Free time is precious for most people. When faced with a break in a busy schedule, they will often kick back, relax and be lazy without hesitation. Local musician Andrew Neufeld, however, is anything but your everyday slacker. Indeed, when the frontman of full-time touring band Comeback Kid finally got some down time, he simply decided to become even busier. Along with his brother and friends, he created Sights & Sounds and recorded a debut full-length release entitled Monolith.
From the beginning, Neufeld says he knew that Sights & Sounds would have to be different to avoid the dreaded “side-project” moniker. To this end, the band recruited legendary Vancouver-based iconoclast Devin Townsend as producer and hit the studio with a markedly different approach to recording.
“We recorded everything live and, basically, it was a very open way to record in which we would just go by the feel of it,” said Neufeld of the decision not to record each instrument separately. “It was all very ‘go with the flow’ and building on the base of the songs.”
Sights and Sounds had previously released a much rawer-sounding EP in 2007, originally recorded as a demo, and a couple of the tracks from it made their way over the to full-length release.
“We just wanted to add extra stuff to [those songs] production-wise, and be able to play the songs that people have heard off the record for them live,” Neufeld explained.
The overall sound of the Monolith bears little resemblance to the straight-ahead hardcore of Comeback Kid, instead placing Sights & Sounds in several genres including punk, metal and rock, with an additional sampling of instruments including cello and the fiddle. Neufeld explained simply that, “Trying new things is an avenue for good music.”
The initial showering of acclaim for Monolith, combined with the power of the “Featuring members of Comeback Kid” tag, has helped Sights & Sounds land several worldwide record deals, meaning the band can travel overseas and play to crowds that already know their music. Neufeld feels it is not only important for the music to be easily accessible to fans, but also admitted that “it is awesome to hear people in Portugal or Budapest sing our words and see people react to us on the other side of the world.”
The band recently finished a lengthy European tour, which Neufeld said was their favourite to date. It also helped Sights & Sounds establish their own formidable reputation as well, and the band has even become darlings of influential UK taste-making publication, New Musical Express.
Now back home in Winnipeg, Sights & Sounds is getting set to head out across Canada with Moneen and Passenger Action. In the past, the band has played alongside bands like Haste the Day and Misery Signals, but have generally had a hard time finding bands with the same hard-to-pin-down vibe as theirs.
“I mean, we love playing with all different styles of bands,” Neufeld said. “But with [Moneen and Passenger Action] we just feel our music genres actually fit together. Of course, we all love their music and have always wanted to tour with them, too.”
The few months following the release of Monolith have seen Sights & Sounds become something of worldwide phenomenon, and, indeed, we can expect nothing but big things from the group in the future. One thing we shouldn’t expect, however, is Andrew Neufeld and company to take a break anytime soon.
Sights & Sounds play the West End Cultural Centre on Nov. 30.