Down In Ashes gets fired up

New drummer Steve Brogno helps redefine Down In Ashes’ direction

When Down In Ashes aren’t performing or rehearsing, they like to play Xbox and go to Pearl Jam concerts together.
When Down In Ashes aren’t performing or rehearsing, they like to play Xbox and go to Pearl Jam concerts together.

Down In Ashes’ new member picks up the slack. Adding drummer Steve Brogno to the lineup has rejuvenated the four-man band.

Brogno joined the Ottawa-based rock band in July 2011 when they dropped former drummer Shawn Kelly — who had been with the band since its formation in 2006.

Lead singer Kim Vincent said Kelly’s departure was a collective decision.

“It just wasn’t working. Honestly, it was the chemistry,” he said. “We wanted to make the band stronger basically.”

Vincent said the band has intensified rehearsal since the swap for Brogno.

“[Brogno] has really kicked us in the ass … he’s always on his game.

“We’ve just completely moved on,” he said.

With Brogno permanently on board, the band is barrelling forward, with a new album, tentatively titled Veins. It’s expected to be released early next year.

The foursome left their hometown’s Sound Creation Studio and moved to a recording studio in Toronto in May. After completing the record in August they moved back to Ottawa.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for us to make the move to record in Toronto,” Vincent said. “Ottawa has got studios, but nothing that would do what we wanted to do.”

The band paired up with producer Mike Langford from the Pawnshop Studio in Toronto to prepare for their third studio appearance. Vincent said Langford brought an attention to detail that pushed them to the next level with their music.

“The first day we got down there [Langford] spent a whole evening just finding guitar sounds on the songs we were working on,” he said. “He took the time rather than just slapping anything on.” Vincent said the band worked harder on everything from pre- to post-production since they started recording five months ago in Toronto.

“This time around we actually wrote more songs than we were going to record, where usually, with the older stuff, we just recorded whatever we had written,” he said. “The new material has a lot more focus to the songs. I think we’ve really found our sound.”

Vincent, Down In Ashes’ main songwriter, said the band’s new material is less cluttered than their two EPs.

“Sonically the sound is just a lot clearer and it’s got more of an impact,” he said. “I will take a word that’s a little bit more dumbed down, rather than try and find something that’s too complicated and overthinking.

As long as it means something to somebody, whoever’s listening to it, I think that’s the most important part.”

Down In Ashes plays the Merchant Tap House tonight.

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