Our own Darren McLeod recently had a chance to sit down with Sights and Sounds frontman Andrew Neufeld before the band played the first show of their current Canadian tour with Moneen and Passenger Action. Neufeld discussed touring Europe, the difference in UK and North American press, and the long drives involved when you're a Canadian artist.
This is Darren McLeod of Punknews.org, here with Andrew Neufeld of Sights and Sounds--
Wait, is this an audio interview?
No, itâs not going to be audio. I donât know why I just introduced myself to my recorder when Iâm the only one listening. You just finished a tour of Europe, can you tell me a bit about that?
It was the first Sights & Sounds European tour. We started in Lisbon, Portugal, and ended in London. In between, we went to Budapest, Slovenia, Prague, Germanyâ¦ tons of places. It was a couple of months or so. It was one of the best tours weâve done as a band. Iâve been to Europe a bunch of times on tour before, but it was the other guysâ first time, so it was really cool to have my brother with me around Europe.
What was your favourite European city to visit? Not necessarily the best show, or best crowd, but the best city itself?
Probably Barcelona. Itâs a pretty awesome city.
I understand you did a video while in Portugal?
Yeah, itâs for a song called "Borderlines." The song deals predominantly with immigration policies in the US, and the families that cannot be together because of them. People in my family have had to experience that, and the song was written about some other people Iâve seen that have had to deal with that kind of situation. So, thatâs what that song was about. The videoâs not done yet. We might add some kind of storyline to it, but we wanted to have a different kind of feel to it. Have the landscape of Lisbon, the buildings, and the old feeling of that city. It was really cool to do the video there, we did some performance shots there and are still waiting to see how it turns out. Pretty pumped on that.
Even though that oneâs not finished yet, I hear youâve got another video in the pipeline that you might be filming on this tour? < br/>
We were going to make a video for a song called "Storm & the Sun," but we are having some, uh, technical problems with that (laughs). We all live in different cities, so itâs just a matter of us getting together in the New Year and getting it done. We have it all set up and ready to go.
Okay. Now, the band has had some good coverage in major UK magazines like Rocksound, Big Cheese, and Kerrang, yet youâve been far less successful in gaining media coverage here in North America. What do you see as the difference in music scenes or media coverage in the UK and Europe as opposed to that in Canada and the US?
I think the big thing with the UK is that the UK has a big magazine culture still. Like you said Rocksound, Big Cheese, Kerrangâ¦ thereâs these magazines that come out all of the time there, and people read them. I still think that printed press is pretty awesome, and I like reading it, but I know Iâm older. It all depends on what the label or publicity people want to focus on, whether thatâs online or printed press. We were really lucky in the UK especially to have a label that hired outside publicity. They tried to get us a lot of cool features, so we were pretty happy with that.
Do you sense a different fan reception in Europe as opposed to North America?
Yeah, I guess. Itâs hard to say. It was our first time in Europe and we had some of our best shows ever there, playing shows halfway across the world. It goes city by city, though. We have great shows in Toronto andâ¦ we havenât even actually toured the States yet, which is the crazy thing. Itâs easier for us to go over to Europe than go to the States and play a substantial tour.
Are you going to get to the States?
Thereâs been scheduling conflicts. Weâve set up a few things, but plans fell through. So far, weâve been doing Europe, UK, and Canada. Of course weâre trying to go to the States, but we canât wait for the States, and have to stay busy.
Is your record out in the States?
The recordâs kind of hard to find in the States. Itâs only digital right now. You can get it online through The Militia Group - thatâs the label that is distributing it online right now.
Tonight after we chat, youâre playing the first show of the Canadian tour. Do you want to talk about that a bit, and perhaps any tours planned after that?
Weâre doing the tour with Moneen and Passenger Action, starting here in Vancouver and going basically across Canada. Weâre pretty excited about that. Weâre playing with Moneen, a band that we feel we fit with genre-wise, and a band that weâve been into for a while.
And they put on a hell of a show.
Hell yeah, man! Theyâre awesome, and itâs cool to see them back touring Canada. After that Iâm going to be doing some stuff with Comeback Kid, so Sights & Sounds might take a few months just to chill out for a bit.
All of the bands on this tour are Canadian. Is there a sense of unspoken solidarity amongst Canadian bands to help each other out?
I donât know. I think the cool thing about this is that, whether itâs acquaintances or friends, we know a lot of each other on the tour just because weâve seen each other and we get in the mix. I mean, the tour hasnât even started yet! You can find a lot of different things to find camaraderie in with other bands or band members.
Do you feel there are any struggles that are unique to Canadian artists, given the geography and separation between cities?
Long drives and long icy roads! But Canadians donât really have too much to complain about when they can get government grants to play music.
Finally, and most importantly, who is your early pick for the Stanley Cup?
Pfft, I donât know. Joel, whatâs your take? (Joel Neufeld, Andrew's brother and the drummer for Sights & Sounds, has been sitting in the backseat of the van reading quietly)
Joel: Dallas Stars.
Youâre going with Dallas? (laughs)
Andrew: Is that a bad thing? I donât even know.
Itâs not great.
Joel: You wouldnât bet on the Dallas Stars?
Well, youâd make a lot of money in Vegas with that bet if they win. Any last messages for the Punknews.org readers?
Thank you so much for the interview, thanks for checking out the band. Weâre just really excited to be doing this, have a record out, and weâll try to play as many cool places as possible.