Ahead of the release of their new EP, The Diving Bell, on September 5th, we caught up with Michael Champion from Canadian duo City of Glass to talk about Canada, the record and Justin Bieber. Oh, we also decided to shake things up a bit and ask some quickfire questions too…
MTTM: Your band name clearly draws reference to your home city of Vancouver – has growing up in the city had a big influence on your sound in general?
Michael Champion: In some ways. Vancouver is a fairly isolated city and it rains from fall to spring, so if you’re at all introverted the conditions help further that. It’s a beautiful place as well, but in many ways can be quite cold and unwelcoming so I think that helped in creating the lost, disconnected sense we try and get across in our songs. I love Vancouver though; it will always be home.
MTTM: If you had to pick one (just one!) artist who’d had the biggest influence on you as a band who would it be?
MC: That’s tough. I guess thinking about the sound of our band and where we pulled a lot of inspiration from it would probably be The Whitest Boy Alive. Our minimalist approach and the way we view guitar and drums was heavily impacted by them.
MTTM: Do you prefer playing in front of huge crowds (like the Snowboard festival in Canada) or playing in more intimate venues as you will be in London?
MC: At this point I prefer more intimate venues. I think most musicians would agree that the best part about playing live is connecting with the audience, so a packed venue of people who love your music will always win over a large crowd of strangers. We’ve never experienced an arena singing along to our songs, I’m sure that would be a fairly surreal experience.
MTTM: What can fans expect from your forthcoming EP? Are there similarities to your previous EPs?
MC: This EP is a big step forward for us. We’ve recorded a full length album as well which this EP is a prelude to, and I think we’re starting to finally get to the point where we are writing what we want to hear. It’s a strange process going from being happy you can write a song to being upset because the songs don’t express what you want them too. We’ve moved away from some aspects of our writing we weren’t too enamored with and have learned how to properly embrace others. It’s always a battle to keep moving forward to a place you’re happy with, otherwise what’s the point? I realize I didn’t properly answer that question. Our first EP, Equations, was definitely us in more of a shiny pop mode, and I think we’ve started to tone down that down a bit and focus on being more personal and emotional. It’s darker, and much more intimate than anything we’ve done before.
MTTM: If there’s one thing you could’ve told yourselves two or three years ago when you were starting out with the EPs what would it be and why?
MC: Go with your gut. If you feel weird about something then make changes. It’s easy to think something is good if someone likes it, but at the end of the day it’s your name on it so do whatever you can to make it something you want to hear.
MTTM: What can UK fans expect from your live performances?
MC: Flying Van Halen jump kicks, fireworks, bloodletting, all the good stuff… No, our live show is pretty understated, we focus more on trying to get the emotion of the songs across and hopefully connect with the audience on that level.
MTTM: Can you briefly tell us what’s happening in the Canadian music industry that doesn’t involve Justin Bieber?
MC: Ha ha, I don’t think Justin Bieber is ever even in Canada, he’s basically American at this point. There’s been some fantastic bands that have come out of Canada in recent years and have done really well on the international stage both critically and commercially, (Arcade Fire, Feist, Broken Social Scene, Metric, New Pornographers, Stars) but there are so many great bands that haven’t been noticed yet. Canada is a strange place to make music, the major centres are all so far away from each other that you end up having a real disconnect between them. It seems artists don’t get big all across Canada until they start breaking through internationally. Considering it’s smaller population, I think Canada produces quite a large volume of quality music.
MTTM: What’s next for City of Glass?
MC: We’re living in Berlin and touring the UK and Europe until the end of the year. Then we return to Vancouver where we’ll release our first full length album and tour the US and Canada.
Quick Fire Questions:
MTTM: East Coast or West Coast?
MC: West Coast. Unless you’re referring to rap, then… hmmm, anything but South.
MTTM: Pop or Rock?
MC: I was raised on Motown, have to go with pop.
MTTM: Bieber or Bublé?
MC: Bublé. He’s from the same suburb of Vancouver we’re from, plus, well, Bieber?
MTTM: London or New York?
MC: I haven’t been to New York and I’ve been to London a few times, so based on that I have to go with London. But I’m a big city/architecture geek, so I have a feeling once I get to New York it’ll probably be my favorite place on the planet.
MTTM: Electric or Acoustic guitar?
MC: Electric. I like acoustic, but the way I approach guitar makes way more sense on an electric.