Andy and Conor from The Pacifiers had a lengthy chat with Wyatt from Techno Westerns about ‘Attracting Elephants’, starting a label, eye injuries, and playing for rowdy Germans.
C: The honest answer is we initially had an LP ready to go, it was demoed and ready to go, and we were ready to start recording. It was all different material, so none of it was on this EP, then of course COVID happened, and it was about March, and we thought we wouldn’t be able to play live, but we could sort of at least record together, but we didn’t want to do a whole LP. So we were going to do sort of an unplugged thing and take some of the songs from Macroscopic and make that an EP. So we decided it would be good practice doing the home recording thing before doing a full LP. And then — Andy do you remember what happened?
A: I got work at the cottage.
C: Oh yeah! Andy got a job up north, so suddenly we couldn’t record. So the window passed for the Macroscopic thing, which was going to be called ‘Microscopic’ by the way. It was perfect, it was going to be so good. We were going to record that in the spring, but Andy was away all summer. Of course we still wanted to, but COVID continued to rage, and we thought ‘Okay, so we’re definitely not playing live, but we can do sort of a somewhat responsible recording setup still in the fall’. And then the label thing happened right? So yeah, we decided we needed something to release with the launch of the label, and I had some songs sitting around which I planned to use for another project that didn’t pan out, and they all had been written around the same time and they all sort of fit together. We decided ‘we aren’t going to do the ‘Microscopic’ thing, but we can practice or get the hang of the home recording process before we do a full LP down the road and then we also have something to release for the launch of the label’. Good luck transcribing this! Andy you better jump on some of these so we can get some shorter answers!
A: *Laughing* Yeah, I was just gonna say I think the EP for us was a good choice purely because we’re recording in a new way and this is something we’re doing completely independently so it’s much more manageable [keeping it] to a shorter track listing, and also it allowed us to hammer home the five songs we’re releasing and not have to worry about our recording schedule as much, so we had more time to play around with them. Plus it was more manageable and personally I think the EP is a nice little nugget we’re going to put out under the circumstances we’re in while also still being a nice representation of where we’re at.
C: Well from a practical standpoint, it’s completely a testing ground for the recording process. That was part of the whole reason for doing it, it was about troubleshooting. We had done our first record what feels like a million years ago, and it was recorded in the same room, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to them, I don’t think, because none of us had any idea what we were doing. We bought some cheap microphones, and we had only been a band for like 18 months or something like that, and we were like ‘Oh let’s just make an album, because that’s what you do’, or whatever. I had written some songs, Andy had written some songs, Omar had written a song, and we were like ‘Oh, well we have ten songs, so obviously we should make an album now’. Anyway, it sounded a LOT like garbage. We just googled stuff. We had no idea what we were doing in terms of recording. So, since then I’ve gone to school for that, and so we know a little bit more about what we are doing. But we had to totally rethink our home recording process.
A: So you could say that the last three years of Conor’s life have been building up to this record, this recording process.
C: Don’t say that. Do not say that. A: That’s your quote right there!
C: *Laughing* So yeah we had to totally rethink our home recording process, and I give Andy a lot of credit, he’s a great engineer, he just has that skill. I think it’s kind of rare, I haven’t met many people who are naturally so good at that. Duncan too! I give him a lot of credit for being the drum tech as well as being the drummer. Because as you know, drums are just finicky. And to have people who know what they’re doing — because I was just learning on the job, I’m STILL learning on the job. So yeah, in that sense it was totally troubleshooting and learning in preparation for the LP. But sound-wise it’s sort of in the direction of where we’re going, I think. But it couldn’t be mistaken for what we’re doing on [the next] one.
C: *Laughing* I forgot about that! Uh, yeah.
A: I think we’re leaving that alone for the time being. It was a very interesting one because it was very indicative of the time. But I think we might look to revisit it. Because it was also very produced, you know what I mean?
C: It was overproduced
A: Yeah exactly! Because it was us working with what was available at the time
C: Andy was up north working and yeah we couldn’t get together. So we didn’t have the luxury of having our fantastic rhythm section, Ben and Duncan. So of course I had to work with what was available and compensate for the lack of actual musicians around me, I used like every sound in the Logic library *laughing* using drum machines and stuff, and yeah, it was just a product of wanting to put SOMETHING out. Because this was after the decisions were made on ‘Microscopic’. Like, there was this fear that the entire COVID period would pass and we would not have done anything in that entire time, and we were conscious of wanting to put something out.
A: So we started a record label! C: Yeah! *laughing*
C: Well Wyatt, I believe we were in your basement, or your apartment I mean. ‘The Pit’ as it’s known on the back of our record sleeve. But we sort of had an idea shortly before that, and the initial idea was that we, as The Pacifiers — and I won’t name any names, but we’ve had a hard time finding acts that we like as people. There are great people out there that we like, but they don’t come around every night. So when we played that show at The Horseshoe with you guys, we took a shine to you immediately. You being Techno Westerns. We liked your sound and your vibe and everything, and you know, we thought ‘here’s somewhat of a rarity, it’s an act that we like as people, and they have a sound we like and a vibe we like’ — we liked pretty much everything about you guys. So we thought–
A: ‘How can I latch on?’ *laughing*
C: *Laughing* Yeah, ‘how can I shackle you to us?’. That was the initial impetus, it was just a marriage of the two acts. Then with help from you guys, expanding it into the concept it is now, and the idea that has continued to grow, that has come pretty much entirely from you guys.
A: What I want to add on to that too is, my thinking of why this would be viable is – we’ve witnessed and experienced the Toronto music scene and I guess there’s good and bad. There’s good people and there’s bad people. And as Conor said, it can be difficult to find the right bands and the right people to work with and I think we’ve slowly built up a small network of like-minded individuals that we like and we like their music and I think the combined hive mind, the collected knowledge and skills of the group, is going to benefit everyone. I don’t know to what extent entirely yet, but it’s definitely a collaborative effort among the group, and personally, I love all of the artists and I love their music and one of my favourite things in the band is organizing shows, and doing stuff like that. So if I can in some way be involved in that part of peoples’ music career, I’m thrilled.
C: And can I say thank god that Andy likes doing stuff like that because I do not.
A: Yeah! Then there’s all the other stuff too like designing t-shirts, and it’s great. It’s coming together slowly. And I think getting everyone in one place and getting more serious about it all is part of why I really gravitated to this idea so much.
A: Well I’ll jump in right away, I think for me, personally, the label has almost legitimized our aspirations as a band, and I think there’s always the questions of commitment and whether this is a full time thing or whether it’s a hobby and obviously us being young adults and students as well, [the band is] definitely not the best idea for like a summer job, but for us, as far as The Pacifiers goes, what the record label has done for that, it has really legitimized where I see myself in five years and I think from a standpoint of operations it will definitely change the way we operate. Not in the sense of how we make music, but, like, it’s a job. It’s something we have to take seriously, it’s something we have to put our best foot forward in, and put our best effort into to achieve our goals. So that’s what I think LDR has done to The Pacifiers for me.
C: Yeah like you said, it makes the answer to the question that everybody hates: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ slightly less embarrassing. Only slightly. *laughing*
C: Alright, I’ll try and do a short version of this.
A: Maybe I should do the short version *laughing*
C: Yeah *laughing* so I was in a band in high school, and I don’t remember how that started, but it was a five piece cover band, your typical high school talent show band and we kinda sucked.
A: My question is how did you link up with Rick?
C: Rick was a drummer I knew. They can be few and far between. A: That’s how most bands start I guess.
C: Yeah, so through various lineup changes with that band, it ended up that Andy actually auditioned for that band as a lead singer and uh…was not accepted *laughing* at the time, but through various lineup changes in that band, uh–
A: I think you’re glossing over a pretty big part of this story where I was the manager of that band. That was my first role before I ever auditioned to be the singer.
C: Yeah, Andy was the manager, and he has had the greatest ‘meteoric rise’ ever. He was the manager, then the drummer, then the rhythm guitar player, and then the lead singer within, like, a year, which was quite something to behold, and yeah, we eventually ended up with the lineup that was really kind of the start of The Pacifiers. When did we start calling ourselves The Pacifiers? Zane?
A: Yeah, Zane and Omar, if I remember correctly, we had a show at Originals, the neighbourhood bar we used to play, and I was still rhythm guitar at that point. Now we had Omar, Zane, and Russell. Russell was out of town and couldn’t make the show. We had already booked the show, and Russell tells us ‘Yeah, well I can’t come.’, (uh oh), and I’m like ‘well I’m happy to give it a shot’ and it went well. It turns out, with a few beers in me, when I’m on stage with a microphone, I can be relatively charismatic.
C: I would have just gone with ‘entertaining’.
A: *Laughing* Exactly, that too. So anyway, eventually we said goodbye to Russell, and we were still going by Electric Circuits at that time. I don’t think we started going by The Pacifiers until we had Ben, so that would have been our first show which was like 2017.
C: No, it was 2016, it was the summer of us graduating. A: Right!
C: And yeah, so we’ve gone through a drummer since then, and that’s the band you see before you today.
A: Which one? *laughing*
A: Oh it didn’t end in the visit to the ER, it started! *laughing*
A: Do you wanna take it Conor, or should I? C: You take it. You tell it better.
A: Alright, I’ll make it quick.
C: That’s why. *laughing*
A: So I don’t think this was our first time at The Cavern, it was our third or fourth, and we got together the morning of the show to do some final rehearsals. And as it goes, we’re friends before bandmates, so we started fooling around and playing around. Long story short, I picked up a little football and I threw it at Conor and he didn’t catch it with his hands per sé, he caught it with his eye. And it was a lot of shrieking, and uh- C: I don’t remember shrieking!
A: Well there was a lot of swearing and smashing the floor C: Yeah, I do remember saying “Fuck!” a lot.
A: Yeah, and then there was the realization of “oh he’s not regaining his vision and we have a show tonight and we have to get going” and so we run Conor down to the local hospital, Sunnybrook, and we’re sitting there waiting. I’m rushing through this part because it gets better. And I think we took two cars down to the hospital and Ben and Omar drove back and grabbed the stuff from rehearsal that we needed for the show while Conor and I went through the process of getting him checked out. And as it turns out, Conor what did you have?
C: I had what’s called a hyphema, which is — if you’re squeamish, stop reading this — it’s basically where your iris fills with blood. Which is why I couldn’t see, because I was trying to see through blood. So, you know, not ideal.
A: What did the doctor tell you?
C: Oh, he said, you know ‘you’re going to be fine, take these antibiotics or whatever, and just take it easy, go home, don’t move around too much, sleep sitting up, you should just be sitting for the next twelve hours’ or something like that.
A: So I’ll jump in here. We basically didn’t listen to the doctor, and went back to my place and grabbed what we needed.
C: And went to the music store. Wait, wasn’t that before the hospital? A: Yeah it was!
C: *laughing* We stopped in at St. John’s Music on the way to the hospital and kinda just fucked around in there.
A: Well we didn’t know what the deal was with your eye —
C: Andy, I couldn’t see!
A: Well we thought we’d wait an hour and see what happens. *laughing* C: *Laughing* There’s video of all of this, too.
A: Anyway, we head down to the bar. And Conor still can’t see out of one eye. C: At all. And it hurts.
A: He’s got sunglasses on and he’s being real quiet. Anyone that knows Conor knows this is relatively common. So we play the show, and Conor is just standing there with sunglasses on. And I remember there was a stage light right in front of Conor, so he was just looking down the whole time.
C: Yeah because it hurt to look up.
A: Three sets, we did. Three sets. So, three forty-five minute sets later, we are winding down, and long story short, and we’re going into a quiet song, and the room is just buzzing. The room is filled with Germans because the bar is right underneath a hostel, and they’re still drinking and being loud. So we end our set and these dudes are like ‘No, we don’t want you to finish!’. So we invite up on stage and Conor jumps on the drums and I’m on guitar. Three or five songs later with Germans on vocals, we get yelled at by the owner or whatever that we need to stop. Later that night we end up going back to Conor’s, and a German tags along. We’re all having some drinks and we’re having fun and slowly we pass out. Conor passes out in the chair sitting up, which of course is good news. And the others eventually filed out and I went and slept on the couch. The next morning we wake up and I realize Conor is still alive and he can see!
C: But it hurts. It hurts to see.
A: So he’s keeping his eye closed and we’re cleaning up and we realize our new buddy the German is asleep on the couch in the basement. And this was like eleven o’clock or so, and we’re trying to poke at him and get him awake. Finally he wakes up, and we’re like ‘Are you alright? You’re in North York’ and The Cavern, where he was staying, is about thirty minutes away from where we live. So he’s gotta get back to the hostel. But before we take him back to the hostel –he just got to Canada a few days ago — we take him to Timmie’s, where we all have the same idea to feed him Timbits because what do you get at Timmies? So we bought a hundred-and-ten timbits between all of us. And we’re still talking to Consti to this day. That’s the story. (And Conor can still see).
C: My main memory of that morning was waking up in my chair to Andy cleaning up bottles and stuff, because he’s the best, and Andy was like “he’s still here” and I’m like “what?” And he goes “the German, he’s still here” *laughing* and later when we went to Tim’s — it’s summer, it’s bright out, and I can’t open my eyes because it’s super painful. Sunglasses didn’t help — so I had my finger hooked into Andy’s back belt loop, using him as a guide dog.
A: And I just want it known I finished that box of timbits. C: Oh yeah you did.
A: I dusted those bad boys off. A: So that’s the Cavern story.
A: I’m a sucker for a Reeses’ peanut butter cup.
C: I would separate it. For chocolate bars, it’s a Wunderbar or Snickers. For chocolates, you know those Cadbury half milk half dark little bites? Those are pretty outstanding.
C: Pulp Fiction. I love Pulp Fiction, but it’s overrated. It’s like Tarantino’s third best movie. A: It’s his third best movie and it’s overrated?
C: Yeah, people think it’s the greatest thing since Jesus, and it’s not.
A: You know what? Avengers. I don’t like Avengers, I think those films are completely overrated. There’s not as much of a ‘wow’ factor as I would like to see.
A: Winter C: Summer
A: One hundred percent winter. I’m thick, I’m insulated, make sure you put that in *laughing*
C: I need all the help I can get warmth-wise.
A: True love IS endless wealth.
C: Oh fuck that’s a good answer, dammit Andy! That’s so good, what he said!
A: Well, of course I made that whole thing about you Conor. You ARE my true love. Sorry Taylor.
A: I’m not a huge electronic music fan, but some early Deadmau5 stuff, like ‘Ghosts ’n’ Stuff’ just reminds me of middle school, which is great.
C: It’d have to be U2 or Coldplay for me
A: You what? Paradise by Coldplay. That’s the answer for me. C: Yeah it’s Coldplay, anything Coldplay.
A: Well, as I said earlier, the idea that made me want to do this all was — especially in the infancy,, that we’re in right now — is that there’s no hierarchy really to it.
C: Says the Managing Director
A: *Laughing* Yeah, says the boss, but the thing that makes us different is that we’re a collective more than anything else. We’re here to support our artists as fellow artists. I think we can all agree that the best things we’ve learned about music have come from fellow musicians or advice from artists that we look up to. So I think what sets us apart — and something that artists looking to join us will appreciate — is that they have access to everyone. Whether it’s Tenzin from Techno Westerns and Thangka, to Conor and myself, to Ben, our bassist, you have this pool of connections you can pull from, from songwriting to if you need a bassist for a show, if you need someone to do anything, we’re all relatively creative people, and you have access to all of us when you’re under our umbrella. Our lovely little collective group.
C: Go listen to Attracting Elephants, out December 11th on your favourite streaming service!