Tribe 11 exploded on the scene in 2006 with their indie debut, “Six Degrees of Desperation.” The album offers an intoxicating, and often haunting mix of sound and lyric, penned by the band’s front man, Steven Webster. “Six Degrees of Desperation” is receiving rave reviews and radio airplay around the globe, fuelled in part by the reach of the Internet.
Production and engineering on “Six Degrees of Desperation” is by Everett Ravestein (Canada’s Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Chantal Kreviazuk). Fans compare the music to classic acts like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd mixed with later influences like Jane’s Addiction, the Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and Queens of the Stone Age. Yet,
Tribe 11 is no re-hashed imitation. Fans and critics agree that
Tribe 11’s impressive debut forges a path all its own.
While the songs and sounds on “Six Degrees of Desperation” are varied, nothing seems out of place or at odds with each other. According to Webster, “My goal with this album was to conjure a real and metaphoric ‘line’ or link between the music and the listener. Lyrically, there’s a strong sense of lineage, of threads, that gets woven into the music and in a larger sense between the tracks to create an ‘album.’ That is important. It seems like no one in the mainstream makes albums anymore – it’s all about the single, and that’s a shame.”
Tribe 11 also features the talents of Toronto-area musicians Tom Lewis on bass, John Collin on drums, and Russell Gray on guitar. “What’s interesting is that instead of a band writing and rehearsing a set of songs, Tribe 11 began as a set of songs and the band evolved around them with the addition of players over time,” notes Webster. “There was a very fluid sense of possibility in everything coming together, with the focus being on the quality of the music. Today we’re a pretty close-knit group, but as we’re rehearsing new material for the follow up album it still feels like we’re evolving the sound and coming together around the songs all over again.”
There is a constant tension in Tribe 11’s music that pushes and pulls between a bubbling simmer and an explosive boiling over. “Both elements are always there,” according to Webster. “Even when the guitars are screaming and the band is at full throttle, there are still the simmering subtleties that can be heard in the background. This is essential to me because it connects the music to the lyrics, both of which should be a journey toward clarity – not something that is appealing only at a surface level and then quickly becomes tiring, forgotten.”
In this vein, Webster cites his approach to music as his same philosophical approach to life generally. “I am inspired by the writings of Simone Weil. They instilled in me the idea that only in the quiet absence of everything is it possible to perceive anything, while, in the noisy abundance of everything there is an overwhelming perception of absence. Tribe 11 is an attempt to bridge the gulf between both those worlds.”
Tribe 11 is back in the studio in pre-production for their upcoming album, tentatively called "Suspended Animation."
Steven Webster - Vocals
Tom Lewis - Bass
Russell Gray - Guitar
John Collin - Drums
Hedge - Keyboards
Six Degrees of Desperation
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Ontario's Tribe 11 merges a wide variety of musical styles on their full-length debut release, Six D...Ontario's Tribe 11 merges a wide variety of musical styles on their full-length debut release, Six Degrees of Desperation. Even a cursory listen will uncover elements of classic rock and metal merged with a more modern rock sensibility; comparisons to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age (from the standpoint of aggressive electric blues-based rock) as well as Pink Floyd or Radiohead (textured ambience and electronics), while valid, don't really do the band justice.
Above and beyond the comparisons listed above, other fair touchpoints might include bands like Janes Addiction, who might have come closest to recreating the mix of light, shade, and power that typified Led Zeppelin's best output. Tribe 11's material is diverse, shifting from straight-ahead rock to pieces with electronic space and world music elements with ease. Six Degrees of Desperation is reminiscent of albums from a time when bands were not afraid to experiment or stretch beyond the expected borders of their sound...when a band like Black Sabbath could include a piano ballad like "Changes" on an album between tracks like "Supernaut" and "Tomorrow's Dream."
"Bulldozer," the album's fourth track, is a grungy, dirty piece...a mid-tempo electric blues with appropriately organic keyboard treatments and a sleazy guitar solo that could have been placed on a 1970's Aerosmith album without sounding out of place. Steven Webster's vocals alternate between an almost sneering delivery and a broken down bluesy desperation. A completely different vibe is heard on "Jonah's Butterfly," which opens the album with a tribal/eastern feel, keening female vocals and an Arabesque tempo creating a dreamlike track. Burbling synth textures help build the track into a solid opener and one of the most impressive tracks on the release.
"Epitaph for Johnny Unknown" opens with an understated piano line (courtesy of Gary Breit) and heavily electronically treated vocals. Gentle percussion and strummed acoustic guitar gradually give way to a full kit and phased electric guitar, while Tom Lewis contributes a sweet, warm bass part that pulses, heartbeat-like, underneath. Multiple harmonized vocals add richness to the mix without becoming muddy or flat.
The album closes with "No Answer," which begins intriguingly with nearly a minute of musique concrete/found sound before shifting into a slinky bass/drum groove and rich overdriven guitar. The vocals take on an almost chant-like delivery, while keyboards range from dark organ tones to digital sweeps. While "Jonah's Butterfly" opened things by showing off variety in mood, "No Answer" closes things out with a kick in the posterior.
Tribe 11's mantra seems to be diversity in everything. While some might fault Six Degrees of Desperation for being so variable in style, it's a refreshing change of pace in a time where songs and styles are so cookie cutter that one can easily move lyrics from one song to another without changing the song at all. Six Degrees of Desperation is an impressive debut album.
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It may sound trite but the saying "All Killer, no filler" applies to this CD. Let's talk tunes. Sing...It may sound trite but the saying "All Killer, no filler" applies to this CD. Let's talk tunes. Singer/Writer Steven Webster has written 10 wonderful highly melodic vignettes. The arrangements are well thought out perfectly executed. The lyrics are thoughtful, enticing and personal without being at all pretentious. Steven Webster's complaint about recorded works is that nobody makes "Albums" anymore. Everyone is shooting for the elusive hit single. That is true for the most part. Tribe 11 has succeeded where others have failed as the listener is treated to a journey of sorts. The tunes are varied in style and never remain in one strict genre long but are all definitely rock music. Honestly there is not one song on the CD that I don't like.
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A great post punk/rock album that shows that these guys have not sold out to the mainstream. With ju...A great post punk/rock album that shows that these guys have not sold out to the mainstream. With just the right amount of METAL, this album could go far.
The Verge of My Barely Letting Go
Hillbilly at the Helm
Ghost in the Darkness
Epitaph for Johnny Unknown