Canadian duo cleopatrick – Luke Gruntz (guitar/vocals) and Ian Fraser (drums) – are an ambitious duo, throwing themselves into every aspect of making and putting out an album. Released via their own label Nowhere Special Recordings, their debut record ‘BUMMER’ is a lesson in chucking out the rulebook and forging your own path.
Hi Luke, how’s it going? What are you up to today?
Things are going well – thanks for asking. I’ve been chilling pretty hard today. Making some music and watching videos about space. A typical day in lockdown for me.
Congrats on reaching your debut album, how exciting. Has it been a long road to this point? How are you feeling about it all?
Thank you. It has definitely been a long road. The debut album has been a distant goal for Ian and I since we started this band out of high school. Sitting here today with it all done and set to be released, it’s almost hard to believe it’s real. I’m
Can you tell us a bit about growing up together? Were you good influences on each other? Did you get into many scrapes?
In my mind, Ian and I were great influences on one another. Growing up in a small Canadian town, I think a lot of young boys feel a certain gravitational pull towards being that macho, hockey guy type. It’s kind of impossible to resist — but Ian and I thankfully didn’t have much trouble staying ourselves. I think we have our friendship to thank for that. This relationship gave us a safe space to stay timid and weird. We never really got into any scrapes for that same reason.
At what point did you decide to try making music, was it easy to get into? Were you on the same page from the beginning?
Ian and I have been making music together since we were 8 years old. It’s always happened very naturally – almost unconsciously. It was just something we loved doing. Shortly after we graduated high school, we started cleopatrick, and decided we were going to have a go at being a “real band” – whatever that meant!
Has doing the band together changed the dynamic of your friendship?
Not at first, but as the band has grown and more responsibility has come with it, I think Ian and I have had less time to just hangout. There’s always some goal or deadline or project with the band that we have to work at rather than sit on a couch together and play video games. But then again – I think we both feel that making music together is the ultimate form of hanging out. So we’ve got no complaints.
Did you have any specific ideas for what you wanted to put across with your first ever album?
This album was meant to capture the energy of our live show. It’s intense, raw, and honest. We took a very hands-on approach with this whole project. This album was produced in a basement, by us and our friend Jig Dubé. This gave us an incredible level of control over the outcome of these recordings. We spent full days tweaking drum sounds until they had that perfect balance between distortion and natural resonance. Countless hours running signals through different pieces of gear trying to carve out an identity for each track that truly felt like us.
What was the timeline like for writing and recording, did you experience much upheaval during lockdowns and such?
We were originally supposed to track this album in April of 2020 – but as the first lockdown hit, we were forced (like so many others) to scrap those plans and wait out the situation. This gave us a bunch of extra time to hyper-analyse the songs we had and bring together a handful of new ideas that now make up some of the best moments on the album.
Do you find yourselves wanting to listen to or create different music during periods of upheaval or stress?
Definitely. Other than working on the album tunes, I didn’t play much guitar at all throughout the first lockdowns. Instead, I found a lot of peace in making beats and writing weird little songs. It was one of the first times since before cleopatrick that I was writing music with no plan for anyone to hear it. It was kind of awesome.
How long did you spend deliberating over the title before ending up with ‘BUMMER’?
This record had a working title since before there were even any songs written for it. That title stuck around throughout the entire recording process, and into the mixing stages. But as our work on the project began to wrap up, I was able to sit back and actually listen to the recordings as they are today, and realised that it had grown into something far different than what I had originally pictured. The name ‘BUMMER’ popped into my head almost instantly. I shared it with Ian and some friends, and they all agreed that ‘BUMMER’ just felt right. This album is a bummer.
You’re releasing on your own label, nowhere special recordings – what’s the process like there? are you doing much of the hands-on stuff yourselves?
The process of releasing this debut album through our own label has been awesome. We have a really great team of people around us that totally understand what we are going for. I think that Ian and I thrive when we are granted this level of control and responsibility. Nowhere Special Recordings was actually a thing I originally started after high school – we called it a label, although it really wasn’t that at all. Ian and I would use it to promote DIY shows in Cobourg. It’s kind of surreal for it to be a real thing now.
Have you started thinking about your next steps yet?
The next step is a lot of touring…
Taken from the July issue of Upset. cleopatrick’s album ‘BUMMER’ is out now.