Local trio face the music

Three guys who dwell in Kingston have found a home in the music scene

Local band False Face say Kingston’s thriving music community is integral to their growth as a band.
Local band False Face say Kingston’s thriving music community is integral to their growth as a band.
Credit: 
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It’s far too easy to live in Kingston and remain blissfully unaware of everything the art and music scene has to offer. Lack of promotion or busy audience schedules could explain the lack of attendance, but some exciting and groundbreaking artists pass through Kingston showcasing events that are largely under-attended. Arriving in the Limestone city will undoubtedly present you with handfuls of nightlife and entertainment options—finding what you like is the fun and tricky part.

Local rock trio False Face have tapped into thinking about how to maximize their success in Kingston while awakening people to the wide variety of acts out there these days.

A staple of the Kingston scene for some time now, False Face is rounded out by guitarists Stephen Guy, Mark Streeter and drummer Paul Saulnier. Some of you might recognize the latter from his various local projects like P.S. I Love You and Magic Jordan.

Guy and Streeter arrived in Kingston in 2006 and became fast friends, both embarking on graduate school studies in English literature.

“There’s two ways to run a band,” Streeter said. “You can think about maximizing your appeal through getting your name out, making a kind of music that people respond to, or recognizing that you make a kind of thing people are interested in and letting them know what’s going on.”

Attempting to make a name in an established musical realm can be a daunting task.

“One of the really cool and inspiring things I first noticed about Kingston’s scene is how accessible it seems,” Guy said. “I feel like it’s still that way, there’s a lot of people involved in it especially from the booking and promotional side.”

The progression from friends to collaborators was an easy one for False Face, Guy said.

“Mark is very outgoing and came to town with an excellent attitude whereas I was here sort of in spite of myself,” he said with a laugh. “We started getting together to play the guitar after discovering we’d both been in bands throughout our whole teenage and 20s years. After playing east coast 90s rock for awhile we decided it was time to start writing songs.”

With day jobs, degrees and DJ gigs to get through, the guys work to find balance amongst their plethora of projects.

“Paul leaves some things up to Steve and I to steer because of his other projects,” Streeter said. “It was through his involvement in the scene that we got to know him.”

Guy said full-time jobs and side projects, especially Saulnier’s, pose a challenge to the band.

“Right now it’s kind of fortunately and unfourtunately an uptake in activity for all our plans” Guy said. “It works in our favour though, he’s used to juggling and prioritizing, we’d all love to be devoting more time, but time just doesn’t always exist.”

Finding the time for their tunes is a priority for the guys, they manage to find the calm of the storm often enough to get a lot out of their jam sessions.

“Our songs maybe come from jamming, it’s really collaborative which makes it slow to build a song,” Streeter said. “Most parts of the songs are a product of a thoughtful process, perhaps a lively debate or two, the process is pretty interesting”

False Face’s low-fi, pit-of-your-stomach resonating tunes are equal part inspired by the 1960s psych and 1970s punk past and looking towards the future.

Incorporating early and new sound, the group traces their influence into a modern incarnation.

“We’re very interested in sounding vital in 2009, there’s no attempt to attach ourselves to, or tribute certain kinds of music,” Streeter said. “But having grown up with that kind of music we both see ways you can say powerful things with it. So we try to use our influences actively to try something relevant.”

In describing their sound, the guys have a humorous take.

“I’d probably have a self-deprecating description,” Streeter said. “Men past the prime of their life refusing to admit that it’s no longer 1996.”

“Were a loud noisy rock band,” Guy added.

Several factors contribute to False Face’s addictively thrashing and reverberating music.

“Were inspired by teenage angst, boredom, in general mood-wise were a bit of a bad vibes band,” Guy said. “Not out of any decision but it’s just kind of what happened. We write similarly about the places we’ve lived or are living and the types of characters we meet.”

After being heavily involved in music throughout his adolescence, Guy said False Face has given him a new perspective on what it means to be in a band.

“This is the first band I’ve been in that’s gotten closest to some sort of collaborative ideal, whether out of ego or expediency in the past, its been the model where someone says ‘This is the song, this is how were going to play it,’” he said. “I was more skeptical with my experience of putting bands together, of how workable that model really is. It’s much more rewarding if everyone’s involved.” Streeter said the process of writing and playing has helped enlighten the band beyond just creating the music.

“It’s a real learning process,” he said. “How do you respectfully disagree about things? We all really like hanging out with each other, were all sort of music geeks and its fun to spend time with each other around the band, it gives us the chance to talk about records and, well, our feelings.”

Community appreciation is imperative to the band’s production and promotion.

“We really do think about False Face in the context of the other bands that we play with and those who form the larger communities here,” Guy added.

Their involvement with local concert series, record label, festival, music video club and online zine Apple Crisp is proving to bode well for False Face even offering them a gig at Pop Montreal this past month.

Both men explained their belief in Apple Crisp as a mobilizing factor contributing to a strong community between excited and enthusiastic bands in town.

“One of the things that’s proven to be its virtue is its ability to accommodate not only different styles of bands, but brought us into affiliation with artists and musicians that it wouldn’t normally have occurred to anyone to put us in the same breath,” Guy said.

Streeter and Guy were more than appreciative of the work that goes on behind the scenes in order to put together, promote and cover shows.

“Newcomers to Apple Crisp would be so impressed with first encountering how many people are involved and the wide range of things they do,” Streeter said.

The guys were quick to include The Grad Club’s Virginia Clark and Kingston Punk Production’s Marc Garniss as integral to organizing Kingston’s scene.

“We really believe in what they’re doing,” Guy said.

Keeping with their mandate of staying community-based, the group cites the city of Kingston as inspirational and crucial to their production and sound.

“We wanted not only to write songs about where were from but we want the way we run the band to be about where were from,” Guy said, “We’d like things like artwork associated with the band to be local in some way.”

With an upcoming matinee show this Saturday at the Artel, the guys are keeping on with their mission of getting Kingstonians engaged with the music scene.

“We want to keep getting in touch with bands that we admire and connect with them in some way,” Streeter said. “There are a lot of bands like us in town that make loud noisy music and I think there are a lot of people that aren’t even aware that they might find a connection with that kind of music too. It’s an exciting way to watch the band grow.”

With the eighth edition of sound installation Tone Deaf at Modern Fuel this weekend, Streeter and Guy were optimistic for a creatively packed couple of days.

“There’s a plateful of opportunity this weekend,” Guy said. “It’s a big weekend for lovers of noise and experiment.”

Despite the under-attendance to some of Kingston’s art events, Streeter and Guy have hopes for heavier audience involvement across the board.

“It’s important to have these things happening,” Streeter said. “I hope people will wake up to it after a while.”

False Face play the Artel on

Saturday with Shearing Pinx and Ahna at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 at the door.

Apple what?

Apple Crisp.

You may have heard of some of these other bands signed to the delicious Kingston-based Apple Crisp record label.

• The Gertrudes

• P.S. I Love You

• Rueben deGroot

• Christina Foster

• TimKnightUs

• The House is Black

Check out their website to stay in the know about their concert series, festival, music video club and online zine at
zine.applecrisp.ca

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