by Daniel Colussi | From their humble beginnings as a certifiable garage band from the deepest corner of Port Moody to their current status as one of the city’s most dynamic live bands, Student Teacher strike the perfect balance between melody and anarchy. It’s in the primordial zone where Bo Diddley’s shuffling blues-mantras and Lamonte Young’s fierce minimalist repetitions intersect that they call home. Recent sets at the Electric Owl, The Biltmore and the sadly now defunct Kaleidoscope saw the band’s swirling sound take over the room and induce a kind of hazy panacea over all those in attendance. Throughout this interview you’ll notice that the lads and lady prove themselves to be true to their chosen name; they are well versed students of rock ‘n roll heritage just as much as they are teachers of rock ‘n roll’s transportive potential. I give you Student Teacher…
Tell me about writing music. Rock ‘n roll is about 60 odd years old now; is it possible for a band to make “new” music, or is everything necessarily some sort of re-hash of what came before? Does being in a band amount to some sort of curatorial practice of picking a set of influences and combining them into a vaguely new combination?
Culture has always recycled itself. Using rock ‘n roll conventions doesn’t mean the product isn’t original – think of the variety of interesting expression that has come from nothing but canvas, pigment and a brush, or an orchestra, or any set of tools. Rock ‘n roll is another standard – another set of tools – but within that there’s an almost infinite potential for creativity. We’re all prisoners of our cultural context and our own subjectivity so the potential for innovation is always limited. I think the conventions of rock ‘n roll are pretty diverse so there’s a lot you can do within those boundaries. The ideology or attitude behind the genre is probably becoming more significant as the actual aesthetic that it’s attached to becomes more diluted and mixes with other musical tropes and new technologies but this can lend itself to a kind of cynical method of music making which is more about collecting different influences or cultural references for their perceived “cool” value. That’s a little bit too calculated for us and kind of antithetical to the whole idea of rock and roll as we understand it but, realistically, we practice a similar method of musical synthesis, only with less conscious thought and self-awareness going into it.
Has your tape come out on Geographing yet? What else is in the works for Student Teacher, release-wise or show-wise?
The tape is out, we just keep forgetting to advertise it at shows so that people will buy it. We’ve gotten much better at playing music since it was recorded so we kind of see it as the “humble beginnings” of Student Teacher, not really an accurate representation of our current sound. We’re trying to record a few more songs before Daniel leaves for Montreal for the rest of the summer but we don’t have any other shows planned right now. We’ve gotten pretty lucky recently, opening for Crystal Stilts and Lumerians, both of whom were really great live and nice people as well.
How important are guitar pedals to Student Teacher? What are your favourite guitar pedals to use? What pedal could you not do without?
Actually, pedals aren’t particularly important to our sound. We have a pretty minimal setup, like 3 pedals or less per guitarist. Liam’s new bass fuzz just broke after less than a month of use. We started off essentially as a garage band without much money for extra equipment so we would usually just plug in and play without worrying too much about the sound. As we started moving more towards a shoegaze/heavy psych kind of vibe we ended up investing in some cheap reverb and delay units. I guess we view them more as a sonic luxury and not something that should be that integral to our music or used to cover up or make a banal sounding song more interesting. That said, we’ve become pretty attached to our delay and distortion pedals and we probably wouldn’t want to play a show without them at this point. We like all kinds of high-tech and highly effected music, electronic or otherwise, but our approach is pretty basic. Read more