Neighbourhood Watch
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Neighbourhood Watch

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by Michael Thomas

“Yeah, wires, man. Wires and recording, that’s been a staple.” Pavel Gurvich, the band’s bass player, says this towards the end of the interview, and it’s a neat little summation of that which makes the Neighbourhood Watch tick. Though it takes a while for them to get it, there’s one thing that makes the band get excited, and that is playing with as much gear as possible.

A lot of that love comes from vocalist guitarist/vocalist Elliot Fraizinger. Now at the University of Oshawa Institute of Technology for electrical engineering, Fraizinger explains that his passion for wires started early on in life.

“Before this interview I was asking my parents ‘When did I start liking wires?’ [They said] ‘We don’t remember. Eight or nine maybe?’”

Fraizinger got into experimenting with recording early on as well. “As a kid, I would hook up every speaker in the house to one source,” Fraizinger says, “and maybe plug in the Super Nintendo to a mixer board and see what happens. You get a black-and-white signal screen instead of colour, which is…Worth it to find out. “

“When I met Elliot, it was like grade nine. He had a recorder back in the day, so he was experimenting with recording for longer than anybody else I know,” Gurvich says. “While people were playing guitars, he was already tweaking with recording. You don’t find too many people doing that, which is pretty awesome.”

The original incarnation of the band met at Thornhill Secondary School, which included Fraizinger, Gurvich, Michael Keshen (who has since left the band) and Will Hunter, whom they met later. One can tell pretty quickly that Fraizinger and Gurvich are good friends—several times throughout the interview they finished each other’s sentences.

“We tried to start a band before the Neighbourhood Watch that sort of failed, if you will, it didn’t really go anywhere,” Gurvich said. But the band eventually began “operations” in 2010.

Fraizinger says that the name doesn’t have any special significance, despite guesses to the contrary.

“Thinking of a band name is so hard,” Fraizinger says. “Then you’re just out somewhere and you see something and think ‘Is that a band name?’ And check it. ‘Okay, there’s one thing from the 80s who might have a conflict.’”

“They’re all American!” Hunter chips in. “They’re all B-O-R-hood, we are the only B-O-U-R-hood. We got that going for us.”

“There’s no Neighbourhood Watch without ‘u,’” Gurvich adds. Clearly his statement should be the band’s tagline.

“They booked a show first and then they were like ‘We need to get someone else in the band, right?’ And then I was just sort of hired,” says Hunter. “I was put in the band for the show—we didn’t really know if there were going to be plans for the band after the show.”

Hunter was also playing (and still plays) with Formalists. “We were all sort of getting our feet off the ground at the same time,” Hunter says. “So I think that sort of band partnership helped motivate, and made finding shows that much more realistic.”

Besides Formalists, the Neighbourhood Watch also played plenty of shows with the Noble Truths and Good Times Running. They’ve also recently played some shows with Most People. “We always enjoy playing with those guys,” Fraizinger says. “Whenever we book our own shows we always ask them like ‘Hey guys, want in?’ And they’re usually pretty down for it, they’ve never said no.”

Though the band has existed for three years and since solidified by adding Andrew Nardone on drums in May of 2013, their first EP, Static Ocean, didn’t come out until May 10 of this year. Finally releasing it was a great relief to the band as a whole.

“Before you have your first recorded thing, your band’s future is in extreme doubt,” Fraizinger says. “And then once that finally happens, once the years of tweaking comes to a finished product, you can have a bit of a breath of air. And then keep pushing forward.”

“A lot of these songs are older songs that sort of finally found a place,” Gurvich says.

“Finally committed to lyrics and these parts and stopped fiddling with gear and settings,” Fraizinger adds. “Us three have easily spent hours and days’ worth of time just… ‘Oh, how does this ring modulator on marimba sound?’ There’s no end to that, so it’s nice to finally be done with all those tweaks.”

Fraizinger and Gurvich also quickly walked through the EP, starting with the “sister” songs “Quicksand” and “Caito Stance.”

“I was just driving in my car in my trek from school and I was humming an idea to myself,” Fraizinger says. “I recorded it on my phone and I listened back to it and I thought ‘This is a pretty concrete idea.’ So I went through the phone recording and played along to it and took pieces from that.”

On “Nanoglands”: “That goes back to one of the first Neighbourhood Watch songs,” Gurvich says. It formed in 2008.

“It’s ancient. It’s one of those songs that has enough history among different members and I just - Grayowl Point


Whether they’re aware of it or not, Toronto band the Neighbourhood Watch have both an apt band name and a fitting title for their debut EP. In terms of their band name, the first image they evoke might be one of those warnings you see under speed limit signs. But if you take a more literal meaning, this band is one that is watching the neighbourhood that is Toronto. The band knows it’s a big place and on its Bandcamp page thanks various bands including Most People, Chrymes and the Cautioneers.

And in terms of Static Ocean, that’s a pretty apt description of Toronto’s music scene. It’s vast, and it’s full of bands producing every type of music imaginable. The key, then, is for this band to try and raise themselves above the static ocean and be heard. Static Ocean may be a recording that does just that.

The band has a good ear for catchiness—they subtly blend synth washes with a more traditional rock sound to great effect. The best examples of this are in “Quicksand” and “Numbers.” In “Quicksand,” the retro-sounding synths dominate the song, but while they are easy to groove along to, the recorded vocals are too low in the mix to be able to distinguish them.

“Numbers” does much better, with its pulsing and familiar synths and simple hooks like the repetition of the phrase “You’re always brooding.”

The Neighbourhood Watch also do well in keeping the listener off-balance. While most songs follow a fairly consistent song structure, two songs (“Nanoglands” and “Could Have Spent It”) change melodic course in their last thirty seconds or so.

“Could Have Spent It” is itself a strange turn for the band. While the first three songs are undeniably sunny-sounding, this one is just plain dark, maybe even creepy at first, opening like a lost song in the Nine Inch Nails catalogue.

“Bad Attention” manages to incorporate horns, which manages to even further vary their songs, something that almost doesn’t seem possible considering how many sounds and instruments they threw into this.

The EP ends with “Caito Stance,” an instrumental number that features some cool electronic experimentation, with what sounds like a xylophone playing over washes of synthesizer.

This is a solid start for this band, and all bets say that the next recording will be even more surprising than this one. - Grayowl Point


Neighbourhood Watch is on the list of artists of the month for the site - Tim Forster


Neighborhood Watch’s, “Static Ocean" is a great sandwich…Bear with me, the sandwich analogy will work, I promise. First we have the bread; the rhythms on this album create a seemingly protective layer in which all other elements can deliciously exist. It’s got tight percussion work, tight keys and guitar riffs, tight, tight, tight. Vocals and structure fill in the rest (cheese and vegetables?). Good news and bad news: My sandwich experiment failed, although Static Ocean certainly doesn’t.

Album opener ‘Quicksand’ struts in with squealing keys; wavy theremin like qualities are matched by the vocal lines. It’s a bold way to begin an album and I applaud them for it. By the third track, I’m impressed at the amount of influences they’ve managed to gather into a cohesive unit. ‘Numbers’ is striking; with a great combination of smooth melodic vocals, edgy guitar and powerful synth lines, Neighborhood Watch has certainly been able to fit that square peg in the round hole (or is it the other way around?). Featuring smatterings of industrial and post punk, ‘Could Have Spent It’ is a straight-ahead jam, a scorcher at 3:11, the echoed lyrics belie the song’s pithy structure and straightforward approach. They’re waiting for something to happen; sonically we aren’t: “how long must I wait/ I’ve been sitting here for months and days and days". ‘Caito Stance’ ends the album in the same way it started: upholstering experimental sounds onto familiar song structures in the best way possible. On “Static Ocean" the edginess is both palpable and thoroughly rewarding. - Rotten Folk Records


The Neighbourhood Watch‘s debut EP ‘Static Ocean’ comes out swinging with all of the indie rock hooks one band can rally but as it pushes forward ‘Static Ocean’ shows us it’s true colors as a hook driven piece of pop gold.

Give ‘Static Ocean’ a proper run through and you’ll be hassling the band in no time to release more music like this….I know I will be. - Sonic More Music


The night took an upturn with Neighborhood Watch, a band of four polite-looking guys with an love of stadium rock and an undeniable ear for detail. Sounding like a cross between the Strokes and fellow-scenesters Dinosaur Bones, (minus the off-the-charts charisma of both) Neighborhood Watch moved seamlessly through the album, traversing a massive catalogue of timbres to entirely satisfying results. Apart from Elliot Fraizinger's emotive croon and Pavel Gurich's propulsive bass lines, the high point of the night came when the four-piece covered New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" practically verbatim. The stage presence can come, Neighborhood Watch already have the important stuff figured out.
- Exclaim.ca


Discography

Static Ocean EP (2013)

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Bio

Forming in Summer 2010, the Neighbourhood Watch originate from the suburb north of Toronto known as Thornhill. Guitarist and lead singer Elliot Fraizinger, set out to capture the lonesome and unsettling peacefulness of the suburbs. He asked long time high school friend Pavel Gurvich to join as bassist and co-songwriter in the band. They recruited guitarist and keyboard player Will Hunter, also a member of the Formalists. Drummer Andrew Nardone is the most recent addition to the band lineup. Inspired by a wide variety of musical eras and genres, the Neighbourhood Watch use their influences to create guitar driven music overlaid with melodic synth lines. Since their conception, the band has been incorporating an expanding repertoire of instrumentation and electronics into their live performance. As of May 2013, Neighbourhood Watch put out their debut EP Static Ocean. Immediately after the release, they were added to NXNE 2013 lineup. The EP release show received a favourable review from Exclaim magazine. Rotten Folk Records called Static Ocean a thoroughly rewarding listen. The band is currently working on their follow up album.