Hailing from the heart of the new west, Calgary, AB, Crooked Spies are an emerging garage influenced four-piece drawing inspiration from all that the rock genre has to offer. Fronted by brothers Dylan and Steven Evanik there is a certain allure to the sibling’s enthralling live demeanour. Encompassing a youthful and unabashed confidence, their 2017 release High Plains has been described by Mike Bell (theYYScene) as “a gnarly, almost belligerently cool slab of stoner rock, muscled-up pop-punk and ’90s mostly metal…” With a dedicated and inclusive fan-base, their chaotic and raucous live show is where the group feels most at home. Sweat soaked, still broke, rock n’ roll for fans of The Dirty Nil, Hot Water Music, The Black Keys, and Danzig.
The band is out with their latest, ‘Pay It Mind’ and we had a chance to sit down and chat. Check out our conversation below…
Some questions below from GigSoup Music. Let me know if we can get these back by next week?
Hey folks. Dylan here. Thanks a bunch for taking to the time to ask us some questions. We truly appreciate being able to share our thoughts on ‘Pay it Mind’ and our musical endeavours over the years. We haven’t done many Q & A’s so I just added who answered what question below.
Can you talk to us about the inspiration for your latest single ‘Pay It Mind’?
Pay it mind” was one of those songs that was written front to back in about 45 minutes. I say that but it was really over two sittings. I had written the verse and chorus riffs about a week prior to writing the lyrics. The lyrics came my first morning back after a long shift away from home, as I sat on my patio in a semi-soothing state of self loathing. The song is based on being stuck in a cycle of living out the same mistakes over and over again.
The premise of the song is to actually acknowledge these flaws or mis-steps and legitimately make a change. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Basically to get out of the repetitive cycle of bullshit you might be dealing with. I was just reflecting on that old saying “Pay it no mind” and thinking that it doesn’t always apply. “Pay it mind” is a play on that saying. Instead of not paying attention or dismissing things or “putting shit behind you”, it’s about actually recognizing that you or maybe someone you love has an issue. Acknowledging the fact that you’re fucking up can allow a person to take the necessary steps and actions to improve it. At the very least it begins a personal dialogue of understanding. By focusing on the negative you can actually turn it around to be a positive learning experience. By paying attention you are actually present in your own life.
How has your community contributed to your success?
Calgary has an absolutely stellar music and arts community. It is a pretty tight knit group but it is an extremely welcoming bunch. A huge part of the success we’ve had to date is from this open arms policy that seems to exist throughout the scene. I can’t speak for the other gents but when we first started out I was definitely a bit intimidated with the thought of trying to book shows and how we would fit in as a rock band in psych/folk dominated scene at the time but we quickly realized that it just didn’t matter. The emphasis was never on genre here. Everyone has always been super welcoming. Good people are good people. Good bands are good bands.
We are super fortunate to have some local staples in terms of venues that have somehow persisted through constantly changing economic situations and the social relevance of live music in the city. The Palomino, Broken City, The Ship & Anchor, etc. all have really been the backbone of our music community over the years and I think contribute greatly to the success of every band trying to cut their teeth here. Each of these venues has the best staff in the world and give artists the opportunity keep growing even when the business itself might be hurting. These spots value live music and without them we wouldn’t have the success we do now.
I think another aspect of this community that has helped us get to the place we are now is how fucking inspiring and motivating the wealth of local talent we are fortunate enough to see perform here on a nightly basis. In Canada it’s always about the bigger markets like Toronto or Vancouver but man the bands Calgary currently has to offer include some of the rawest talent around. I don’t know if it is an underdog mentality or that commercial aspirations aren’t as prevalent here but it’s a good time to be into live music in Calgary. It definitely makes you want to keep improving.
What advice would you give other musicians?
Serve the song.
If you aren’t enjoying the process and what you are doing I’d say pack it in. It’s all about having fun.
Don’t sleep on the steak burrito at Fernandos in Kelowna.
Take the time to carry your gear inside. Getting robbed is no fun.
Turning things inside out makes them clean again.
If a dude asks if he can freestyle for you it generally results in an extremely awkward departure and some change from your pocket.
Describe to our audience your music-making process.
It varies wildly. In general I’ll have a riff first but occasionally a melody or a line will weasle its way into my brain and I can’t stop humming or singing it until its documented in some way, shape or form. Usual via a voice memo. Often times these lines become the hook or the chorus of a song. I have a deep catalogue of random one liners that I can use in times of lyrical trouble.
In many cases I’ll have the majority of a song put together (riff wise). Try to lock down lyrics for a chorus. From here I try to figure out what it is I’m actually trying to say and then write the verses. Most of the time bridge parts are a communal effort when we start going through and putting the song together as a band.
When I have most of a tune together we put it together as a band and everyone adds their character to it.
How did it feel when you released your debut single?
We skipped the whole debut single thing and just vomited our first album “Treason” into the world. Actually, this is somewhat untrue, we did have a 3 song EP that we released on CD only consisting of Man on Fire, High Tide and Mata Hari. I think the moment that really hit us was when we first heard our song High Tide on the radio, that was something special, a bucket list item checked off for everyone.
If you could collaborate with any musician/band, who would it be? And why?
If we could spit hot fire with The Raconteurs that would definitely be a dream come true. All of us in the band admire the song writing, the melodies, the riffs and everything that band has to offer. I’d love to learn from what they do. The guru himself Dave Grohl would be dope to work with too.
What first got you interested into music?
Handbells. I used to shred the handbells in elementary school. Unfortunately handbells can only take you so far and chicks definitely dig the guitar more. No joke though I wanted to play in a band to pick up girls. I think we were 13 when we got our first band together. My brother Steven played guitar so I convinced my mom to by me a bass. We learnt some Blink songs and played the talent show. Did it help with the ladies? Maybe. Did we find our calling? I think so.
I can honestly say that my earliest memory of the impact of music came when I was four years old. I was riding shotgun with my dad cruising in an old truck through the winding roads of Salt Spring Island. I remember the wind ripping through my hair and The Tragically Hips “Little Bones” blaring. It was the first feeling I ever had of music creating an atmosphere, complimenting your environment and making you feel a certain way. In that moment I was the baddest 4 year old around.