Music Interview: Veritas

By Peter Hemminger

In a suburban basement of Calgary’s south, two of the members of Veritas are preparing for the upcoming release of their debut album. Chris, who resembles the long-haired guitarist you probably ignored in high school, and Pat, in his bright blue “retard jacket”, are having a jam session. Joining them is Myke, the bald, black-clad guy in charge of the label the band is on. He’ll be joining the rest of the band when they all take the stage at their CD release show.

The noises the three produce are darker than the curtains vainly struggling to soundproof the basement walls. The precision of tech-metal and math rock, post-rock’s fascination with repetition and art-rock’s eager acceptance of noise and distortion, all inform the band’s sound. Even without a bass player or drummer, it is rhythmically intense and physically pummeling. This is not music for dancing or quietly playing in the background while you study: Veritas’ music demands you either stare it in the face or get the fuck out of the way.

So it comes as a surprise when Chris offers some fresh peanut butter cookies. He’s quiet, a bit shy, maybe feeling awkward about the attention the band is receiving before releasing even a single album. After all, local artists debut every week, and usually the result is public indifference. But Veritas aren’t like most local acts.

“Some people associate us with different things,” he explains over a delicious peanut butter snack. “We’ll play a show and someone will come up and talk to me about King Crimson. Or someone will come up and talk about At The Drive-In, or the Velvet Underground one time. People associate us with a lot of different things.”

Pat and Chris are clearly flattered at the comparisons, if somewhat confused. Aside from the fact they sound nothing like the Velvet Underground, it’s an unusual thing for a group of 18 and 19 year olds to be mentioned in the same breath as the underground’s most respected acts. It must be the already legendary intensity of their performances. Despite their spastically energetic shows (Pat’s been told he looks like “a drunk Muppet”), some crowds just don’t get it.

“We played this show once with this amazing, chaotic tech-metal band,” Pat recalls. “We collided one time and our guitars actually exploded. It wasn’t like a Who smash. Our guitars got tangled up and I pulled this way, he pulled that way, and it came apart. There was barely any reaction from the crowd though, I couldn’t believe it.”

Indifference in the face of exploding instruments and a band member “bleeding quite profusely” wasn’t the only obstacle the band faced. Veritas don’t fit nicely into any of Calgary’s music circles: not playing punk, hardcore or metal, and they’re not your typical bar band. Like kids who never found a clique, Veritas never felt welcomed by the crowds.

“You feel like you’re in high school somehow,” Pat explains. “You wave at somebody, and all you get is like, ‘why are you looking at me?’ Even promoters.

“I say thanks for putting on the show, and they ignore me. I thought shows are supposed to be getting away from all the high school shit. I’m not going to say everybody’s like that, but in my experience, there’s no camaraderie.”

Now, thanks to an incident at local venue Broken City (the band was told at the last minute they weren’t welcome to play a confirmed show, so they carted their instruments outside, plugged in to the outlets in the parking lot and played an impromptu set), Veritas have found themselves in a feud with one of the city’s premier clubs. Granted it’s helped them gain notoriety around Calgary, but Pat wishes both sides would just put it behind them.

“I think he did something immature, and we did something immature, and that’s the end of that,” Pat says reluctantly. “I’m not going to go around bashing Broken City and telling people not to go there. And on their side of things, if they want to try and give us a bad name, that’s their business, but I’m not going to hold a grudge. We just felt that we weren’t wanted there, and we just didn’t think they were being completely up front with us.”

With the release of their first album and a planned west coast tour, Veritas is ready to grow. They like Calgary and constantly make clear there have been many people who have tried to welcome them into the city’s musical culture. There’s no ultimate destination, but for a band thriving on performance and experimentation, Calgary’s suburbs won’t cut it for too long.

“Touring is kind of the goal for me,” Pat muses. “Every night you go out, and you don’t have a care in the world. If you’re doing well enough, you can sell enough merch on the road that you can just stay afloat. So that’s where we want to go.”

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