ANCIIENTS with BLACK WIZARD and CASTLE at Hard Luck Bar (772a Dundas West), Friday (July 11), 8 pm. $16. TF.
Chris Dyck from Anciients is a bit harried. Their van's GPS system sent them on a wild goose chase between Rimouski and Fredericton, making them late for sound check. And besides juggling intensely complex co-guitar and co-vocals, he and his three bandmates are handling all the driving, tour managing and merch selling.
So is the Vancouver metal group's first headlining tour across Canada (not financially viable enough for them to afford hotel rooms) a far cry from opening arena shows with Lamb of God in the States, which they did last year?
"Anyone who says, ‘Oh, I'd rather go headline Canada,' is bullshitting you," admits Dyck. "But we're stoked to be doing it cuz we've done three tours of the States and one of Europe. We're Canadian - it's our market. People have been asking us to come out. And we haven't seen much of our own country, so it's a bonus to go out and get paid anything at all."
Plus, it turns out they never used drivers, merch people or tour managers on those previous tours either (with the exception of a driver in Europe, which is standard). The more Dyck talks, the more clearly Anciients' DIY ethic comes through.
After forming in 2011, Dyck, co-leader Kenny Cook and bassist Aaron Gustafson (drummer Mike Hannay is newer) spent a year hibernating in their jam space working out the lengthy prog-metal tunes that bring to mind Mastodon, High on Fire and Baroness. They recorded the album in 2012, then spent (and continue to spend) thousands of hours networking and playing shows. Once prestigious French label Season of Mist came aboard, they cleared their schedules to tour as much as possible.
Their 2013 debut album, Heart Of Oak, was a hit in both mainstream metal and indie circles, snagging them tours with metal giants like Lamb of God, Death and Sepultura (a tour that fell through due to visa issues) and earning them a spot on the Polaris Prize long list. But those opportunities didn't fall from the sky.
"We attribute [the fast jump to the big leagues] to being really nice, working hard and being available," says Dyck. "We have this team of people sitting in an office, and somewhere on their list of shit to do for the day is our name. They don't have to be investing time and money into us.
"So we're just super-appreciative and do whatever it takes. They could be helping 20 billion other proggy, sludgy, beardo bands. For real. There's fucking tons."