“We are pushing forward with whatever genre it is we’re creating, and we like it so far.”
I sent Van Damsel’s latest release, Domino, to one of our writers to review. While she was listening and writing, I was listening, too, and I quickly realized how much I loved the album. Unfortunately, she didn’t love it as much as I did, so I wanted to do a little something else for this Canadian band that so struck my fancy.
Although the album overall is difficult to pigeonhole into a single genre, Van Damsel, to me, falls somewhere between the pop-rock-synth-croon pillars of music. It’s catchy and inviting, drawing listeners in from the first note and holding on to their heartstrings until the very last. It can be a bit cheeky, and also fun and joyous, Guitarist Rich Bregoliss was kind enough to answer some questions via email, giving you a chance to get to know the band, as well.
First of all, I absolutely love the new album; it struck a chord with me immediately (no pun intended). Is there a secret recipe for writing catchy, instantly appealing songs?
It’s the same process every time: Start with a good idea and finish with one. Our creative process is inclusive, but honest and critical: we work together and go over everything. The beginnings of the songs (instrumentals, arrangements) come from my end which is usually fueled by a good caffeine buzz, plenty of positive vibes, and a creative urgency to make something unique yet familiar. I like to think the music matches that energy.
How hard did you have to work to make a concept album? Were there songs you disqualified because of their themes?
I wouldn’t say we view it as a concept album, but if there is a concept, it would be perseverance. Lyrically, there’s a consistent message of striving for the next level in many respects, and we did live that struggle while making the album. For two years we pushed our creative, emotional, and financial boundaries to finish the album, and ultimately created something we are all proud of.
Which artist’s career (band or solo artist) do you most covet?
Having the longevity and success as a group such as Radiohead would be nice, but I wouldn’t say I covet their career—or anyone’s. Seems like a wasted effort to compare yourselves to the careers of the greats akin to thinking about what would you do if you won the lottery: It’s not going to happen, and if it is, it’ll be hard work that gets your there, not fantasy. I really respect artists that constantly push themselves creatively while still maintaining that unique spark that made them who they are, never resting on their laurels and embracing the new ideas of modern music.
What was the first concert you ever saw? How big an impact did it have on you?
Barenaked Ladies when I was like six years old (I think). I barely remember it. Musically, I think they had a lasting impact on my bass lines because I always write them a bit busy.
Although I’ve heard of them, I’m not at all familiar with the Dillinger Escape Plan. What was it about that band/album/song that made you want to name your band after it? Is there a deeper meaning behind the name?
I’ve always viewed Dillinger as an intricately crafted onslaught of energy. The album Miss Machine is still something I go back to if I want to get pumped up. The song “Van Damsel” is a chaotic, chromatic mess of math-y time signatures and rhythms —none of which really represent Van Damsel the band, but there’s an energy there that inspires us. I also just really like the name.
Where does Van Damsel fit into the history of modern music? Alternately, where do you want to fit?
Modern music is at a strange point right now, especially for rock-based music. Everything seems to have been done, so finding a unique voice is a challenge. Ultimately, Van Damsel is the collective collaboration of musical tastes of four guys from Kamloops. We’re influenced by indie rock, post punk, hip hop, EDM, prog rock, djent, death metal, and a wide array of others; Van Damsel is where all of our tastes overlap. We are pushing forward with whatever genre it is we’re creating, and we like it so far. So who knows where we’ll fit in the history modern music, but our aim is to continuously progress in our own music. | Laura Hamlett