Cassettes, split seven-inches and even a floppy disk—all of these formats have been used to record Sightlines’ music at one point or another.
“That was kind of a joke,” frontman Eric Axen chuckles about the aforementioned floppy disk. “When we put out a cassette a lot of people were like, ‘Why tapes? Tapes are from the ’90s,’ And it was like, ‘Oh, yeah? You think that’s antiquated? Here’s a three-and-a-half-inch floppy disk.’ I’ve heard a couple people have loaded it, and computer geeks have loaded it and played it. The file is so awful, because it’s so compressed.”
Joking aside, the decision to record singles on these formats was made for economical reasons. The pop-punk trio released its Summer EP in 2012, but recording a full-length album is an expensive undertaking, and the band chose to release a string of one-offs in the interim. Fast forward a couple of years, and Sightlines has completed its debut LP, North (which features nine new tracks and two new versions of older ones from a split with Crystal Swells), though naturally there’ll be no CDs to be had—it’s only available on vinyl or as a digital download.
“In my mind it was an LP, and it had an A side and a B side. I could see it as a record,” Axen explains. “I love cassettes; I love doing cassette EPs—I have a tiny cassette label—but if something is conceptualized artistically as an LP and I settle for a cassette or digital, I just feel like it never came out; it was never properly released, and I didn’t want that to happen because I’m pretty proud of this record.”
It makes sense, then, that Axen and his bandmates—bassist C A Chux and drummer Graeme McDonald—would want to carefully select how they chose to release North, particularly when you consider the album has essentially been several years in the making. The trio had all been involved with other bands within the Vancouver scene, and Axen started Sightlines as an outlet for songs he was writing that didn’t fit with his other groups. He notes it was originally intended to be a side project, but momentum picked up faster than he expected and he began to take it more seriously—despite some challenges working around everyone’s other commitments.
“To have only released an LP now says something about our scheduling because we write very quickly, and when we do things we are very active, but it’s not uncommon for us to take six months off while someone else is completely away with another band,” Axen explains. “Everyone’s got other projects, but I would say [Sightlines has] become my main band, and it’s also the ambition that’s changed as it became a more serious project. The lyrics and everything were always sincere, but I started maybe spending a little bit more time with the music. Ambitions have grown as the band has grown. It started as maybe something that would have lasted a month, but it’s lasted five years.”
Sat, Apr 23 (9:30 pm)
With Chain Restaurant, Middle School, the Dads
Sewing Machine Factory, $10