One-on-One with the Neighbourhood Watch

The Neighbourhood Watch//Photo: Facebook
The Neighbourhood Watch//Photo: Facebook

by Michael Thomas

“Yeah, wires, man. Wires and recording, that’s been a staple.” Pavel Gurvich, the band’s bass player, says this towards the end of the interview, and it’s a neat little summation of that which makes the Neighbourhood Watch tick. Though it takes a while for them to get it, there’s one thing that makes the band get excited, and that is playing with as much gear as possible.

A lot of that love comes from vocalist guitarist/vocalist Elliot Fraizinger. Now at the University of Oshawa Institute of Technology for electrical engineering, Fraizinger explains that his passion for wires started early on in life.

“Before this interview I was asking my parents ‘When did I start liking wires?’ [They said] ‘We don’t remember. Eight or nine maybe?’”

Fraizinger got into experimenting with recording early on as well. “As a kid, I would hook up every speaker in the house to one source,” Fraizinger says, “and maybe plug in the Super Nintendo to a mixer board and see what happens. You get a black-and-white signal screen instead of colour, which is…Worth it to find out. ”

“When I met Elliot, it was like grade nine. He had a recorder back in the day, so he was experimenting with recording for longer than anybody else I know,” Gurvich says. “While people were playing guitars, he was already tweaking with recording. You don’t find too many people doing that, which is pretty awesome.”

The original incarnation of the band met at Thornhill Secondary School, which included Fraizinger, Gurvich, Michael Keshen (who has since left the band) and Will Hunter, whom they met later. One can tell pretty quickly that Fraizinger and Gurvich are good friends—several times throughout the interview they finished each other’s sentences.

“We tried to start a band before the Neighbourhood Watch that sort of failed, if you will, it didn’t really go anywhere,” Gurvich said. But the band eventually began “operations” in 2010.

Fraizinger says that the name doesn’t have any special significance, despite guesses to the contrary.

“Thinking of a band name is so hard,” Fraizinger says. “Then you’re just out somewhere and you see something and think ‘Is that a band name?’ And check it. ‘Okay, there’s one thing from the 80s who might have a conflict.’”

“They’re all American!” Hunter chips in. “They’re all B-O-R-hood, we are the only B-O-U-R-hood. We got that going for us.”

“There’s no Neighbourhood Watch without ‘u,'” Gurvich adds. Clearly his statement should be the band’s tagline.

“They booked a show first and then they were like ‘We need to get someone else in the band, right?’ And then I was just sort of hired,” says Hunter. “I was put in the band for the show—we didn’t really know if there were going to be plans for the band after the show.”

Hunter was also playing (and still plays) with Formalists. “We were all sort of getting our feet off the ground at the same time,” Hunter says. “So I think that sort of band partnership helped motivate, and made finding shows that much more realistic.”

Besides Formalists, the Neighbourhood Watch also played plenty of shows with the Noble Truths and Good Times Running. They’ve also recently played some shows with Most People. “We always enjoy playing with those guys,” Fraizinger says. “Whenever we book our own shows we always ask them like ‘Hey guys, want in?’ And they’re usually pretty down for it, they’ve never said no.”

Though the band has existed for three years and since solidified by adding Andrew Nardone on drums in May of 2013, their first EP, Static Ocean, didn’t come out until May 10 of this year. Finally releasing it was a great relief to the band as a whole.

“Before you have your first recorded thing, your band’s future is in extreme doubt,” Fraizinger says. “And then once that finally happens, once the years of tweaking comes to a finished product, you can have a bit of a breath of air. And then keep pushing forward.”

“A lot of these songs are older songs that sort of finally found a place,” Gurvich says.

“Finally committed to lyrics and these parts and stopped fiddling with gear and settings,” Fraizinger adds. “Us three have easily spent hours and days’ worth of time just… ‘Oh, how does this ring modulator on marimba sound?’ There’s no end to that, so it’s nice to finally be done with all those tweaks.”

Fraizinger and Gurvich also quickly walked through the EP, starting with the “sister” songs “Quicksand” and “Caito Stance.”

“I was just driving in my car in my trek from school and I was humming an idea to myself,” Fraizinger says. “I recorded it on my phone and I listened back to it and I thought ‘This is a pretty concrete idea.’ So I went through the phone recording and played along to it and took pieces from that.”

On “Nanoglands”: “That goes back to one of the first Neighbourhood Watch songs,” Gurvich says. It formed in 2008.

“It’s ancient. It’s one of those songs that has enough history among different members and I just wanted to see it finally realized on something. It definitely reminds me of my early 20-year-old self than now,” Fraizinger adds.

On “Numbers,” one of the first songs Fraizinger wrote: “It’s been shapeshifting and morphing for years,” he says. “It started out as a Rolling Stones rip-off song, then kind of turned into a 7/4 idea which kind of made it that much more interesting to me.”

On “Could Have Spent It,” a song that also dates back to around 2008: “That’s a song that took shape from the actual band itself,” Gurvich says.

“Parts existed, but—” Fraizinger starts.

“The band made it what it is,” Gurvich finishes.

Fraizinger doesn’t say much about “Bad Attention,” only that it’s also one of the band’s older songs.

The band cites the Strokes as an early influence, and reviews have since noticed that in the Neighbourhood Watch’s sound.

“That was a band that made sense to us,” Gurvich says.

But the music draws from many different sources. It’s reflected in the band’s current musical taste. Between the four core members they’ve mentioned recently listening to Tame Impala, Les Baxter, Tera Melos and Franz Schubert.

Right now, though, the Neighbourwood Watch is feeling good about where they are. They’re looking into the possibility of arranging a mini-tour, and perhaps recording some more songs.

“I feel like we have a lot more material than this EP has,” Gurvich says. “So there’s a lot more stuff to be seen ahead.”

Check out the Neighbourhood Watch on July 28 as they play in Grayowl Point’s third co-presentation with Crosswires. See the Facebook event for more details.

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