I talked to Switches before their pre Up+Downtown Fest jam. These rock and rollers were a riot to talk to: we shared Old Milwaukee brews and constant laughs. Be prepared to have a good old time and to get moving when these guys hit the stage — the sheer enjoyment that Switches display while onstage is contagious.
Two years ago, Tamar Dinner (drums) and Tara McMahon (guitar) began jamming after McMahon returned to Edmonton from Victoria. They recalled those awkward initial jam sessions, when their jam space didn’t allow for much noise: “The first song we ever wrote lyrics for was done by strumming on acoustic guitar so quietly on the cement floor of the basement,” chuckles Dinner.
McMahon met Angela Mason at a friend’s housewarming party. They discussed the possibility of her joining them on bass. After a successful tryout, she did just that.
The band became official when Stefan Opryshko (keys) joined in February of last year. Switches haven’t been around for long, but these folks have been busy bees (they pointed out that they are almost at their nine-month mark; they are just about to be born)!
After throwing names around (Dinner notes that they were originally known as the All Girl Denim Relay Team Band), these cats chose to go by Switches. I asked if this was due to the ol’ switcheroo of instruments (prior to this band, Dinner, Mason and Opryshko played different instruments and their current specialties were self-taught), but, as McMahon explains, “I think our songs are a little switch-y, in terms of tempo and style. That isn’t necessarily why we named the band that. We came up with the name and then saw how it fit.”
Their song writing processes are mixed and switches as well. “Sheri,” for instance, was written on the spot. “We were downstairs calling to [Sheri, McMahon’s roommate]. We wanted her to get us something or we were wondering if she was home and we were singing to her. It literally became a song. Tara wrote lyrics for it. It came out of us just joking around,” Mason says. She also went on to add that she attempted to book a show in Revelstoke. After multiple correspondences, the venue said their sound was too punk. “I guess Sheri sounds a little punk.”
One of the things that I appreciate about Switches is that they put on a show complete with classic live visuals (which are created by the talented Krystal Selbee) and often with costumes.
At Hot Plains Music Fest, Edmonton’s first vegan food truck, Sailin’ On, had their official kick off. Dinner and McMahon dressed up as the dudes who run the truck, Garrett Kruger and Mike Brennan (who very much resemble Wayne and Garth of Wayne’s World) and the rest of the band dressed up as well.
“It is new experience for all of us being in this band. Edmonton has such a good music scene right now. It is kind of a hot bed in terms of booking shows and being asked to play shows and people being really into music right now,” explains Dinner. Switches are really into fellow Edmonton bands Look Away, Arrowz, Banshee, Snow, Brazilian Money and Strugglefucks. Their favourites that have been on the scene for quite some time now include Black Mastiff, the Slates and Stepmothers.
In addition to all of the live shows keeping them busy, Switches recently recorded an EP (recorded by Terry Fairfield), which will be released at their homecoming show at the end of their upcoming West Coast tour. Catch them if you can!
Switches will play at a Kensington house party (Calgary) on November 9 and at their album release at Barber Ha (Edmonton) on November 10.
By Jenna Lee Williams
Photo: Erik Parsons