Interview: A Chat With Pottery At Iceland Airwaves 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

To say that Pottery's trip to Iceland Airwaves 2019 was a whirlwind would be an understatement — in Reykjavík for approximately 24 hours, the Montreal-based band went on to play an enthralling and memorable set at Gaukurinn that same night. Having spent a lot of 2019 on the road, including supporting fellow Partisan Records label-mates Fontaines D.C., the hectic nature of touring is something they've become accustomed to. Before their last show of 2019, we spoke to the band about their year, touring, Montreal and what they're planning for 2020.

So you guys have played a few showcase festivals now, like Great Escape and SXSW and now you’re at Iceland Airwaves – what do you enjoy about that grab-and-go nature of these type of festivals?

Austin: Not much (laughs).

Tom: That's not good (laughs). Well, I feel like we kind of prefer smaller sweaty shows. And so it's nice being able to do a bunch of shows in a row in one place.

Jacob: And that's what a lot of these festivals tend to end up being. Especially for a band of our size we just end up playing the smaller rooms and it's great because that's kind of where we're comfortable the most.

Austin: And it's good for small bands because there's like a lot of people just there, like industry people, so you’re always kind of guaranteed a crowd at least.

Jacob: And people usually dance because it's a small place and they have fun. Yeah, I guess you don't really get a soundcheck, so it kind of makes you deal with what you've got. Instead, of doing hour-long soundchecks all the time. It makes you used to that shit.

Since Iceland Airwaves is your last show of the year, what have been your favourite shows to play this year?

Jacob: I think The La Route du Rock.

Austin: Yeah, La Route du Rock in France is fucking amazing. End Of The Road was cool too.

Tom: End Of The Road was awesome.

Austin: Yeah, there was a big crowd and they were into it.

Paul: I liked the hospitality there too. I think Brooklyn I really liked as well.

Austin: The last show, we did on our US tour was in Brooklyn.

Tom: Oh that was crazy.

Austin: That was a fucking sick hotel too.

Paul: I just love playing on acid. That's always a highlight...when you get through your set on acid.

Austin: I did it (laughs).

Jacob: It's like fuck, I just climbed the mountain.

Paul: Yeah. It's like a different thing.

You’ve been to so many places now, especially this year, where else are you really keen to play?

Austin: Japan

Paul: Australia.

Tom: I'd love to go to Australia.

Austin: Definitely Australia.

Jacob: Oh I'd love to go to Australia.

Tom: I'd love to go to South America as well.

Austin: Actually Mexico City has always been one I've wanted to go to. There's a Black Lips video of them playing in Mexico. That's crazy. Like in Tijuana.

Paul: Get some drugs (laughs).

Jacob: Also in Spain, I'm really looking forward to playing in Spain. Maybe Portugal.

Austin: Columbia, I want to play in Columbia.

Tom: That's a lot of answers for you (laughs).

That’s a lot of places, that’s a full passport right there. I know you just got to Iceland and you’re leaving tomorrow, but usually, do you get to have much downtime on the road?

Paul: Not really.

Austin: Rarely, I think that the only time we had was in Atlanta, we had like two days off.

Tom: We had some time in Vancouver as well.

Paul: When you go to sites in a city, it's kind of all the same shit, sort of. If we get a chance to go out, I like to go to the woods or something like that.

Jacob: I like to at least walk around in the city, but it just all depends on where you are on tour. Or if it's like late in the tour and you probably don't really give a shit about walking around, you just kind of want to sleep. But now we have one day here I want to walk around.

Austin: I'm going to inspect the area for sure.

Jacob: Because we're going home tomorrow, we don't have like a long schedule or anything. So when we can, I think it's nice to look around.

Austin: It's kind of weird going to cities and just getting to know that city by the three or four-block radius. There’s pretty much no time to do anything.

Jacob: It's nice to break out of that mold though sometimes.

Austin: The sites can be all the same, though. They all do the same thing.

Tom: But I feel like it's easier in Europe just because where we're usually staying. Or we're staying super nearby at a hotel in town. So we can drop our gear off and go out and meet some people, and see some of the stuff. Whereas in the States, it's like load up, get in the van, drive 45 minutes, find a shitty motel. And so you never really get to see anything.

Austin: I really liked when we were in Luxembourg.

Paul: Yeah, that city was actually cool.

Austin: That place is really cool because it's tiny and the architecture is beautiful.

Paul: It's like a fairytale city.

Austin: Yeah it looks medieval. So, that was really cool. You can just walk around and see a bunch of shit, but it's like all right there. But I mean with metropolitan cities, we’ve already seen stuff like that, so there's nothing interesting to see.

From all the crowds you’ve played in front of, have you noticed a difference in crowds depending on where you are?

Paul: The French are the craziest.

Austin: Yeah. French crowds are so great. We did four tours this year and both the United States tours were opening for another band. So the crowd was pretty similar there because they have their own following.

Jacob: The French give the best response I think.

Austin: Yeah, the French are so good.

Jacob: Even in French Canada. They've got more energy or something, I don't know, they’re just so much more excited.

Paul: Yeah, they're more excited about the music.

Jacob: Actually a lot of European countries, even like the Netherlands was crazy.

Austin: Yeah the Netherlands and Belgium was crazy.

Jacob: So I guess we really love European crowds. The UK is a bit more tame.

Austin: Anyone that doesn't speak English.

Jacob: And Canada.

You’re from Montreal, and for outsiders, how would you describe the music climate over there?

Jacob: It's the best.

Austin: It's great. It's the best thing ever.

Jacob: Yeah. It's really affordable. You don't really have to work, you don't have to worry about money. So we just need to get by.

Austin: And we all live pretty close together.

Jacob: Canada's kind of like a curse – It's huge and hard to travel to different cities because they're so far away and it's expensive. Montreal is very laid back and it's easy if you want to like go out and find a jam space. It's really, really easy to find a practice space empty.

Tom: And people to play with.

Jacob: Yeah and find people to play with. You can go to a show and you can meet a ton of people.

Paul: Except for drummers. It’s easy to meet people to write music with and like work on shit. Which I don't think you could do in many other places, I've never seen that in any other city.

Austin: Yeah. And the layout of it is really cool. Cities like New York or even Vancouver has boroughs where there are creative people. And the boroughs are all like separate. But in Montreal, it's just a big city. It's really spread out. It's easy to communicate and connect with people.

Tom: And you can cycle anywhere in 20 minutes to someone's house.

Jacob: You see people all the time that you know on the street.

What I’ve always enjoyed with what you guys do with Pottery is that it’s hard to pinpoint your sound to one single sub-genre. Has that always been your approach since starting the band?

Austin: Definitely. When Jacob and I started out, we definitely had a theory of what sound we wanted to go for.

Paul: I remember when I joined we wanted it to be chilled out at the beginning.

Jacob: It always would end up being more intense than we wanted it to be back then. We wanted to play fun music. And playing the slower stuff just didn't end up being fun.

Austin: Our individual instincts are totally in different worlds. And then when we combine them it kind of just happens to make a good and varied blend.

Tom: We never had conversations being like "We want to sound like this,” or, "We want to write a song like that," it just happens.

Austin: Yeah. Even when we are writing we're not like, "Oh we want it to sound like this or have this vibe." It's kind of, however it comes out, we end up liking it eventually.

Jacob: Yeah, if we get excited we just take that and move forward with whatever sort of precursor idea we have and can build a song off of it.

When you wrap up here at Iceland Airwaves, what’s the plan for you guys in 2020?

Tom: We’ll be back touring.

Jacob: Oh we've got a new album that's ready to pop off.

Paul: Coming out 2020.

Austin: And then just tour after that. It’s all we want to do.

Jacob: All summer basically we're going to be touring and then home for a couple of weeks and then touring and then home for a couple of weeks again.

Austin: We have some time before all that happens to write more. And so that's what we're going to be doing until next spring or summer. That's another cool thing about Montreal is that in the winter it's so cold that you just want to stay inside and do whatever craft you want to do.

Jacob: Yeah. Nobody's distracted by going to the park.

Austin: Yeah. Unless you like skiing, we don't like skiing though.

Jacob: Skiing is too expensive.

Tom: Cross country skiing, that's something I think we should do.

Jacob: But that's exercise.

Tom: I want to get healthy, maybe I should do that. Look at me now, I'm eating fruit and shit, like I'm getting buff. I'm not even buying cigarettes anymore, I'm just taking them from Jacob.

Jacob: Bullshit (laughs).

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)
Photos by Kristy Smolcic (folio)

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