Toronto band The Dying Arts knew what they didn’t want to be as a band.
The Dying Arts – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mike Portoghese, bassist Simon Poole, drummer Joe Torchia, and guitarist Daniel Scuglia – blends an interesting mix of music that crosses seemingly endless boundaries. One moment, the group is channeling the post-hardcore feel of Fugazi while the next they lean towards the ambient soundscapes of Radiohead and Sigur Ros.
Performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Monday evening, The Dying Arts Mike Portoghese says the group’s embrace of such a wide swath of music is a direct kick against the pop mainstream.
“I was a music video producer for a dozen years, having worked on videos for Sam Roberts as well as a lot of pop and rap videos,” Portoghese says. “The whole time I was doing working on a lot of those videos for these derivative pop artists, I was playing guitar and writing songs and knew I wanted my music to be nothing like the music in the videos I was working on.
“I didn’t want the band to be something that people could put into one box. I didn’t want us to be strictly a head-banging band or an indie-rock band. I wanted to bring a little from each of those worlds into the mix while also incorporating angular punk rock.”
The Dying Arts unique musical vision contained on their self-titled debut EP (released this past June) was brought to life with thanks to producer Jon Drew. Portoghese says that Drew, known for his work with Arkells, Tokyo Police Club among other acts, helped the group find a balance between keeping things controlled while embracing a chaotic punk rock ethos.
“I have always respected the work that Jon has done. The big thing that I found in working with him was the fact that he was incredibly adept at keeping the recording raw and helping us run amok but also knew the right time to reel us in.”
Drew’s formula for the band has shown promise. Their track “Bed Spins” has earned impressive rotation on satellite radio while Portoghese shares the group is also working on a video for the track.
He says that The Dying Arts are in a near constant state of refinement; endlessly pouring over their material to ensure their songs both meet their rigid standards but also reflect where the band is musically.
Last summer, the group had completed recording a full-length effort, which had taken the better part of two years to make. By the time the project was completed, Portoghese shares the record no longer reflected where the group’s musical interest lay.
He shares the group has little in the way of regret with having chosen to release their current EP in lieu of the discarded record.
“Looking back on those songs, a lot of them were conventional alternative rock tunes that we felt were playing it just a little too safe and sounded a little too normal,” he says. “We felt we were capable of doing so much more but also wanted to live up to our expectations of what the group could be.”
What: The Dying Arts, special guests to The Motorleague
When: Monday Nov. 10, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton