Review Fix chats with The Effens’ Austin Nops (guitar, vocals), Hannah Edgerton (bass, vocals), Fabian Oblivion (drums) and Paul Theo (guitar, sampler), who discuss their new album, “Pavement Age.”
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Austin: I grew up with my dad’s guitars all around the house so eventually I picked one up when I was 9 and it slowly took over my life.
Hannah: I got involved with music at a young age as my mom is a country musician. She signed me up from drum lessons when I was around 8 – 9 years old and from there I just started picking up different instruments along the way eventually leading to playing bass in the Effens.
Fabian: When I was a baby my mother used to blast Thin Lizzy to get me to fall asleep. Don’t ask me how it worked. But ever since then it feels like I’ve been hypnotized by music and no one has been able to snap me out of it.
Paul: My father saw me staring at his guitars when I was 12. He sat me down and taught me Emaj, Amaj, and Dmaj chords, and then told me that he’d show me more the moment I was able to swap between these chord shapes perfectly. I practiced every day for several years, then started covering songs by bands I liked in high school. Joined the jazz and concert bands to learn those respective styles and improve my technical skill. Started playing and participating in DIY shows in Toronto when I moved down here and started uni.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Austin: It’s always a little different, but the majority of The Effens songs start with looping a drum beat and playing guitar or bass over it until what I’m playing becomes guided by intuition instead of myself wanting to write a song or have it sound a certain way. Once something excites me, then I try to find a vocal melody by singing nonsense. That’s the bases of all the demos.
Hannah: My creative process has changed and morped in the various groups I’ve been involved with throughout the years. Within the Effens Austin will send us a demo to start us off with an idea he has. From there we usually build on our parts individually and or chip away at it as a group together at band practice where we give each other input and direction.
Fabian: I usually try to play the song exactly how it was written to start off with and then add my personal flourishes from there to make it my own. Less is more for me. If people can move to it, I’m happy.
Paul: When I practice, I like to consolidate my ‘musical toolkit’ and develop particular skills so that when I create I can focus on structure and concept while borderline improvising at first, and then developing whatever ideas come out of that. This usually involves re-focusing any ideas around more specific timbral/rhythmic/melodic intent. Basically starts by feeling things out, and doing and thinking after the fact.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Austin: Mostly for me it’s about getting out of the way of the inspiration. Inspiration is all around and if I can shut off my own desires for how a song should sound or a music video should look I can allow intuition to guide the process until the song/video is revealed. In the execution of the final thing you have to find a way to use whatever technical skills you have without losing the honest inspiration that is at the core
Hannah: I find inspiration in all different forms of art whether it’s paintings, comic books, dance, movies, live music I never really know when something is going to hit me the right way and lead to a wave of creative outpouring.
Fabian: I’m heavily inspired by post punk and new wave music of the 70s and 80s. Drummers like Stephen Morris of Joy Division/New Order, Alan Myers of DEVO, and Robert Gotobed of Wire to name a few. Other than that I like to take things that frustrate me, like work, relationships, or my own bad decisions, and turn them into something positive through music. If it keeps me awake at night, I’ll try to write a song about it.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Austin: It’s the most honest way I can communicate with other people.
Hannah: Music to me means a lot of things. It’s a way to decorate time and a tool for self expression and exploration. Not only this but it helps me to grow and come to a lot of realizations about the human experience both internally and externally, a way of processing if you will.
Fabian: Music for me is a safety blanket from both the ordinariness and the realities of life. It’s a place of comfort that allows me to get through aggravating situations and helps deal with difficult emotions. When I’m performing, it allows me to feel confident and in control where I wouldn’t necessarily be otherwise.
Paul: What does art mean to an artist? or poetry to a poet?
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Austin: One time someone wrote that we were “Post-Grunge Glam-Pop” and we’ve been using that ever since.
Hannah: Take some glitter, cheetah print and early 2000s alt rock put it in a blender and *POOF* you have The Effens.
Fabian: The musical equivalent of having glitter in your New Years prosecco all year round.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Austin: Some of the songs we play completely differently live in order to achieve the same feel as the recordings. It sounds counterintuitive but we will use completely different guitar pedals or even change the structure of a song from the recording if it doesn’t translate live. It’s been a very fun part of the band and helps keep the songs fresh after spending so much time on them in a studio.
Hannah:Just before covid we were starting to incorporate a lot more visual elements to our live performances. Be it doll parts, flowers, old television sets and my personal favorite, our giant plastic horse we want people to have a fun time both auditory wise and visually.
Paul: Louder and more intense, hoping to amplify the extremes of the music in the live energy. Usually a visual component as well with stage decor. Dancing highly encouraged.
Review Fix: What inspired your latest single?
Austin: Lyrically it was inspired by questioning my own morality and what makes someone a good person. It’s very easy to place yourself as the hero of a story but if we are never really tested or given the opportunity to do bad. How do we know we wouldn’t take that opportunity and how do we know we wouldn’t enjoy it?
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2021?
Austin: I am dying to play live again. I didn’t realize how much of a positive effect live music had on my life until it was taken away. That would be the ultimate goal but it’s really out of hands until it can be done safely.
Paul: World domination
Review Fix: What’s next?
Austin: We got our next song coming out mid Feb and we are always shooting videos or working on the next, next song.
Paul: More music, music videos, and an EP. We’ve been sitting on some of these songs, refining and developing them for a while, so it’s finally time.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Austin: We are so happy that people have been diggin “Pavement Age”. Having that kind of musical communication after so many delays in 2020 has been really positive and made me feel connected to the world again. We thank you and love you like crazy.