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Artist Spotlight: Saskatoon retro rockers Fake Paradise

Updated: Mar 24

by Scott Roos

photos by Aaron Brown/ Aaron Brown Photography

It all started in high school. It's a story told many times before in the lore of rock n roll. Two young and aspiring musicians, guitarist Jace Irvine and drummer Oishak Khan, likely bored, were looking to play more music, to jam more, and well, to simply just kick more ass. This search eventually led the two to finding each other and creating a musical partnership that has lasted, at this point, for over six years. The result of this unholy union? The doom imbibed, sludgy, monolithically riffastic, stoner rock inspired heaviness that is Saskatoon’s Fake Paradise who have just released their debut double single Fire and Frost, which includes the tracks “Into the Fire” and “Frost”.

“I used to play guitar a lot (when I went to) Walter Murray (Collegiate). That's where this took place. Basically there was this kid (points at Oishik) who used to always bug me when I played. I don't know, I guess I was so focused on my own thing I didn't really think much of it,” Irvine tells NSMZ, “Then he's like 'call me and text me’ …. and I was out in Vancouver this one time doing something and I remember he called me and he said 'hey Jace you wanna jam when you get back?'. I told him ‘okay’ and to make a long story short, here we are.”

“He was always playing at the pep rallies (at our school). Then I started playing drums and I was trying to meet with people, trying to play with people so I was bugging Jace. C’mon play with me, play with me,” adds Khan.

As the guys worked things out, going back and forth from the two separate rehearsal spaces of Irvine’s and Khan’s homes, through their six years together as musical compadres, the duo eventually developed a retro sound that is very steeped in bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and, most obviously, the mighty Black Sabbath. While Khan did have an interest in heavy music, like Nu Metal titans Disturbed, it was Irvine that introduced him to Sabbath and that sort of stuck as a starting off point and has carried Fake Paradise through to the here and now.

“Oishik didn't even know who Black Sabbath was. I got him into it and he was like 'oh this is a cool band. What is that?'. I said 'It's Black Sabbath. You've never heard of them?' and he said 'that guy sounds like Ozzy'. I told him 'that is ozzy',” laughs Irvine. 

“There's definitely Sabbath influence there. Generally speaking, there's a lot of 70's rock and metal in general (in our sound). But Sabbath is definitely one of the key components,” Khan chimes in. 

“The cool thing about Sabbath is they're not defined to just heavy metal. There were a lot of songs that were far from it. "Planet Caravan" - there’s nothing heavy about that. It's just a beautiful soft song. "Air Dance”,  that's a beautiful song. Never Say Die is a great album. There's a lot of ballads on it. Same with Heaven and Hell with Dio and Mob Rules. (The songs have diversity). I even liked Born Again with Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and other stuff like the Tony Martin stuff. My father is a massive Sabbath fan. He was always cramming them down my throat, in a good way, (when I was) a child. I guess I kinda picked up on it I suppose,” adds Irvine.

In terms of the process they use to come up with their “classic” sound, it’s pretty standard. Everything that Fake Paradise writes usually starts with a jam and becomes further developed if Khan and Irvine like what they hear. “Into the Fire”, a raging, infernal, waltzlike, fuzzed out, buzzsaw beast of a song was no exception.

“We were (jamming) in my basement and I bought a smoke machine. We had enough money put together that we bought a crappy, crummy smoke machine. I think it influenced ‘Into the Fire’. We set the smoke alarm off with it. I came up with this riff and we were jamming to it and all I could sing into the mic was ‘into the fire’ and I would kinda hum gibberish into the mic until I could find lyrics for it,” Irvine says, “For some reason I just couldn't find lyrics that stuck to the song so Oishik said ‘how about I try’ and he wrote the lyrics to it. That's how "into the fire" was written just as a jam. When we went to the studio, it basically stayed the same structure wise and everything.”

The process for “Frost”  was a bit different, but not too far off that same mark. Irvine had composed it when he was twelve years old and took the skeleton of the song to one of his jam sessions with Khan. Its slow, chugging riff followed by a sped up section towards the middle of the tune appealed to Khan who gave it his nod of approval. Khan would later write lyrics for the tune. The song as a whole would then be further developed to where it is now.

At the end of the day, given the contrast in titles, the two tracks make for an interesting play on words. Not only that but their hard edged and pummeling make a great introduction for those who are uninitiated in all things Fake Paradise. It’s going to be exciting to see what they come up with next. If anything, this release has proven that they are a solid team and great up-and-comers on the Saskatoon scene. And yes, they have discussed bringing in a more permanent bass player (they brought in a producer S.J. Kardash for the release and bring in a hired gun player for live shows) but, for now, they are content, at least creatively, to remain as they are.

“Fake Paradise is when Jace and I play music together. It doesn't matter what we're playing or the genre. Any time Jace and I play together, it's Fake Paradise. That's literally the only answer I can come up with. It's not about genre, it's not about what kind of songs we're playing. It's simply when Jace and I play together, that's what Fake Paradise is,” states Khan emphatically.

“One of our biggest focuses is on our instruments and how we speak through them. If that person likes Sabbath and they like riffy rock and they like loud guitar solos and loud drums in your face then I guess that's why they would want to see us live,” Khan concludes.

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