Taking their name from a poem written by Emily Dickinson, there is nothing out of date about Hamilton rock band Thought Beneath Film, who perform tonight at 10 p.m. at Moncton’s Plan B. Lounge on St. George Street.
The songs featured on Detours are pop anthems in waiting. It is hard to not envision any one of the five tracks on their debut EP Detours not being an instant radio smash. Owing as much to the pop-punk sensibilities of Blink 182 as they owe the more distinct pop influence of The Beatles, Thought Beneath Film bring a myriad of influences to the table on Detours. Seeing how the band is comprised of Hamilton music scene veterans, experienced touring musicians and recording engineers, it should be little surprise that this is a band who knows exactly how to go about getting what they want.
Arriving at the release of their newest CD Detours hasn’t been an easy nor a flawless process for Thought Beneath Film. In fact, there is probably a very good reason why their debut EP is called Detours although had they named the EP Perseverance, that also would have been completely acceptable.
“We have been playing together for approximately two years now but hadn’t always been the most active,” vocalist-guitarist Brent Wirth says from his Toronto-area home.
“In those two years, we went through a fair amount of band members in efforts to find a solid lineup of guys that we knew shared the same commitment and vision for the band that Brian and I did,” referring to his brother who also plays in the band.
Asked for the exact amount of people who have come and gone from the ranks of Thought Beneath Film, Wirth laughs and simply admits that it was a “huge number” but clarifies by saying that many of these people were not confirmed members of the band but rather many who the group was trying out in efforts to see if the much needed components of chemistry and dedication were present.
“When I say there were a lot of people who exited the band, it is not as though we held a big audition and people came and left all day long or anything like that,” he says. “Brian and I were very fortunate in the respect that we had a lot of musical connections that allowed us to try playing with a lot more people than we might have been able to otherwise.
“When it comes down to it though, there is a lot of variables that go much beyond whether someone is a good player. You have to consider if the person’s style is what you’re after, whether they will be as committed to the band as what we are asking of them. There are a lot of people that like the idea of being a part of a band but don’t want to take the plunge, so to speak. We wanted to find band members that, when the opportunity to tour comes up, they are right there alongside of us. A lot of financial and emotional aspects can come to the surface in those circumstances and it is really then that you see their engagement.”
Once the lineup of the Wirth siblings, David Lindsay, C.J. Ricottone and Matt Foster was solidified, the band set about making Detours. The band’s dedication to ensuring that their finished product reflected exactly what they wanted saw the band re-record Detours twice while they remixed the EP a whopping three times. Wirth explains the rationale behind continually going back to the drawing board as not wanting to settle for anything less than perfection.
“We wanted the finished product to sound exactly as we envisioned it,” Wirth explains. “When you’re recording, especially in production of the sound of drums or the guitars, if there is something that you’re not entirely happy with, those things tend to stick out. Then we would arrive at the mixing stage of the record and were already unhappy with it, so it made sense to go back and make things right.”
Of course, no band can put all their eggs into the recording basket alone. The mixing phase of the record, where all of the recorded sounds are brought together, is, some might argue, the most important part of making a record. After having tried out two different mix engineers, Thought Beneath Film enlisted the services of Tom Lord-Alge, a Grammy Award winning producer and mixer who has worked on records by Blink 182, Sum 41, Hedley, and The Wallflowers.
“Each of the engineers we worked with was good in their own right. Having worked with a few different engineers also gave us different perspectives on how the songs could sound,” Wirth says. “I think Tom Lord-Alge brought the best of everything to the table and found that elusive middle ground that we weren’t necessarily able to find with the prior two mix engineers. Tom was really able to zero in getting a sound that was polished but still a little rough and dirty.”
Working with Lord-Alge has been a bit of a double-edged sword, Wirth says. He says that for every person that may be inclined to listen to Detours because of Lord-Alge’s involvement, he says that others have given the band a less than enthusiastic response to having worked with such a big name.
“At the end of the day, this is a record that we made in our basement,” Wirth affirms. “It was about as do-it-yourself as you can get but some people seem to be missing that point, choosing to focus on the Tom Lord-Alge connection instead. The fact of the matter is we were responsible for the creative decisions and how the tracks were written back when we were making the record in our basement.
“It should always be about the music. I would never deny the fact that we are looking to write catchy songs. I think it is completely natural for us to harness aspects of our influences and try to redefine them in a modern kind of way.”
Article published in August 27, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript