Genres: Everything (Grungy, Folky, Funky, Rock stuff)
Eli’s Instruments: Voice, Guitar
Evan’s Instruments: Bass, Voice
I met with Eli and Evan in their jam session this summer and we had an awesome chat about None The Wiser and their experience performing and song-writing. I can honestly say I learned a lot from these guys and am super thankful for them letting me interview them! Read it now~!
Ashley: So you play everything, how do you decide what to play at a show?
Eli: For shows we have been keeping it to out up-tempo dance-y songs. It depends on the venue. I was even reading in this David Burn book that people write songs for venues. They have a venue in mind as a musician and you write a song that’s geared toward that. It’s a different given or take with the audience. It’s more intimate when you are playing those quieter show but when you see people dancing and having fun, that’s what really does it for me. I guess that’s how we decide on what we play at shows, it’ where we are playing.
Evan: We often also don’t know ahead of time. We’ll have a general idea of what we’re doing and depending on what the crowd likes and we’ll change what we are playing. We play the crowd.
Ashley: So you have brass instruments in the band, how do you incorporate that when you’re playing rock music?
Eli: It’s just another layer or texture that you can add. Like I said, we don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves. We like to put together a good song with a catchy hook on the horns; they can do things [others can’t]. They can do melodies and add so many different things. It’s just nice to have them there.
Evan: I think it’s a great throwback to some of the funkier Motown that we are all kind of into. We are a band that for all intensive purposes rock band but a big brass section behind it adds this entire new layer of music.
Ashley: Where does the band name come from?
Eli: I’ll give my brother Zach credit for that one [back in 1999 or 2000], we just hadn’t come up with anything new since. It’s been so long that I haven’t really thought about changing it. I tried once, I did a solo op and just ended up being another None the Wiser [project].
Evan: I think too few bands are honest about how arbitrary their name is. Some bands have really cool or awesome history about their name but I think most bands are just “we need a band name and this sounds cool.”
Ashley: So how often are you guys practicing together?
Eli: We practice at least once a week. We do Wednesdays at the jam space, leading up to bigger shows we will squeeze in a couple more. We also break it down into sectionals so I’ll go jam with the horn players so they can work out their harmonies to not waster everyone else’s time. Sometimes we’ll have practices where we just work out vocal harmonies, break it down into sections.
Ashley: What do you listen to for inspiration for music?
Eli: Oh lots of fun stuff! I like everything from the Spice girls to the Beatles.
Evan: We actually do a couple covers of Spice girls at shows.
Eli: I want to say the Beatles, Dave Matthews band, Sublime, KT Tunstall. I’ve been really into Max Martens’ writing lately, he wrote all pop songs on the 2000s. I’m into pretty much everything. I’m wearing a Fela Kuti shirt right now. I love afro beats stuff. That really helps bringing in the horns actually.
Evan: I think one of the nice things about sitting down and jam is that we come from different backgrounds with some overlap. I come from a really big metal background. I listen to metal bands and played in a lot of Winnipeg death metal bands and stuff that is very different from what we play; it also a slightly different perspective. It brings things that only once person would necessarily think of. Josh plays a lot of country, Jordan is really into weird art rock kind of stuff.
Eli: Cary is really into blues and funk and soul, so it’s a really cool mash up . Really the inspirations are infinite.
Ashley: How do you think death metal helped none the wiser?
Evan: I think if anything, I might occasionally play things a bit more aggressively than maybe other people might have thought of. I think we have a few songs where things have dropped a bit lower and a bit heavier.
Eli: I love a good solo with a gritty bass that probably comes from some metal stuff.
Evan: Cool things happen when you put a different perspective on something that’s relatively normal.
Ashley: So what is the overall songwriting process?
Eli: Up to now, we are starting to write more because we are jamming more often, but usually it always starts with a guitar and the sounds come before the words. We fill in the words to the sounds. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know where it comes from, it’s kind of that I just lucked out and something cool popped into my head. I think that’s really common with all songwriters. They don’t really know where it comes from; every now and then they tap into the cloud of songs and just get lucky every now and then. For the most part, up until now that we are starting to write stuff together, I would come up with a song and more often than not we would have a solid first verse and chorus and whoever didn’t come up with that would help finish the words and the story and the idea and concept.
Evan: I feel with this these fairly frequent lineup changes, like any good musician would listen to the songs and learn the notes and once they start jamming without really thinking about it, they starting playing things a little differently with different inflections. The arrangements are just different.
Ashley: How do you go deciding your set list for a show?
Eli: Again it’s really venue dependent. If we’re playing at a restaurant we usually start quieter and gradually get louder and more energetic. If it’s a theatre thing even like the Pyramid where everyone is paying attention, you really want to hit them hard with your two favorite songs then pull back and draw people back in by building it back up. I feel that’s what set lists are usually like, two really high energy songs off the bat, and then a chill song to draw people in, not lull them but bring them down so it has more effect when you bring the high energy songs back.
Evan: You aren’t going to throw in the songs you’ve only jammed a couple times and don’t sound the greatest.
Ashley: With None the Wiser, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
Eli: For me the albums are some good accomplishments because they are just a lot of our songs out there in the world for people to hear. Some of our festival shows like Shine On, the first year we played we did a John Lennon song and everyone sang alone; just the little things.
Evan: The whole reason we’re doing this is for us to have fun and express that fun and have the other people who are watching have fun. Everyone’s excited; everyone’s having a moment together. That’s more important.
Eli: That’s kind of the goal. Just to do that with as many people as possible.
Ashley: What advice would you give to beginners who might be nervous about starting their bands?
Evan: Don’t be nervous. Just go out and play. You’re probably going to suck the first few times you play so just go out and suck and you’ll get better. Even if you suck you’re going to have fun.
Eli: You’re only going to get better the more you play.
Evan: Don’t be scared and don’t care about what other people thing about you. If you really believe that the music you are playing is good or you like it or you have fun and people can see that you are having fun and you believe it, then there is going to be a crowd for it. Maybe you aren’t playing the right places, don’t get discouraged if you have a bad show, or people hate you, or no one shows up or anything of those things. I wouldn’t worry about it because you can just play another show and maybe next time people are super into it. Play for free, play for fun; eventually you’ll start making money and that’s not what it’s about anyways. IT’s about having fun; ideally you want to be making money so you can work less and play more.
Ashley: So if people have gathered this courage but they are missing a band member?
Evan: Go to jam nights?
Ashley: Where do you find jam nights?
Eli: Wee Jonny’s and the cavern had one fore awhile.
Evan: Go to open mics
Eli: It’s also easy to just post ads online. I have friends who have found two hardcore band members that took their band to the next level by posting an ad online. They were in their 30s and they got this kid who was 18 who was ready to go.
Evan: I lived in Ottawa for a few years and I wanted to make sure I played music so I found any music forums online and posted “ I play bass and I want to play anything you want me to play.” And I found something in less that a month. It helps if you’ve had past experience that you can cite to people but even without that it’s not going to take that long. People are always looks for people to play with.
Eli: Another thing is just asking you best friend. Maybe they don’t play the bass or the drums together, but if you start together you’ll get better together. You don’t need to be the best musicians; you just need to be good as a group. If you’re already friends to begin with you’re going to be tight as a group.
Ashley: What is your favorite song to perform live?
Eli: My favorite song right now is probably Magic All the Time or Back Behind the Blue. Back Behind the Blue is kind song sexy song, pretty psychedelic and Cary does kickass guitar solos. It’s a like a jam. The live performance is many minutes longer than the recorded one. It’s really energetic and fun and it’s new.
Evan: Probably Beale Street Beer it’s just a very straightforward easygoing vibe that’s easy to play. It’s not hard to play at all and it just feels good.
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