What is your name and role within the band?
My name is Chris Dadge, I’m one half of the songwriting team in Lab Coast, a duty I share with singer David Laing. In the live band, I play drums and sing backing vocals; in the studio I handle the production and instrumentation on all of our recordings to date.
How did you start?
Myself and DL played in a free jazz group for a years called Bent Spoon Ensemble (then became Trio and then Duo). We met in high school, and did that band for about 5 years, during which time we started a label (Bug Incision, still run by me to this day), put out a bunch of albums, and toured around Canada and the UK (the Trio version of the band actually played together for the first time in 8 years last December, and the Duo verision – myself and Scott “Monty” Munro, now of the band Preoccupations – has been active all along). Concurrently, I was playing in rock bands around Calgary, and had my own group called Phil Withers. I wrote and recorded all the music for that band myself, at home, on a little multi-track recorder, and one day, David came over for a hang and announced that he had written a song. We thought it would be fun to record a version of it, and that song became “Walking Through The Park” from our first album Wilding. We had a gas doing it, so we did more and more, eventually resulting in that first album. By 2010, we had started playing scrappy shows with our friends and much instrument-swapping, and by 2012, after another album, an EP, and some singles, the band had morphed into the entity it is today, more or less.
Where are you based?
We are based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
Right from the very beginning, the band worked like this: David would show up with a vocal melody or two – possibly even a bass line or lick of some sort – that he had written while wandering around parks at night, and together we would figure out the chord/guitar part to form a basic skeleton of the tune. From there I would build up the instrumentation and production, using whatever ideas we wanted to try out, or whatever other bands’ gear was left in the rehearsal space, and each song would be completed in this fashion. More recently, David brings in the odd guitar riff or chord progression and go from there. A very unique, honest collaborative effort, nothing like anything either of us have ever done with other projects.
What are you working on right now?
Right now we’re working on the latest album of new material. We just released an LP in the UK, on Faux Discx, which is a compilation of tunes from our first four albums, and our last all-new full-length came out in Canada last April. Some bands take the route of writing, jamming, and rehearsing an album in its entirety, as a group effort, and then head into the studio to document that. We don’t do it like that – every time a new song is written, the final recording is completed before showing it to the rest of the live band. We’re about halfway through a new album, working with digital recording technology for the first time.
What is your gear setup?
Recording-wise we’ve always stuck to analog productions for all the recordings we’ve released to date. We started out with a Tascam 246 cassette four-track recorder, which is what most of Wilding and Pictures On The Wall were recorded on. Then a Tascam 488 cassette 8-track recorder entered the picture, as well as a Yamaha MT50 four-track. The three of those machines were used on Walking On Ayr. Then by 2012, we had an operational Tascam 388 8-track 1/4″ recorder in the mix, and that is now the primary recorder, although quicker diversions into the cassette machines still happen frequently. We’ve also recently started using the computer, mostly for mixing and editing the tape-tracks, but also experimenting with tracking digitally as well.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
Music and music-related activities take up most of my time, and outside of that stuff I take pleasure in books (a lot of fiction, short stories, music bios, essays, etc), and TV and films. None of these things really affects my part of the work within the band (unless they are books or films on music, in which case I’ll steal any idea that seems helpful), but David’s lyrics, as opaque as they might seem, are mostly autobiographical, so I would assume that everything can be fodder for lyrical ideas.
How would you describe your music genre?
Hmm, that’s best left to someone else usually – haha – but we usually fall back on “guitar pop”, possibly adding “fuzzy” or “crooning” to the mix.
Do you know any music theory?
David and I met in high school band, and I went on to study jazz drumming after that, so we both do know at least a little theory. But it doesn’t really come into play very often – it’s much more helpful to me when I have to learn material for other bands I play in (Chad VanGaalen, Alvvays).
What are your plans for the future?
Well the big action for our year just happened: we did a short Canadian tour and a live cassette release, followed by the aforementioned UK LP release and a three-week tour of the UK and Europe that just wrapped up last week. We have a few shows coming up at Calgary’s excellent Sled Island festival, and then we’ll be working on finishing that record for the end of the year, and doing more touring etc next year.
How did you get into music?
I got into music in my adolescent years, at that tender age where the type of music you like begins to become a badge of honour. Music was always around in my household growing up, always treated as a fixture in everyday life, and an older cousin made it seem even cooler. Then, within a year it seemed like every other boy my age was starting to play guitar, drums, or bass, and I had a fortuitous encounter with a friend’s older brother’s drumset. It stuck then, at the tender age of 10, and has yet to shake off.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Well I just got back home with a big pile of records from our label Faux Discx, so I’ve been checking out Irma Vep, Cold Pumas, Teardrop Factory, Great Ytene, Hookworms, The Sticks, Dignan Porch, and lots of other indie pop, post-punk, and the like from them. Outside of that the KYE label, particularly the work of label head Graham Lambkin has been the most consistent source of pleasingly head-scratching music I’ve come across in a while. Very excited to hear the recent reissues of European free jazz legends the Brotzmann/Van Hove/Bennink trio. And been obsessed with Vancouver’s Mint Records’ recent output, highlight including the new Monomyth record, Heaven For Real, and Jay Arner.
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
My personal five are:
Jim O’Rourke, Jon Brion, Derek Bailey, Graham Lambkin, Robert Pollard.
For the band, let’s say:
Tom Petty, Big Star, Guided By Voices, Oasis, Stone Roses
When are you playing next?
2 shows at Sled Island in Calgary.
Please feel free to include any extra info.