The brooding, if there was any, might have been backstage and in the year between shows, but as soon as Kasador hit the stage at Toronto’s Rivoli last Thursday, the band bloomed.
It’s been a little while since the promising quartet played a proper show, but the Kingston-originated band — Will Hunter, Cam Wyatt, Stephen Abudofuor and Boris Baker, with Clayton Connel sitting in on keyboard for the night – came back to life with a vengeance and didn’t miss a fraction of a beat.
The 240 or so people in the club’s back room were eager for every note, no small feat for a band that played only three previously released songs as they debuted their entire new album, Brood & Bloom, to a sold-out crowd.
“We’re primed and ready to go,” Wyatt said later.
Here’s the album’s first single and title track, featuring guest vocals from
Emily Fennel, aka Miss Emily.
This is a much different Kasador from what people might have seen in 2016, when the band’s first EP was released, or 2017, when they played several rounds of shows in Canada and a handful of U.S. cities. It’s not just that the lineup has changed – a keyboardist/vocalist left and Abudofuor joined their ranks on drums – but the core group has evolved, from their stage presence to the way the songs were written.
“This has been way more collaborative between Cameron, Boris and myself,” Hunter said. “Everyone has stronger opinions because now we have 150 shows under our belts. We know how it’s going to feel onstage so what should we be doing in the (songwriting) process to make it feel better on stage before we get there. Everything’s more deliberate.”
“Even on the first EP, there were six songs and five of the six Will wrote and brought to the band,” Baker said. “It was the last song we wrote for it, ‘Talk About It,’ where this person wrote these lyrics and this person wrote the melody. It was a Frankenstein of a song. It’s continued in a more collaborative direction.”
Kasador’s new lineup also provided an opportunity for Wyatt to step up in his role as guitarist and singer. While Wyatt’s been a solid player and reliable vocalist, the version of him that showed up at the Rivoli was not the same guy as before.
This time around, Wyatt was out in front, prominently, standing on PAs and soloing like a man possessed, engaging the crowd, handing off his guitar to a fan in the front to dig into a lyric.
“He’s a big personality,” Hunter said. “It was nice to see that on stage,” adding that it thrilled the band to see Wyatt come out of his shell.
“I’m trying to hone my skills,” Wyatt laughed. “I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to perform. I’m very excited to get back to it and ready to take it to the next level.”
As a whole, the songs set to be included on Brood & Bloom are an evolution. There’s a depth and maturity in the grittier, denser and more “cinematic,” to use a favoured word, feel to this version of Kasador, a growth that further demonstrates this is a band to watch.
With 16 songs recorded in sessions at the Bathouse, there was more room to experiment and take risks. Not all of those songs will make the final album, Baker said, but it provided the band a chance to pull together in a deliberate way the stories they wanted to tell.
After a band meeting last March, the members of Kasador didn’t see each other for a little while, pursuing other interests but sharing thoughts on songs or ideas of what to do next on occasion.
When the time came to work together again in earnest, in late 2018, the creativity was high and the focus was unshakable.
As the band’s newest member, Abudofuor had familiarized himself with Kasador’s EP, but brought with him a love of jazz and the wide-ranging music he heard growing up in a multicultural church. While it was an inviting environment for him from the start, joining the band was “interesting… you don’t know the dynamic. Personalities are one thing but musically… who contributes what in what way? (The writing process) was different for them already which means it was harder for me… but they were pretty open-minded to anything, which made it super cool and it makes it really easy to feel comfortable.”
“I think the real strength of this album is you’re not going to hear the same song twice,” Baker said. “There are ties between all of (the songs), they do make sense, and anyone can see why they will. All the songs sound like us.”
Hunter said if there’s any kind of overarching theme to the album, it’s the ability to go through rough patches, shake off the dust and find new strength on the other side.
The album also features more prominently the individual band members’ influences and musical upbringings: Wyatt is a self-described Beatles guy with a deep love of and education in jazz; Abudofuor has his pan-genre gospel and jazz background; Baker was raised on a holy trinity of Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop and the Rolling Stones; and Hunter has a longstanding adoration for things on the more pop-skewing side, saying that Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” and Bryan Adams’ “Run To You” are among his favourites, in addition to the prog records he heard growing up.
Take, for example, a song the guys point to as a standout on the new album, a track called “High Rise.” Baker said, enthusiastically, that he was determined to have a bass line inspired by Queens of the Stone Age’s “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and he’d play parts of Audioslave songs when trying to demonstrate what he had in mind.
When they arrived at the studio, Hunter had something more Sloan-inspired in mind for that same song, only to have Wyatt steer him in a different direction.
“I think it’s even more accessible (now) than what I had originally brought in,” Hunter said.
The title track is another favourite for Baker.
“If I had to pick one song on the album to listen to on repeat, that’s the one,” he said. “I love the lyrical content, the music, the whole vibe.”
It was written during a moment when, given the changing lineup, he wondered what the band might do next and how things would sound.
“To make that (song) after? Yeah, everything’s going to be fine,” he said.
Both Hunter and Wyatt point to “Givin’ It Up,” a song Hunter said is reminiscent of two tracks from Kasador’s EP, “Neighbourhood” and “Talk About It.”
“If you combine those two, you would get that song,” Hunter said. “It sounds like the original band to me, a little nostalgic. And the solo just kicks ass. It’s awesome.”
Kasador is playing Saturday night in London as part of Junofest and it looks like we’ll have to wait at least a little longer to see them on stage again after that. There are rumblings of some Ontario shows in May but nothing’s confirmed yet. They’d like to play as many shows as possible and get the new album they’ve been living with for so long out in front of the fans they realize now have been missing them.
As for the new album, produced by Graham Walsh, Rob Baker and Gord Sinclair, engineered by Nyles Spencer, mixed by Mark Vreeken and mastered by Adam Ayan, we’ll have to wait until early fall.
“Brood & Bloom” is available here.
*Photo courtesy David Bastedo