Duo Kenton Loewen and Gordon Grdina, both Vancouver natives, have come together after years of playing in different music outfits to release their debut self-titled album, and boy, is it a wild ride. Peregrine Falls is over-flowing with rock fusion; ranging from noise rock, experimental, math rock, all the way to sludge, these boys do not hold back – even sprinkling some jazz elements into the guitar and drum performances. No vocalization to be found here, just a couple of musicians playing to the best of their abilities, assuring a chaotic yet strategic instrumental listen.
Starting Peregrine Falls off is “Two Fish in a Bucket,” setting the tone of the record with its grungy guitar riffs and fiery percussion. “Demon Sparrow” begins as explosive as something out of the band Modest Mouse’s early days, expanding into a muddy headbanger. Another favorite of mine is “The Machinist,” a heavier track with a walking guitar line followed with lots of distortion, a killer combo. “Ornette” is a volcanic track, with enough escalation to make your head spin, another personal favorite. Closing the album is the sweet and melodic, “Not Bitter, Angry.”
Peregrine Falls is one great debut, filled with a myriad of rock sounds fused together into a cohesive marital bond that lingers, leaving me wanting more from these Canadian gents, and thanks to their cooperation I was able to chat with them about their love for music, the debut and what is next for the duo.
Peregrine Falls rating: 8/10
Where did you guys first meet? How far do you guys go back?
-K.L.: Oh wow… What year was it?
-K.L: We were both playing for a clarinet player in Vancouver, and she invited Gord to do an improve gig in Vancouver… and it was one of those times where I feel like I spent the entire time playing with Gord…and we had never met each other before then. We had heard of each other from the Vancouver music scene, and when we met there was a natural connection between Gordon and I and we ended up talking after the show for hours and Gord ended up asking if I would join one of his bands right away. We’ve been playing in bands together ever since.
Was the music connection the initial inspiration to start Peregrine Falls, or did you just know how good you guys were when you played together?
G.G: Actually yeah.. We had played together in so many different bands, like the Crackling to my Trio to even a 10 piece band and every time we left Kenton and I would immediately go back to playing together, and when my bass player moved down to Florida and we had no intentions of replacing him, we were like f*♡k it, let’s just do this!
In what ways does creating music affect you all differently than just listening to music?
G.G.: Well it’s funny because we just finished up a few shows and, being on the road is not an easy thing and we get little sleep and would up tight, and then we play this gig, and we can just look at each other and go ‘You good man?’ *chuckles* It really is like the most cathartic thing you can do and when you end a show you’re thinking, alright, I can die now. It’s a meditation and a cleansing all in one.
K.L: Yeah its super freeing and when we play we play really hard, extremely. It kind of blows the doors open on the whole experience because when you are listening to music, it can blow your mind, but it isn’t your own personal exploration out loud that it is when you play live.
I would love to see you guys play live, any chance of seeing you guys State side any time soon?
K.L: We are going to Europe soon but we will be hitting up Maine and New York around September and whenever we can book things around our other projects near the end of the year probably.
Would you guys say that you frequently play live in improvisational form?
G.G: Yeah! Mostly we do around eighty to 100% improv, with these songs at least.
Right on, I saw the video of “Gaza” on Youtube and I was really impressed because it was so different than the album version.
K.L.: It is also a nice way to approach why we write music, because I’ve been in bands that have toured and play rock music the exact same way and if you do that there is a part of you that begins to go insane, so when rock bands hire either of us to be in their projects there’s an element in which they are giving up *laughs*
G.G: Yeah, they have to be okay with the fact that we are bringing what we are. What we bring to the music is intentional regarding exploration and improvisation.
I can hear hints of rebellion in this debut, was that your take on the music scene today or am I just reading too much into it?
K.L: Hmm.. I am going to go out on a limb here and say f*^k yeah! *Laughing* It is impossible to live in a world and it not be political. On whatever level you are in the world making music I sort of feel like there is a responsibility to react and respond to what is going on, and that is definitely present in the music, yeah, reaction and revolution.
G.G: I feel politically the presence is there yeah, but as far as the music scene right now it is also true because there is so much in the music industry and so much being made that I feel is absolute horse shit and made for all the wrong reasons and just total crap. Yet at the same time I know there is so much innovative music being made that is not getting enough attention and it’s sad because this is one of the most creative times in music.
Couldn’t agree more, guys, I feel like there is so much saturation happening that the good, intelligent stuff is being washed out!
K.L: Oh yeah for sure, and that is one of the great things about the Internet. I mean, Billy, John, and Jennifer can make a record in their backyard, and whether it is good or bad it can become a part of the assimilation and released. It’s great because it allows freedom of the scenario, yet at the same time it has allowed a fracturing in the craft of making music and for the people who have spent their whole lives crafting. The saturation is definitely a major issue.
G.G: There’s an interesting balance in that.
Do you guys have any future plans for the band besides touring? Do you guys have plans for a new album eventually?
G.G: We are ready to go and make a new album when we can, we have so many other projects going it is hard to find the time. But we are looking to take some time off so we can get together and get in the studio.
K.L: There is a song on the record actually called “Finger Lakes” that symbolizes that issue of time for us. We have a buddy in New York that let us come up to his cabin and the end of our tour and allowed us to work out a bunch of music. There will definitely, definitely be another record.
All right, some fun ones now. If you could go back and listen to any artist live in their prime, who would it be?
K.L: Miles Davis!
G.G: Ornette Coleman, Led Zeppelin, or Jimi Hendrix.
K.L. *chuckling* Yeah no, those are crap I would never have chosen those. No those guys played from the heart, any of them would be great.
Are there any new albums out you guys are currently digging or any upcoming releases you’re excited about?
G.G.: Looking forward to the new Snake Oil record, and the new Matt Mitchell record is really great. What the hell else have I been listening to?!
K.L.: It’s funny, because of the saturation of music, in this past year I have listened to the least amount of new music I think ever. I just feel like the hoppers are full and needed a break from seeking out new music. So lately I’ve been listening to a lot of stand-up comedians.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m looking forward to the new Roger Waters’ coming out.
G.G: Oh yeah! He just turned 70, wow. It’s crazy because my dad just turned 70 so let’s put that in perspective! But you know my dad didn’t play in Pink Floyd so I will probably pick up that record too *laughs*.
K.L: Do you remember “What God Wants” that he put out like twenty years ago? One of the lyrics is ‘What God wants, God gets. God help us all.’ That always stuck with me and is an interesting thought!
What would you say is your favorite music listening platform?
G.G: Vinyl for me.
K.L: Yeah we actually made our record so that you can get it on vinyl too.
Do you guys remember the first album you bought with your own money?
K.L: Yep, it was Phil Collins’ But Seriously and then right after that it was Back in Black from AC/DC.
G.G: Mine was a tape and was ZZ Top, Eliminator.
K.L:: That’s funny cause I have just recently been getting into ZZ Top again, and I’m like ‘wow, they are kind of badass’ *laughs*.
Lastly, what other major interests do you have besides music?
G.G: Turns out its booking tours apparently! *chuckles* Raising kids, reading.. I actually always wanted to get into white water rafting or scuba diving because I’m nervous I will screw up my hand or something, so I just go back to reading.
K.L: I write a lot and I focus on poetry which gets turned into music a lot of the times as well.