Thursday 4 April 2024

A Bruising Interview And Encounter With Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal Enforcers IVY GARDENS

Canadian Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal Bruisers IVY GARDENS will be releasing their debut album GOON on April 19th 2024. The album is a rough and ready collection of classic sounding Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal grooves with a ferocious Punk Rock edge. They've been described as DOG ASS MUSIC and that's a very cool and apt description for the band.

I caught up with the band to discuss the upcoming new album and the evolution of their sound.

Read on for a cool itnerview.

Hi guys. Thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you all today.

Appreciate the chance to chat. Things are great, just finished up rehearsing for our release show and tour coming up.

For people not in the know, can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t much for us to do other than blast amps until the floor shook. When we were much younger, we became close friends through a shared love of heavy music. We spent a long time learning our instruments together, playing music and gradually finding our sound. Around 2020, we reformed as Ivy Gardens and started hitting the ground hard.

We’re a DIY band. We’ve all got a background in audio, we record and produce our own music. We make our own videos. We booked our own tour. We wanna make music that kicks people in the face, and we want to play that music to people across Canada. Our record Goon is about to come out, and it represents about a year of the band's creative juice. Right now, we’re preparing to take that material and head out across the country, bringing it to anyone and everyone ready to hear it.

Why did you call yourselves Ivy Gardens

The name Ivy Gardens comes from a street name in our hometown. It was the street we were based on for the longest time, the street where the band began, and the street where we heard all the music that inspired what we do. It was a natural choice. The imagery of Ivy choking out its surroundings was also appropriate.

How would you describe your overall sound for your upcoming new album Goon. In my humble opinion, it's a record full of ferocious-sounding Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal grooves along with a snarling Punk Rock attitude.

I think you describe it best, honestly. Everyone seems to have their own way to describe our sound and I think that’s great, different people see and hear different things in us.

It’s hard for us to look at it from the outsider's view because we never write music together with a specific genre or sound in mind. A small idea develops over a few jams and we gravitate towards anything that sounds interesting, regardless of where it leans. We have major influences in the genres you mentioned, which naturally comes out while throwing ideas at each other. Ultimately, I think we make vulgar, belligerent music. Heavy, stoned sludge with a punk rock energy. Right now we’ve been describing it as DOG ASS MUSIC. However, if someone interprets that, it’s the right impression.

What can people expect from the album and what is the creative outline or story for the album.

As soon as we nailed down the first couple tracks, the record flowed out of us naturally. I think people can expect a jolt of energy, irreverence, and heavy, sweaty riffs beaten into their eardrums as hard as humanly possible. It’s a natural creative expression of three young, angry and sweaty musicians who have finally broken out of their tiny bubble and started to send their art further and further out into the world. I think listeners can expect something honest, violent, raw, and truly genuine at an absolutely crushing volume.

Where did the name GOON for the album come from.

In a traditional sense, a Goon is some type of enforcer or someone used for physical abuse rather than technical skill. The role of the goon is to get ugly and violent. We thought that encapsulated our sound beautifully. A more modern meaning of the term is “gooning”, which is someone who practices excessive masturbation and pornography addiction. The filthier side of the term also colours the music wonderfully. Dirty work. Ugliness, violence and filth.

Photo Credit by Rachel Imre

Was this an easy or hard album to record for.

We tend to have a good time with everything related to the band. We give ourselves as much time to write as we want, and when we feel ready, we record everything after it's already well rehearsed. We also record everything on our own, each of us having gone to school for recording arts and built up a collection of studio equipment. So the process stays between the three of us and we can usually hammer everything out in a couple weeks, while the creative energy is still flowing and the momentum of the recording process keeps us going.

What is the creative process or setup within the band? Do you write the music together or do certain people within the band do that.

Our music is a shared creative process. Someone begins the process with the first idea, be it just a riff or two, or a completed demo. As a group, we add and subtract. Hammering away at it until we’ve naturally reached something that feels like Ivy Gardens. We don’t have a strict format for creating music, but this is the core of our band and our creative process.

Did your daily struggles, challenges and uplifting moments in life shape up the creative outline for the album.

Absolutely. Music is very emotional so it’s hard not to have outside influences affect your music. Aggressive music and being a really loud player can be a great relief. There’s a sense of euphoria in the volume and the release of aggression. And the same goes for lyrics, any emotional peak can inspire a song, and our lyrics are honest expressions of that.

You're from Ontario, Canada. What is the local Hard Rock and Heavy Metal scene like there. Is there a thriving gig scene and community that allows you to perform regularly or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis.

It’s improving around here. The scene took a major hit with Covid and a lot of bands disbanded, and venues closed, but there's more and more popping up. The best bands and venues stuck around and got through it somehow. We’re based in southern Ontario and play a lot in Hamilton and Niagara, where there are two small and dedicated scenes for heavy and alternative music. One of the great things about touring is getting to see all the similarly small but dedicated scenes across the country.

What future gigs have you coming up and will you be promoting the album more this year.

April 20th we have a release show in St. Catharines at Warehouse. Following that, the whole month of May we are touring through Ontario, Quebec, the East Coast, and back to support the new record. We’re very excited to be on the road again. It gets sweaty and uncomfortable for sure, but there’s a lot of satisfaction in trekking across the country and getting to blow people away every night with our music.

What are your favourite venues when you have toured in the past. Any particular venues or locations you always look forward to when touring.

Warehouse in St. Catharines has always been great for us, Bovine Sex Club in Toronto as well. Both are really cool, unique spots with a dedicated scene around them. On this tour we are playing an old church in Sydney, Nova Scotia. That’ll be a really cool spot to play. We’re very excited to fill that old stone building with sound.

How would you describe the live IVY GARDENS experience.

Crushing volume. High energy that never stops. No bullshit. Every song into the next, a never-ending stream of sludge, until the final waves of feedback ring out through the room. 

What bands or artists influenced you to pick up an instrument and to become a musician.

As kids, Nirvana, Mudhoney, anything on SubPop really. There’s a handful of bands that bridge a gap between grunge and heavier underground metal. Bands like The Melvins and Kyuss are huge, and of course your uncle’s classics like Black Sabbath and Rush.

Do you have any side projects that folks can check out.

That’s a secret. If Andrew breaks a string on stage, maybe you’ll get a secret noise jazz set as a treat.

Who is releasing the album and what formats is the album being released on.

We are releasing it independently, and it’ll be available on all streaming platforms. We are also selling some cassettes of the album on Bandcamp too. Very limited run., get em while they’re hot.

Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom for your fans currently out there.

Go listen to Gordon Lightfoot.

Words by Steve Howe and IVY GARDENS

Thanks to Asher Media PR for arranging this interview and to IVY GARDENS for doing the inteview.

GOON will be available to buy on Cassette/Download via BandCamp from April 19th 2024.