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Astronaut Pills and Rock n’ Roll, New Music from Asheville indie-rockers, The Tills

By Delaney Clifford

March 24, 2017

The Tills are bringing new life to rock n’ roll with their latest record, Canon, a garage-rock masterpiece that calls back to old school roots with a hectic mix of blistering riffs and resounding melodies that grab hold and do not let go. However, this record refuses to be dismissed as traditional in any way, incorporating styles from other genres across the board such as psychedelic rock, noise, and shoegaze. The combination makes for one hell of an experience, being thrown from a tight-knit, fast-paced unison into the ethereal void of a jam session. No matter the shift, the record maintains a consistent intrigue and never loses its grasp on the listener. The Asheville group has definitely set sights on new horizons with Canon, expanding on their already powerful sound to cover the full range of what rock music is supposed to be. This group has no boundaries when it comes to their craft.

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Chatting with guitarist Harry Harrison, the origins of the record fall in line with the sound, revealing his eccentric personality and hare-brained sense of humor that reflect the band’s untamed sound and energy. Speaking on influences for the record, Harrison cites Australian group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard as a major source of inspiration, but mainly claimed that the band was “trying to recall the spirit of the Howlin EP, but make it cooler.” Harrison and the band’s drummer, Joshua Martier, more commonly known as “Marty” relocated to New York City in an attempt to capture the true gravelly nature of rock n’ roll. Listeners will feel that grit embodied in the new record, specifically on songs such as their single “I Swear It” and “Rejection” which feature the chaotic, careless nature that the city totes as commonplace. Other songs such as “Avenue A” are more relaxed, calling to the West Coast garage-rock scene; this makes for a dynamic sound on the record that appeals to any vein of the rock genre. From song to song, listeners won’t be able to shake the vibe of standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers in a packed out living room, banging their heads or getting lost in the psychedelic vibe that Harrison says Zack Mexico guitarist Matt Wentz brought to the record. Wentz laid down most of the psychedelic guitar tracks on Canon, according to Harrison, contributing even more diversity to an already eclectic composition.

Harrison’s insight highlighted several intriguing aspects of Canon, the first being the foundation of the record, which Harrison says came from “a big chalk board wall” in the apartment that he shared with Marty. Harrison recalls taking a drug called pharmaceutical drug called Modafinil which he referred to as “astronaut pills” because of their original purpose as wakefulness agents to keep astronauts alert during long research sessions. Harrison said that after he and Marty took the pills, “our big chalk-board wall had filled up with these elaborate plans for the album.” He went on to jokingly claim that “we owe most of this record to the astronaut pills.”

While he didn’t have much to say as to lyrical inspiration, Harrison did reveal an unorthodox technique as to how they fit the music. After the first listen through of Canon, one might assume that the lyrics were all written and performed by the same member of the band. Harrison spoke on how The Tills counter that notion, claiming that “the one who sings on the song writes the lyrics.” This opened up an entirely new way to listen through the record, trying to pinpoint where vocal and lyrical changes occur from song to song. Overall, it brings a dynamic mix of emotional experience as well as musical structure to the album. It’s easy to assume that each singer would have a different style to offer, but surprisingly, the separate vocalists feel more in unison throughout the entire album than not. This is an impressive feature about Canon that listeners might appreciate.

Canon is a record that definitely brings indie rock back to the forefront of the North Carolina music scene, and the anticipated release should go on to change the landscape of how the age-old genre is perceived. In short, this band knows how to jam, groove, and rip the volume knob right off the amp like the 60s. Whether you want crushing rock n’ roll, hellish noise, or the feeling of drifting through a drug-induced haze, this band has got it all. Don’t sleep on The Tills. You can preorder Canon out on April 20 via Phuzz Records, here.

Listen to “I Swear It” by The Tills via Phuzz Records.

Watch the teaser video for the new album Canon:

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