The Stills, made up of Tim Fletcher - vocals/guitar, Dave Hamelin - vocals/guitar, Liam O'Neil - keys, Olivier Corbeil - bass, and Julien Blais - drums; are a band from Montreal, who are set to release their third lp very soon (august 19th). Tim took some time out in the midst of mixing and mastering of the album to share some info. on some topics revolving around Montreal and The Stills.
1. What is the meaning behind the band name; was it something that sounded timeless, and does the meaning change for you from time to time? Were there any other names considered? Are all the band members from Montreal?
The name The Stills was chosen for us by a friend who was a small star of the New Ethiopian Cinema in the late 1980s. He got into a pretty heavy scene though, in New York City, and died pretty young. But he loved movies, especially American Film Noir of the 50's, maybe more than we loved him. And so I suppose the meaning is constantly shifting in accordance to what every frozen moment that is significant to us feels like. But then, we are all from here, except for Julien who was born in the far north of the province of Quebec, the son of a lighthouse owner on a small island in the St. Lawrence River, where the water is brackish and filled with royal blue ice.
2. Having recorded a couple tracks in French, do you prefer to record in English or French? Would you consider doing a whole album in French? Is there a difference when it comes to actually playing in either language?
There is no difference in playing songs in French. The only one we perform at this time is Retour Á Vega. It is a song composed by our very close friends Pierre-Alain Faucon and Felix Trenton Trenton, de Chinatown. We might consider an album in French - but it's irrelevant because it will never happen. So, no. And a moving song is just that in any language.
3. In between the first and second records, there was the lineup shift; with the original guitarist leaving and Dave switching from drums to guitar, what was the decision for Dave to do so instead of finding a new guitar player?
It was always meant to happen, we simply had no man or woman to bash drums mad in the beginning, and now we have a hot-blooded son-of-a lighthouse-owner who acts likes he was born and raised in the jungle by banshee cannibals, and smashes like he was in Hell.
4. Comparing the first two records, they do seem different, but after a few listens, they sound relatively similar in a good way; as Dave had mentioned -playing the songs live from the 2nd record, they sounded as if they could have been on the first... Was there something(s) in particular from the first record that you tried to consciously stray from and avoid? And is there a song you don't like performing?
We never try to avoid or stray from our path. No artist ever does. You go with what comes to move you, with what presents itself to you. We place flagpoles where we were meant to, and you never know where that will be. Now we will have three, and they will only begin to delineate our territory. The world is getting too small, you have to mark it beyond your share and further.
5. How has being on a tight knit label such as Arts & Crafts, differed from your previous label?
It hasn't differed greatly at all. Arts&Crafts is composed of people so close to us as to have been already considered family before the signing. Vice Records is also family to us, and we will always love them and be thankful for the opportunities and support they provided us. We've been excessively lucky with both through times of light and times of darkness.
6. Did you take a new or different approach going in to record the third record, or even before actually going into the studio? Has the writing process been different for this record as well?
Again, you can't do anything else than take a different approach, since everything changes. It will always be that way. This album came during travels separately and then fully crafted together wherever we were given instruments and the room to do it. Wherever we happened to be, whatever substances were native.
7. Were you guys listening to certain bands/sounds/etc. for inspiration? And who has been a steady inspiration?
It's always shifting, it's always moving, always melodies and moods here and there, in your head, people bring us back tapes of Malaysian radio stations, Singapore, etc.. full of crazy kids making weird songs and sounds, rich, poor, seriously. Everything at the end is hard to make out through static but think about how much is actually in there.
8. What is the biggest difference to you on the upcoming record? And how do you see it being perceived, or is that important at all, to some extent?
Certain angers and weird drives to it that have become more+more prominent. What you go through always shows up in what you create, can't really help it, even if you try to run the record sounds like what you run from. It doesn't matter what you do, it will always shift. So then we make this for ourselves, but to show others.
9. What's your favourite city or venue to play in? Do you have suggestions on where to check out while visiting Montreal?
You can find something amazing anywhere. Seriously anywhere. I bet some people love playing to their people in Baghdad Hell, and I bet those people love hearing them back, in bombed out nothing-fucked backyards. That's hope, and that is good. Istanbul, very amazing. Mount Fuji, Jyukai woods, magnetic poles reversed, lots of sun-blocking-sheet cults, suicides, lost Mastercards, old girlfriends in there. In Montreal, find some friends and go do mushrooms in Parc Lafontaine and tell me that wasn't Jean Leloup you saw drunk on the little island there in the middle. Singing songs asleep.
10. What are some bands you are currently listening to? Some old favourites/favourite records? Anything you're looking forward to being released? Last cd/vinyl/digital purchased? Last movie and/or show you saw?
Current hearings: Ethiopiques. Dice The Boss. The Eternals. Lola Vs. Powerman. Looking forward to new Sam Roberts album yes.
Last album purchased = GZA The Genius, Liquid Swords.
Last movie seen: Chungking Express, fucking genius beautiful, and Apocalypse Now Redux, again, best movie ever. But Chungking Express, go watch it!