By Kyle Harcott
Hellbound readers will be acquainted with my admiration for Vancouver’s Anciients. After finding out about them at 2011’s Riffs Not Riots show, I became a fast convert, and am pretty unabashed in thinking they are one of the finest bands Vancouver has to offer. I’m also really looking forward to their set at the second night of Noctis V, where they open for the likes of Midnight, Manilla Road and Pig Destroyer. I had a chat with guitarist Chris Dyck about what to expect from Anciients’ Noctis set, and beyond.
So, tell me about the sweet spot: How’d you guys get hooked up with opening the Friday show at Noctis?
Our manager Sean first told us about the fest, and mentioned we should maybe try and get on it. Soon after he mentioned it, I started to see posts on facebook about the fest, and when I heard about some of the headliners that were booked early on, I knew we had to try and get on board. But… this was right before we were just heading to Calgary to play two shows at Sled Island Fest, in June. So the concern was that we might not be able to get on the bill, because the Noctis organizers tend to, aside from having a couple area bands on the bill, try and bring in bands that don’t play Calgary very often. So I got in touch with Terese Fleming, the main organizer , on facebook, and plead our case: who manages us, we might be signing with label A, we have a 7” coming out on label B, you know, we’re totally down to play Noctis. And then I guess Eric Greif, our lawyer, who’ll be there this year as a panelist, talked us up to Terese as well. Sarah Kitteringham also had a hand in getting us chosen.
When I finally spoke to Terese, she mentioned her son and his girlfriend saw us play with Boris at Sled Island, and we got a thumbs-up review from them as well. So, good reviews all around, and Noctis sent us the invite, and a generous offer to boot. That we were even under consideration, even on the same page as a lot of the other bands playing this year, and then to be given an offer that could see us come out to Calgary and not have to lose money to do it, is an honour.
So, for such an illustrious gig, what can we expect from your set that night? Anything unexpected up your sleeves?
We can kinda pick and choose our set because a lot people who are going to be there haven’t heard us yet, so we’re going to playing the songs that we feel are absolutely crushing. Plus, we’re the opener. It’ll be our straight-up heavy set. Nothing planned out other than braining the shit out of the gig.
Who are you most stoked to see while you’re there?
On Thursday night? Hoopsnake. They destroy. They were just at the Rickshaw the other night and killed it. The only other bands I really know on that Thursday night are Speedwolf, they’re cool, and Blood Ceremony are badass. As for Friday, its Midnight, Manilla Road and Pig Destroyer; How can you do any radder than that? It’ll be a cool night. Archspire plays that night too – I dare any other band in Vancouver to step to Archspire.
You guys tore up Sled Island fest (twice!) earlier this year, how’d that go?
Both shows were awesome, considering the size of the venues – totally shitpacked. One show we can credit to Boris, but even that lineup of us and Black Wizard was pretty cool. The first show was in a smaller place, but it was with Black Wizard, and it was rad ‘cos they roadtripped out there too. And the other band on that bill were our friends Waster, turnout was badass.
How hard does a Calgary crowd bring it?
Oh, Calgary’s pretty rad. We love Calgary, lots of friends there from the Sprëad Eagle days [their old band – Tha Ed]. And lots of our friends from all over were there just for the festival. The second Sled Island show, with Boris, was ridiculous, just the energy from it, and our performance that night? Me and [drummer, Mike] Hannay say it was our best show ever. We had no idea we could get that kind of response from an out-of-town crowd. Apparently it was something like six or seven hundred people in the venue, just shitpacked. And the Distillery is a rad venue, the owners were totally cool with us and asked us back, so we’re stoked to be playing there again.
So it sounds like you guys can expect a crowd for your Noctis set.
Yeah, I hope so, man. I mean, either way, whatever – it’s totally worth it for us to go out there for the fest and have our name up on that poster with all of those other bands, and meet a lot of these media people.
Alright. Let’s talk about the full-length. A lotta people in-the-know are raving about it, and rightly so. How close are you guys to a release date?
Well, we’ve signed to a pretty-well-known metal label, for one album, and maybe a few more if everything goes well. We think it should be out in January of February, most likely February.
We have a 7” coming out as well [out now], it should be ready in time for Noctis. It’s coming out on War On Music and its basically our EP from last year. But since we never put it out on a physical format, we kinda wanted to do something with War On Music anyway, and if the label we signed to doesn’t put our full-length album out on vinyl, we’d like to maybe work something out where War On Music does – ‘cause Charley and War On Music are awesome. The fact that he puts out classic Canadian metal vinyl is rad. Like, if you go to his website right now, you see Anciients, Cryptopsy, Gorguts. Scroll down some more, you’ve got some Slaughter, Razor, and Sacrifice.
This year has been huge, just in terms of, having a whole new set of ‘peers’. I mean, Scott Watts from Sacrifice comes to our jams to just hang out now. It’s bizarre. If you asked me when I was in grade ten and listening to Sacrifice, if their bass player would someday come to my band’s jams, I’d have laughed in your face. Granted, I know – he’s just a dude and all, but I’ve been listening to his band a long time and have all the vinyls, so when he shows up at my jam to hang out, and brings with him a copy of some obscure Sacrifice record of all demos, it’s like “Oh my God!”
And that’s just one example. I mean, every couple of weeks, it’s like somebody else I’m a fan of makes a point to drop us a note to say how much they like the band. It’s kinda trippy.
Well shit, man, wait ‘til they hear the record! Not to blow smoke up your ass, but it’s pretty stellar.
Well… all I wanna do is be able to pay my wife’s rent and go play as many shows as I can. So if the label wants us to go tour lots, that’s fuckin’ great. Get us out there, get the record out there. If it’s as good as the label thinks it is, and as good as other people like yourself think it is, then hopefully we’re in for a good year.
I think the team that we have built… We have some good artists working for us, a good manager, a good lawyer, a good label. We’re working on a booking agent, and our label’s looking at booking agents for Europe for us. The support team is even more important. You could have the most kick ass album raring to go, but you got nothing doing, ‘cos you’re doing it all yourself. I’m a really good networker but I don’t know how to book or promote my band to the level I know it could be, or to the level that I want it to be.
So what’s next for Anciients?
Tour in the spring, after the record comes out, but not so much in the summer, ‘cos (guitarist) Kenny (Cook) is getting married to my sister, so he’s gonna be working up to then, but were gonna try and tour in the spring and late fall. And after the wedding, if the label still wants us to go out for another six months before we even think about recording again, we’ll basically do whatever the label wants us to do. We’re not holding the cards, and we’re not masters of this just yet. We’re good at being a band, and playing our songs, but that next level we’re still working on – so that’s why we got Sean and Eric and the label. They’re going to strategize with us as to whatever is financially the best option, and gets the most people listening to the record. Ideally we wanna play to as many people as we can
We don’t mind setting up our own tour of course, but hopefully we can get an opening slot for a band, like, I don’t know, somebody like a Skeletonwitch or a Black Cobra or somebody who fits with us, musically. We wanna tour Canada really bad and see our country. And we’ll do that on our own if we have to. It’s a major goal for us next year, to get to the other side of Canada – and if the label doesn’t set it up, we’ll do a small-time one ourselves.