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Jewcy Interviews: Suuns

The Montreal band Suuns aren’t afraid to cross thirty years of musical terrain to find inspiration for the songs on their debut full-length, Zeroes QC.  In just under forty minutes, the band dances around between Krautrock and twitchy indie rock — throwing in the occasional song that sounds like it would fit perfectly in the film Running Man.

With all those influences on display, somehow the songs on Zeroes QC gel perfectly together, and you think you have the quartet pegged.  Then you find out they have an interest in Yiddish theater.

Questions were answered by Max Henry  (bass, keyboard) Liam O’Neill (drums), Joseph Yarmusch (guitar, bass).

Your bio states that “Due to American legal reasons, Zeroes are now called Suuns. Are you pissed at America for this?

JOSEPH: Pissed is a strong word. America is also a strong word. We were pissed at the legal system that “America” is prone to using in utter excess to brink of sheer abuse. But, again, pissed is a strong word. We’re also Americans,  so it wasn’t shocking. Love America.

MAX: As Joe mentioned, three quarters of the band is dual American/Canadian.  Keeping that in mind, I think it’s fair to say we’re pissed at America as much as we might be pissed at Canada.  Needless to say, as far as the activity of “being pissed” goes, both targets have their merits.

Do you like this new name more than your former name?

MAX: Yes.

Why did you use the letter U twice, and not just call yourselves Suns?

JOSEPH: It means “zeroes” in Thai, and it’s pronounced, “soooons”. It’s less about a name for us. We’re dark, cryptic individuals that make music that reflects that. The name will take on it’s own life without us trying. It’ll soon be an afterthought.

MAX: as Joe mentioned, suuns (in actual fact “suun”) is Thai for zero.  The band has no particular affiliation with Thailand, nor do we expect or hope our audience to know the translation.  I would say the name functions two-fold; first as a personal reminder of what we have been, and the support of our community that helped to bring Zeroes to where it is now; and second (at least to me) a reflection of the saturated state of independent music… where the only viable names left are essentially gibberish.

Your sound runs across a wide spectrum of different genres, but sounds like it owes a lot to 70s German Kraut — very machine heavy.  What is the typical gear set up for SUUNS?

MAX: Fairly unexciting I’m afraid.  Though in that sense very exciting, if you follow.  The band decided very early on to avoid laptop, for this simple reason.  Creativity thrives on boundaries.  For me the most exciting parts of playing are the aleatoric elements of noise and pitch that rely heavily on our relatively imprecise guitar pedals, amplifiers, and my mixing board.

Assuming that any of you guys eat meat, do you care to comment that Montreal smoked meat is better than New York’s?  If you don’t eat meat, can you confirm this with a close associate of the bands?

MAX: If not better (which it may very well may be) it certainly is a hell of a lot cheaper.  Katz’s might win for vibe though.

Members of Suuns belong to a Yiddish theater group in Montreal.  Can you tell me a little more about that?

LIAM: Yeah, I’ve worked on and off for the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts for about four years now.  It started out as a bit of a one off, a lark, even, that happened because I needed a gig and then grew into a more regular thing.  It was neat to be a part of something that has pretty much nothing to do with the rest of my musical life – playing Yiddish vaudeville theater gigs is a bit of a far cry from playing minimal indie rock — lemme tell you.  Probably the coolest thing about it was when we were touring in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.  Getting to be a part of a group with such a defined heritage and sense of community was really heavy, especially in a part of the world where their culture had been all but decimated.  the sense of pride and family that they had together was really inspiring, and I felt totally welcome.  Also, playing blazing klezmer-touched showtunes was one hell of a blast.

View Comments (2)
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