WORDS: GEORGIA RAWSON
The side project is often deemed as the side piece. It’s the project that artists turn to when the candle has been burnt from their main body of work, but that’s far from the case for Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld.
“It’s always a matter of trial and error,” reflects Neufeld. No Virtue is by an eclectic listen, one that without much delving into you would never know would have been put together one of the most seminal vocalists in hardcore. An arrangement of keys, alternative rock anthems, and even the odd horn, No Virtue has been an exploration into even the wildest of inspirations. These days when not on tour Neufeld works as a stage manager at a venue in his hometown of Toronto, and this dual perspective has gone on to influence more than just his own musical behaviours.
“It’s always a matter of trial and error…”
“I love seeing different kinds of acts, all different styles, all killing it here in Toronto. It’s a nice switch up,” He muses. But this dual perspective, of both the musician and the industry isn’t by any means new for Andrew. Having also stepped in to produce records, including for artists such as To The Wind, and Deez Nuts’ latest release, You Got Me Fucked Up.
“When I work with other bands I often take another member of the band kind of roll. I’m jamming and riffing ideas and getting points for the song across. I wouldn’t really ever be hired for my engineering skills or mixing skills, I’m more about working on the songs and the performances and vibe in that sense,” He humbly reflects.
However, it is this level of individualism in his application towards song writing that seems to make No Virtue one of, if not the most eclectic and diverse records within the alternative rock sphere within the last 12 months. But, it isn’t Neufeld who can take all of the credit for these variations. “I’m lucky to have a production partner / keyboard player in Sights & Sounds named Dave (Grabowski),” Continues Neufeld. “He came into the band about 5 years ago around the time of our ‘Silver Door’ EP and he has really dug into an extra “blanket” layer of the band where we incorporate a lot of Candy and fun electronic sounds.”
“We Kind of took it further tHan I’ve had the freedom to take it on other styles of music.”
It is this added depth, or rather the ‘blanket’ that seems to make No Virtue’s sound more identifiable as a ‘rock’ record, and with this partnership comes a new approach to music, one a lot more limitless to the signature sight of Neufeld’s other band, Comeback Kid. “We approach an album like this so much different to the hardcore stuff I do. I really just get a rough skeleton and build from there. It’s not as much about the guitar riff (but those find their way in). We kind of took it further than I’ve had the freedom to take it on other styles of music before. So it’s really felt limitless, in a good way!”
Whilst No Virtues may appear liberating for Neufeld in it’s limitless approach to creativity, like all creative projects, and all true artists, this isn’t to say that the record was free of any self-criticism. “It’s always trial and error, and I always learn from every record I’m involved in. There is always the “Oh, we could have done this better, or more efficiently.” Or you know things that you would change looking back on it.”
But fortunately for Neufeld, an extensive back catalogue and over 20 years of making music has enabled him to hone this criticism into a more constructive approach. “I definitely know what I DON’T like. I like when musicians are getting real takes and you can hear the conviction in the guitar, bass, or drumming. I don’t like a flat wide wav that just pounds through WITHOUT a journey of ebbs, flows, peaks and valleys.”
“It allowed us to go down a lot of paths and try out different options.”
With an individualist approach to each track, coupled with creating a team around him who brought with them even more inspirations, one could argue that the variation of sounds, layers, and depths of No Virtue could be a result of a culmination of various creative minds.
“Let me start by saying whilst the band was driving, we had a lot of help putting this album together.” Reinstates Neufeld when asked about the creative collective that is both his band mates and co-producer, Chris Creglia. “It allowed us to go down a lot of paths and try out different options.”
And so it is that sometimes not just as music fans, but as creatives we must open up our minds to a more limitless approach to creativity, one which is not just influenced by our own thought patterns, but those around us, of which No Virtue is more than just a record, but a sonic representation of collective thinking.
NO VIRTUE IS OUT NOW. SIGHTS & SOUNDS ARE ON TOUR IN EUROPE NOW.
27th Nottingham, Bodega
28th Birmingham, Victoria
29th Leeds, Key Club
30th London, 229