Interview with Signal Static
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Ryan: My two best friends and I all got super into U2 at some point in highschool, despite the fact that they weren’t really cool anymore even back then. One day in Grade 9 we decided that we should start a band together despite the fact that only one of us had any musical abilities, and he mainly played piano. I had the choice of learning bass or drums, and because Adam Clayton makes bass look super easy, I went for that. We tried very hard to be like U2 - Spoiler alert: we did not succeed.
Gino: My brother was the biggest influence on me. He plays guitar in multiple bands and got me started playing with him in my first band.
Randy: For me it was seeing all the rockstars and watching music videos on Much Music (Canada’s version of MTV) during the Lollapalooza years in the early 90s. Very much a group effort on that one.
Ryan: I guess if I hadn’t gotten into music I’d maybe be writing science-fiction novels or, I don’t know, stand-up comedy?
Randy: Music hasn’t been a career really, but I suppose I’d like to dabble in race car driving if I could have chosen. Rally cars specifically.
Gino: I’d be an astronaut.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Ryan: I love playing video games, walking my dog, watching 80’s sci-fi movies, reading fantasy novels, learning about social welfare within the context of current geopolitical structures, brunch. You know, the classics.
In all seriousness, however, my inspiration as a songwriter revolves a lot around learning about people in a humanistic and social justice context. I try to be an amplifier for voices that need it, and I also love calling out bad actors, even when the bad actor is me.
Gino: Adventures with my kids, cooking, going on vacation, all that good stuff.
My songs are usually based on personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings that I’m chewing on, and my family couldn’t help but be a big part of that.
Randy: I love hockey. Especially watching my daughter play. It’s terribly stereotypically Canadian but it’s in our blood, right? Just focusing on being there for my family. I also derive a lot of inspiration from electronic music. It’s been a go to music outlet for me and I’ve enjoyed DJing for a couple decades now.
How long has your band been around?
It’s been about seven years, now. The three of us first got together as a unit around the fall of 2015. Ryan had played in different bands separately with Gino and Randy in the past, and introduced the two of them when he got married that summer. We got together and started jamming and now it’s 2022 and who knows where the time has gone?
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based out of Victoria, BC, on the west coast of Canada. Apparently it’s the sunniest place in the entire country, but I don’t know if I believe that.
Honestly, I don’t exactly know how our location has influenced the music. I feel like we would be writing the same music no matter where we are, although living in a relatively politically and socially progressive part of the world no doubt factors into that to some degree.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Ryan: Oh, now this is opening up a can of worms, as nobody can quite remember who came up with the name. Or at least we all have different versions of who came up with the name!
Gino: One of our first songs was called Signals and it gave me the idea to use that as a name. The “Static” part came a bit later when we were talking it over and I suggested Signal Static and the guys liked it.
Randy: No, see what happened is that Ryan and I had a short-lived former project called “The Static Ecstatic” that I conjured up for the group, and “Signal Static” was kind of derivative of that. Not taking props here but it was sort of my idea.. no big deal!
Ryan: And here I was sure I dreamt the whole thing up in the shower as a way of encapsulating the idea of finding truth amongst all the noise of our lives. Sort of “finding the signal in the static”, if you will. Admittedly, it is possible I may have come up with that explanation after the fact, but since the real story has clearly been lost to the vagaries of time, I guess we’ll never know.
We probably should have called the band “The Mandela Effect”.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Ryan: With Signal Static I would have to say the last show that we played before Covid started wreaking havoc with everything. It was in an upstairs almost 70’s style lounge called The Copper Owl, and we filled the place to capacity and had an awesome time. Some friend of a friend got super drunk and started doing weird shit like pushups on the dance floor and humping the stage monitors, and my mom (she loves coming to our shows) ended up telling him to hit the bricks. I’m pretty sure I got Covid at that show, too, so that was fun.
Personally, though, I’ll always remember the very first gig I ever played with that U2-wannabe band I mentioned earlier. It was a highschool talent show, and we put so much effort into having this elaborate light show and we had this super serious “Where the Streets Have No Names” style keyboard intro that we ran out of time to do things like tune our instruments. Fortunately, the school’s electrical grid was insufficient to the task at hand and about ten seconds after the curtains opened and the twangy out of tune guitar started playing, half of the breakers on the stage tripped, including the bass amp and keyboard, which took care of the tuning issues. All you could hear the whole song was a twangy guitar accompanied by the loudest mic’d drum kit known to man, and our singer doing his best Bono impersonation, complete with shades. There’s a grainy video of it that my grandma took, somewhere..
Randy: Best show I ever witnessed: Def Leppard Hysteria Tour 1987 Copps Colliseum Hamilton, Ontario. I was 11. Also Lollapolooza 1992. That shit was sick. Best show performed as a DJ: I played in front of a few hundred at a club in Taipei opening for fellow Canadian Max Graham. He’s a big deal. Check it out. Best show as a drummer: Well, to be honest I don’t think that’s happened yet. Next question.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Ryan: Unfortunately, all of the venues we used to love playing at, Logan’s Tavern of the Damned, The Copper Owl, and several others, no longer exist. Thanks, Covid! The music scene really was devastated because of the pandemic, and we’re still just in the process of picking up the pieces.
Randy: Wembley or bust, MATE!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Ryan: I would love to open for Filter or Econoline Crush, or Queens of the Stoneage. That would be pretty god damned epic.
Randy: Chilis, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, Tool. Queens can open for us all. They’re pretty good.
Gino: System of a Down, Tool, maybe Faith No More. That would be a cool show.
Ryan: QOTSA: You can be my wingman anytime! Randy: Bullshit, you can be mine!
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?
Ryan: Make music that you believe in and that you enjoy, and then figure out how to do it really, really well, and hopefully other people will enjoy it too. Also, take the time to learn the tools of the trade and be willing to invest in yourself and take risks.
Randy: Just do it because you love it, not because you see yourself making a ton of money or fame. Keep an open mind and heart. BE PATIENT!!
Gino: Play music because you love playing music. Everything else is extra.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Ryan: Whatever you do, do NOT mess with the timeline. It only gets worse!
Randy: Go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
Gino: Don’t be a dumbass!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Ryan: This is a tough question; they’re all meaningful and they all mean something a little bit different. ‘Objects of Affection’ came out of a very dark situation that the band was involved in but really seriously affected a few people that I’ve become quite close to. Being able to speak about that for them is deeply important to me. On the other hand, ‘Under the Skin’, which we may end up releasing next, is kind of a love letter that I wrote to my friends in the trans community, and it’s meaningful in a totally different way.
Gino: I don't know, but if I have to pick one it might be Life will Prevail. It’s about the survival of life on earth.
Randy: Dark to Light. I wrote it. It’s an easy answer. Though I do really have attachment to Under the Skin and Objects of Affection. They represent our potential.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Well, we’re kind of about to erupt from our Covid-induced stasis with a bunch of new songs that nobody has heard before. I guess we’ll find out! We’ve got a bunch of new tunes that are just waiting to be unleashed upon the Earth, and they’re all really fun to play.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
A lot of our songs start out with an improvised guitar or bass riff, or even just a drum beat that we all build on together until we have a skeleton of a song that we then put the meat on - vocals, lyrics, and arrangement details, etc. Other times one of us will have a more fully-formed idea that the band will work together to make it into the best song possible.
Inspiration comes from all kinds of places, but we’ve always derived a lot of ours from current events and the state of the world and things happening in our lives.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Lyrically we’re always asking what being a human is all about, and how we can collectively be better humans. We’re not afraid to call out bad actors, even if that means calling out our own flaws. Apart from that, we also like to find answers within ourselves by finding meaning in our unique experiences and points of view.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Ryan: You know I’ve always said that being in a bad is like being married to like three other guys, with all the cat-herding that would require. But really we do this because we love it, and because we’re very passionate about making truly good music, and we all have our preferences and points of view which don’t always line up perfectly.
Getting past it really just comes down to the fact that we all genuinely like and respect each other, both as people and artists and being open to accepting each other’s opinions as equally valid to our own. It’s not always easy, but it works.
Randy: There’s a reason I have a medical prescription for cannabis. Two reasons really. See above and below.
Gino: Yes we do, until everyone agrees that I’m right.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We will be dropping our new song ‘Objects of Affection’ on November 25th, which is the first of several new songs and ultimately a new EP / album that we’ve been writing and recording since Covid shut us down and shook things up. We’re kind of a whole new band, with Ryan having moved from bass to lead vocals, and our new material definitely reflects a new and improved approach to creating music.