Innocent Bystander
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Innocent Bystander

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"INNOCENT BYSTANDER FEATURE-Space Junkie Magazine"

INNOCENT BYSTANDER FEATURE-Space Junkie Magazine JUNE 2006-spacejunkies.net
Photos, Review, Interview & Column By: Josh Nelson

To get a better idea of what and who Innocent Bystander [IB] is, I decided to drop by the studio and pick their brains in their natural setting. As Wayne Szolga (bass) lets me in with a smile and handshake, I look around and take in a studio straight out of an Ikea showroom. This place looks comfier than my own damn living room. Today, it’s just me, Wayne and Clayton Creed (guitar), who is busy putting some finishing touches on a new IB track on Pro Tools. After some idle small talk with Wayne while Clayton finishes up, we got down to some serious discussion.

Josh Nelson [Josh]: You guys are one of the hardest working bands around. Do you find it worth it to be self-managed? Do you think things might be easier with a manager?
Wayne Szolga [Wayne]: Well there’s two sides to Innocent Bystander. There’s everything you (the fans) see and everything we do. When it comes to arranging studio time, Clayton handles it; booking shows is my department. I love the idea of having someone take care of that side of things, and we’ve actually been approached several times recently by people interested in managing. The thing is, would that person be able to do things exactly the way we want? Would they be as driven as us? Money is an issue; also, this is a four-year project for us, something we’ve poured our hearts into, something we’re afraid of losing/letting go of.
Clayton Creed [Clayton]: Where the band is at right now, I think its better we’re in control. If things take off, it’d be nice to have some help. But we’ll be taking our time to find the right person, someone who will basically be a fifth member of the band.
Wayne: Someone who will be able to manage our business for us while we’re performing; because we can’t be diverting our focus, thinking about the business aspect while we’re on stage.
Clayton: If and when we do find a manager, they’d have to follow us around and get used to how we operate before they took over. Like I said, they’d be more of a fifth member of the band and less of a "manager," because we’d still maintain control and basically be directing them as to what to do. It would just allow us to focus less on the business and more on the music.

Josh: I understand you guys have formed a detailed business plan for Innocent Bystander. Do you think having that detracts at all from the fun of what you’re doing?
Wayne: If anything, I think it’s more fun now that we have one because it’s created excitement. You know what’s beyond the next show. Things are happening because of it, it’s motivated us.
Clayton: Yeah, it’s definitely added more than it’s taken away. It adds fun and allows us to enjoy it more, because we know exactly what’s going on with the band. And it’s not like it’s concrete/set in stone, it’s fully adjustable.
Wayne: I wouldn’t even call it a business plan; it’s more about setting our goals and direction. In my opinion, without goals and direction, there’s no fun for a serious band.

Josh: Alright, take us back to the beginning. What was it like then, and how have things changed since?
Wayne: Well, the current line-up has been around for two years last November. The name and concept of Innocent Bystander goes back about four years though. In the beginning, it was just showing up to the garage and rocking out.
Clayton: Yeah, back then it was strictly about having fun, beers and jamming with friends. It’s a growing process, weeding out and reshaping the band. We’d never get another progressive friendship like this, because if we started a new serious band at this point, it’d be business right away.
Wayne: Referring back to the business aspect again, when you decide that your band is a serious entity, you have to do what’s better for the business. That means finding the right chemicals and elements to make the combination that works and sounds best together.
Clayton: You only get one chance in life to be with friends in a band, and at this point we’ve pretty much kicked out all of our friends. [Laughs] When Joe Goguen (guitar/ vocals) joined the band, that brought the perfect vocal element and to me, the perfect chemistry with the guitars. With the addition of Justin Krem (drums), the chemistry was just right for our rhythm section.

Josh: You guys are starting to blow up in the northwestern scene. Why do you think it is that you’re playing to capacity crowds and making new fans wherever you go?
Wayne: How do we answer a question like this without sounding egotistical? [Laughs]

Josh: Well, over the past month that I’ve been following and getting to know you guys I can assure the readers with unabashed honesty that you are not egotistical, [Laughs] so feel free to answer however you want.
Wayne: [Laughs] Well, I wouldn’t say we’re blowing up the scene. Our name is on the map now; we exist. I mean, I know we don’t suck.
Clayton: It’s because we have good music; you have to in order to be successful. Coming up with good material is a great motivator. We write in logical group terms now, everyone bringing in pieces and having input on each others pieces. After four years, you become wiser. We’re playing more live shows, and getting better at it. Word is getting out in the Vancouver scene which is helping a lot.
Wayne: In our live shows, I tell the guys to look out at the crowd and see how they’re reacting. A crowd’s response is key to gauging the entertainment value of what you’re performing.

Josh: Like your set at the first round of the international Emergenza Festival?
Wayne: Perfect example. The crowd was so loud, during our songs and in between them, that no one in the building noticed that the fire alarm was going off for the final three songs of our set! I think that is a good indication of the type of performance we do. I’m at a point where if I quit tomorrow, I could honestly say I’ve been a success.

Josh: What are your thoughts on Vancouver’s music scene? Do you think perhaps it’s oversaturated?
Clayton: I think right now the scene is making a transition out of the Nickelback phase. For a time, you had a lot of bands being radio-friendly on purpose, but you also had bands who were putting out good solid music that happened to be radio-friendly as a byproduct. Now though, there are other mediums like iPods that are taking the market share away from radio, which is forcing a transition. In order for radio to compete and survive, it has to adapt, which means drawing the crowd back with solid hits. Also, it’s drawing from local talent to try and boost local interest.

Josh: Like Seeds? (99.3 The Fox, Vancouver’s #1 Rock Station, holds an annual competition which is the equivalent of a province-wide battle of the bands with major prizes for the top five finalists. It has been the first step to fame for bands like Bif Naked, Nickelback and the Matthew Good Band.)
Clayton: Seeds is really just a backbone, nothing more. It gives you a foundation of recognition and local fame to build upon. It’s up to the band to do something with that from there. Some have, some haven’t.
Wayne: There’s a lot of local talent out there right now. Saturated, maybe; but it’s not as simple as that. You can pretty much break down all the bands in the scene into three categories: The "garage" bands, the bands that do shows every six months and the bands that are going full time. Off the top of my head, I’d say there are about 40 bands making a name for themselves in Vancouver. There needs to be outlets though, and a lot of places are opening up to that notion and putting on more live music nights. That’s a good thing for the Vancouver scene.

Josh: Back to the band; what’s next for Innocent Bystander? Any big plans for 2006?
Clayton: Another album or two. We’ll definitely be recording a live album; performing lots of shows.
Wayne: We can’t just be doing shows though; we have to market ourselves beyond that. Leaving the province is something we want to do this year. The music business is kind of like poker; it’s a game of skill and luck. I mean, getting a bit of local recognition is only part of it; it’s what you do with it when you get there. Shows are very important though, because you never know who is going to be there watching, tracking your progress.

Josh: Do you guys have any philosophies, advice or opinions on what it takes to be successful in a band and make music a profession?
Clayton: Everyone in the band has to be on the same page when it comes to dedication and direction. Without passion, heart and drive, you don’t have a band. Gotta have good heads on your shoulders; strong leadership qualities help. These are all pretty universal concepts though. I think you’re at a good point when you’re at practice and no one wants to put their instruments down, they just want to keep going.

Josh: When it comes to Innocent Bystander, who plays what roles in the band?
Wayne: I enjoy being a bass player. [Laughs] You hear of people that don’t really enjoy being a bass player, but I love being right in the middle of lead and rhythm. Justin and I have a really strong synch. He understands what it takes to really drive a song, and that’s a strong beat. I love beats, so him and I work perfect together. Joe is amazing how he doesn’t just use his voice to sing, he uses it as a secondary instrument.
Clayton: The songs are usually created when Joe brings us a rough idea; could be a riff or a verse or a chorus. Everyone adds bits and input into the idea, I like to put together an overall sound and refine that. It’s still kinda raw until Wayne and Justin get on it. You can really tell by the style of the song whether it was a Wayne, Clayton or Joe concept to being with. [Laughs] But after conception, it’s a total group effort.

Josh: And who writes the lyrics?
Clayton: Joe pretty much runs that side of things. We offer subtle suggestions every now and then on a word we might think fits better, but lyrics are a personal thing for Joe, so he takes care of them.

Josh: I think that about takes care of that. I’d like to thank you guys for taking the time out of your schedules for this.
Wayne: Thank you for doing the same. - JUNE 2006-spacejunkies.net


Discography

2005 - Innnocent Bystander EP
2006 - Innocent Bystander EP II
2008 - Innocent Bystander "When Things Evolve"

Photos

Bio

In 2008 Innocent Bystander won the prestigious 99.3 The Fox Seeds Competition, the same contest that launched careers for international recording artists Nickelback, Default, Bif Naked and Mathew Good. Making their way up the indie rock scene in Vancouver over the past 5 years this quintet has honed and developed a great live show, sharing the stage with many great artists such as Thornley, State of Shock, The Veer Union, Yuca, The Turn and many other great bands.

October 16th, 2008, Innocent Bystander released their debut full length album “When Things Evolve” (recorded @ Ear Art Music Studios, produced by Clayton Creed) and saw their first single “Monitors” hit radio waves across the country. Following their two previous self-titled EP’s [Innocent Bystander I (2005), and Innocent Bystander II (2006)] this album shows a growth and maturity for the band and has put them on the map nationally in Canada. “We wanted to take the time to write and record the best possible album” claims front man Joel Goguen “and now that’s starting to pay off for us.” The success from the album has also seen the band tour western Canada and gain a devoted following in Saskatchewan and Alberta allowing the band to continue the pursuit of their mission to “bring the music to the people.”

Adding to the bands recent accomplishments, 2008 also had Innocent Bystander as a Regional Finalist in the Canadian National Radio Star Song Writing Competition with their song “Satellites” (hosted by virgin 95.3 FM, sponsored by Music BC and Factor) which also debuted on the album “When Things Evolve.” Previous years have also seen IB as a finalist twice in The Fox Seeds Competition as well as a finalist in the world famous Emergenza Competition.

Watch for IB in a city near you as extensive touring of both Canada and the US are in the works.

You can reach us @:

http://www.myspace.com/innocentbystander
http://www.ibsound.com