Just over 2 years ago, I had the chance to talk to one of Canada’s best drummers, Nick Yacyshyn about his band Baptists and their debut LP Bushcraft. Since then, Nick has went on to record and release a second LP with Baptists titled Bloodmines, but that’s not all. Aside from getting a shout out from Dave Grohl (and some praise from Kurt Ballou himself) for his work in Baptists, Nick was introduced to Aaron Turner and Brian Cook to form SUMAC. The Deal, the groups debut effort came out last month and is a bludgeoning but hypnotic listen and a perfect combination of each members specific influences.
I had the chance to catch up with Nick to see how things have changed for him since we first talked – check out our discussion below. Also, do yourself a favour and give your ears a proper beating by listening to both Baptists and SUMAC.
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B.G.M. – For most of your current bands (and previous ones), you usually are within close proximity to the other musicians, how did the long distance approach to writing the SUMAC record compare to what you’re used to?
Nick – The distance caused us to put this record together in a short amount of time – where both Aaron and I were together for a weeks worth of arranging/rehearsing and then recorded the album that weekend – rather than having a jam and then waiting a week to do it again like a normal band. The alternative for our situation would have meant huge gaps in time between playing together, so we dedicated some time to rehearse and get our shit together and then laid it all down in the studio once we were done the initial jam process. Aaron had all the riffs recorded for me to listen to so I had a chance to get some parts together in my head before I went to Seattle to start putting it all together.
You’re already sharing a label with them, but what was it like to share a stage with Sunn O)))? Are there any other standout bands that you played with in the past year or so?
It was a blast! Those guys are super cool and their set is a totally insane thing to experience. That whole night at Southwest Terror Fest was a highlight as far as playing shows goes. Stand out bands… lots of label mates actually! Goatsnake, Black Breath, Obliterations, Torch Runner. This band Mouth from Oakland. I’m probably forgetting a ton of cool bands, but that’s the way she goes.
You went back into the studio with Kurt Ballou for the new Baptists LP, which is partially what brought the members of SUMAC together. Is he completely responsible or do you think that you, Aaron and Brian would connect anyway?
Who knows! I’m grateful that Kurt thought to recommend me and that Aaron and Brian both choose to make music with me, though. It’s funny to even talk about because up until a couple years ago, I was just a fan. Not only that, but the music I’ve made in my life has in one way or another been deeply influenced by the music that those three have made.
Are there any other new pieces of GodCity equipment that you’re using for The Deal? How do you like the snare that you used for the Baptists record?
Besides my kick pedal, I didn’t use any of my own gear for the recording of The Deal. I ended up using Aaron’s Bonham re-issue Ludwigs and a mixture of Zildjian and Paiste cymbals.
I recently bought a 14×7 titanium GCI snare off of Kurt that was the same (besides a few hardware variations) as what I used to record both Bushcraft and Bloodmines. That thing is really cool. On those records it was tuned to it’s midrange fat sound, but when I play live I have mine a bit tighter. It’s such a loud and powerful drum and it doesn’t look like shit, either! I can’t wait to see what Kurt does next in the drum department.
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Honestly, no. Haha! I haven’t had much experience in anything like that, so it really hasn’t even crossed my mind. I don’t think I could turn something like that down if it was ever presented to me, but I’ve never thought to do it myself.
I’ve always admired how small of a kit you use, especially since you play such intricate and complex beats, and you’ve always kept generally the same setup – how do you think you’d enjoy playing a Neil Peart style kit?
That would be fun I think! Maybe for a half hour or something just to do some Legend – From The Fjords fills or something. While I’m not afraid of adjusting my set up and making changes as I go, I can’t picture playing a massive drum set anytime soon. I’m working on something a little different for SUMAC, but it’s nothing excessive. I don’t think I need any roto-toms or remote hats in Baptists, but maybe I’m totally blowing it.
You recently got a shout out from Dave Grohl, that has to feel great. (Plus you have your own facebook page now) The reception for the Rain City Session seemed to be pretty great in general, how did you react to all of this recent praise?
It’s been really cool to have such positive feedback on my playing. Having an all time favourite dude vouch for me like that is a bit unexpected but completely appreciated and totally exciting. It’s all a bit of a trip, but hopefully it’s just the beginning of some more cool experiences and music to come and I’m grateful for any recognition I get along the way.
Vancouver seems to have a very well knit music scene, which shows in the Rain City Sessions – would you ever move somewhere else or is Van City the ideal spot for you?
I love living here for a number of reasons, and I’d definitely miss Vancouver if I ever left, but I have no plans to move elsewhere at this point.
Aside from Baptists and SUMAC you’re a pretty busy guy – The Armed, The Blood River Band, Erosion, Rotting Hills, Cooked and Eaten, etc. (not all of which are active, but still) – do you find that not having to tour constantly helps with your many creative efforts?
Ya there was a point where I had a lot going on musically. Most of it was with with my buddy Gordon Smith but he ended up moving to the east coast so Blood River Band, Rotting Hills, and Cooked And Eaten all kinda stopped. Danny from Baptists/Erosion also moved away so I really don’t have anything regularly happening locally. I enjoy playing shows on the road and hope to do more this year. Until then, I have some things on the go at home that I’m excited to see develop.
Whenever you do tour, you usually stick to the West coast – are there any plans to tour beyond the West Coast with SUMAC? I imagine you guys would do really well in Europe, not to mention the East Coast. SUMAC is already opening for big acts like Deafheaven – do you think you’ll be headlining your own huge tour soon enough?
The west coast is easy and ideal for touring when you live where we do. It’s like a greatest hits of cool spots to play, all while gradually getting warmer with more and more Mexican food the farther down you go. I’d love to tour Europe and wherever else will have us! I don’t see us headlining any “huge” tours anytime soon, but SUMAC is heading down to Portland and back in March.
You recently chatted with GearGods about your setup – is this your ideal setup in general? I imagine you’ve tried a plethora of different types of drums and setups
For the way that I play the drums, and the music that I play, my set up is ideal. If it becomes appropriate to add pieces or swap things out, I’m open to it all. For the last 10 or so years, I’ve played the same basic 4 piece set up with variations on drum/cymbal size/company here and there, but this is my favorite set up so far and I haven’t really changed much in 5 years.
Since you play all necessary instruments for a hardcore, metal or punk band, have you ever considered doing a solo album with you performing all the instruments?
I actually have the basic tracks recorded for an album that I did over a couple of days 2 summers ago, I just haven’t been able to get in and finish it. I’m putting together a band to play the tunes live and will get that going when the time is right. I have since written another LP’s worth of material, I just haven’t had an opportunity to make anything happen with it yet.
Are there any standout albums that have come out in the past couple years that you keep going back to?
Lots! Here’s a few:
John Carpenter – Lost Themes
Budos Band – Burnt Offering
Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow Soundtrack
Rob – Maniac Soundtrack
All of the Death Waltz/Waxwork releases
High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
Mamiffer – Statu Nascendi
Dead In The Dirt – The Blind Hole
Waingro – S/T
Percheron – Ain’t Dead Yet
Mouth – Corpus
Geez… I don’t know! Anywhere with enough room to set my drums up ahead of time and that has a few beers in the fridge is fine by me.
With so many older bands coming back and releasing new material, what’s one that you’d want to hear?
I’m looking forward to the new Faith No More record. I think Pentagram has something in the works, too. A new Saviours record would rule, since those guys are touring again. Same with Goblin.
You’re a longtime fan of AC/DC – How does it feel knowing that they recorded their new record in Vancouver? Are you into any of the bands new material?
I think it’s cool that they recorded here – they’ve recorded a few albums here by now I think, and a couple of my pals have spotted those dudes around town buying strings or whatever. I love that band. I haven’t listened to Rock Or Bust yet but their albums always have great songs and I’m sure this one is no different. It’s a shame that Malcolm wasn’t well enough to play on it, but I have 1 or 2 records with that guy on them to keep me happy for a long time.