September 28th, 2013 - What’s up BEND?! Last night was a crazy night of debauchery with our friends Necktie Killer and a special appearance by local buddies Collection of Lone Souljahs! Today we’re in Bend, OR. Check us out on The Coop, in studio, at 10am. Tune in to 88.9FM (Bend) orwww.KPOV.org. Don’t forget to come out to NtK HQ and party with us and our Ninkasi-fueled amigos Necktie Killer! $8 admission, free beer party. 21+
September 27th, 2013 - Such a fat lineup tonight! Much love to Natural Vibrations, The Steppas, Steady Riot!, Hawthorne Theatre, and Mike Thrasher Presents. Hawaii was rolling deep tonight! Much love to all who came out to celebrate the arrival of Autumn tonight! See you tomorrow in Vancouver, at Brickhouse with our friends from Bend, Oregon! One love!
September 26th, 2013 - Come out to the Hawthorne Theatre tonight and welcome Natural Vibrations back to Portland! It’s gonna be an awesome night of reggae with our Portland friends Steady Riot! Make sure you show up early and enjoy the “festivities.”
September 25th, 2013 - In our recent write-up in the Vancouver Vector, we had the opportunity to share our story with a great writer and artist. It was probably one of the more memorable interviews we have ever done. Somewhere in the chaos of it all, we must have confused poor Jonathan.
On the upcoming Sasquatch release, we have introduced some great artists to feature on our album.
On Saxophone, we had our longtime friend Luis Ocasio.
On Trumpet and Keys, we had friend and mentor C-Money.
And on percussion, we had our friend Ray DeLorme, and percussionist O.G. as well.
We’d like to apologize for the confusion, and we’re very excited to share our new works with you all, and feel very lucky to have worked with some of the best musicians in our careers, yet.
September 17th, 2013 - We recently had the chance to sit down with Jonathon Kendall of The Vancouver Vector. The editors had to edit the article for space which we understand, but we, along with the author, wanted to post the full, unedited version of the article. We are honored to have such an artist share his time to get to know us a little bit more!
by Jonathon Kendall
I watched Dominic break one of his guitar strings mid-chorus. But no worries — he instinctually changed the entire song, on the spot, without a break, and naturally began singing a new song about his snapped guitar string. And the band followed suit — all effortlessly on key and in time, as if they had planned the whole fiasco all along. If this were a test of The Sindicate’s professionalism and musicianship, they would have undoubtedly passed. “The show must go on.” Etc. And of course for the next song they grabbed a backup guitar from their tour bus and started on cue as if nothing had happened. Bands always seem to have backup guitars for some reason. Or at least bands of this caliber do.
But life wasn’t always like this for The Sindicate. They weren’t always this professional.
Locals in the truest sense of the word, Dominic Bianchini (Vocals/Guitar/Sax), Josh Garrett (Guitar), Steve Clark (Bass), and James Davenport (Drums) have been playing together since their high school days at Hudson Bay. Then, they were just a bunch of rebels who loved throwing huge parties and playing for their friends.
Dominic tells it this way — “We would have the most ridiculous house parties you could ever imagine — hundreds of people — and they all wanted to hear good rowdy music. So you could say that we started, ironically, as kind of a ‘house band’ for our own parties. Though eventually we got evicted from the house for obvious reasons. But our fans just went with us to new houses. And then we turned 21 and they followed us to the bars…”
Fast forward a few years, and here we find them as arguably the most well-known and successful band in Vancouver.
At present their sound seems to be equally influenced by the political lyricism of California Reggae as much as the angst of Seattle Grunge. Now mix in a little Portland Alternative and you have a beautiful concoction of influences which result in a sound which simultaneously feels musical and yet edgy all at the same time.
They’ve opened for and play with Slightly Stoopid, one of the most popular (Reggae) bands in the US. This summer they toured the west coast and are planning another tour this Fall. They have groupies (I saw this first hand). They have a manager who handles their logistics. And, of course, they have the ubiquitous “tour bus.” Not very many bands from Vancouver have a tour bus. Trust me, I know.
Whether we like it or not they are representing Vancouver on the west coast. And let me tell you something — after sharing a few evenings talking with them — we should definitely be proud to call them our own. They are, for lack of better phrasing, “a very good band.”
But when we think of the definition of “a very good band” it’s difficult to put our finger on what that actually means. In one sense, a band is an amalgamation of its parts, though that, of course, is an oversimplification. A band’s sound, their creativity, and their “success” is largely based upon their ability to miraculously, as if by instinct, combine separate parts into a song that sounds like it doesn’t have any. The Sindicate is good at this. They seem to vibrate as one cohesive unit.
Though at shows they mostly let Dominic (vocals/guitar) do all the talking. He is their voice — a quintessential “front man” if I’ve ever seen one. During their performances the rest of the band seems to be too enthralled by the sound coming from their own instruments to acknowledge the audience. They mostly look down to themselves with steely eyes, hallowed and calm, allowing Dominic to glare out into the audience as if on their behalf.
But this is only their public persona. Behind the scenes they are much more complex.
As we all are…
Before entering their bus for our first conversation Dominic emphatically stated, “We are very 420 friendly. Is this going to be OK?”
“Yes,” I said truthfully. And so we all partook. And we talked late into the night.
I asked them about the difference between playing in Vancouver and playing at bigger shows while touring and James answered with vigor and a contagious smile. His laugh and energy is palpable in the grandest of ways. “I love the small shows,” he said, “At small shows I come alive even more than at the big ones. The best way to make passionate fans is the intimateness of smaller shows.”
“And what does music mean to you?” I asked them grandly.
“Music is what feelings sound like,” Dominick answered quickly while taking a long puff, “Music is how I tell the world how I really feel — It’s the only way.”
After asking for a cigarette which I didn’t have, Josh explained their musical evolution in this way — “I used to have to wait in the car before Brickhouse gigs because I wasn’t old enough to get into Brickhouse and we’d just get high and drunk and play and have fun, but now music is all about emotion. Now we’re a family. Now we have to play for ourselves as much as the audience.”
I realized just then that they take this whole “playing music” thing very seriously. Though I’m not sure why I was so surprised — many locals say that The Sindicate’s aura is rather “intense” for a Reggae band, as if they have a constant chip on their shoulder. But this is not true. They are not arrogant guys by nature. They aren’t superior. They are just very professional and to top it off, they just are really that good — so people incorrectly assume that they are unapproachable.
But what makes them really different? Many bands from Vancouver are “good.” So why, specifically, are they so successful?
They didn’t have an answer when I asked them this, at least not specifically. Though it’s difficult to be a cheerleader for yourself, so I don’t blame them for their silence, not really. But if I were to venture a guess — it’s because they are truly dedicated to the “art” of music. They aren’t “trying too hard,” as many bands seem to be.
“What are you trying to do with your music?” I asked them. “What are you actually trying to accomplish?”
Dominic looked at me straight faced with a profound stare and answered very calmly — “I wanted to start The Sindicate with a very Nirvana philosophy, the idea that everything is a lullaby. Everything is a story. And we wanted to cultivate this sense of simplicity. Good music is often very simple. So with every song we want to create the best piece of art we can possibly make. And that’s really all that matters.”
I looked at Steven for a moment to see if he would add anything though he stayed quite as most bass players do. He took a puff, and passed it gently to Josh.
At this point we were all on a roll. Josh continued the conversation in speaking about Vancouver’s music scene…
“The problem,” he said, “is that there aren’t enough places to play.”
Dominic added, “You see, a lot of the time Vancouver is about ‘who’s the best band?’ but there should be more emphasis on the community I think. Bands should want to play together. If the community really cared about itself then it would be on an entire different level. Brickhouse is helping. Kiggins is helping. People are trying. But definitely if there was a bigger venue in downtown I think that would help. People need to start caring about what’s happening here.”
And so we talked like this for a while. And they told me about their upcoming album, “Sasquatch.” They told me stories of how it was produced with the help of members of Slightly Stoopid, and they spoke of a 48 hour tear of musical/drug-induced recording, and it all happened in the woods they said, and then we spoke about their families and of their friends and about art and then we spoke about Vancouver some more.
And then we smoked the last bit and we said our goodbyes amicably. Though now not as strangers…
A month later, upon returning from their tour, and this time a little more soberly, I spoke to them again about their plans for this fall and about their summer tour.
Dominic said, speaking about the release of Sasquatch — “We’re going to do a fall release but I don’t have a set date for you, at least not yet. I mean, I’m not going to release something that I don’t think is perfect. This album is art remember? So we’re not going to release it until it’s absolutely perfect.”
And so the conversation continued like we were old friends all along…
I noticed that Steve had a fresh “Good Vibes” tattoo on his arm.
“Yeah,” he said, “One night we all got these tattoos for free because we took a picture outside of his shop.”
“Does that sort of thing happen often?”
“Yeah,” Dominic added, “We got all sorts of free stuff while touring: food, liquor, acid, weed — people are super friendly when you’re on the road.”
“So how does it feel to be back home?”
“It’s a completely different reality to on tour than compared to home. It’s insanity all the time on the road,” Dominic said, still speaking on behalf of his band mates, “It’s very ‘Let’s be that fucking weird. Let’s do that just because.’ It’s very Jack Kerouac. So yeah, it’s really weird switching gears and coming back home.”
And it is. Home is sometimes the weirdest place of all — especially if home is Vancouver.
“Well,” I said, “I think that’ll do.”
And so we shook hands and smiled and parted amicably once again. But this time on the drive home I thought of Kerouac. “Music is the only truth,” he once said.
And I turned up the volume to “Decompose,” The Sindicate’s first single from their soon-to-be released second album. I listened very closely, very loudly, as I had earlier, though now with much wider ears than I had only a few weeks before.
Dominic sings in its last verse,
“I’m running back and forth looking to God and Faith,
but every corner seems to lead to the road…
When time is so constricting that you want to escape,
But the tracks just won’t let you go…”
And I think I understand what he’s saying this time around. I really do. Or maybe it’s just that I’m finally learning how to really listen?
September 14th, 2013 - Welp last night was fucking epic to say the least. Big week ahead of us we are in Corvallis Thursday at Clouds andCloud & Kelly’s Public House Then Friday we are out in the shoogue playing a private party at the Farm The Farm Recording Studio and then topping it off in portland. Dont miss the show on the 26th With Natural Vibrations at TheHawthorne Theatre its going to be off the charts!!!! Good vibes we love you!!!!!
September 12th, 2013 - Just got confirmed to play the Pacific Fire Gathering festival at the Coast tomorrow going to be beyond legit cant wait to play at a fire dancing festival!!! If we could bring you guys with us we would but tickets are running $150 -__-