By Will Yannacoulias
Unrelenting, intelligent and defiantly unorthodox, Saskatoon's Adolyne have long been admired for delivering experimental, noisy and furious music with a noetic, artistic edge. The band became publicly active again in February, announcing their first release since 2015's Of Ash/of Shit/Of Shame and their first live performance since 2019. A brand new cassette of Portishead covers titled Dummies, split with Calgary's The Weir, was supported by a March 4th appearance in Calgary and a March 5th show in Saskatoon. Founder and songwriter Skot Hamilton spoke with NSMZ a week before the Saskatoon show about the new release, the band's current lineup and what's on the horizon for Adolyne.
The stage and the cassette were both shared with The Weir, who Hamilton describes as "our sister-band for about ten years now". The two groups have toured side by side and both returned to the stage last weekend for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Musically the bands are complimentary rather than similar, and their chemistry stems more from intangibles than comparables. "We play together really often and they’re really close friends of ours" Hamilton offered. "Stylistically we don’t have that much immediately in common, in terms of pacing and other creative characteristics we’re very different. Their style of music and our style have volume in common and we both share a certain introspection; it’s not good-time music, we share certain moods and sonics. Something intangible keeps tying us back together, we feel like kindred spirits."
Dummies (a nod to Portishead's 1994 debut Dummy) features two tracks, The Weir covering "Roads" and Adolyne's rendition of "Glory Box". Portishead, pioneers of atmospheric, moody trip-hop, may seem like an odd inspiration for the punishing heaviness of Adolyne, but "Glory Box" is only the first of several unlikely covers forthcoming. "That song comes from a batch of recordings we did years ago which took a while to find a reason to release." Hamilton shared. "It feels a little like The Weir deciding to release a cover from Portishead was a nudge for us to release ours. It was an entire session of covers that will come out gradually, I think we’re going to do a series of similar single releases with other bands if we can. We did a PJ Harvey song, Sinead O’Connor, things like that. We really have to find the right weird bands like us, playing left of center heavy music, to pair up with."
Hamilton also felt that the March 4th & 5th shows were significant for Adolyne as it would be the first time new bass player Jesahiah David appeared as an official member. David, who replaces outgoing bassist Tim Arseneault, is a respected musician in his own right, writing and performing for years with his band Soul Mates. Hamilton expressed his excitement at having David appear alongside longtime Adolyne guitarist Landon McPhee and drummer Brett Graham, saying "we haven’t had a lineup change in years, Tim played on everything we’ve done so far. I’m eager to have Jesahiah be a visible part of the band, because he’s been playing with us for a while and we haven’t had any way of showcasing that. He’s somebody we all deeply admire creatively. As a player we feel he’s going to compliment and augment what we do in a way that is going to be very impactful."
Dummies will soon be joined by more new releases from Adolyne, as the band is patiently holding onto a wealth of unreleased recordings and is eager to begin writing new material with David as a contributor. "Last February we recorded two complete full lengths for Adolyne" Hamilton revealed. "We took a ton of time very carefully developing that material. It was after Tim left the band and before Jes joined so I played bass and we recorded as a three piece. For the next little while he’s going to be performing releases he didn’t get to play on, which is a little unfortunate. I’m very eager to get him into the creative loop with the band."
With an injection of new blood and a catalog of unreleased songs, Hamilton is excited about the future of Adolyne. "It’s funny, the longer we go on the less I’m sure what it is we’re doing exactly" he joked. "I do know that I’m more confident than ever in the music we’re making and I know it’s closer to being exactly what I always wanted it to be."
Pictures courtesy of Adolyne