It’s a big week for a very important Canadian band; Strange Breed will release their debut album Permanence. on September 13th with a Canadian tour beginning in Vancouver the very next day. For those of you newcomers, Strange Breed is an all-queer, female alternative garage rock group from Vancouver, that is highly invested in not only music but also social and political causes; such as gender discrimination, mental illness, coming out/LGBTQ+ visibility, sexual assault, #MeToo, and gun laws.
This quartet is one of the most cognizant, socially-aware bands in Canada today, taking on with pride a recognition that they have the opportunity to not only bring visibility and transparency to these issues but to also amplify their own stories and those of others around them through the platform of music and performance. Strange Breed’s songs may perhaps remind you of a lot of the femme rock that broke in the early 1990s and went through a period of great popularity. This all said, why not familiarise yourself with the band’s previous music via Spotify or Apple Music.
Today we are not only pleased to premiere the entirety of their new album Permanence. but to also have a more in-depth chat about the issues at hand with lead singer and guitarist Nicolle Dupas. The rest of the foursome is rounded out by Terra Chaplin (lead guitar), Megan Bell (drums), and Ally Von Wallis (bass), and some of their standout new singles include “The C-Word,” a song presented as a lighthearted, almost step-by-step guide to how consent should work, or “Sharks,” an accessible rockers that is also closely linked to the #MeToo movement.
It’s time to simultanesouly gain some awareness and rock out; this is the Permanence. premiere!:
Strange Breed is a band with something to say in an age in desperate need of those with “something to say.” As part of our premiere of Permanence., we spoke with Nicolle Dupas all about the record, the band, their motivations, #MeToo, and the production elements behind the album.
Who do you look towards as an inspiration for Strange Breed? Who are some particular artists, music or not, who have inspired you to go down this road as an empowered group of female garage rock artists?
Nicolle Dupas: “We all pull from very different influences, but then, of course, we intersect on many of them as well. For example, Megan favourite band is Tool, she’s obsessed with Danny Carey’s style of playing. She is constantly working on new, innovative fills and techniques to help us level up our sound, and it works.
Terra is really into old school punk, ‘90s rock, and metal. Veruca Salt is actually one of her favourite bands, so it’s beyond cool that we’ve been able to work with a producer who actually engineered some of their music on 8 Arms To Hold You (the best album to be honest). Ally and Nicolle are both into a lot of indie rock/pop, but also have a soft spot for the ‘90s. Nicolle went through a huge emo/pop-punk phase in the early 2000s so a lot of that comes through melodically, too.
So I think with all those things combined, the biggest cross-over influences we share are bands like Veruca Salt, Paramore, The Pack AD, July Talk, The Pretty Reckless, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and Hole. Nicolle’s vocal performance style has been often compared to Corin Tucker from S-K, which is a huge compliment. The general vibe of the album is a nod towards the albums we grew up with but has a firm grip on the current modern rock sound of today.”
Released as one of the singles from Permanence, watch the music video for “Closer:”
One of your primary aims as a band is to stand firm and speak out against situations that suppress the voice of minority groups. What do you see as the most significant and current issue that threatens the rights and voices of minority groups?
Dupas: “In one word, Trump. Everything to do with him and what it has brought out in society, not just in the states, but in our own backyard.
But if we have to really pinpoint an issue that has been making us particularly weary lately, it would be the abortion bans and threats of abortion bans that are happening all over the states. It is a blatant attack on womxn’s healthcare and bodies, and therefore freedom altogether. It doesn’t only affect womxn of course, as but primarily, yes. You can visit the link in our Instagram bio and visit the National Network of Abortion Funds, that’s what we did, and have donated some money where we can to help fight the good fight, and take a stand for womxn’s fundamental rights to health care.
There’s a huge, growing movement of artists that are standing with Planned Parenthood in the #BansOffMyBody campaign and other organizations. I think this is crucial, because whether people like it or not artists have huge social influence, and therefore political influence. They have platforms, and they’re starting to work together use them for justice, the way it should be. “Staying out of politics” is OVER. It’s ignorant, and it makes you look like you don’t give a shit. The time for speaking up is now. That’s all we want to see, and that’s the industry we want to be a part of.”
The totally rockin’ cover artwork for Permanence.:
Your new album Permanence. is very much a statement against these situations and speaks up for many minority groups. What is it that you’d particularly like a listener to take away from listening to this album?
Dupas: “We’re emerging in the industry during such a divided political climate. I think one of the things we want the listener to take away right off the bat is what side we’re on. We believe survivors; we are survivors. We live with mental illness, and we support and want to hear from others who do as well. We believe in the power of community banding together and fighting for change. We believe in Consent. I mean, there are a lot of very clear messages there, but we aimed to get them across in the most accessible and enjoyable way possible. We really feel like this album achieves that.
Secondly, we want the listener to take away that they are not alone. Maybe they’re a young queer person who wants to start a rock band but hasn’t seen themselves reflected enough in the industry and doesn’t feel seen. Maybe it’s someone struggling with mental illness who needs to feel heard and understood and reminded of why they matter. Maybe it’s someone healing from trauma who wants to feel powerful. We really believe there is something on this album for everyone to relate to, and we want them to know that the lines of communication are always open with Strange Breed! We’re here for our listeners always!
You worked with Darren Grahn to produce Permanence. who has worked with a number of significant artists, including some strong female acts. What was the particular motivation in choosing to work with Grahn?
Dupas: “Darren is awesome!!!! (laughs) Well, we were lucky enough that he found us and heard the sound we were trying to create and loved it. I think the bottom line is we got along super well the first time we met with him, and after seeing his resume it was a no brainer. He’s helped us craft our raw “garage” energy into something super marketable, but also keeping a certain unique edge that’s cohesive front to back. His experience engineering for bands like Veruca Salt helped us bring back some of those nostalgic sounds in our layers of guitars and vocals, some of which I have yet to hear make a comeback. So it’s cool to feel like it’s something unique to us at this moment in the scene.
The first singles he helped us put out helped us receive government funding to complete the album, and start building a team of people around us, including press (Listen Harder PR) and plenty of industry contacts we would never have had. It’s been awesome, life-changing, and we love that guy.
The world could certainly use some more “Gun Control.”
One of the key tracks on Permanence. is “The C-Word” and it features a clever music video of a speed dating scenario that turns rather messy. What was the thought process behind this playful video?
Dupas: “‘The C-Word’ video was a lot of fun, and we wanted it to be! We wanted to have a playful video and sound to the song to offset the heavier nature of the topic. I think we also wanted to show that Consent applies to all relationships, and it can be simple and fun. The speed dating concept was an idea that Terra had which we all loved, to show a group of diverse individuals who are at all life stages and all different kinds of ‘romantics’ just going for it, but no matter what they are still talking about and engaging in consent.”
The #MeToo movement has been in full effect for two years now since gaining enormous momentum back in the fall of 2017. What are your general feelings on how the movement has progressed since then? Do you still feel it’s remaining true to its origins and what its goals were intended to achieve? As a follow-up question on #MeToo, as Canadian artists with a particular interest in social and political issues, how do you think the movement has progressed within Canada? Do you think it’s been given proper attention within your own country?
Dupas: “We do feel like it’s had the same amount of traction here in Canada as anywhere else, it was everywhere, and almost everyone we know was out there sharing stories. It was really powerful to see. It also drew a very firm line between those who supported and those who thought it was bullshit. I think it ended a lot of friendships (laughs), but that’s ok. Our consensus is that is a good thing, because anyone who disagree so strongly on such an important topic like sexual assault, believing survivors will only grow to have a potentially unsafe and volatile relationship. It helped people find their true support networks and their real friends. I know it did for us! I think it showed a lot of people’s true colours, and on the other side of the same coin, it showed a lot of peoples’ strength.
We feel it is still alive and well, and that the movement sparked a community strength that we haven’t seen in a long time. Well, in our generation we’ve never seen it first hand until now. Referencing back to the abortion bans, for example, seeing how people are continuously working to turn this around and to protect womxn’s rights is really outstanding, I feel like it may not have had the same traction without #MeToo. That movement was, and is still very important!”
Watch the band’s fun, original music video released for “The C-Word:”
In an exclusive quote regarding Permanence., the band collectively stated, “This album has been a long time in the making. When we first came together as a band, we hoped to get to this point of releasing a studio album, but I don’t think we ever imagined it would end up being the way that it is. When we started in 2017, it was frankly Nicolle’s last attempt at trying to get an all-female band together after a couple of years of trying. We started as more of a Riot Grrrl comeback type of punk band, but quickly evolved into a more accessible version of that sound, and caught the attention of a team of folks who led us to produce what became Permanence..
It was never a question about writing and recording songs that had a strong social and political message, or about being unabashedly queer and raw in our ways of sharing that message. What has surprised us the most is how quickly we’ve gone from 0-100 with receiving support, with building our team, with growing closer as a band and with becoming a fixture in our local scene. We couldn’t be happier with the path this album has taken us down already, and it’s only the beginning.”
Permanence. Track Listing:
02. My Blood
03. Dead Girl
04. The C-Word
07. Witch Hunt
Upcoming Tour Dates:
09/14 – Vancouver, BC @ Red Gate
09/18 – Nanaimo, BC @ The Vault
09/19 – Victoria, BC @ The Rubber Boot Club
09/21 – Kamloops, BC @ The Kami
09/22 – Kelowna, BC @ Milkcrate Records
09/24 – Calgary, AB @ The Palomino
09/26 – Winnipeg, MN @ Good Will Social Club
09/29 – Toronto, ON @ The Hideout
09/02 – Kingston, ON @ The Mansion
09/03 – Ottawa, ON @ The Avant-Garde Bar
09/04 – Quebec City, QC @ Scanner Bistro
09/05 – Montreal, QC @ The Diving Bell