Primal Urges

Progressive Indie Four-Piece Bend Sinister Followed their Instincts on New Record ‘Animals’

Progressive Indie band Bend Sinister is playing in Montreal on March 22nd at Casa del Popolo.

For West Coast indie band Bend Sinister, walking through a park or down the street is like turning on National Geographic—the band is fascinated with the idea that humans are no different from the beasts in the wild, choosing to base their latest album on humanity’s primal nature.

“We called it Animals because it kind of associates with the idea that everybody, at a grassroots level, is just an animal and we all have these animal instincts and urges and needs,” says frontman Dan Moxon.

“We can’t seem to function in the world just because we’re essentially animals, as much as we try to say we’re intelligent and small intellectuals.”

The four-piece progressive indie rock band from British Columbia is currently sweeping the continent by storm, touring the United States and Canada to promote their wild new album.

Moxon and three friends founded the band in 2001 while they were still in high school. They began playing small bars in their hometown of Kelowna, B.C., until they decided to make the big move to Vancouver and update their sound.

“Initially we started as an instrumental band, but over the course of time, our music evolved into different variations and has significantly changed,” Moxon said.

One of their sources of inspiration is literature, and Moxon and his bandmates decided to name their newly founded band after a Russian novel.

“Particular circumstances led us to this: we were searching for a band name and our guitar player at the time was reading Vladimir Nabokov’s book Bend Sinister,” he said.

“Also, the story worked well with our music. The book talks about this family crest [and] in it, there’s a bar from the upper left to right that denotes when someone in the family has sinned,” he continued.

“It’s kind of like he got blacklisted from the family name. We liked the idea because we viewed ourselves as a ‘groggier’ rock band.”

The band has embarked on Canadian tours and released two full-lengths since their inception in 2001. Their latest album and third full-length, Animals, exploits themes of love, sex and the human condition. The bombastic album cover depicts the band in a pioneer-like cabin adorned wall to wall with animal rugs and mountings.

For this album, the band vowed to be more open to musical and personal experimentation. As a result, this record is their most energetic yet.

“I like to think that this album is a continuance in style and writing from what we’ve been doing before. It’s certainly a well-crafted album because all the band members fully participated. We’re all really happy with this record and it’s a good representation of the band,” he said.

From beginning to end, Animals maintains a rip-roaringly energetic pace, letting their rock n’ roll roots flourish. “I Got Love” is a three-minute power ballad with unstoppable beats and electrifying guitar riffs, sustained by an organ reminiscent of hard rock keyboardist Jon Lord. Mid-album song “Thunder and Lightning” alternates strong and soft notes to create the musical aesthetics of a storm and “Fancy Pants” is a song about “getting together, having fun and taking advantage of life,” according to Moxon.

When asked about the band’s musical influences, Moxon expressed their need for originality.

“No particular musician influenced this album because the way I see it, it’s insincere to make an album sound like someone else’s work. By then you’re already losing the battle,” he said.

For Animals, the band took an interesting approach to writing lyrics by recording the fleeting thoughts that flickered through their minds, Holden Caulfield-style.

“I like to write down my stream of consciousness. We never really write about personal experience necessarily, but more of ideas that emerge from the mind,” Moxon said.

“Also, I’m more of a melody kind of person and I think in terms of the melody of the words. Joseph [the guitar player], on the other hand, is more of a lyricist in terms of how he brings personal things into his music. For me, it’s literally just write, find a nice lyrical sound and build from there,” Moxon continued.

Currently on tour, Bend Sinister is passing through a number of North American cities and are playing legendary music festivals like SXSW before making their way to the East Coast.

“We’ll be in Montreal soon. Every time we’re in Canada, we play there; it’s our favourite spot to stop in. So far, everything has been a great experience,” he said.

Bend Sinister // March 22 // Casa Del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent Blvd.) // 8:30 p.m. // $10 advance