Lots of History behind X-Amounts

Toronto-based Controller.Controller returned to Kingston last night for a crowded show at The Grad Club.
Toronto-based Controller.Controller returned to Kingston last night for a crowded show at The Grad Club.
Photo courtesy of controllercontroller.com

Interview: Scott Kaija of Controller.Controller

Recording can be tough, especially when you’re touring non-stop and can’t seem to find the time to get a nice, long studio session. Just ask Toronto-based Controller.Controller, who returned to The Grad Club last night for a highly anticipated, intimate performance. With their first full-length release, X-Amounts, having been on the shelves for less than a month, the album was certainly a long time in the making.

“I guess the most challenging aspect [about recording X-Amounts] was just time,” guitarist Scott Kaija tells the Journal. “In a way, I look at the new record as being a sort of companion piece to the History EP. A lot of the songs on X-Amounts were written at the same time or shortly after as the songs on History. But I think maybe the biggest difference is just like ... I don’t know, to me it’s just a little more thought out, you know, because we had been playing these songs live a lot. We trimmed away a lot of ‘fat’ and had more time to work on the arrangements and stuff. I think maybe it may be slightly less heavy in places. But we sort of look at [the two albums] as being part of the same thing really, if that makes any sense.”

Their relentless touring really took its toll on the recording process of X-Amounts. When the album hit the shelves on Oct. 11, fans had been waiting more than a year and a half for a full-length release.

“The [History] EP came out a year ago in February, and we did some touring, but it took us a while to plan our first full-length tour,” Kaija says. “So we started the tour, but it was at that point that we should have started recording. [Soon] we were trying to juggle touring for three weeks at a time and coming back and doing recording.”

It’s true—Controller.Controller has been a group of regular globetrotters as of late, rubbing elbows with folks from across the pond—so it’s easy to see why their recording process was so drawn out.

“Death From Above 1979 asked us to play [with them] in England, so we had to delay recording more,” Kaija says. “And then they asked us to tour with them across North America, so we had to delay the recording even more. Touring was great, but it meant that we could only go in [to the studio] for a couple of days and do stuff, instead of doing it all at once.”

And the touring has been relentless, with Controller.Controller stretching themselves more and more thinly across the map.

“We just got back from a west coast tour, and we leave again in the morning, so I’m just trying to get things done [at home right now],” Kaija laughs, but he’s certainly enjoyed seeing the world.

“I got to go to England and I’d never been there before. I’d never been off of this continent, so for me, that was a really exciting opportunity. When touring, you generally see the van, the motel or hotel, or someone’s living room floor and then the rock club, and you don’t really have too much of a chance to look around. But we did, like, fourteen straight shows from Brighton to Glasgow, and we got to see the landscape—which was great—and meet a lot of people.”

Don’t worry, Europe’s not the only place that gets Kaija and his bandmates excited, he assured me as he happily listed off the cities he’s visited. You can hear the excitement in his voice as he runs across each DFA-laced memory, one by one.

“In North America, there were so many places I hadn’t been, and now I’ve been from New York to L.A. to Vancouver to Halifax and a bunch of points in between! [DFA 1979] gave us the opportunity because they liked our music and they liked us as people, and they took us under their wings, which was really great. Despite their success, they’re really two of the loveliest guys you’ll ever meet. They’re really quite sweet and generous and funny.”

As they made their way back to Kingston, Controller.Controller was eager to hit The Grad Club stage again.

“We love Kingston, you guys get special treatment,” Kaija says with a chuckle. “I love playing The Grad Club. Some of my favourite shows have been there. I love the fact that, [well] we’re way too loud for it, almost. I love the fact that the stage is in the corner, and people are jammed right up to the stage, and I can hit them with my guitar and stuff [Laughs].”

With their popularity ever on the rise, Controller.Controller may outgrow their beloved Grad Club by the time they swing through Kingston again. But here’s hoping claustrophobia won’t become an issue.

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