by Michael Thomas
For Alex Pulec, formerly of Toronto pop-rock band The Ruby Spirit and now part of The Nursery, art seems to be a life force. “I tend to go a little crazy when I’m not involved with making something at a certain moment,” Pulec says.
It’s easy to dismiss his statement as something a stereotypical “artist” would say, but it quickly becomes clear from talking to him how much excitement gets into his voice when he’s talking about his upcoming musical work. The number of times he’s recalled good musical memories roughly corresponds to the number of times he uses the word “incredible.”
Pulec, like many music-makers of his ilk, got into music at a really young age. But his method of getting into it was a bit different. Pulec was born in Scarborough, Ontario but soon was sent to live with his grandmother in Timmins. After going back to the suburbs in Toronto, he at age six got interested in his family’s karaoke machine.
“You could overdub cassette tapes so I was experimenting a lot with that,” he says. “There was a lot of noise, but there was some good stuff.” He also drew some inspiration from a “mish-mash” of sources like records his parents owned as well as the music he heard on TV and on the radio.
Years later, while in high school, Pulec was part of a few bands before joining a group that he would be with for eight years, The Ruby Spirit.
“There were a lot of great times,” he says. “We made a lot of music that we weren’t necessarily happy with, but everything we made at the end, I was personally really, really satisfied with. That record that we did make together, Born Under a Veil, was my favourite thing that I had ever done by that point in time. There’s nothing but positive memories with that.”
More positive memories include a time when the band got to open for the Jesus and Mary Chain in Buffalo, NY. Pulec considers the Scottish outfit one his inspirations. “When I first became obsessed with them I used to replicate their songs so close,” Pulec says. “I was trying to rip them off, essentially. I remember I would always bring in a new song to the band and it would just be like so blatantly them that after a few minutes I’d be like ‘I’m sorry guys, I love this band so much.’”
Other inspirations to Pulec over the years have been pop artists like John Lennon. “He could be so simple and honest and beautiful yet so scary and maniacal at the same time,” he says. Another perhaps unexpected influence is Danny Elfman. “[He] is also a gigantic inspiration to me, because of his work with a pop band, like Oingo Boingo, and how he seamlessly transitioned to orchestral stuff. That’s incredible, I want to do that.”
Around the time when Born Under a Veil, the Ruby Spirit’s EP, came out, Pulec had begun to write music that was a little outside the band’s comfort zone. Eventually, Pulec says, he was asked to leave.
“That’s one thing I was never really happy with,” he says. “There was no bad blood between us I guess, but I didn’t like how it was kind of announced as an amicable split. Because this is something I wanted to do. I never really wanted to leave.”
Immediately upon leaving the band his new act, The Nursery, sprang to life. Pulec already had a bunch of songs written, and he soon joined up with his old friend Victor Ess, later adding Nate Finucci and Jared Roth to complete the group.
The Nursery quickly got to work recording their debut EP, Carnival Nature, which is set to come out June 29 of this year. When asked to describe what the band might sound like, Pulec replied “It’s very colourful, fun, sardonic, upbeat pop. With a bit of a tilt, that’s how I’d call it. I don’t know how to describe it. But at the root of it, they’re just pop songs.”
At the time of writing this The Nursery have but one show to their name, and it was played at the Drake Hotel a few weeks ago. When Pulec described the experience, he used the word “incredible” three times. “There were so many more people than I ever could have expected to be there,” he says. “We’d never played live together and the support was incredible. We were all really touched by it—I couldn’t believe everybody who supported it and… yeah, it was great.” Pulec emphasized at that point that they can’t wait to play live again.
Once the EP comes out, The Nursery plans to do some touring in “as many cities as we can, as far as we can,” and they’re also planning to release a side-scrolling, 8-bit-style game that features music from Carnival Nature also done in an 8-bit style.
Aside from his work with The Nursey, Pulec is also scoring a documentary called The Misanthropic Cow, based on a series of photographs by photographer Nathan C. Lalonde.
“It’s kind of a narrative of a character going through the tribulations of life but the character is a cow, so it’s kind of this Animal Farm meets 1984 crazy thing,” Pulec says in an effort to explain it. “It’s pretty wild, I don’t even know. Nathan is incredible, I don’t know how he thinks of these things.”
Aside from his own music, Pulec has recently gotten excited about bands like Oh No Ono and Malcolm Holcombe.
One wonders what Alex Pulec would do if he wasn’t constantly making music. Chances are he’d probably be figuring out how to make music.