by Laura Stanley
Spruce Trap’s sophomore release The Wise Prefer to Perish commands your attention. Its ominous, boundless crescendos (a post-rock paradise) makes for both an engrossing and unnerving listen. It’s akin to an alarm warning you to duck and cover and brace for the worst.
But in my conversation with Eric Furugori, one third of the Vancouver band, I learn that the darkness that I interpreted during my initial listens is only one of the many layers of The Wise Prefer to Perish; to cast the whole album as “dark” is simplifying things. The alarm, it seems, is not telling you to hide but to open your eyes.
Isaac Jeffs and Kai Furugori became friends in high school and while exploring Grouse Mountain one day, decided to start a band. Kai got a drum kit off of Craigslist and the pair enlisted Kai’s brother Eric to join them, first as a bassist but now he often plays second guitar to Jeffs’ first.
Their first release Foundation – a title that is a nod to the band’s beginning but also the name of a vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver that they often hung out at – was built from jam sessions in the Furugori family’s basement. Foundation is a collection of what the trio feels is their better early songs and its creation was “a big learning process,” as Eric Furugori tells me over the phone.
For The Wise Prefer to Perish, Spruce Trap settled on a theme ahead of time which made the writing process more straight forward. “We had motifs we wanted to fulfill and build upon so it was easier that way to create the music,” says Furugori. The theme: “the rise and fall of civilization.”
An admittedly “grand topic,” the band drew from current events like the destruction of our planet – on “All Was Still” you can hear a faint voice talking about the Kinder Morgan Pipeline – to assemble their fervent fracases. The explosion 47 seconds into “Tumült” – akin to a chilling scream of frustration into the night – and the cyclonic, screechy guitar starting around the 3:20 mark in “Fiddle Nero/Rome is Burning” are two of my favourite sonic moments.
Each song – whose titles are a nod to the rise and fall of Rome – is a chapter in, as Spruce Trap describe their record on Bandcamp, “…a brief story, of the inevitable fall.”
As Furugori explains: “[“Tumült”] is about chaos, strife, turmoil. [“Fiddle Nero/Rome is Burning”] is about the fall. It’s about things going wrong, our mistakes. [“Preparing to Leave All This; Preparing to Leave”] is about realizing our errors and looking towards a better future. [“All Was Still”] is a denouement, a conclusion, for the best or for the worst.”
But as Furugori describes, the album is not just about the fall. Where there is darkness, there is also a conviction that things will get better. During the opening minutes of “Preparing to Leave All This; Preparing to Leave,” we hear clarity in the dazzlingly clean guitar notes. After the song’s descent into chaos, those hopeful tones emerge again – like the sun’s blissful return after a tempestuous storm.
“The album isn’t so nihilistic, it’s more of a ‘wake-up people, this is happening,'” Furugori assures me.
“It’s our feelings about bringing attention to the things that we’re doing in society that are harming the planet and us as people. The hope that we want to change things for the better.”
Spruce Trap’s next show is with Moondle and Nothingness on Feb 10th in Vancouver. For more info, click here.