Southwell is a garage rock band from Oshawa who have just released their debut self-titled EP. Members include Dillon Nowicki (vocals, guitar), David Burke (drums), Jonah Savage (guitar), and Logan Soulliere (bass.)
I've been to a couple of their live shows and they never fail to pack a room filled with a high energy crowd, paired with a fun and upbeat performance. After hearing their songs live, it is exciting to now have them on an EP. I sat down with the guys (virtually) for an interview about production, lyricism, and next steps.
What inspired this EP lyrically and instrumentally?
David: The starting track instrumentals we wrote by Jonah and me. We had different lyrics behind it and then we brought it to Dylan and Logan. We all jammed it together and that’s how that song was created. We were sitting on those chords just jamming in the basement for a few months though. Then with "Nostalgia" Dylan just wrote it.
Were there certain artists or bands that inspired the sound of the EP, and what were the themes lyrically?
Jonah: All of us have diverse music tastes. In terms of the tone of the album, I think we're inspired by a lot of Southern Ontario bands like PUP, and Hollerado. The tone we are going for is really just to have fun, and not trying to take ourselves too seriously.
Dillon: Like Garage-Rock.
So, you all write the lyrics then?
Logan: We are pretty collaborative on each song. Everyone chips in and works together especially when we jam. We just come up with the chords in just play it.
Dillon: Sometimes we will have a riff or certain chorus, or melody in our head, and we will either unplugged work a song out, or even jam and on the spot finish the song.
David: When we’re jamming and playing in the basement we’re loud usually as long as we can be, and then we transfer over to the couch and write lyrics.
Dillon: Then we can really focus and hear what we’re saying.
Jonah: That’s Dylan’s favourite part of the jam for sure. He loves to get that acoustic guitar out on the couch and just lay down some lyrics. *laughs*
How long have you guys been together?
David: Since grade eleven for Jonah, Dylan, and I. With Logan, the history with that is unbelievable. We were looking for a bassist before the Ryley Patrick Atria show which was our first real show, being an opener. We didn’t have a bassist, and we were already jamming with Logan and then we said if you can learn this set within a month, you’ve got the gig.
When did you guys come up with the name Southwell and why?
Jonah: When we started the band in grade eleven we were just a slew of terrible band names, I don’t even want to say the ones we were under. When it came time to get serious and Logan was joining we just wanted something kind of simple. The street I grew up on was called Southwell, so yeah.
And you guys all live relatively close together, yeah?
Logan: All within five minutes of each other!
Do you guys have a favourite song from the EP?
David: My favourite to listen to is "My Head" but this changes so much over time. I’ll love something and then I’ll hate it. It’s usually when something is new I think I’ll love it forever but once we start playing it and playing it and it gets more difficult, it’s not just a new idea anymore, I’ll start to like it a little bit less, but it always comes back.
I really loved how "Nostalgia" turned out. There was a lot of studio add ons when we were recording it, these ideas we would think of we’d throw it in. I really love how it turned out.
Dillon: I’d say my favourite is "Nostalgia." I like playing it live, it has so much energy and makes for a fun performance.
Jonah: I’d say the same as David. When we wrote "My Head" it turned out to be one of my favourite songs for sure because it’s such high energy. When we wrote it we were always like, ‘I can’t wait to play this in front of people and get them jumping, clapping, singing along.” "Nostalgia" was written very close to the production of the EP and I think the stuff we came up with when we were recording it, not necessarily writing it, made it stand out on the EP for me.
Logan: Yeah, I’m in the same boat. Nostalgia is definitely my favourite one there. I just love the bassline on it because I got to be part of creating it, and I love to play it and jam out.
It’s cool how you all agree across the board and it really shows your chemistry as a group.
Do you have any tips for musicians on how to collaborate with songwriting?
David: You just have to be patient. If someone has something in their head, or at least when I hear something in my head, I can probably only bring about 50% of that to light but I still hear the rest of what I hope for it to be. Then I’ll play whatever I can, show them that, and we bounce ideas off of each other. Play everything, hear everything.
Dillon: When we’re writing a song, whoever has started the bass of the song whether that be vocals or a melody, that will usually determine the theme. Then we are all on the same page of what the song is about, then we can all brainstorm when we are together or apart and brainstorm on the same topic and it comes together better.
Logan: I’m kind of like David. The majority of songs I bring to the table I usually dream about them, wake up at like 3 AM and try to figure them out again. Usually, I get a lot of it. When we jam I know what it is but it can be hard to describe to people. We usually spend hours playing the same thing over and over and over again until we iterate it, and then try new ideas to get things working out, it;s a lot of patience, working together, and trying literally everything.
David: Rhymzone kind of does help a little bit. If you are really missing that one last rhyming word and you just gotta find something. For me it could just be a placeholder, then you go to Rhymezone and it’ll specify right down to the syllables, it’s nice.
One other thing that I think is really helpful though is our similar taste. We all have core favourite bands amongst the band that we can just say to one another, “Hey, do something like PUP” and then we will get it to a certain extent.
Jonah: I think it’s about putting your ego aside and not shutting ideas down right away. Flush it out and see what can happen, I think that’s the best way. I don’t think we really have egos, to begin with, and if we did, we put them aside.
How do you envision the upcoming album to sound?
David: We have a lot of songs written, it’s just whether they would all work on the same LP, and we’re still writing. We’ve been writing in the background for that. I think we are still finding our true sound. We haven’t really locked into one thing.
Jonah: If I was a fan, I’d expect something a bit different coming up next. There will be a bigger focus on lyricism and instrumentation in this next project than this one had.
Dillon: This EP is our base sound. From this point on it will only get better. We are going to keep growing and releasing new music.
Any tips for people recording their first EP?
Dillon: We found that with recording it took a long time because when we recorded at Jareds there were some mess-ups and we had to redo them at our own places. Then some of the files weren’t added properly so we had to record again so for next time we have to have our shit down. It was tough because only a couple of us are familiar with the software. Some of the boys had to learn the software from scratch.
David: It’s definitely a hurdle. You think going into it it's going to be you recording songs and you get them up to studio quality, you're not wasting anyone's time by tracking over and over and making mistakes but, that’s only half the job when you’re doing a DIY project. I’m still not great on any of the software but I can set up a mic and take down a track. That’s the furthest I can get but its a big learning curve and it opened my eyes to a whole other world of music, being production.
Jonah: Don’t be in a pandemic.
Dillon: Yeah, we would've had the EP drop way sooner if the pandemic didn’t happen.
A special thank you to Jared Burke for recording and production.