Canadian Space/Stoner Rockers – BIBLICAL – have just released their brilliant new album – The City That Always Sleeps – to massive acclaim recently. The album has a different sound to their 2014 debut album – Monsoon Season.
BIBLICAL seem to have stripped back their sound and injected a heavier space rock/sludge rock sound. The album is heavy from the start with loud violent space rock passages holding everything together.
It's been a while since I've interviewed the band. Around 3 years or so. So I thought it was a good time to catch up with the band to discuss the new album and future touring plans, which you can read below.
Hi guys. How are things with you today. Long time no speak.
Thanks for having us.
Congrats on your excellent new album – The City That Always Sleeps. Such a great record. What is the album about and what can people expect from the album.
More than anything, our aim was to try to craft a ‘complete listen’. You hear all the time about the death of the album and the primacy of the individual song, but we really wanted to make something with a longer arc. It’s a tall order to have people listen to a whole record, let alone in one sitting, but we hope that we made something that might entice the listener to do so.
Even when the record was nearly complete, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about, as a whole. All the songs were working together as a whole, but the overarching theme revealed itself.
Truthfully, I’m almost never clear about what the theme of a record is while in the thick of making it. It usually takes working on the sleeve art for the grand theme to present itself. And that was definitely the case with The City That Always Sleeps. We had that title kicking around for a while and as we started mapping out how the record would flow, we were more and more convinced that that title had the right vibe. Lyrically, the album is about lost and buried things - buried pasts, buried feelings, buried people. The City That Always Sleeps is all those things we carry with us, silent but present, whether we know it or not.
Was this an easy or hard album to write and record for against your previous album.
I think overall, it was an easier record to write and record. But that’s not because it was less work — this record took many more hours to complete. But we have a much better sense of who we are as a band now and what we do well. When I think back to Monsoon Season, we weren’t as certain about who we were as a band. Going into The City, those questions had mostly been answered. Before Monsoon, we just didn’t have the touring and performance experience that we have now.
Did you do anything differently recording this album. As the album has a different tone compared to your last album.
Interestingly, our workflow was largely the same. We spend a few days getting the drums and bass at a studio and then record all the guitars ourselves at our practise space. This time we tracked the beds at a fantastic new studio here in Toronto called Union Sound Company. It’s got a nice big live room and a lovely old Neve console that gave us a great drum sound. To be honest, once you have good drums, you’re pretty much set. We then took those tracks and recorded all the guitars using a 4 channel setup, consisting of 3 mics and a DI. One thing we did differently this time we used small vintage amps, pretty much exclusively. Small guitar amps are great because you can dime them and really saturate the tubes.
Biblical’s sound has moved from your last album with the band adapting a more Spaced Out/Psych Rock sound. Though with moments of heavy sludge rock. Is that a fair assumption to make.
For sure. Again, I think that evolution is a product of playing live. One of the biggest lessons we learned as a band is how to use dynamics. It’s one thing to just blast away at full volume for your whole set, but giving the audience moments of calm or intimacy during a show really sets up for that knockout punch when you want to get loud again. So we naturally wanted to bring that into the recording process. But part of it also that we’ve always been a ‘rock’ band. People call us doom or stoner, but we’re really just a rock band. We like to dip our toes into different vibes and different moods and those other labels are just too limiting.
Was that the plan to record something differently.
I don’t think so, per se. More like, this is what the band sounds like now, let’s record the band.
Why did you call the album – The City That Always Sleeps.
We first stumbled on that title while driving back from a show in New York. As you know, NYC is called The City That Never Sleeps, but while driving home, Matt said something like ‘back to the city that always sleeps.’ I thought it was a cool sounding title and filed it away. Given the themes the record, it just felt right. But there’s also a little social commentary there too. Toronto as a city has had somewhat of a meteoric rise in the last 10 or 15 years. It’s topping out livability lists around the world and between the film festival and artists like Drake, Toronto seems to be in the spotlight. Toronto also has an obsession with being considered a ‘world city’. So the name of the record is also a push back against all of that, a little reminder that we might be getting a little too big for our britches.
This album has been a long time coming. I first heard a copy that Nick kindly provided me with earlier this year. Why the long delay with the album release.
We started tracking the record in Summer 2015 and it was completed by Summer 2016. Then we had to figure out how to release etc. It took some time to connect with the Tee Pee people and figure stuff out with our Canadian label New Damage, so we were already looking at spring 2017. But my wife are I had a baby due in March 2017, so we made the decision to move everything back.
Did you guys fear that the album would never be released or if your fanbase had moved on. Also you guys have been very quiet recently since the release of your last album.
Monsoon came out in 2014 and we spent about a year or so touring off and on. Unfortunately, it takes us a while to make records, between writing and recording. To be honest, we don’t spend too much time worrying about people moving on, it’s out of our control. Besides, a fine wine takes time.
The album has received a ton of great reviews recently. Has that surprised you at how well the album has been received.
We’ve been overjoyed that people are responding to the record. We feel like we occupy a weird little corner of the scene. We’re a heavy band, but we’re not metal and that turns some people off. Obviously, you have to believe in what you’re doing but seeing that people get what we were trying to do is a great feeling.
Tee Pee Records are releasing the new album. How did you hook up with them and did you have any other offers to release the album.
We talked to a few labels about doing this record, but Tee Pee was at the top of the list. Our drummer Jay plays in a band called Comet Control, who are also on Tee Pee, so it was a natural fit. Kenny, the owner of Tee Pee was an early supporter of the band. We had talked previously about doing something when we were starting out, but we never got it figured out until now. As we said - a fine wine takes time. We were stoked to work with Tee Pee because we knew that just being on the label would open us up to a whole bunch of listeners who didn’t know us.
Will you be touring and promoting the album. Will you be touring Canada only or even venture into the USA for future gigs.
We are definitely touring the record. We’re starting with a bunch of shows close to home, including release parties in Toronto, Montreal and NYC. We’re hoping to get over to the UK and Europe in the new year. We’ve got a few irons in the fire, so stay tuned on that front.
Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom you like to pass down to your fans.
I don’t know about wisdom, but we’re very appreciative for all the support. When you’re in a band and make records, your only hope is that people listen. When people not only listen, but respond, it’s an amazing privilege.
Thanks for doing the interview. Best of luck with the new album.
Words by Steve Howe and BIBLICAL
Thanks to BIBLICAL for doing this interview. The City That Always Sleeps is now available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Tee Pee Records.