The Dyeing Merchants - A friendly drink before the end.

Blake: So how did you get together?

Jzero Shuurman: Rene and I started the band together. We’re a couple and we decided we wanted to play together, basically. We were friends with Rob from Kelowna times.

Rob Coslett: I’m waving at the microphone.

Jzero: Rob was stoked on playing music too at the time. None of us were in a band, none of us were really playing music at the time. It kind of kicked off and we’ve been playing lots of different music with lots of different bands.

Renee Crawford: Lots of different bass players.

Rob: We’re just hemorrhaging bass players.

Blake: Any Particular reason?

Jzero: Bad luck, I guess. Mona, our current bass player, is awesome, but she lives in Vancouver so we’re kind of not sure what’s going to happen with that. She seems okay with coming over for shows but we don’t have anyone to practice with to write new songs. So we’re going to be trying a new guy, Jesse. We’ll see how it works out with him. He’s a bit of an eccentric character, but yeah.

Renee: He’s very enthusiastic, which is good.

Blake: Is it? You seem to have a skeptical look on your face with the word “enthusiastic”.

Jzero: Yeah, it’s good. He’s just enthusiastic about a lot of things.

Renee: I think it’ll work out, hopefully. But he also is pretty busy too. It seems like a lot people in Victoria, once they’re in bands, start to be in many bands and a lot of times it’s hard to find new people for your band because people have their own stuff going on. He’s in a couple of bands and he’s going to school, working…he’s busy, he’s a busy guy. Hopefully we can make it work.

Blake: So how often do you guys practice?

Rob: Once a week. We try to keep it like that. We just took a little break after the summer, about a month, month and a half. But it’s usually once a week.

Renee: A little bit more if we have a big show coming up or something.

Blake: The new album…It says on the website it was recorded guerilla style. What does that mean?

Jzero: It basically means we rented a bunch of gear from Long & McQuade and we made a little makeshift recording area that we set up at the 50/50 Arts Collective. We did it on our last record as well. Basically the whole idea is just DIY, doing it ourselves recording style without a producer and an engineer and all that stuff. If I’m playing my guitar Rob’s running the mixer or vice-versa. We all kind of shared roles and did everything ourselves. When it came down to actually mixing the album it came to a point where we couldn’t really do anything else with it so we had to get Jordon from Noise 4 to do all the mixing and mastering for us, just to kind of take it out of our hands and take over from there. The guerilla style aspect is mainly to save money. It cost us about $250 to rent all the gear as opposed to $1000 for three days at a recording studio or something like that.

Renee: And you guys know what you’re doing with recording.

Rob: Me?! Hell no!

Jzero: We managed to pull it together. Mona kind of came out of the blue on the recording because…

Rob: Mona’s first real introduction to the songs came with practicing. We had never practiced before and she came to hang out while we were recording and we just tracked her doing the bass. She put the headphones on and listened to it two or three times and away she went.

Renee: She did it almost perfectly on the first try for every song. There was a couple where she was like, “Oh yeah, I’ll try it again.” But first or second try was perfect and she’d never heard the songs before. She’s a musical genius.

Rob: Mona Musical Genius. We’re going to miss her.

Renee: So yeah, we’re going to try to keep her around.

Blake: Album’s great by the way. Some of the songs are incredible. “Sadist” is really good. And “Beached Heart”…wow.

Jzero: That’s our ode to Black Mountain, Beached Heart. It’s the closest we’re going to get to playing that style of music.

Renee: Yeah, really moody and dark.

Blake: I heard a lot of Crazy Horse in there.

Jzero: That crunchy guitar sound? I can hear that.

Rob: It’s probably the gorillas running the mics. Fuzzy, kind of shitty, but you can kind of feel it. You can smell the gorillas when you’re listening to our record.

Jzero: We were kind of going for that too. The first record we had really washed out guitars and recorded amps in the gallery so we’d get all kinds of natural reverb. I found that the guitar stuff we were doing got kind of lost in it, so we went straight into recording right off the amps and getting a nice crunchy sound out of it. It came out a lot more defined this time.

Blake: So where do the songs come from? What’s the inspiration?

Renee: Jzero writes them. Writes the beginnings and we kind of write our own parts.

Jzero: A lot of the musical elements come from us jamming. I guess to warm up sometimes. Practicing normally we’ll just start jamming on something and then one of us is like “That’s an awesome riff!” I’ll take that home and work with it a little bit and usually by the next practice I’ll have an idea of what to do and we’ll work it out from there. See what sort of ideas we can come up with. The first record I did all the songs at home first then brought it in to the band but this time around I wanted to be a lot more inclusive and have Rob’s ideas and Rene’s ideas and have that kind of thing happen a lot more than what we were previously doing. It worked out pretty good.

Rob: You brought all the songs to the table with the new record as we were a band. The first album most of the songs were songs you already worked out.

Jzero: There were a couple on the first record that we kind of made up. The other thing is the first record is kind of shoegaze-y and I think we all got kind of bored playing slower songs and so the next record came and we were a lot more crunchy so we turned the old songs into this style, more punchy.

Blake: Probably more fun to play.

Jzero: Yeah, more exciting and more fun for people to watch and we have a lot more fun playing them.

Rob: It’s essentially the same, but they’re a lot different to play. They keep changing.


Blake: So where does music start for each of you individually?

Rob: I didn’t play music very much until I joined this band. I was in a band with my roommates and Mona, a long time ago. We played A show, but never really did anything. We just enjoyed playing music.

Renee: What was your band called?

Rob: Saturn Valley was the name of that band. But essentially it didn’t really…I would just come by and jam and now they can’t get rid of me.

Jzero: I guess when I was a kid I was forced into piano at the time. Kind of wish I stuck with it but my parents turned me off. They were like, “You gotta practice every day!” and eventually I just rebelled and said screw that. Didn’t actually play a lot of music for a number of years then I started playing drums. From drums, people would leave their gear at my house all the time because we would always practice at my house, I started learning other peoples’ stuff. Picking up the guitar and learning melodies. At the time I was really into punk rock so I was trying to learn Propagandhi songs and things like that. I realized I really liked playing guitar too but I never really followed through with it until we moved here. Everybody seemed to be a drummer.

Blake: It took me a long time to find a drummer to play with.

Jzero: Really? I kind of found it was difficult. I was trying to find bands to play in. I played in a couple but it didn’t really work out so I was just like “Fuck it, I’m going to write my own songs on guitar.” Rene wanted to play drums so it worked out kind of well.

Renee: I played the flute in elementary school only because it was the smallest instrument and I was very small. I had to carry it home all time. I really wanted to play the drums or the saxophone, but yeah, you can’t really take the drums home, unless you have your own drumkit at home which I didn’t have and the saxophone was as big as me. So I ended up playing the flute, which was okay. Growing up I was just around a lot of musicians in high school. A lot of my friends were playing music and I never really was that interested in playing music until I was in my mid 20s and friends were leaving their gear at the house that I lived at and my friend left his drumkit there. I’d come home after work and nobody would be there and I would just start playing the drums and kind of taught myself like that when no one was around because I was scared to play in front of anyone. And then my roommates started jamming with me sometimes and I started getting more confident. I played in a couple of bands in Kelowna. When we moved there it was the same sort of thing where we didn’t have anyhone to jam or play with so we were just like, “Yeah, we should start playing together.” So we did and it was great.

Jzero: We got involved with the 50/50 Arts Collective, bringing bands in there all the time and kind of seeing what was going on in the scene at the time. It was exciting to be a part of. Since then I think the scene in the town has died down a bit. There was a pretty open pool of bands to choose from for shows.

Renee: It kind of ebbs and flows it seems like. It’ll seem like there’s a lot of bands in town and then they’ll sort of break up or people move away, it’ll dissipate a bit. And then the next thing you know a bunch of people have started new bands again. It kind of seems like there’s more bands starting again.

Rob: I’m working on it, don’t worry.

Renee: Yeah, Rob’s in all the bands in town so whenever he takes a little break and plays with us everything will dissipate. The Roberts.

Rob: Good ol’ Bobby and the Roberts

Blake: What do you guys listen to when you’re not playing music?

Rob: Let’s see, what have I been listening to lately? A lot of Mount Eerie lately. I can’t stop listening to “Clear Moon” right now, I love that record. And I just discovered Wire. Holy smokes guys, Wire! Listen to Wire. Wire is awesome. Check them out. And then, Matthew Dear. Lasers or Beams? Whatever it’s called. The cool one, the cool one. Juicy Jay as well.

Rene: Oh yeah, Robert’s a big Juicy Jay fan.

Jzero: I think my focus primarily with music is a lot of ambient electronic stuff. I’d have to say a lot of my influence for this band comes from Sonic Youth and things like that. I do love Neil Young as well.

Renee: Our first date was going to a Neil Young concert, so it’s fitting.

Rob: I was listening to a live Neil Young album the other day and I was tearing up.

Renee: I’m really into the new Balacade record, which is a local dude who I’ve played on and off with but usually it goes that he does everything himself on the album. Sometimes I’ll play live with him but I haven’t for a long time. His new album is amazing. I encourage you and everyone to check it out. The new Slam Dunk record is great. I listen to a lot of local music.

Blake: I’d like to listen to more. I don’t know why I don’t.

Renee: I can’t really think of anything else. I listen to CFUV a lot. I’m really influenced by a lot of the stuff they play. New stuff that I hear and think “That’s rad!”, then I’ll look it up and listen to it.

Blake: What do you guys like most about live performance?

Renee: I don’t like them.

Rob: I like getting shocked. I like fucking up. I like watching Jzero knock things over. I like watching Rene’s frowns about playing live.

Jzero: I like the crowd interaction. If it’s a good show and there’s lots of people there we get really into it.

Blake: What’s the most memorable show you guys have played so far?

Renee: At Logan’s when all the girls were in the front row at our first show yelling for Rob to take off his shirt. And then they started yelling “Take off your shoes,” which was confused but still pretty exciting.

Rob: That I was able to do on the fly. I was wearing loafers.

Jzero: I would say that opening for Mount Eerie at the Rickshaw.

Renee: Yeah that was a pretty big moment for us. Never thought that would happen. One of our idols.

Rob: Pigs in shit, I’ll tell ya.

Renee: Big stage too!

Rob: So high, so big. Such a huge room.

Renee: What about playing at V Lounge?

Rob: V Lounge was a big one. We showed up at V Lounge to play a show and they asked us “So what do you want for visuals?” We were like, “What are you talking about?” He said, “We got all these flat screen TVs.” And sure enough behind the stage there was like nine flat screen TVs. The stage is gigantic, it’s huge, the size of this room. There are fake palm trees on it and Grecco-Roman pillars as well. We got the guy to look at the website and we pulled some stuff onto a flash drive. It just said The Dyeing Merchants in really shitty font on all these screens with some map and ship imagery in the background. Then he started putting in the flames.

Jzero: There was that dancing girl silhouette.

Renee: It was graphics from when computers first started.

Rob: We played that show to maybe, well there was the friends that came with us and the other bands. There was only one other band.

Renee: there was also some strippers that came up from downstairs.

Rob: Yep, they were nice. One of the guys that was hanging out with the strippers.

Renee: He looked like he was on crack, but he seemed nice. I think he liked us.

Rob: And then there was our one friend who came to the show Aaron. He tweeted about it from the middle of the room.

Renee: We played in Calgary outside in the park. It was part of a festival or something.

Jzero: The few times we’ve gone on tour we’ve had a really good response in Alberta.

Rob: Wonderbar is actually our favourite place to go. It’s always the best. People there just love coming out and having a good time. It’s a bar about half the size of the stage at V Lounge.

Renee: And people are there to actually see music even if they don’t know who you are. Which is really rare.

Blake: What’s the difference between a big stage and a small stage? Do you prefer one to the other?

Rob: It’s colder.

Jzero: I prefer a smaller stage, smaller venue. It’s a lot more fun to play at the Vic 50 because people are right there, all around you and you can really feel the energy a lot more. Usually with the big stage shows we play there’s not that many people up front dancing and you kind of feel disconnected.

Renee: It feels like there’s nobody there. Even if there’s 50 people there it feels like 10. Feels kind of dispersed.

Blake: If people haven’t heard your record and they’re just going by what you say, why should they come out and see you?

Rob: Do they have earplugs, these people?

Jzero: We tend to play loud, brash, noisy.

Rob: With really bad jokes.

Jzero: I’m not really into the chitchat all too much, we usually pummel right through our stuff. It’s always kind of awkward…like when one of us breaks a string or something and we have to go, “Hey, how’s it going out there?”

Blake: That’s when those bad jokes really come in hand.

Rob: “How are the nachos?” “You guys all look like you’re having fun.”

Renee: We’re a pretty high energy band usually and I think it’s something most people can get into.

Jzero: Renee’s drumming is really danceable too, really solid kick drum going all the time. We try to put as much energy into it as possible and have a great time, relate that to the audience.

Rob: They’re pretty loud, heavy songs, we don’t jump around when we’re writing them but we’re real goofballs when we play them.

Blake: So, words of wisdom…

Rob: If you were starting a band…ummm no.

Giroux: Never wear white socks.

Renee: Make sure your underwear is clean all the time.

Giroux: In case you have to go the hospital.

Rene: Or…

Blake: There’s all kinds of reason to make sure you have clean underwear!

Giroux: Don’t do what Rob does.

Rob: Don’t do what I does….The best thing to drink on stage or while watching the stage is a nice, chill glass of white wine. To pass on my wisdom I’d say it’s the most important thing I’ve learned. You drink your whiskey on your way to the stage and then you save your white wine, take it off your belt and drink it in between songs.

Blake: What, do you have a flask of wine or something?

Rob: No, just a glass. Never pay for cheese on tour. Always smell your sound guy before you go on stage.

Jzero: Actually, that’s important, treat the staff well when you’re on tour. Always tip, even if you’re getting free drinks.

Rob: Don’t bring a drum kit, the other band’s is better.