Sound Off w/ Zach Allard of Viridians

In early 2011, the Winnipeg band formerly known as Amuse split away from the path formed by that project to become Viridians. Branching out into a foreign style, the group played a few early shows to display their new sound and then took a step back to finish their debut five-song album, Again, Dangerous Visions. Just over a year after the formation of the group’s new persona, the Viridians’ debut EP will be released on April 12. The launch will be accompanied by a show at LoPub, 330 Kennedy Street, alongside other well-known Winnipeg groups Mahogany Frog and Calibai Yau.

Manitoban: What substance / activity do you find most helpful in the creative process?

Zach Allard: Sleep and humour. If I can’t write anything, or if new songs aren’t working during our rehearsals, we shelf them, go home and try the next day. Brutal honesty does also factor in there somewhere, on all sides!

M: Whose work inspired you the most in your youth?

ZA: I was a 60s and 70s rock kid until about 15 years old, then I heard Alexisonfire’s self titled album and the floodgates to metal, abstract music, hardcore and all that jazz opened. So in a way, AOF was a catalyst for what I listen to now, but I don’t know if it was really them, or more of a right-place-right-time sort of thing.

M: Whose work inspires you currently?

ZA: Any band that is truly honest with what they are trying to convey, and can do it well.

M: What’s the most embarrassing album you’ve ever owned?

ZA: I had a boy-band record and some crappy rock stuff before my dad turned me onto what he was listening to, but I wouldn’t really say I’m embarrassed of owning them!

M: What bands / artists have you been listening to lately?

ZA: Animals as Leaders and Mew mostly as well as Caspian and Tera Melos, which seem to always make it back into my listening pile.

M: Do you have any hobbies or obsessions outside of music?

ZA: Old video games for now and gear! I am never really satisfied with music gear but I just bought a bunch of old gear that I’m happy with for now. I’m also trying to whip through all the old SNES games I never owned as a kid. I think I’m naturally somewhat obsessive, so (almost) anything that I can turn into an obsession I will!

M: In memory, what’s the best advice you’ve received?

ZA: The idea is to play your favourite music that no one else plays and not mimic yourself. I feel like you’re supposed to make every record as original as possible, and you’re not supposed to emulate even though you love other styles of music. That’s just ground zero. That’s what you’re obligated to do. And if you can do more than that, then that’s what you’re really shooting for. It doesn’t mean we always make it, but it means that’s the attempt — that’s the idea.

M: What is your most cherished musical instrument?

ZA: Pretty much everything I own I use equally, if I don’t I get rid of it. I guess my telecaster or SG, or maybe my Traynor head, because it always just sounds good. It’s an old one so it’s built like a tank and sounds great. But I don’t have any serious attachments to gear, they’re just tools of the trade.

M: What’s your favourite song to cover?

ZA: I don’t know any covers really. In terms of jazz tunes, I like modal tunes, so anything by McCoy Tyner or Wayne Shorter. Herbie, too.

M: What’s been the most surreal experience of your music career thus far?

ZA: Perhaps not most surreal, but proudest moments were being approached about playing with Electro Quarterstaff and Mahogany Frog, which are hands down two of our favourite bands in Winnipeg.