By Will Yannacoulias
Album art by Ann Doyon
Photos by Mila Media
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, La Ronge alternative/hard rock band Breach Of Trust achieved the seemingly impossible. A group from a small indigenous community in northern Saskatchewan enjoyed regular rotation on alternative radio and MuchMusic, boasted a major label record deal, and shared stages all over Canada with artists like The Tea Party, Finger Eleven and Billy Talent. In an era that still produced rock stars, Breach of Trust had earned that coveted title. Other Saskatchewan alternative rock artists such as Age Of Electric and Wide Mouth Mason enjoyed similar success, but Breach Of Trust did it with more edge, depth and gravity; 1995’s Dead Issue EP, 2001’s Songs For Dying Nations and 2004’s self titled album combined the heaviness and passion of Soundgarden with the social awareness and intelligence of Rage Against The Machine, resulting in a decade's worth of truly memorable music.
Those who still regularly spin well-worn Breach Of Trust albums were excited by the announcement in May 2022 that the band would be performing again and releasing new material. Three June shows in Saskatchewan supported the release of “Settle For Nothing”, a gritty, powerful single that stands alongside Breach’s best material. NSMZ was excited to speak with co-founder Marty Ballentyne about the road to return, the new music Breach Of Trust has been working on, and what the future holds for the band.
Ballentyne told NSMZ that he reunited with his Breach Of Trust co-founder Zane Kryzanowsky in 2016. At that time Kryzanowsky had been playing and writing with Brent Stutsky and Dean Zabolotney for a few years already, both of whom had been members of Breach Of Trust around the release of the third album. As Ballentyne shared, “Zane left the band in 2002. It was really hard for me to write without him, I think it took me almost a year to figure out how to do it. Zane and I had such a great chemistry and that wasn't easily replaceable, for me anyway. In 2016 we reconnected and Zane sent me instrumental demos of some songs he had been working on with Brent and Dean. We began sending music back and forth and by late spring 2017 I had come up with lyrics and melodies for about 4 songs.”
The next step was for the band mates to physically reunite and begin working on the music together in person. “I traveled down to Calgary to jam with them for the first time in June 2017” Ballentyne recalled. “It was wild! I felt completely that I was Zane's guest in his house, both physically and metaphorically. The three of them had come up with some really great music, and I was honoured to be asked to add to it. Afterwards they would come up to Saskatoon and we'd work there, I'd go down to Calgary, and in between we'd send ideas back and forth via email.”
Breach Of Trust brought two completed tracks into the studio before the pandemic ground everything to a halt. “The single ‘Settle For Nothing’ is one of two songs recorded in sessions just before COVID hit in summer 2019” Ballentyne shared. “The other, ‘Halo Of Fear’, may also be released as a single before the album comes out out in the winter of 2023. There are over 15 song ideas in varying stages of completion. I think 7 or 8 are finished. The new record will be called The Illusion Of Certainty. Topically or textually it is somewhere in between Songs For Dying Nations and the self tilted- definitely observations seen through an indigenous lens, with those values and knowledges fundamental to the presentation. Musically some of it sounds like what we would have done if Zane had stayed in the band. All of it feels to me like a reflection of who we are collectively at this point in time.“
“Settle For Nothing” and the rest of the upcoming album were recorded with Casey Lewis, owner & operator of Calgary studio Echo Base, who has become an integral part of Breach Of Trust’s current creative process. “Casey plays drums on the two new tracks, sang back up vocals, and engineered, co produced and mixed the songs” Ballentyne explained. “He is a force of nature, the work he did with us speaks for itself. He's also fun to work with on a musical geek level - we spent a lot of time talking about all these arcane music facts about King's X and 24/7 Spyz and Bad Brains.”
Breach Of Trust will be busy in the next year completing the songs and tracking them in studio, but Ballentyne has committed to taking time to enjoy the ride as the new music is released and the band’s supporters celebrate their return. “The reception we've gotten for “Settle For Nothing”, thus far, has been uniformly positive” he concluded. “I really didn't expect anything, and was kinda blown away by the response. The whole process of doing this again has been a trip. Joyful. Cathartic. NECESSARY.”
“Settle For Nothing” is available on all streaming services.