Bend Sinister
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Bend Sinister


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"Back through the Broken City: Vancouver's Bend Sinister bring a new EP (And the CBC) to Calgary"

In the summer of 2005, Bend Sinister burst onto the Canadian music scene. An ambitious group of Vancouver-based prog rockers, their style mixed equal parts Supertramp and Mars Volta to the awe and delight of fans nationwide. Their debut LP, Through the Broken City, featured well-constructed keyboard-driven songs, frequently enhanced by vocal flourishes and virtuoso guitar solos. Onstage, this translated spectacularly. Then, after a couple trips through town with no sign of new recorded material, the band that once seemed destined for greatness went off the radar.
“We’ve always been a good luck-hard luck band,” explains lead guitarist Naben Ruthnum. “(At that point) we were so frustrated with the industry that we would've recorded new material on our own, but the money just wasn't there. We aren't the kind of band that can just set up some mics and jam it out. We love the stacked vocals and I love being able to take my time with guitar solos. We really need studio time to do these songs justice.”
Fortunately for the band and fans alike, recent events indicate that Bend Sinister’s luck has returned. After releasing an EP of five original songs this September, they kicked off a CBC Radio 3-sponsored tour that will be wrapping up in Calgary next week, after making stops in over 20 other towns across the country. To make matters even better, lead singer Dan Moxon and the rest of the band were given the chance to curate their own tour by tracking down their own supporting acts.
“Dan approached a lot of the bands based on having heard them through the Radio 3 podcast,” recalls Ruthnum. “He also sent mass mail-outs on Myspace to a lot of our band friends asking whether people were interested. Which bands got chosen had a lot to do with the quality of their stuff. The idea of the tour is to showcase a local band in every city, which is practical for everyone involved — the local band gets to play their music and get a foot in the door with Radio 3, and we get to play to an excited audience for a popular local group.”
Although the first two dates were cancelled due to “plague germs,” Bend Sinister seem to have yet again hit their stride. Shows have been going well and the band is excited to be returning to Calgary.
“I can say this completely honestly — Calgary's just always been good to us,” says Ruthnum. “We've had the most bizarrely great shows there, without much promotion and before we were remotely well-known. I think it has to do with knowing the guys from Veritas and The Cape May.”
Not surprisingly, next week’s show at Broken City will feature Chris Reimer, an alumnus of the now-defunct Veritas, and his new band, Azeda Booth. As an added bonus, one of Azeda Booth’s tracks, along with songs by many of the other showcase bands from the tour, have been released by Radio 3 in the form of a compilation album.
The sampler also features Bend Sinister’s take on “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” but the band is more interested in promoting their new EP. “Our main aim on the EP was to write songs first, then decide how much we wanted to play our instruments, whereas on the first LP we would overplay and indulge ourselves in long sections that maybe didn't need to be as long as they were,” says Ruthnum. “Basically, we’ve cut out some of the wanking.”
After hitting a bit of a rough patch, a run of good opportunities has put the members of Bend Sinister back on their feet. By applying their newfound wisdom, they should be able to gain more than enough momentum to carry them through recording their second LP in the months to come. Even bands with bad luck tend to catch a break now and then.

"Bend Sinister EP Review - The Gauntlet"

If indie rock were a bar, Bend Sinister's latest self-titled EP would be the tattooed dude in a cut-off jean jacket who grabs you by the balls, breaks a beer bottle over your head and throws you through a window for looking at him.

Album opener "Yours Truly" starts the assault with a crashing riff that would make a metal band blush in jealousy and singer Daniel Moxon's voice raw with intensity, sharp and staccato. Bend Sinister continue the offensive with "TV War," a song that sounds like Queen on heroin with a cocaine suppository. But it's not all riffs slamming into the side of the head: Bend Sinister have a tender side and stop the attack enough for you to mend your wounds with "Time Breaks Down." Deliciously poppy, this is the most unique song on the album by virtue of being performed in a completely different style-completely abandoning themselves to their Queen influences, "Time Breaks Down" could be mistaken for the latest Queen single.

The last two tracks on the album "High Horses" and "Julianna" are the coalescence of Bend Sinister's influences to one perfect conclusion. "High Horses" mixes jazz with metal, providing a sublime experience from such an odd fusion, with a jazz break in the middle of the song followed up by a face-melting solo. "Julianna" closes out the album, a song that could've put Freddie Mercury to shame in its pop glory.

Bend Sinister's album, while mixing a plethora of differing influences, manages to be a take-no-prisoner tour de force, with many different and disparate sounds coalesced into one strong, 20-minute album that has a little bit for everyone.

- The Gauntlet

"Web Allows Bands to Survive"

For many bands, making the trek across Canada is an exercise in patience, frugality, and endurance. More often than not, especially out West, young bands either have to grin and bear it or find unique and effective ways to get their name out there.
Taking the latter approach, Vancouver's Bend Sinister has embraced these non-traditional avenues to work their craft.
According to guitarist Naben Ruthnum, the creative approach the band has taken has been more out of necessity than anything. Following the success of an initial tour that was booked primarily through the social networking site Myspace, the band struggled through two follow-up tours, booked by agents, that were much less successful.
With vocalist Dan Moxon determined to make their current tour more enjoyable, he caught the ear of CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence.
Lawrence, familiar with the band, agreed to help arrange sponsorship of the band's current tour through the public broadcaster.
Ruthnum feels the arrangement has worked out quite well so far.
"The shows have actually been really good. Especially for a low-level tour of Canada, you come to expect half of the shows to be terrible. Teaming with CBC and making each show a showcase for a local band has turned out to be really good for the touring bands and the local band.
I think the locals are excited to have the opportunity to get their music out their on CBC 3," he continues, "and as a result the (local bands) are getting a little bit more excited about the shows and getting more people out. It's been a lot better than some of the shows we've done in the past, so it's been a lot of fun."
While the band's partnership with CBC Radio 3 has been a boon to their recent success, Bend Sinister has benefited from online marketing through sites such as Myspace and Facebook to get their music out into the public sphere. In fact, eschewing the traditional approach of having their own Web site, the band relies heavily on their Myspace profile to get the word out about their new self-titled EP.
"Right now it's kind of weird," explains Ruthnum, "because it seems that Myspace is turning over into Facebook, It seems like Myspace's days are almost over. In the beginning, Myspace was essential -- it helped us book our first tour and it allowed people to listen to our music directly. At the same time, it does have a huge pool of terrible bands. I know myself, when a band contacts us on Myspace, I'm always a bit weary.
"If you look at bands like the Arctic Monkeys, they wouldn't exist without Myspace, and they ended up having the best-selling album in Britain. I don't know what the future will hold, but I hope (these sites) don't get completely taken over by the record companies because it's the best way to relate to one's audience."
One thing the band need not worry about is how their show at the University of Regina's Lazy Owl will do on Wednesday. Having played numerous times at other venues in the city, Bend Sinister has become known for their fun live shows. Ruthnum assures that nothing musically has changed other than a need for people to come out with a willingness to have fun.
"I think our show turns out to be more high-energy and rock than people expect. The records don't dampen the sound by any means, but they do tend to bring out the harmonies and the pop elements. We come from a hard rock performing background so there is a lot of grinding guitar and wailing that people may not expect. The song is still essential, and people will recognize what they're hearing, but hopefully it will be a bit more of a show than they're expecting."

- Leader Post

"If you're feeling sinister: Vancouver quartet heralds the return to "Epic-ness""

As you’d expect from a band that takes its name from a dystopian treatise by Vladimir Nabokov, Vancouver’s Bend Sinister has a pronounced penchant for drama. And by drama, I’m thinking of the orchestral swells that mark their tunes, not any behind-the-scenes-in-fighting. Truthfully, they seem like perfectly well-adjusted fellows.

Co-vocalist/guitarist/piano man Dan Moxon agrees-to a point, “Instead of the word ‘drama,’ I like to use the word ‘epic.’ I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything, but that idea of epic-ness in a song where you have those huge notes... throw your arms in the air… that drama, as you would say, is something I love about songwriting. I always try to create that in some small way in each song.”

Through the band, which originally hails from Kelowna, initially drew a lot of comparisons to prog and math rock with their earlier ventures- “I was listening to a lot more King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and even Supertramp,” say Moxon-more recently they’ve embraced the big piano-based pop sounds of the 70s, the kind of stuff that was once anathema to any group operating on the indie circuit, but which now seems ripe for re-examination and appreciation by a younger generation of listeners.

Again, Moxon only sort of agrees…

“I even had a hard time adjusting to the fact that I like Billy Joel,” he says, unable to contain a self-conscious laugh, “But have you ever listened to The Stranger? The first track, ‘(Movin’ Out) Anthony’s Song’… I mean, if somebody played that song today it’d be as huge as it was then. It’s just one of those things where there’s a great songwriter playing the piano as the base of the song and it just swells with this great orchestration and great rhythm guitars and everything all around it.”

Moxon and Co.-fellow vocalist/guitarist/pianist Jon Bunyan, lead guitarist Naben Ruthum, and bassist Dave Buck (all veterans of their high school’s jazz band) – have learned their lessons well. Just as Moxon contends Billy Joel would be riding as high on the charts today as he did in ’77, likewise Bend Sinister’s anthemic yet constantly shifting piano-driven arrangements and soaring vocals wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Bic-flicking arena ceremonies of days gone by. And at least one well-heeled patron backing the band, CBC3, who are supporting Bend Sinister’s imminent Canadian tour, seem to think the same should hold true today.

“It’s really exciting,” says Moxon. “We’re always had a good relationship with them. We’d see [host] Grant Lawrence out and about and chat with him. They’ve always expressed interest, and I approached them in the spring asking about sponsorship, and they said, “Sure, we’ll sponsor a tour for you-let’s do it.”

So here they are, on the eve of that same jaunt across the nation, and, having finalized all the preparations, Moxon’s worst fear has come true: He’s battling a bug. “ I think I manifested it emotionally through all the stress,” he laughs.

They should be fine, though. After all, what would an adventure like this be without a little big of last minute dra… Well, you get the idea.
- See Magazine

"So, do you guys have a rider? Vancouver prog rockers Bend Sinister debunk the myths of touring with video doc"

Winnipeg to Thunder Bay: 704 km. Thunder Bay to Sudbury: 1,005 km. Sudbury to Toronto: 387 km. Touring Canada? Really fucking hard. __Vancouver's Bend Sinister knows that crossing this great nation is no walk in the park, which is why the band is video documenting its current tour._

"I really want to de-mystify it for the average person who always comes up and talks to you, 'Whoa, is it so glamorous? Are you getting wasted every night?'" says Dan Moxon, who handles vocals, keys and guitars. _"Actually you're lifting a lot of heavy equipment every night. You're performing and you're working and you're doing a job. It's the best job in the world, in theory, but it's not just this fairy tale Hollywood dream."

Through interviews with local bands and people along the way, Moxon hopes to put together a full-length documentary defining what it's like to tour Canada. Bend Sinister - which is rounded out by Jon Bunyan (vocals/keys/guitars), Naben Ruthnum (lead guitar), Dave Buck (bass), and Mike Magnusson (drums) - has teamed up with CBC Radio 3 for the country-wide trek, with Moxon hoping to show a condensed version of the doc on Radio 3's video podcast.

"They have a thing called R3TV, basically they release a podcast every week, which is strictly like a downloadable radio program," Moxon says. "So people could, in theory, upload them to their iPods or just watch it on their computer. It's basically a kind of YouTube-style thing, a 15 minute episode every so often that showcases Canadian musicians, like 'lets go to Montréal and find the best poutine with Broken Social Scene.'"

Not only does Bend Sinister have CBC's attention, the band's current single, Time Breaks Down, is charting on Canadian radio - with its video counterpart charting on MuchMusic. Bend Sinister is also the first signing to Distort's online label. At this rate, the band might just challenge Rush for the Canadian progressive rock limelight - though Bend Sinister's sound bears more of a resemblance to Queen and Supertramp.

"It's much more leaning towards pop rock, an epic style rock," Moxon says. "It's not so much tech, just these very dramatic arrangements and more just big, loud, rocking chords and things where it's not as super technical, but there is still a technicality in the way we arrange things."__Blame the piano for all this proggy pop rocking. Bend Sinister was your standard guitar-driven prog band until Moxon decided to write on the keys instead of the strings.

"I honesty feel that in this day and age, piano - and I mean keyboards in general - it's usually accompaniment, or if it is a singer/songwriter who is writing on piano, it's going to be, like, super soft ballad rock or R&B, never balls-to-the-wall rock 'n' roll," Moxon says. "When you're writing an arrangement on a piano, and then you bring in two guitars doing harmonies and huge loud distorted parts, I think it's something that can be a bit more creative."
- Uptown Magazine

"Bend Sinister EP Review -Uptown"

B +
The secret to great prog rock? Rush. Prog rock tunes are always way too long and more confusing than a roundabout. Yes (that's clever prog reference No. 3), they may seem like genius to acid-fried brain cells, but if you're not baked, they fall faster than an iron butterfly. Vancouver quintet Bend Sinister smartly keeps its tunes short and catchy on this five-song outing. Yours Truly kicks things off with a hopping, slightly metallic riff, not unlike Coheed and Cambria. Before you go raising your horns, take note that the next song, TV War, is far more Supertramp than Slayer. It's got an infectious, piano-driven beat, so forget about head banging and just dance. Time Breaks Down and Julianna are Queen-like, containing some Brian May-esque guitar work, and for some real prog power, check out the jazztastic breakdown on High Horses. Roll your bones on over to the Albert Sept. 22 and hear it all for yourself.
- Uptown Magazine

"Bend Sinister Set to Hit The Road with New EP"

VANCOUVER — Vancouverites with their ears tuned to their local scene are already hip to Bend Sinister. But once fall hits, the band will take another crack at letting the rest of the country know what they're missing.
In September, the five-piece band will embark on a two-month, CBC Radio 3-sponsored tour that takes them from their west coast hometown to Montreal and everywhere in between. They're no strangers to life on the road, but for the forthcoming tour they have plans that include more than just playing shows.
"The first time was out to Halifax and back, the second time was out to New York and back, and the third time was out to Montreal and back," says vocalist/keyboard player Dan Moxon about their previous cross-country jaunts. "This time [Radio 3] is doing a lot of promotion, but they're not filling all the dates.
"But what that gives me is the chance to find bands that I'm excited about in every town across Canada. It's great. I've got about 30 bands on board, and they're all down on signing off on a song so I can put together a compilation CD for the tour."
In addition to chronicling the tour through the compilation, the band also plan to film life on the road for an as-yet-untitled documentary.
"It's not about Bend Sinister, but about this idea of what it's like to cross the country as an independent band. [Fellow Vancouverites The Clips] are coming out for the first nine shows and then [Clips lead singer] Edo is going to hop in our van and we're going to be shooting the whole time."
The tour also coincides with the Sept. 4 release of the group's EP, their first collection of recorded material since their 2005 Through The Broken City debut.
"We're calling it Bend Sinister, but it really should be called 'It's About Fucking Time,'" says Moxon of the six-track disc that sees the band reigning in their theatrical, sometimes sprawling sound.
"Dan, as the main songwriter, got a lot tighter, and all of the rest of us got a little less self-indulgent," says guitarist Naben Ruthnum.
The quirks that set Bend Sinister apart from your typical indie rock act are still intact, though.
"If you go to a show expecting soothing pop-rock, you're going to have your face melted off," says Moxon.
Moxon and Ruthnum — along with bass player Dave Buck, guitarist Jon Bunyan and new drummer Jason Dana — will celebrate the release of their self-titled disc with a show at Vancouver's Brad Gough Studios on Sept. 15.
"We're having this huge party," says Moxon of the show. "We've got 10 or 15 local artists that are going to display their favourite piece of art.
"It's No Gold and us and The Clips playing, and we want to basically sell as much beer as we can possibly sell."

- Chart

"Bend Sinister EP Review - The Gateway"

It seems like 365 days a year, an new EP is released by a some Vancouver-based band claiming to have a sound so original that it defies categorization. Often, on the back of their CD jacket, said band declares its own assumed awesomeness, using the “the next big thing” tag, or something to that effect.
About 364 times a year, these declarations turn out to be very, very empty. Once in a blue moon, however, there’s actually merit in these claims, and a band like Bend Sinister come along and pleasantly surprises the jaded public. Blending prog, jazz, and eclectic rock, Bend Sinister lays down a remarkable five-track EP where each song melts seamlessly into the next. Furthermore, each and every track—especially “TV War,” “Time Breaks Down,” or “Julianna”—easily stands on its own.

This five-person band is reminiscent of Queen, Chikinki, and The White Stripes, and shares a label with Alexisonfire, but is by no means a carbon copy of any of these acts.
Musically, the group dynamic of this band is solid, which is how it should be—four of the five band members grew up together, with the fifth being a seasoned veteran of the music scene. Due to this closeness, the band seems well past the young-band stage of searching for a sound to define them. Bend Sinister’s songs are experienced and mature, and the vocalists, the guitarists, and the drummer all get their respective time in the spotlight. Giving Bend Sinister some time on your latest playlist wouldn’t be a bad idea. This is one band that actually lives up to its own hype.
- The Gateway


Bend Sinister EP - September 2007
Through the Broken City - LP - November 2005

Time Breaks Down - (from Self-titled)
85 Bullet on Hot AC Chart
183 on MediaBase Top 40



Labeled as anything from math to prog to pop but feeling most comfortable in the plain guise of rock , Bend Sinister of Vancouver BC have evolved through numerous styles and absorbed a plethora of influences to become a band so refreshingly original that the struggle to categorize them is a losing battle. Together since the nerdy days of high school jazz band over seven years ago, singer/songwriter Daniel Moxon, lead guitarist Naben Ruthnum, bassist Dave Buck, and singer/guitarist Jon Bunyan have literally grown up together and are now joined by Vancouver veteran Jason Dana on drums to take Canada by storm. With exciting prospects ahead, and the experience of three nationwide tours where they shared the stage with the likes of Hot Hot Heat, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Secret Chiefs 3, Ladyhawk and many others, Bend Sinister is not waiting to be discovered but rather enjoying the calm before the storm.