Smile Politely

The birth of Bitter Canon

Bitter Canon left a lot of old Myspace music pages out there according to lead guitarist, Bryan Przybylski. Playing in a rock band is nothing new to the band, whose members have been involved in music since the ’90s as evidenced by those archaic pages. This time around, however, the they are focusing on making music without any of their previous pressures of worrying about how it will be received. They do it purely because they love it, and also because “having a shitty job and being broke in your thirties isn’t fun” like it was in their twenties. Luckily for us, Przybylski and the rest of the band have a shared interest in C-U music, revolving around their love for the bands Hum and Braid that ruled the music scene here in the ’90s, compelling them to make a stop in Champaign, this Friday at Mike N Molly’s.

SP: How’d did you get started in music?

Przybylski: I’m from Michigan and that’s kind of where I guess I met Isaac Arms, you know, Mr. Champaign…but yeah I was in Michigan playing in bands for a long time. The other guys in Bitter Canon have been here in bands for over a decade and when I moved here two years ago my band stayed in Michigan basically, and the guys here in Minneapolis had lost a member of their band so we just kind of smooshed together and started a new thing.

SP: You were in Shores before right?

Przybylski: Yeah, and the most recent old band was called The Central Division, so Shores toured a bunch and we always played with The Central Division whenever we  were in Minneapolis, so they were basically the only people I knew when I moved here, so of course I had to start a band with them.

We started just about two years ago, like this month actually I think. That was a little different at first because we each had been doing our own things in our own ways for so long and the first year was kind of just not a lot happening, but we put out an EP this past January and pretty much everything is like awesome now, it just kind of fell together. We’re currently tracking another EP that should be out later this year.

SP: How will the new EP be in comparison to the last release?

Przybylski: Probably a little more complex, I think we’ve learned how to play with each other a lot and with the writing of it from the first stuff, and we are starting to play shows together live, which we’ve only been doing for about a year. So I think the newer songs are definitely more complex. Kind of drawing on the Champaign sound if anything, like all of us are stupid Braid and Hum fans from the ‘90s so we’re excited to be back there.

SP: How would you describe the sound of Bitter Canon?

Przybylski: Definitely like guitar rock in my head but I feel like the other two would say it’s drum rock and it’s bass rock. I think we’re trying to be a loud band, I don’t know if it’s working but that seems like an intent. We’ve all played so many different roles in so many different bands that trying to find the balance between our abilities, what sounds good, and between each other. We’re just a rock band [laughs].

SP: What got you to first come to Champaign?

Przybylski: The band Shores was playing a mini festival in Michigan and Isaac Arms was there and he was wearing a Hum t-shirt and I guess I was drunk enough to be like, “Hey, HUM rules,” and then probably within two months we were playing in Champaign. I definitely felt like I grew up with Hum, like I remember mowing lawns to save money to go to Target to buy that first album, but yeah the whole Polyvinyl thing was huge for me and a lot of my friends through the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Champaign just always seemed a little more refined than Chicago in terms of the music scene. And people actually spend time on coming out to shows and helping out bands.

SP: What’s the live performance like for Bitter Canon?

Przybylski: I’d say half the shows have been really, really good, and we haven’t had the luxury of a really terrible show yet, which you know you’re asking for it everytime you book something. But I feel like they just keep getting better and better as time goes on; we’re just playing better. The songs from the EP that we are playing still are probably more aggressive live than they are on the recording. I think the recording probably pays attention to the melody more than we do live.

SP: Favorite song to perform?

Przybylski: Right now, it’s probably one of the new songs called “Shoulder Season.” From the EP though, probably my favorite is called “Waiter” just cause I’ve rarely been in a band with a backup singer, and Adam who is on the drums is an amazing singer and is playing all these crazy drum beats and nailing background vocals at the same time so it’s a new exciting super fun thing for me.

SP: Do you see Bitter Canon going on a tour anytime soon?

Przybylsk: I kind of doubt it, I think we’ll continue to do these little weekends or if there was a little festival we would definitely go out of town for that. I think we all spent most of our twenties having shitty jobs in order to do that and at this point it’s like we just want to have fun. And having a shitty job and being broke in your thirties isn’t really fun anymore.

SP: Have you noticed a difference in your music since your twenties then?

Przybylsk: Maybe. Maybe I’m more willing to let go of everything when we’re playing, like I’m not too hung up on things or specifics. It is a lot more fun when it’s less pressure.

SP: What bands influence your sound?

Przybylsk: I think mostly for me guitar wise would be Shiner, it’s a huge one for me and always has been, I never really got to explore that territory with Shores because it was much quieter and atmospheric. While touring on the East Coast with Shores about four years ago I ended up meeting the people in Speedy Ortiz and Pile and all of that group down there and we became good friends with them. Their records all sound amazing, and I think they definitely had some sort of influence on me. Most recently the band Two Inch Astronaut put out a record and I would be stoked if Bitter Canon put out a record that sounded like that.

SP: Do you notice a big difference in the cities’ music scenes that you’ve lived in?

Przybylsk: Growing up I was in Detroit and Chicago pretty much every weekend because I was right inbetween and Grand Rapids didn’t have too much outside of like a pretty small punk circle, but I think now that Grand Rapids and Champaign are pretty similar in that there’s a lot of really good bands and a lot of people that care, and a lot of venues to play at. But those two cities are for sure similar, Minneapolis is completely another crazy beast of a city to live in. I feel like there’s a band and a venue on every corner.

SP: Any last words?

Przybylsk: The third show of this weekend is in Grand Rapids, Michigan — that’s my hometown, so that’s pretty cool. It’ll be my first time playing there with a band not from there.

You can catch Bitter Canon this Friday at Mike N Molly’s.

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