday?

Sam: Emphatic yes. I hear the ferry is quite affordable. Can we start a gearshare thread? I might require a guitar and amp. And a patch cord. And a tuner. And can you buy 9-volt batteries overseas? I’ve heard your outlets are different….

Rich: Would love to!

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