Calling All Heroes: Adventure Club Breaks Out Big from Rock Roots
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – “Is this for print? Shoot, we better sit really still.” says Christian Srigley, one half of Canadian EDM duo Adventure Club. Not that other member Leighton James takes much notice. He’s caught sight of a video recorder on the desk between us, and is busy trying to work out how to film his nostrils to maximum effect.
And sitting still isn’t really what Adventure Club does. Since the duo’s breakout remix of Brand New’s “Daisy” in 2011 and continuing with the 2012 remix of Lips’ “Everything to Me,” the punk-rockers-turned-DJs have blown up online and onstage, playing European and U.S. tours, as well as creating mass hysteria with their uploaded sets and on-the-fly remixes. Its 2014 EP, Calling All Heroes, is loaded with all the hooks, beats and drops that EDM-lovers have come to adore.
DJ Times caught up with the Montreal-based act some 40 minutes before they would go on to play a massive, drop-and-strobe-and-stage-dive-filled set to an arena of several thousand amazed Malaysians at Future Music Festival Asia this past Spring.
DJ Times: You’re the latest in a growing list of North American acts that has its roots in hardcore and punk rock before you made the jump into EDM. Where do you think this crossover comes from?
Srigley: It started as a just for fun side-hobby, because we had a studio set up already to track our own band with. We didn’t take it seriously at all, so we had no problems about putting material out on the internet under the name Adventure Club.
James: Musically, we kind of felt that the drops in dubstep felt similar to the breakdowns in hardcore rock tracks that we were playing at the time.
Srigley: There are a lot of similarities with the writing process, too, things like the drum patterns…
James: And the guitars, too, the big chugging guitar riffs—you can switch that into a bassline for electronic music.
DJ Times: So when did the side-hobby become serious?
Srigley: The defining moment, I guess, would have been our 2011 remix of Brand New’s “Daisy.” We shopped it out to a couple of blogs really casually, and it landed near the top of the charts for a couple of the top blogs. It blew our minds because it was for fun, and none of our other tracks ever got that kind of attention.
James: There’s a bit of background there, too. I started working for a tiny electronic music label called Turbo when I was 18, and they had Brodinski, Chromeo—a lot of those kinds of acts. So I had an awareness of the electronic sound. Then, Christian brought the hardcore dubstep remix angle to the table.
DJ Times: Previously, you were used to standing onstage with guitars and mics. How does the experience of being on stage as DJs differ?
Srigley: We definitely try and crossover the dance moves, if you will, from like hardcore bands that can’t really translate the movement into words alone, so you kinda go wide stance. [He assumes a wide stance posture, while Leighton scratches chin thoughtfully.]
James: Now, it’s real a challenge. You don’t have a guitar to hide behind anymore, so if you don’t get that stance nailed properly you look like a huge asshole.
DJ Times: So, other than footwork, how does the experience compare?
Srigley: We jump a lot, perhaps more than we did before.
James: Yeah, I’d say so.
DJ Times: Guys, I mean…
Srigley: You’re less preoccupied with playing your instrument, so you have more opportunity to perform, if you follow. It’s easier to focus on other aspects of the performance, interacting with the crowd being the big one. We also try to—just for our own sanity—put as much small detail into our mixes as possible, little effects, little tweaks, stuff the crowd wouldn’t necessarily notice, to keep our DJ performance feeling that bit more musical to us, personally.
DJ Times: How do you approach your DJing, setup-wise?
James: It’s usually three Pioneer CDJs, and one of us will also be on a laptop with a Native Instruments controller sampling.
DJ Times: What’s the studio of a rock-act-turned-EDM-duo like?
Srigley: We use Cakewalk Sonar—I know, right? When I was about 11-years-old I was learning to play blues guitar. My parents got me Cakewalk Home Studio. I’d layer my guitar tracks to practice my blues improvisation, and… well I just never stopped using Cakewalk products. It’s not as big of a difference to other software as you might think.
James: We have access to all the same plug-ins anyone else does, so it’s actually more or less the same.
Srigley: And we’ve used it for so long, we’re able to move within it pretty easily, which is the important part.
DJ Times: A number of former rock-turned-EDM-acts talk about returning to playing live on stage with instruments, albeit with their electronic sound. Will you guys head down that path?
Srigley: We’ve spoken about it… a lot, actually.
James: I don’t know if we’ll go fully live, but we’re definitely going to bring live aspects and elements into the show.
Srigley: Guitars, drums, those kind of aspects. We start planning, but pretty soon there’s a lot of overhead and logistics involved, and when you’ve grown used to travelling with just a backpack, it becomes harder to justify.
DJ Times: How does the Canadian EDM community compare to the U.S. EDM equivalent?
Srigley: I’d say it’s a middle point between the U.K. and the U.S. scene, especially Montreal. People there are a bit more advanced in their knowledge—they have more refined tastes.
James: Yeah, it’s almost like there’s Quebec, then there’s the rest of North America because Quebec’s got a much more European feel to it.
Srigley: The West Coasts of Canada and the U.S. feel similar to themselves, but different to the East Coasts of Canada and the U.S. Really, it’s more of an East-West thing than a U.S.-vs.-Canada thing.
DJ Times: How about Europe? You’ve played there—what was that like for you?
Srigley: The U.K. was a strange one. We thought the U.K. crowd was going to be discerning, picky…
James: We made a conscious effort to prepare sets with different stuff. We were thinking, “Yeah, I listen to this in my spare time, but it wouldn’t work in the U.S.—it’ll be cool for Britain, though.” Then, when we played the more thoughtful stuff in these quote-unquote underground parties, it didn’t go off like we hoped. Then, when we moved onto the big U.S. bangers later on, people went wild and were like, “Oh, my God, finally!”
DJ Times: You’ve quickly become main-stage names—case in point, being here, where you’re about to play the main stage at Future Music Festival Asia. Has playing main stages impacted your sound?
James: Yeah, festivals are a different experience than playing clubs, especially if it’s the main stage, as it’s always going to be a more mainstream crowd and you need to appeal to that. You can’t just play big grimy dubstep.
Srigley: But festivals are still more fun to perform at. It’s just this feeling of energy all around you that you don’t necessarily get elsewhere.
DJ Times: What are Adventure Club’s plans for the rest of 2014?
Srigley: Album. Yeah, we moved out to Los Angeles some months ago and spent the majority of time out there just working on content, trying to get an album out this year, hopefully. We have our own personal time frames for it.
James: Yup, It’s pretty specific. It’s kind of like, whenever we want—hopefully at the end of the year.
Srigley: We’ve not hit up any labels yet. We’re just going at our own pace.
DJ Times: If Adventure Club weren’t a DJ duo, or a rock group, what would it be?
Srigley: I would be 100-percent be on a sailing boat, fishing, and Leighton would be a lumberjack.
James: Yep, with a tartan shirt.