Interview: Excuses Excuses
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Most of us got into music with the influence of our parents and friends growing up. The classic story of “rooting through your parents CD collection” to find gems like The Clash, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Green Day, etc definitely holds true in our journeys. I think what really made us serious about it was the idea of actually performing in a band in front of other people. I have always been enamoured by it and felt that it was a place I belonged, so it was really easy to dive in head-first.
Without music I think we would all be absolutely miserable, probably doing jobs that we hate; but deal with because that is just what many folks expect of others these days. Thankfully this is not the case because that sounds terrible!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Honestly, because we aren’t full-time musicians as of yet, the majority of our time outside of music is spent working to pay the bills. It can actually be quite inspiring though at times, depending on one’s perspective. It helps to keep me focussed and working hard every day to keep striving for our dreams.
How long has your band been around?
Though Trevor (bass) and I (Kyle - vocals & guitar) have been playing music together since we were in High School, Excuses Excuses as it is formed in early 2016.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We currently live in Oshawa, Ontario, but none of us actually grew up here. Being a traditionally lower-income, factory city it has an extremely strong musical culture and it blew me away when we first moved here and dived into the scene. There is this intense sense of community here and so many amazing artists from all kinds of genres, so it has been very easy to find a lot of inspiration from the people around us, and we all like to try to keep things positive for each other in the scene so we all feel welcome. Being here has given me an entirely different perspective on music and helped me open my eyes a lot musically, because of all the variety of music that is present here.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Excuses Excuses is an empowering cry to inspire people to take accountability for their being so they can become the people they truly want to be. It is easy to sit around and make excuses for yourself to fail, but only we, ourselves, can be the catalyst to make change and take action in our own lives. We came up with this name after making a huge list of potential names we liked, and working it down to see what we felt we most resonated with. For some reason Excuses Excuses just popped out at me right from the start and gave me a positive feeling I just couldn’t shake, so that is what we decided to call ourselves.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Our most memorable shows have definitely been all the ones that have happened since the restrictions have lifted here. Because Canada’s live entertainment industry was shut down for so long, it has been so exciting and refreshing to finally be back to doing what we love for people who appreciate what we do, once again. Audiences have have been so energetic, no matter the size, and it is creating this amazing energy at shows that I feel was not there in the same way before. I think people really realized how much they missed it, once it was actually taken away from them.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
One of our all-time favourite venues to play is a place called Maxwell’s and is in Waterloo, Ontario. Trevor and I grew up in a rural town just outside of Waterloo, so we have always had a sweet-spot for it. The venue, itself, is super clean, has great sound, and has two separate stages so it can be either a 200 cap room or a 700 cap room. Because of this capability, they get a lot of great acts coming through and also are able to heavily support the local scene as well. A truly unique room, and it is always a blast to play.
Oof it is really tough to pick just one venue hat we would love to play, but we are really looking forward to eventually getting over to the UK and Europe. There is so much unique culture over there that is soooooo much older than what we can experience here. It will be really cool to see and feel those differences first-hand.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Each one of us would likely answer this question entirely different, and it may even depend on the day and what we are feeling like… As of today, I (Kyle) would probably pick Black Sabbath and Nirvana as a co- headliner, Royal Blood as direct support, IDLES before them, and us as the opener. It would be one hell of a long show, but damn would that be full of some crazy rock energy!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
My biggest pieces of advice are to always be true to yourself and moat importantly play as many shows as you possibly can. I believe that is the only way to become the best artist and performer that you possibly can.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
If I could go back and give my younger self advice, it would be to not spend so much time worrying about the “what if’s” because the reality is that all that does is distract us from what we truly desire. I still find myself needing this advice all the time.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
As I am the main songwriter for our band, every song is important to me in its own way. Out of anything we have put out so far, I would have to choose “Listen Up!” as the one. I wrote this song right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as an empowering anthem for those that were feeling lost, broken, and uninspired. Needless to say, it really became MY anthem in a way that I had never expected it to. There were points in that two years where I really needed that song to help remind me that i just have to keep pushing forward and never give up.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Favourite to play right now is “Far From Perfect.” It is full of energy and has some space to have extra fun in our live show. We often like to add in some extra musical parts, solos, and different dynamic changes to give our crowd extra something special beyond the recording. People really seem to love the small changes like that to spice up the show.
Out of any song we have ever played, the most requested is an original called “Wet Socks.” It really isn’t a very intricate or impressive tune, we literally wrote it to just be a silly one for live; but it has this really bouncing energy to it and a fun guitar riff that people love to jam to at our shows.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Generally speaking I write the majority of the lyrics and vocal melodies at home because I like to really dig into my personal feelings and experiences when I write, which can be difficult to do while still being honest to yourself when others are in the room. Once I have some sort of flow, and something I can properly communicate to Trevor and Jason I take it to them to get their thoughts on it and make sure I am heading in a direction that they can also feel good about. I will then make revisions and we put the finishing touches the song together. It always feels super organic that way and we make sure that everyone is satisfied entirely.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I love communicating positive, empowering, and powerful messages in my songwriting. Though I love many artists who mainly write about relationships, sex and that type of thing, I have just never been into that for myself and generally prefer to talk about human nature, life experiences/lessons, and individualism to help encourage our listeners to follow their dreams. Sometimes this comes across rather dark, sometimes it is high-energy, and sometimes it is heart-felt; but it is always about something real and honest.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Well, of course! Just like any strong relationship to be fair. One of my favourite parts about our band is that between the three of us we each have a very unique character; and, although each very different, they compliment each other and help to keep each other in check. Obviously with this we also have our times where we butt heads. Being in a serious band means you have to spend way more time together than most folks would want to spend with just about anyone, spouses/partners being the only real exception. You also share a massive financial responsibility together which can quickly create tension and stress within the group. On the flip side, you also learn to care for and love each other in the same way you would your family; so you also form an intense sense of mutual respect and understanding.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Our plans are to keep on creating, playing, and releasing music that means something to us, and hopefully means something to you too. We have another brand new and very introspective single coming out on May 27th called “Meaning of Life” that we are super excited to share with everyone, as well as our debut record that is set to come out this fall on Known Accomplice Records. Along with that, we are working on getting “across the pond” so we can show you all what we are really capable of.