“I’m a vegetarian,” Zach Treble, drummer for Vancouver-based post-rock band Summering tells Noisey. “And here I am at a meat draw.” Set up bingo-style, the draw is held at The Princeton, a bar with brutal Google reviews—“terrible service, rude staff”, “the food makes me sick”—that feels like somewhere your alcoholic father would hang out after a curling bonspiel. It only makes sense that a bunch of mid-Canadian expats would gather here. In other words, it’s perfect.
Having formed a little over a year ago, the boys of Summering started jamming together when a visiting friend’s band needed an opener. With all members involved in various other musical endeavours—from folk to electronic—they joined forces to create an ad hoc group. It wound up becoming much more. “We played our first show at this notorious little punk house in the East End,” Treble says over a pint of PBR. “It was this thrown together rent party. We performed in the backyard and it was just packed. Word spread pretty quick from there.” With a handful of shows in Vancouver and a series of small tours around British Columbia and Alberta now done, Summering will embark on a Western Canadian tour March 5 before releasing an album this summer.
Hailing mostly from Alberta (Treble was raised in Winnipeg), each member of Summering brings a distinct influence to the group. Outside of the band, Treble lends his percussion talents to Outside Dog and 1800HaightStreet. Guitarist Mohammed Sharar previously played in political hardcore project In Vacuo. Bassist Ryan Bekolay has roots in punk, and guitarist Matt Durie also plays in a metal band. It all comes together in a wave of noisy rock wonder. “I think we’re a bit of a different band than what is happening in this city,” says Treble, regarding the state of Vancouver’s music scene. “There’s not a lot of bands that are doing what we’re doing.”
With a rumbling three-guitar undercurrent, Summering’s music is ambient but hard enough that your head doesn’t swim. Lead by Stewart’s poignant and self-aware lyrics, each song builds before crashing down in a tumble of high-hat and shimmering guitar. It’s the ideal shoe-gaze soundtrack for any wine-drunk stumble home. “I’ve noticed that when we get a good response from a live show, it’s a great response,” Treble says. “Like they were crying or something.” Building layers of guitar over heartfelt lyrics will do that to any emotionally inclined individual. Add chest-rumbling bass and it’s in the bag. “It’s definitely a special thing to be playing in a project that you’re bringing this emotional part to,” says Sharar. “It’s fun to create a mood and a tone and to get everyone on a certain level.”
When it came to recording time for demos, the guys went about it in an Albini-esque way:straight off the floor. Recording all of the tracks live at Monarch Studios in Vancouver allowed the process to be efficient and cost-effective. Fitting with the clean, opaque thrash sound of Summering, recording live also allowed the energy and intimacy of live performance to be captured. While the balance of ego can sometimes be difficult, it takes care and craftsmanship to know when things are necessary and when to step back for a measure.
“It’s so tempting to just play the whole time but it’s the subtleties that make it work,” Sharar explains. “We always try things out when we’re jamming. If things are conflicting and getting too busy, one of us simmers down. Or sometimes all of us simmer down at the same time, which is even better for bringing it in again.” For Treble, it’s the space in between the different instruments and the blending of guitar tones that creates the trippy ambience.
“I’m just so happy with it,” Treble begins to say before the meat draw ticket salesman comes around and Sharar starts waving his strips of top sirloin around. “This is the most proud I’ve been about a project. I’m so excited to show people.” Apart from meeting like-minded friends and bandmates as the lucky dudes of Summering were able to, Vancouver is a difficult city to start a band in. From finding an affordable and safe jam space to coming across venues that cater to smaller bands, there is often a void between real D.I.Y. acts and larger, promoted events.
“Venues are the hardest thing,” Bekolay explains. “It’s a pretty shitty city for that. They have this Vancouver entertainment district where they’re trying to push everything to Granville. No one wants to party down there. It’s garbage.” With tight liquor laws making it tricky to open new venues, most people end up putting on shows in warehouse spaces. Although these rooms are often ideal in their secrecy and tendency for ample bathroom space, they can be tricky to promote due to having to quietly message people with a location and running a militantly tight-ship for fear of being shut down. “I feel like Vancouver’s always had a pretty admirable reputation as far as arts go and then moving here I was like ‘wow’,” Bekolay says. “It’s so tough to get a show at a real venue. It’s all so monetarily focused.”
Despite the difficulties of booking shows in Vancouver, Summering has set their sights on releasing a full-length and touring as much as possible. “I would love to go overseas and tour forever,” Treble says. “Being able to play music to strangers and see their reactions and make a connection, that’s my favourite part. I would love to be able to do that as long as I can.”
Jillian Groening is a Winnipeg-based writer. Nobody won the meat. @jill_groening