Team Building
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Team Building

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"Past and present collide Upon St.lawrence"

PAST AND PRESENT COLLIDE UPON ST LAWRENCE
MARY CHRISTA O'KEEFE / marychrista@vueweekly.com

'It's as long as Revolver," Bradley Amundson states. "That qualifies it as a 'CD release.'"

There may be only five songs on Team Building's debut record, but frontman/guitarist Amundson is right: clocking in at almost 35 minutes, Upon St Lawrence tops the Beatles' classic by several seconds.

Amundson and his bandmates are in no mood to diminish St Lawrence; the record is a hard-won prize for the Edmonton five-piece.
"Eighty-five per cent of it was done a year ago, fairly quickly. For the last 15 per cent, it took a year and a half," Amundson sighs.
"It took a lot longer than we thought," bassist Shaun Hammermeister concludes dryly.

Not to beat a reference to death, but part of the reason St Lawrence is more than half a year overdue is that it was a long and winding road to Team Building's current configuration. Amundson and Hammermeister (no, that's not a rock affectation, though few surnames rock harder) had made that initial 85 per cent with their original drummer, Mario Laquintana, who moved away shortly afterwards.

"Two months before a show, we had no drummer—it was still just Shaun and I," Amundson recalls. "Clay [Shea] from Choke is basically the reason we're around—he introduced Shaun and I, he filled in as drummer for us and he introduced us to Jamie."

Jamie "Steel Curtain" Robertson took over the sticks, and another Shea recruit, Choke guitarist Jack Jaggard, added more sonic firepower. Amundson nabbed another member, Scott Davidchuk, after seeing the percussionist perform with Field & Stream.

"I saw Scott play vibes and I was thinking, 'What is that weird keyboard-y sound? We have to have that!' So I asked him to play with us," Amundson laughs.

Even after the lineup solidified, there were obstacles to finishing the record. The group got some shows and had to bash out how to make songs that had been written for a trio sound like they fit the five of them.

"Our original drummer was this jazzy player, awesome but different, more focused on locking everything up," Hammermeister remarks.
"We all felt we had to play more with three people, you know?" Amundson interjects. "Jamie does this simple, driving beat. It opens it up more."
The quintet worked to reinterpret the old songs for a live setting, while also starting to collaboratively write new material. As the members were exploring novel musical territory together, the not-quite-done album still nagged at the band.

"The songs were two years old, and the skeleton was two years old, I guess, and we'd recorded last year" Amundson says. "But I really liked the feeling of them, and rather than start from scratch, we wanted to make sure this was finished. I think there was the desire to release something, too. But once we'd been playing as a five-piece, at that point Shaun and I thought it would sound disjointed if we just added on to what we had."

The band re-recorded several parts to give the album a more coherent feeling, one that also represented the direction this configuration of Team Building has embarked on together.

In the end, St Lawrence has a distinctive aural character, moody and churning, given to walls of jagged sound and more spacious gaps that resolve into intricate textural arrangements. Amundson's vocals share the same audio plane as the instruments, his impressionistic lyrics woven into the music that supports them.

"I didn't want it to sound 'singer-songwriter,'" Amundson explains. "I wanted a washier wall of sound rather than crisp, dry production. I like to leave lots of room for the music—knowing when not to play, like when to leave room for the vibraphone or Jack's guitar parts. Nothing's more annoying than no room for music in music." V

- VUE weekly


"Edmonton Journal reviews 'Upon St.Lawrence'"

ALBUM: UPON ST. LAWRENCE
Artist: Team Building
Label: Independent
Rating: 3 1/2
Review: Clocking in at over 33 minutes, this five-song debut EP by Edmonton indie rockers Team Building might as well be considered a full-length. Sprawling, ebullient ambient rock with a distinct Canadian touch, Upon St. Lawrence is thoughtful and delicately constructed under several coatings of guitar, vibraphone, keys and frontman Bradley Amundson's hushed vocals. It's a mesmerizing mix -- at times creaking and groaning like an old toolshed in winter or shining as bright as a spacecraft coursing the night sky. Oddly enough, the longer songscapes (the soaring, emotional coda to This Old Wood, especially) have a greater lasting impact than their shorter, rockier counterparts. This is not to say that Team Building are failing in any way. Their startup effort is a solid example of things to come: layered, substantial Canuck rock that should grow to be even more rewarding the second time around.
Francois Marchand

- Edmonton Journal


"There's no 'I' in team"

There's no 'I' in team
Producing a distinctly Canadian sound is definitely a group effort
Francois Marchand, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Tuesday, January 29
TEAM BUILDING
EP release
When: Friday, 9 p.m.


Where: Pawn Shop, 10551 82nd Ave. (upstairs)
Tickets: $10 at the door
- - -
EDMONTON - "We're kinda like The Village People," says Team Building frontman Brad Amundson. "A train conductor, a bus driver, a teacher, a bartender, a shop owner -- but not at all."
The band, sitting on old benches torn out of a touring van, laughs.
Amundson (the bartender) has just been recalling a time when he rented old-fashioned one-piece bathing suits for the whole Team on a tour stop at the Banff Hot Springs.
"I felt pretty hot," says percussionist Scott Davidchuk, a.k.a. the shop owner.
Drummer Jamie Robertson (the bus driver) simply shakes his head.
At this point, bassist Shaun Hammermeister (the teacher) and former Choke guitarist Jack Jaggard (the train conductor) can't stop laughing.
That's Team Building in a nutshell.
Did we also mention making some darn good music?
Amundson and Hammermeister founded the band alongside drummer Mario Laquintana last year (he since left the band to study in Boston).
The original idea: A kind of social night where three guys who barely knew each other would just hang out and jam (hence, the idea of a "team-building" night). But the band clicked right away and Amundson knew there was something special going on beyond the social aspect.
Team Building is less interested in standard pop than it is in playing a distinctly Canadian brand of ambient, shoe-gaze rock -- often sparse, windy and cold, building into effervescent songscapes that get warmer and richer as they reach their climax.
Oddly enough, Amundson did not start singing until the prospect of playing a show or recording became a reality, and for a long time the band focused strictly on playing instrumentals.
"Once I heard his voice, I was like, 'Yeah, sold,' " says Hammermeister.
After recording their debut EP, Upon St. Lawrence, which is finally being released this week, Team Building faded out of sight and resurfaced as a five-piece, adding Davidchuk (who also pounds the skins for E-town rockers The Get Down), Jaggard and Robertson to its lineup.
"My whole philosophy coming into this band is 'less is more,' " says Jaggard, who was one of the driving forces behind the fast-paced, complex harmonies of Choke. "This is just such a breath of fresh air."
Listening to Upon St. Lawrence, it's easy to understand what Jaggard means. The EP, recorded with Stew Kirkwood and a few guest musicians, flows effortlessly -- from the delicate shuffle of the title track to the rockier landscapes of Arrivals and Reunions and Notes.
As a five-piece, Team Building's sound has become bolder, and all of the members agree that everything is slowly falling into place.
"The chemistry was there right away," says Amundson.
fmarchand@thejournal.canwest.com

Also,
Go to Itunes and search 'Edmonton Journal' where you'll find a podcast you can subscribe to or just listen to, where we are talking with Francois and where we play a bit of a new song 'Take me to the gallows blindfolded'

- Edmonton Journal


"Words don't fail Team Building"

WORDS DON'T FAIL TEAM BUILDING

MARY CHRISTA O'KEEFE / marychrista@vueweekly.com


'You know, I don't even know what he's singing about," laughs Shaun Hammermeister. "I guess I'll find out when our album comes out this summer."

The bassist glances at his Team Building bandmate, guitarist and frontman Bradley Amundson, who shrugs. While the Edmonton-based band creates collaboratively, lyrics are solely under Amundson's aegis.

"Have you ever read lyrics for an album and they spoiled it for you? You get put off before you hear the song?" Amundson asks. "Good lyrics often don't really make sense on their own."

Having offered that—a sort of statement of philosophy—Amundson reluctantly elaborates. "They're stories, a lot of them. Some are really personal, about my family. Or I see people and make up stories about them. Like one night—it was around midnight and rainy—there was this old lady going up and down the street, just over and over again. It wasn't clear what she was doing and I was wondering why she was going around in circles in the middle of this rainy night."

These stolen, elliptical experiences become a better frame to convey Amundson's emotional world than a more direct approach—the more he cloaks himself in metaphor, the more universal the feelings evoked.
The lyrical abstraction—delivered by Amundson's earnest, velvety croon—meshes perfectly with Team Building's oddly sculptural, moody music pieces.

"We have a big sound, I think," Amundson ventures.

"There are dynamics," Hammermeister adds. "It goes from being pretty mellow to … well, not fast. But loud. There are lots of slow builds to something like a wall of sound."

The intensity can be glimpsed in the band's lineup, which fell solidly into place only since last fall when Hammermeister and Amundson found drummer Jamie Robertson and were joined by Choke guitarist Jack Jaggard and Scott Davidchuck.

"When our original drummer left, Brad and I almost called it quits," Hammermeister confesses. "It was months and months of just us."

This unsatisfactory situation was tinged with irony—Hammermeister and Amundson (along with first drummer Mario Laquantani) met through mutual friends when the bassist's band required a guitarist.

"It was like a blind date," Amundson deadpans. "You know, we didn't talk for the first year. We'd play for three hours but barely talk. I wouldn't sing for a long time—I was shy. Or maybe it's just that they were an instrumental band before I joined. I was afraid they wouldn't like it." V

- Vue weekly


"Shy guys making very pretty pop songs"

-Here's an article by Fish Griwkowsky, written for The Edmonton SUN.

"This Team does'nt even talk that much"

-Shy guys making very pretty pop music.

Brad Amundson is illuminating the corners of his own musical history amid the heavyhitters. He sings in the newly revamped Teambuilding, a local indie band playing tonight(jan.26th) at Velvet Underground that's alot more patient, quiet and composed than it's vibrating family tree would indicate.

Seriously. Take bass player Shaun Hammermeister. One of the sweetest guys in town, for real, but as an example also part of the legendary metal cover band Wicked Fantasy. You almost need earplugs to look at photos of their hair-glam rock orgies. Or how about Jack Jaggard from Choke guitaring? Not exactly Thome Yorke tender. And the mighty Get Down's Scott Davidchuck, instead of beating skins to oblivion, plays keyboards, Vibes. So where did all these howlers put there werewolf hangovers?

"We're all actually super shy guys," Amundson explains, "and didn't know each other that well. The hardest part was finding other people to play with, for 10 years, basically.

"I played in a band with my brother, Sill. We played a few shows and split up about a year and a half ago. It was pretty weird, but it's been way better for both of us, relationship-wise.

It's always tough to overlap the personal and the obligatory or professional. What's missing is the channel switching sense of freedom you get at the end of the day. If you've ever worked with someone you live with, your spouse or girlfriend, it's the same thing. "Yeah, i did that too," Amundson Chuckles, seemingly an expert in emotionally crowded situations.

Without that extra feeling of privacy and the ability to filter out the nauseating tedium of work, not to mention the exaggerated weight a disagreement can cause, a person caan easily end up feeling trapped. Like it or not, we function better with serious partitions between us and the people we choose to exist beside.

this is why Team building without irony lives up to it's name. Including Jamie Robertson on drums, they came to each other out of the void, lacking the pre-existing conceptions of long time relationships. "The reason we decide on that name is we kept trying to get together, joking about having a team building night before we had a band name. Shaun's a teacher and they have them and end up just getting drunk together.

"For the first six months i don't think we even talked to each other. We'd just show up, play for three hours and then leave. We didn't really know each other, we just got put together in a blind date, almost," he laughs. Davidchuck, Robertson and Jaggard joined the festivities just this fall.

The result of this junior-high gym nervousness, which you'd be invited to preview at
myspace.com/teambuilding, is very pretty pop music.

"The best part is we're all into the same style of music. What we're doing is a little different. Right now there's not a huge amount of people who want to do something mellow, that takes a little more patience in the writing process.

"It's not just three chords, bang it out, have a good time. We're working hard and it sounds great."

Teambuilding plays Velvet Underground tonight(jan.26th) with Calgary's spacey Cape May and human laptop labratory Mark Templeton. 10030 102 st.

- Edmonton Sun


"Upon St. Lawrence review by Fish Griwkowsky"

Team Building

Upon St. Lawrence

Indie

4 out of 5

Another local band for your consideration is Team Building. It's recently been asked how indie music ended up being a bunch of sensitive guys who refuse to break their guitar strings and drum skins much like Team Building, which certainly walks through its self-generated fog instead of chasing you down the street with a cordless mitre saw.

But, I like the mood they create, taking us to the land of Thom Yorke's early days or even David Lynch favourite Julie Cruise, eyes closed, exhale slowly.

And for the record, they do pick up steam, something which must inevitably happen when you record a song of exactly 10 minutes, 18 seconds.

The poppier Arrivals and Reunions has a lot more sugar in the bloodstream. Heck, you could even jump around the room for parts of it!

If you're still on myspace, put a /teambuilding at the end to hear what I mean.

- Edmonton Sun


Discography

Upon St. Lawrence. Released Feb.1st 2008.(independent)

-podcast, 'soundcheck with Francois Marchand'

Photos

Bio

Although forming in 2005 as a three-piece band, Edmonton Alberta’s Teambuilding truly entered the Canadian music scene with their current five-member line-up in 2007. Often compared to bands such as Radiohead and Mogwai, the band’s unique brand of ambient rock quickly garnered a strong response from local music audiences and is gaining the attention of many outside the local music scene.

Teambuilding’s music is often a delicate layering of instruments, slowly building into warm and dynamic soundscapes, mixed with unique and haunting vocal melodies. Hints of various musical influences such as Godspeed You Black Emperor, Built to Spill, and Tortoise can be heard throughout the band’s eclectic range of songs.

Teambuilding released their first EP “Upon St. Lawrence” in February of 2008. After a sold out CD release show, the album quickly charted #1 on CJSR, Edmonton’s college radio station, and has received excellent reviews in various independent publications and local newspapers. The success of the band’s debut release has allowed them to showcase their dynamic live performance. Sharing the stage with high-profile Canadian independent bands such as A Northern Chorus, The Besnard Lakes, and Juno award-winning Wintersleep; Teambuilding has proven that they can hold their own next to some of the best bands that Canada has to offer. Team Building has recently attended The WCMA's, And is off to Toronto for CMW.

The band’s current five-member line up includes Brad Amundson (vocals, guitar), ex-member of “Choke” Jack Jaggard (guitar), Jamie Robertson (drums), Shaun Hammermeister (bass), and Scott Davidchuk (vibraphones, percussion).

"Sprawling, ebullient ambient rock with a distinct Canadian touch, Upon St. Lawrence is thoughtful and delicately constructed under several coatings of guitar, vibraphone, keys and frontman Bradley Amundson's hushed vocals. It's a mesmerizing mix -- at times creaking and groaning like an old toolshed in winter or shining as bright as a spacecraft coursing the night sky" Francois Marchand, Edmonton Journal --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I like the mood they create, taking us to the land of Thom Yorke's early days or even David Lynch favourite Julie Cruise, eyes closed, exhale slowly" Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton SUN. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (their debutCD)"Upon St Lawrence has a distinctive aural character, moody and churning, given to walls of jagged sound and more spacious gaps that resolve into intricate textural arrangements. Amundson's vocals share the same audio plane as the instruments, his impressionistic lyrics woven into the music that supports them." Mary Christa O'Keefe, VUE Weekly. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Debut C.D. "Upon St. Lawrence" was released Feb. 1st, to a sold out audience @ Edmonton's The Pawnshop. It is being played in steady rotation on CKUA, CJSR, and CBC radio, Having already charted #1 on CJSR 88.5f.m. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team Building has shared the stage with: Wintersleep, The Besnard Lakes, A Northern Chorus, The Hylozoists, The Cape May, Great Aunt Ida.