The conversation continues
Calgary-based Axis of Conversation release long-awaited album
In October 2006, Axis of Conversation released their first EP, There’s Hope for You Yet (Just Kidding). Now, seven years later, this six-piece orchestral-pop group from Calgary – five of whom are Mount Royal alumni of various programs – is releasing their second full-length album, The House of Stay Together. But this new album didn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
“It’s a really strange thing that so much time has [passed],” said Chris dela Torre, who does vocals, plays guitar, and samples for Axis of Conversation. Drummer Matt Doherty took time away from the band to play in The Dudes, High Kicks, and Raleigh — all of whom have done their fair share of touring over the last several years. A total of four babies were born to band members. Cellist Cheryl Bergen and bassist Eric Estoy married each other.
gave us sounds and a feeling we wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise.” Photo courtesy: Damian Espinosa”]“It was really hard to make this record,” commented dela Torres. Between being new parents, newlyweds, and involved in different projects, finding the time to write and record wasn’t always first priority. But Axis of Conversation rose to the challenge. When violinist Shelly Groves wasn’t available for recording on “Chainsaw Wedding,” dela Torre sampled in a violin part from one of their earlier releases.
“It gave us sounds and a feeling we wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise. [It] was a direct result of the difficulties.”
Musically, the new album is about “exploring the band’s natural space.”
“The songs are about relationships that have history together and the things that couples face when they break up and get back together over [the span of] 10 years,” and “the immediate effect of having kids on a relationship.”
“[The House of Stay Together] will be a snapshot of our lives in our early 30s,” continues dela Torre, and it’s very clear that this is an album the band is proud of.
“If you were to compare [our first] album to this one, it is a lot less restless,” he explained. “It’s not trying to reach a place that it’s never been.”
On the first album, dela Torre remembers doing “crazy stuff” like loading his pockets with pennies and slapping them for percussion. That’s not to say that Axis of Conversation played it safe for The House of Stay Together, and it is clear right from the first track, “We Make Dew,” which sees the first 24 bars consisting of the drums, guitars, and even a glockenspiel, sampled and played backwards.
But the future for Axis of Conversation is not at all clear.
For most bands, an album release is just a beginning, but as dela Torre comments, “I think with us, we have no other choice but to see it as an end.”
Axis of Conversation isn’t over just yet, however, and hopefully won’t be for some time. In October, they will be releasing a music video for “Tickertock Parade,” the almost six-minute long penultimate track of the album, and dela Torres’ favourite.
“If there is one song I want everyone to hear it’s that one,” he noted.
Even sooner, they will be playing a show at the Palomino on Sept. 13, a venue they consider to be their second home. Joining them for that show will be GreyScreen, the moniker for Kevin Stebner, who creates music using Nintendo GameBoys, and the band 36!
The following day, they will be playing at an all-ages picnic at the Cliff Bungalow Community Association.
For now, though, Axis of Conversation is content to “just [try] to find any way we can to make this album a part of the cultural dialogue.”