Good on your tongue

The howling, haunting, and darkly beautiful sounds of the band whose name feels good on your tongue is back. This Hisses is releasing Anhedonia on Feb 5., their second record on local label Transistor 66.

Anhedonia, defined as the inability to feel pleasure, is almost an inappropriate name for the wall of post-punk sound that comes from this three-piece band, but perfectly captures the band’s tortured lyrics. It’s the follow up to Surf Noir, their first album – this time less surf, more noir.

With the incredibly talented Julia Ryckman on vocals and bass, Jean-Paul Perron on drums, and Patrick Short on guitar, this band is a powerhouse of experience, expertise, and passion. I interviewed Ryckman about the impending release of Anhedonia.


The Manitoban: How does it feel to have a second album coming out? Did you know the band would be this serious from the start?

Julia Ryckman: I started This Hisses as a recording project. I had songs from my former band, the Gorgon, that had never been recorded and I didn’t want to lose them when we broke up.

This Hisses got together for the first few rehearsals with the single goal of recording those songs, [but then] realized we had something that really worked and wanted to keep it going.

We recorded Surf Noir [after] a couple of months, capturing a raw and punkier version of the band. It took us over a year to release [it, and by then] we had already crafted a more powerful, distilled sound.

M: How was your experience making your new video for “Blacksmith?”

JR: The most wonderful thing about making this video was collaborating with other creative people who understand our aesthetic. We went through a number of ideas for this video, and in the end Gwendolyn Trutnau took creative control. She built the pyramids, found the candelabra, styled everyone, did the make-up, and co-directed. Ryan Simmons co-directed the video and is responsible for the incredible editing.

M: What is the sound like this time? The name of the album leads me to believe it’s very dark.

JR: Anhedonia holds a darkly cinematic yet decidedly rock n’ roll aesthetic. In creating it, we were inspired by David Lynch and Wim Wenders as much as we were by the Stooges and Nick Cave. We were very musically greedy – we wanted it every which way.

M: What was the process like creating Anhedonia?

JR: We work collaboratively as a band. We create something together that is very unlike anything we would create individually. Patrick Short or I write the riffs, but by the time JP Perron has added drums, I [add vocals and we fight it out]—it is something distinctly This Hisses.

M: Anything that you would change in retrospect or did it come out exactly as you had hoped?

JR: If we could do it all over again, I would budget more time for everything. [When] making a record, there are so many [steps], and everything always takes longer than you think. When making decisions on mixes, masters, test presses, or artwork, sometimes you need time to just sit with things until you know exactly how you feel. I am happy with [everything], but we did put a lot of people under heavy time constraints to get things done and we can’t thank them enough for pulling through and performing well under pressure.

M: What has it been like to work with Matt Peters on both albums now?

JR: Matt Peters is Matt Peters. If someone knows Matt, then that statement will make absolute sense.

Matt has incredible boundaries in the studio as [a] producer and [an] engineer; he knows when to push you and when to pull back. He is amazing at understanding exactly what we envision and he does everything possible to capture those ideas and even take them further. He works harder than any one of us individually in the studio and keeps the energy high.

M: Tell me a bit about Bloodstains Across The Prairies and your involvement in it.

JR: Years ago when I was in the Gorgon and performing a lot with my solo project Slattern, I put on a few shows for the excellent, but now defunct, Albertan band Endangered Ape. This was how I got to know Paul Lawton, who is now the man behind the Canadian Bloodstains albums.

He asked me if I had a band that would contribute a track to the Manitoba side. There is a highly exciting national prairie profile developing and Paul Lawton, Weird Canada blog, BeatRoute Magazine, Sled Island Festival, and Winnipeg’s Big Fun Festival have everything to do with it. The trick about the Bloodstains albums is that the songs are all one minute long. We wrote “Long Slow Crawl” for that compilation and then decided to re-record it for inclusion on Anhedonia.

M: What’s next for This Hisses? What does the rest of your winter and your spring hold?

JR: We will be touring Anhedonia throughout Canada in the spring and will hopefully have time to make a few more videos.


Don’t miss the release show with Pop Crimes and Slow Dancers at the West End Cultural Centre on Saturday, Feb. 9.