Sometimes, creating an opportunity to express yourself is as significant as the message you deliver with that opportunity. For the members of Calgary rock quintet Twenty Centuries of Stony Sleep, creativity and self-expression are the keys to building a body of work each member can stand behind.
“There’s an internal kind of drive to do this,” says guitarist and vocalist Alexi Davis. “As long as that’s being fulfilled, I think we’ll continue to be satisfied. That’s happening; the commitment’s there.”
Twenty Centuries of Stony Sleep – the name is lifted from the William Butler Yeats poem “The Second Coming” – formed in 2006 around Davis and co-guitarist-vocalist Dave Neufeld. Davis’s brother Dwight (Whitey) Davis soon joined on bass, along with Graham Daniel (guitar and vocals) and drummer Lisa Hunte. The band released the EP “The Children of Lions and Garudas” in 2008, and was wrapping up recording on the full-length “Circuit Crooks” in 2011 when Hunte died suddenly and unexpectedly.
After a period of introspection and considering options, the band decided to continue under its existing name, and the album was released in 2012. “We never talked about breaking up as a band,” Davis explains. “We did talk about ‘is it still the same band without Lisa? Should we start a new band?’ But the idea of ‘let’s break up the band’ never was a conversation.”
Since then, the band has moved forward with drummer Joel Briggs behind the kit. His hard-driving, focused playing has toughened up the band’s sound, Davis says. TCOSS has often been compared to “Slanted and Enchanted”-era Pavement, and the comparison is definitely apt.
“I think we’ve always had elements that were softer and heartfelt, as well as some stuff that’s crazy. A lot of our new stuff is pretty driving and intense. I think it’s an exercise in contrast,” Davis says. “Expect some craziness and lot of dynamics. There’s some noise rock, some loud shoegazer wall of sound kind of stuff.”
The latest TCOSS recordings reveal the two sides of the band’s sound, with the song “I Invoke Ragnarok” showcasing the harder-rocking edge and “Something Temporary” the quieter, more atmospheric surface.
Davis says the band plans to split Monday’s show into two sets, moving from one side of the sonic spectrum to the other as the evening proceeds. It’s all part of the band’s members expressing and experiencing their creativity, he says.
“We all have this intense drive and commitment to the project. We are pushing ourselves and playing more, and for us, its mostly about continuing to build a body of work.”