Vancouver remains the natural habitat for one of Canada’s best-kept secrets of innovative doom, commonly known as Heron. Guest contributor Milton Stille spoke with the band about its origins, evolution, and creative ecosystem.
Tell us about how Heron came together. From the band’s inception a few years back to its present incarnation some personnel shifts have occurred that have taken the music in a direction one might have not immediately considered obvious. It’s my understanding that the impetus for Heron was actually Scott and Ross attempting to collaborate musically for close to a decade. How satisfying is it to have this recording out, after all of that?
ROSS: Scott and I came up with the idea for Heron while playing in our old Sludge/Grind band Cathar back in 2011. After a year or two of deliberation we started writing our first EP with our original drummer, Spencer Clark. Shortly after Heron came to life, we found our main man Jaime Stilborn – from Compound Terror – to take on vocals and electronics.
After a while, Spencer unfortunately couldn’t be in our band anymore. There was a short period of time where we were without a drummer. We spent months continually writing while still searching for a drummer (because who are we kidding, most drummers play in eight bands), when we got a message from Bina Mendozza. She was moving from the Island to Van and wanted some folks to jam with. All went well and Heron was finally complete.
Throughout all of the shift changes, we believe our music has most definitely evolved. At the same time, it has continued to stay on the same original path of atmospheric heaviness that we strive for. We are beyond satisfied with our new recording and the influences our new members have contributed.
Tell us about Jaime’s arrival to the band. If memory serves, the first incarnation of the band was Scott and Ross on guitars and vocals, with Spencer on drums. Can you tell us about the reinvention that occurred that got Jaime into the mix?
SCOTT: Heron played a gig way back when at the Astoria with Jaime’s solo project, Night Mother. We instantly felt that Jaime’s talent on vocals and electronics was the missing link we needed. While we were recording our first EP, we asked Jaime if he wanted to throw down some vocals and samples. He said yes. After hearing how brutal and angelic his sound was, we asked him to join us permanently. (Although there may or may not have been threats to his life… Thanks Ross!)
You’re clearly a very different band now than you were at the outset, even if from a creative standpoint, not much has shifted. How did you manage to scoop up Bina on drum detail?
ROSS: When Spencer left us to pursue his full time Fire Fighting career and his family life all the way out in Abbotsford, we continued to rehearse while seeking a drummer with the same ideas and heaviness that we craved. Bina had recently moved to Vancouver and was looking for like minded folks to play some music with. We invited her to our space one night to see if we clicked. It was quite evident from that first night that we were all on the same page. A few jams later, and Bina was in.
As the solidified lineup for this band, this is your first release. What can you tell us about it? You recorded it with Kevin Grindon, correct?
SCOTT: Fire Twin is a way heavier and well thought out album than our original EP. We wrote all three songs within our first few months of playing with our current lineup. There was absolutely no deliberation; everything fell into place exactly where it needed to. We immediately booked studio time with our good friend Kevin Grindon of Grindcity Recordings. We couldn’t have asked for a better time recording. Kevin is the man.
As for what we can tell you about the actual album itself? If you are a fan of sludge and doom metal we think you will very much dig it. Come see the album played live in its entirety (plus more) on February 17th at Studio Vostok! We’ll have a whole bunch of freshly pressed 7” records for you to take home.
I actually found it somewhat interesting that in spite of the band’s reinvention, not once was a name change even considered. Is there a particular significance to this, or are you just stubborn?
SCOTT: Have you met Ross? He’s stubborn as fuck.
As individuals that have spent a fair share of your time in the Vancouver music scene, how does all of that look to you guys right now? I am getting the impression that we’re getting to another impasse as far as the acceptance of live music goes. We’re losing venues again. What are your thoughts on that?
SCOTT AND ROSS: The Vancouver music scene is alive and well, and just soaked to the bones with talent, whether it’s underground or not. There’s literally a show pretty much any given night of the week, by super talented and wonderful musicians and the promoters that support them. Promotion companies like Art Signified, Modified Ghost, Timbre Concerts, The Invisible Orange and many more, work hand over fist to get international touring bands and Vancouver locals to put on a crazy amount of shows no matter what venues are available.
As far as loss of venues in Vancouver goes, this is nothing new, and more will continue to open and close. Venues come and go, hence the term No Fun City. All the more reason for the music scene and the people who support it to go and support local bands and smaller, DIY venues.
As I touched upon earlier, you are only playing newer material these days. What can you tell us about the songs on this EP and why you’ve effectively retired the older stuff?
SCOTT: New members, new music.
If you weren’t playing your record release show at Vostok, where would you want it to be? Why did you choose to select that venue?
ROSS: Honestly, we couldn’t think of a better venue to support. This place feels like home to us and all of our friends. Some of our favourite gigs that we’ve played, and have witnessed have been at the mighty Vostok. Mitch and Taya of Art Signified have stood by us since the inception of Heron, so it wasn’t even a question. Vostok rules and we are truly sad to see it go, but we’re also really excited to see what Art Signified comes up with next. If we couldn’t have the show there, it probably would’ve been in Scott’s mom’s basement in Kelowna or at the 11am lunch at his Grandma’s care home.
You’re all veterans of the Vancouver music scene. Give us a truth that the kids need to hear.
SCOTT AND ROSS: Support your local music scene. How? Just follow Heron’s easy, step by step program to a better local music scene:
1) Go to as many shows as you can. Skip your yearly $180 Aerosmith/Weird Al/Lady Gaga show. Now you have enough moula for 18 local shows that you don’t have to watch with binoculars!
2) Buy merch. Not only is that cheaper than shopping at your local mall or whatever, but your shirts are rad as fuck and you helped make music possible.
3) Support the venue by buying drinks, entry and whatever else they have to offer. Have you seen your parents’ hydro bill and the prices of rent in Vancouver? Keep your 6 pack at home for later, and support the venues as much as you can. They’re the reason you get to see live music with great sound and good folk.
4) Respect the venues. Shitty neighbours report shitty behaviour and that is one of the many reason venues get shut down.
5) Don’t ask for guest list. Making music is ridiculously expensive and time-consuming. Same goes for the promoters. Those posters and that gear ain’t cheap!
6) Be as involved as you can! Promote your band, your friend’s band, bands that you love and even local bands that you’re not so keen on. Share your love for music.
7) If you plan on starting a band, know it’s not an easy road. You’re going to suck before you’re good. Don’t let the suck defeat you.©
PS. Come to Studio Vostok February 17th for our record release show. Buy the album, a T-Shirt and a beer koozie from us or one of our amazing supporting bands. Thanks for your support! <3 Heron