It’s been a busy few months for Solids: after self-releasing their blazing punk rock debut album, Blame Confusion, a stream of positive press and interview requests were thrown their way. Then, the duo began to tour outside their native Montréal. Finally, labels came calling and the band signed with Fat Possum in the States and Dine Alone in Canada. It’s the final step of a process that has seen the band become one of Canada’s most talked about young acts.
So what’s next for guitarist/vocalist Xavier Germain-Poitras? He’s heading far south, to Thailand and Laos.
No, the duo, who’ve drawn comparisons to both Japandroids and Doughboys, is not heading to Southeast Asia for a tour. Instead, Germain-Poitras is escaping the Montréal winter for a bit of respite before an upcoming six-week tour, their longest to date.
“It’s mainly to get some time with my girlfriend, because I know I won’t be seeing her much when we’re on tour,” he says, reached on the phone from Montréal. You can’t blame Germain-Poitras for seeking out some R&R before the tour, which also features relentless Toronto punks Pup. Solids has already gained a reputation for being a pummelling live act, soon throwing down in many cities for the first time. For his part, Germain-Poitras isn’t too worried: he believes, naively or not, that touring as Solids isn’t akin to simply punching a clock.
“Touring for us is kind of like a vacation as well though,” he notes. “It’ll be busy, but it’ll be fun.”
There is a brevity to Blame Confusion, one that manifests in concise tracks that drive hard with purpose, free of fat or filler. Similarly, Germain-Poitras and drummer Louis Guillemette barely elaborate on answers to a variety of questions. Blame Confusion is concise, but so, too, is their general approach.
“We try to jam as much as we can so that the touring ahead of us doesn’t seem so stressful. I guess we just try to do our thing,” he says with a laugh, after being asked how the band is keeping their head above water with their recent spike in popularity.
Guillemette concurs: “I really don’t know. I guess we just keep on doing what we do, like always.”
Solids appear relatively at ease with where they stand as a band right now. Recent success has done anything but go to their head; there’s a humility to the band, one that’s not forced or contrived. At times, both Germain-Poitras and Guillemette seem as taken aback by their success as anyone else.
Originally members of the experimental act, Expectorated Sequence, which Germain-Poitras struggles to define (“…it wasn’t really math-rock, I might call it post-hardcore, even though I don’t really like to label things”) the two broke off and started working on simple riffs they had in their arsenal.
It is these enlivening riffs that truly drive Solids: seemingly simplistic in nature, each of the 10 tracks burst to the surface with immediacy and unmitigated joy. So powerful are these riffs that their effects worked quickly: both Guillemette and Germain-Poitras knew they were onto something from day one.
“The first jam,” says Guillemette after being asked when he knew Solids would become his primary focus in terms of writing and recording. “We just had a lot of fun and I guess we could feel that we had something there. But I never expected it to go this far.”
“It started very quickly,” adds Germain-Poitras, before echoing one of the mantras of Solids’ existence.
“I had a bunch of riffs that I thought were very interesting but they definitely didn’t fit with the band we were in at the time. We just started jamming for fun and eventually we realized these riffs had become real songs. The goal at that time was to just write a few songs and have some fun. We were never in it to tour but we were surprised at how full these songs sounded with just the two of us.”
Fun: something many strive for but few achieve. And Solids make it look easy, by sticking to the basics. Throughout Blame Confusion, they even manage to make the duo they’re most often compared to, Vancouver’s Japandroids, seem like serious pencil pushers by comparison. There’s no anger or resentment present here: Solids are too busy enjoying the moment.
Of course, it’s not something to which they’ve given extensive thought. For Germain-Poitras, over-thinking their band isn’t an option.
“Yea, I think it’s been a constant with the band,” he says of their brief plans to write an uplifting record. “We’re always trying to write uplifting stuff and we’re very happy about that. It hasn’t always been the most conscious thing, but we’re still happy about that.”
Though Guillemette was reached via email a week later, his sentiments echo Germain-Poitras’ with alarming precision.
“When we jam we just play for hours without over-thinking it,” he says.
It would be silly to assume that either Germain-Poitras or Guillemette foresee any issues with just the two of them travelling across North America for a stretch of weeks. They both confess in one way or another that, logistically, being a two-piece eliminates many potential issues when touring. And their live show, which has become renowned for its almost precise functionality, will soon introduce legions of new fans to the band. They seem to be happy that way, as if, to borrow a monumental cliché, they’re content to simply let their music do the talking.
“It’s always a little hard to talk about ‘Chemistry,’” says Guillemette. “It’s something that is mysterious and better to be left that way.
Affable to a fault, it’s not a labour to talk with Solids. They seem, as one might suspect, like fun people. Their songs are fun. They don’t seem to worry much about their band. Both Guillemette and Germain-Poitras got caught up in the infectious idea of the band almost immediately. Hard to imagine the same thing not happening to others.
“We have a tendency to overthink some of our songs to make them sound more minimal,” Germain-Poitras says with a chuckle. “We always want to keep the first draft of our songs. We like the main point of the songs to just stay audible.”
Catch Solids at Wunderbar (Edmonton) on February 28 , the Palomino (Calgary) on March 1 and on March 3 at the Media Club (Vancouver) with PUP.
By Joshua Kloke
Photo: Tania McDonald