Review Fix chats with the Crooked Spies’ Dylan Evanik, who lets us know how the band got together, what fuels their creative process and what their goals are for the rest of 2019.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Dylan Evanik: Let’s set the scene. It was the year of our lord 1999. Computers were ready to destroy humans. Boy bands were in full force. I was rocking the Nick Carter dirty bird mushroom cut in all of its glory and my grade 6 self started to get the feels when it came to the ladies. Like all wise men I figured I needed to play an instrument to impress. So I thought to myself. Recorder? Naaaw. That’s for chumps. Ukulele? Dope instrument but I needed something different. All the boys could uke. Boom. It hit me.
I used to shred the handbells in elementary school. Killing it on the big bells 24/7. I could right hand. I could left hand. I could both hands. It was dope. Unfortunately handbells can only take you so far and chicks definitely dig the guitar more. No joke though I wanted to play in a band to pick up girls. I think we were 13 when we got our first band together. My brother Steven played guitar so I convinced my mom to by me a bass. We learnt some Blink songs and played the talent show. Did it help with the ladies? Maybe. Did we find true love in music? I think so. We’ve played in bands ever since.
Review Fix: What performers inspire you the most?
Evanik: I think I can speak for us all in saying that the most inspiring performers are the ones who keep it real. For us it’s all about serving the song and letting your true personality come through in your music. Spontaneity and honesty in performances is essential. These are the things we value ourselves. If we had to put some names on it I mean The Raconteurs, PUP, Queens of the Stone Age, The Dirty Nil. The list goes on.
Review Fix: What makes the Calgary music scene unique?
Evanik: Calgary, AB, Canada. Such a beautiful city. Alberta is known for Cowboys and country pumpkins but we have an absolutely stellar indie music scene and art community. It is a pretty tight knit group but it is an extremely welcoming bunch. I think something that makes it unique is that there isn’t really an emphasis on genre here. Everyone has always been super welcoming of all types of music. It’s not uncommon to see a bill featuring three completely different acts. It definitely is inspiring and can help with take you to places you wouldn’t expect.
We are super fortunate to have some local staples in terms of venues that have somehow persisted through constantly changing economic situations and the social relevance of live music in the city. The Palomino, Broken City, The Ship & Anchor and a few more great spots have really been the backbone of our music community over the years and I think contribute greatly to the success of every band trying to cut their teeth here. Each of these venues has the best staff in the world and give artists the opportunity to keep growing even when the business itself might be hurting. These spots value live music and without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. I think this is also somewhat unique. I know in a lot of the other markets we play venues and promoters operate in different capacities whereas Calgary’s venues are a one stop shop and everyone is engrained in the music culture.
Review Fix: What’s on your musical bucket list?
Evanik: This question makes me realize we had really low expectations at the conception of this band. We had two goals when we started. Record a full length album and have the opportunity to play this one super special stage in Calgary. This first goal was complete in the first 5 months and I’m pumped to say that we are getting the chance to play on that stage this summer. I would spill the beans but the announcement will come late May.
New bucket list items include seeing The Raconteurs live, jumping on a North American tour as a supporting act and finding a solid team to work with us.
Review Fix: Goals for 2019?
Evanik: Man, 2019 is cruising by. I guess landing my first bottle flip is a high priority. Just want to do it before the fad ends. What’s that? It’s already dead? My god.
Honestly we are just looking forward to finishing up our third full length and the goal is to release it in the fall of 2019.
We’d like to finish up a couple videos and tour Canada this fall.
As always we want to meet new people and find new bands that inspire us.
Review Fix: What makes the new album special?
Evanik: I’d have to say the most special thing about it is that none of us actually know how to play the songs. It’s slowly coming together.
Review Fix: How was Pay It Mind written?
Evanik: Pay it mind was one of those songs that was written front to back in about 45 minutes. I say that but it was really over two sittings. I had written the verse and chorus riffs about a week prior to writing the lyrics. The lyrics came my first morning back after a long shift away from home, as I sat on my patio in a semi-soothing state of self loathing. The song is based on being stuck in a cycle of living out the same mistakes over and over again.
The premise of the song is to actually acknowledge these flaws or mis-steps and legitimately make a change. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Basically to get out of the repetitive cycle of bullshit you might be dealing with. I was just reflecting on that old saying “Pay it no mind” and thinking that it doesn’t always apply. “Pay it mind” is a play on that saying. Instead of not paying attention or dismissing things or “putting shit behind you”, it’s about actually recognizing that you or maybe someone you love has an issue. Acknowledging the fact that you’re fucking up can allow a person to take the necessary steps and actions to improve it. At the very least it begins a personal dialogue of understanding. By focusing on the negative you can actually turn it around to be a positive learning experience. By paying attention you are actually present in your own life.
Review Fix: Away from PIM, what’s your standout track? How was it written?
Evanik: Definitely the follow up single ‘Chasing Light’. This is a song we’ve wanted to write for a long time both lyrically and musically but for seperate reasons. We draw from a ton of influences, to date, most of our releases reflect our garage rock, grunge, and blues backgrounds. But growing up, pop-punk and punk were super prevalent in all of our lives. We haven’t really showcased our love for these genres in our music yet and the song is in response to needing to flex that muscle a bit. It’s a sound that we haven’t had a chance to fully explore and one that we’ve been reinvigorated to move towards in some regards.
The main riff was written at my wifes cabin on an acoustic guitar but I had an inkling that it could definitely be beefed up. We slowly pieced it together as a band and all loved the direction. My favourite part of the song is Steve’s solo at the end. The song was fully recorded but we knew it need a lead part to end it. Procrastination got the best of Steve and he ended up improvising in over about a 2 hour period in the studio. The result is in my personal opinion … pure shred.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Evanik: The best description we’ve heard is that we serve up a belligerently cool slab of stoner rock, muscled up pop-punk and 90’s mostly metal.
We like to think we are a rock band that lives in the world of garage-rock with a dash of punk, pop-punk and stoner rock. Toughest question to answer hands down.
Review Fix: Bottom line, what makes you special?
Evanik: Our moms tell us it on the regular. Duh. Moms don’t lie.
If we are keeping it on the level I’d say the way that we are able to convey a sense of levity while sweating our ass’s off via an extremely high energy live show.
Also modesty. We are the best at being modest. No one is better at modesty than Crooked Spies.
Review Fix: What next?
Evanik: Work. Record. Tour. Kick it. Repeat.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Evanik: Scope Pay it Mind if you have the time. Chasing light is out May 29th and we’d love if you’d give it a spin.
For real though we thank you kindly for investing your precious time and effort in supporting independent music. This buds for you.