Sonic Avenues embrace their influences

Much like what makes up or defines pop music can be interpreted in various ways depending on the listener, the same applies for punk music. To most people, the mere mention of punk music conjures images of mohawks, nose rings, unkempt clothes and other various mental pictures.

Sorel, Quebec band Sonic Avenues embraces much of the punk ethos, yet their songs tend to shy away from the breakneck pace that so many other punk bands embrace. Instead of relying upon speed, Sonic Avenues hold jangly guitars and tight harmonies as their secret weapons, creating a sound that can lean on pop almost as much as punk, ultimately creating something that is both timeless and altogether new.

Sonic Avenues will be performing at Moncton’s Manhattan Bar & Grill tonight. The show is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m.

Along with his band mates Sebastien Godin, Jamie Desjardins and Jean-Christophe Niquet, Sonic Avenues’ Max Desharnais is the first to admit the influence that some British Invasion pop acts have had upon the group.

“At the very beginning, we were big into ’60s psych-pop-garage bands and I feel that still transpires in our sound, especially in the vocal arrangements,” he says. “If you look for them, I think you can find subtle elements of bands like The Kinks or The Zombies in our sound. But I feel there is also a lot of late ’70s and early ’80s Brit-pop, punk and pop-punk in the equation as well; bands like The Adverts, The Zero Boys and The Saints have always been strong driving forces for us.”

Sonic Avenues is currently touring in support of their self-titled debut effort and are due to release the much-anticipated follow up in January. The group’s next effort, Television Youth, will be released in North America via the American label Dirtnap Records while the album will also see release in Europe courtesy of two different labels. You might say that Sonic Avenues’ plan for world domination is coming together rather nicely.

Asked how he feels the band has grown in the time between the recording of their debut and Television Youth, Desharnais says the group stayed true to its roots while still managing to move forward.

“Television Youth is definitely poppier, punkier and dirtier than our previous effort was,” he says. “I feel like every instrument sits better in its respective spot in terms of the overall sound of the band. From the start, we had a precise idea as to where we were heading with the product in terms of sound esthetics and we figured out ways to get as close to it as possible. That being said, we still left a lot of room for on-the-spot creative bursts during the recording process to help preserve a fresh aspect to the album. The songs on Television Youth are also straighter to the point, musically speaking, while the lyrical content is a little less one-dimensional compared to the first LP.”

Having toured throughout Canada, the United States and Europe over the past two years, Desharnais admits the group has been fortunate enough to have played a number of great shows in all of the above territories.

“The first time that we had even toured the United States and the west coast of Canada, we got to play a bunch of excellent shows with good turnouts. It really kind of surprised us because we had gone into the tour expecting most of the shows to be under-attended. People really seemed to be into what we were doing which was a great feeling.

“We toured Europe approximately one year later and that was an absolute blast. I think a big reason behind why we had such a good time there was partly due to the fact that our debut had time to spread since its release the year prior,” Desharnais continues. “People were crowding the floor, dancing and singing along to the songs. It wasn’t something that we were used to but it was pretty incredible.”

Once the group’s new record drops in January, Desharnais anticipates his band revisiting the Maritimes while also playing a smattering of shows throughout Quebec and Ontario. In March 2012, the band will be appearing at the prestigious SXSW Music Festival in Texas and will then cross the ocean to tour Europe once again.

Article published in October 28, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript