Suuns – The Dark Heart Of Canadian Indie

Last year was all about Montreal’s euphoric heart thanks to Arcade Fire and ‘The Suburbs’. However this year it seems we’re going to be talking a walk on the Canadian indie citadel’s noir side. The Dears are back later this year with album ‘Degeneration Street’ in March, but kicking 2011 off in deliciously dark fashion are Suuns (pronounced “Soons”) who have just released their Television-meets-Battles debut ‘Zeroes QC’.

You can read Matt Wilkinson’s verdict on the record over at NME.COM/reviews, but here is what the band – Ben Shemie, Liam O’Neill, Max Henry and Joseph Yarmush – had to say for themselves when NME caught up with them in their hometown recently.

When did Suuns form?
Joseph: We like just came together with no real plan. Ben and I started hanging out in 2007 and we were like ‘let’s just make some songs’, it was like the winter with literally nothing to do. So some songs came about and we thought we should apply to POP Montreal, which is the festival here, and we got in! We were like ‘Ok! We need to fucking put a band together!’ [laughs] and we just got these guys [Liam and Max] together somehow.
Liam: It’s only now really in the last few months I guess that with the record that the band is starting to become a more distilled project because as I’m sure you know the Montreal scene is a very… I don’t if there is a positive way of saying incestuous! It’s very collaborative and its easy and very fun to be involved in a number of projects.


But you’ve committed to Suuns now?
Joseph: [laughs] Yeah! We all have the rings.

You’ve just released your debut album, because of the way you formed is it something you’ve been working on for a long time?
Joseph: No it was done really quickly. We did it in January last year in two weeks! The tracking, the mixing, it was so fast and we recorded a lot of songs as well. We just really knew what we wanted to do.
Liam: To be in the studio and just have time for two weeks was a complete luxury for us. It allowed for thoughts to flow over into other thoughts and things to accumulate very quickly.

The album is very sparse and you create some really interesting atmospherics across the record, how did you arrive at the ‘Suuns sound’?
Liam: I don’t think we could make a huge sounding record if we tried [all laugh].
Joseph: There’s a kind of minimalist tendency in the band, in the compositions and in the way that we play. All the songs are very simple – super simple ideas. What we’re good at is kind of building a lot of tension with very little.


Lyrically too? Your words can be quite stark.
Ben: There are some themes and ideas through a lot of the songs, but in some cases the lyrics are just kind of colours and its more like the songs are portraits, I’d like to think. The vocals are more about what they can add to a song as an instrument without necessarily telling a story.

Finally, you’ve named your album ‘Zeroes QC’ which was your old band name, why change it if you like it so much?
Joseph: [laughing] We started making too much money so we had to open another bank account in a different name! Nah, its really not an interesting story. There’s like a hundred million bands out there called Zeros – the most famous Zeros are a punk band from the 70s who we actually got in touch with to ask if it was OK to have the same name and they were cool with it, but they warned us of another Zeros from the 80s that tried to sue them an we were just ‘Fuck! We can’t do this’. But up until this summer we were Zeros, so Suuns is like a new name for us too.

At least you got an album title out of it
Max: Yeah it’s a homage sort of thing, a homage to ourselves! [all laugh]

‘Zeroes QC’ is out now on Secretly Canadian, see
for more.