See below for more photos from the night. All photos courtesy of Chris Ho.
Post-punk Calgary band Ultrviolence kicked off a mini-tour with their EP release party in Vancouver at the Emerald in Chinatown. Black Sea is their latest, following 2012’s Burn then Shine EP. During an interview with The Peak, singer and bassist Nate J., drummer Kirk Power, and guitarist Ali Abbas discussed the uphill battle it took to make Black Sea a reality.
Power: It’s taken two years to get to this point.
J.: It’s been quite the hardship.
Abbas: The plates kept on breaking. Every time they’d get pressed, something would go wrong with the plates.
It took four broken plates, one “bunk test pressing,” and one remaster to get the EP out to the world, according to Power. Abbas joked that “it wasn’t meant to be,” and it certainly seems that way. The band hasn’t had an easy road. Their tour vehicle was at the mechanic’s the night of the show. It was spitting fire earlier.
J. and Power have been friends since childhood. They started the band in 2002, back when they were a “rock, metal, Danzig band,” said J. They made the switch to post-punk because “It seemed like a natural transition. . . and a more interesting avenue,” Power explained. Abbas only came on board two years ago, but their signature moody sound was tight on stage.
During every pause in singing throughout their set, J. would take the time to very enthusiastically dance to the music. In true post-punk form, the set was dark with sorrowful, with soulful lyrics and moody guitar and bass. The rollicking drum riffs helped elevate the sound to another level.
The fan favourites happily coincided with Ultrviolence’s own favourite songs to play. “One of my favourite songs, I think, is probably “Turn the Lights Off” — the first song,” said J. Abbas added that, “It gets things started.” Power really enjoyed their cover of an Actors song, which is a local band in the same genre. They ended on “Do You Love Me,” which has a “slow, jazzy bit” of which J. is a fan.
They also commented on their band name, saying that it’s drawn from New Order’s song “Ultraviolence,” but that they made themselves the modern version by leaving out letters. “It’s kind of a play on that. A bit satirical,” said J.
“A way to stand out, too. Especially because then Lana Del Rey had a record that came out right away that was called Ultraviolence. Every time you’d search, that’s the first thing that would come up,” added Power.
When asked to self-describe Black Sea, they said that, “it’s kind of our answer to second- or third-wave punk, like AFI. We just got the idea that that all these songs are very expressive, very dark, very moody, so we used that whole metaphor of oceans and waves for that specific reason.
“We just had to create that abstract commonality between everybody. It’s multi-dimensional and works on a lot of different levels.”
Ultrviolence’s tour ends in their hometown of Calgary, where they spend almost every spare moment in their out-of-town farmhouse practice and recording space. All three of them are car and motorcycle nuts, with Power building car engines and Abbas working on bikes. They all have ‘day jobs,’ but whether your dream is music or something else, the guys said “just do it and don’t give up. Just go no matter what, or how hard it is. Follow your heart and you’ll never fall.”