Psychotic Gardening – Hymns of the Dead

Tuesday, 5th August 2014

“There is a pure spiritual satisfaction when you create and perform music, so for me, it’s not a commercial endeavor. It’s all about the music and the art. The energy exchange we feel from the fans at a live show is like nothing else in life, it’s really amazing! Also, being able to create art in the form of albums, videos, shirts etc., is a great thing for someone like myself, to leave behind as a legacy.”

Spoken like a true metal lifer, Psychotic Gardening guitarist/founding member Chuck Labossiere has had the band going at various inlets of time since 1995. The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based quintet always has the distinction of going at it without the benefit of a label, a happening (or non-happening) that would prompt lesser bands to throw in the ‘ole towel. For now, the band’s Hymnosis effort is more than enough to place the band in the collective conscious of the metal underground thanks to its varied and dark approach to heavier-than-thou death metal. According to the band, taking such a different approach to death metal has been both a blessing and a curse.

“We’ve had some talks with labels, but really the whole music industry has been in flux the last number of years, so getting the right deal isn’t always the easiest,” chimes in guitarist Andrew Wiens. “In the earlier days, labels thought of us as too different, that we were too diverse, wanting us to stick to more one style for all of our songs. And we just don’t want to be told what to do or how to express ourselves artistically. Now, it seems people are getting sick of the one-trick pony type of albums and are starting to get into the dynamics that we bring to the table. A lot of people don’t know quite where to put us, and I personally take pride in that.”

Indeed Hymnosis is a difficult album to peg, with cuts ranging from the harsh and brutal “Origin of the Infection,” to the Incantation-like doom thrust of the excellent “Journey to the Sun” and “Garden Raiding.” Labossiere says one of the reasons for the variety found on the album is because of increased involvement from the rest of the band. “We come from different metal eras, or backgrounds because of our age differences, so there is some interesting melding of ideas because of this,” he says.

“For us, songwriting is natural, nothing is ever forced,” continues Wiens. “The songs that came out were the ones that wanted to come out. It’s all a very intuitive process for us and what’s cool is that it’s going to grow organically and take itself down different paths. I was listening to Hürdür (2007) the other day and marveled at how different an album it is than Hymnosis. Yet it’s the same band. That’s interesting to me, that we can grow and change, yet our character as band is strong enough to link it all together.”

Elsewhere, the band’s rendition of Death’s “Open Casket” should warrant additional merit for its adherence to the original, but also for the band putting its own spin on the song, which is always a must. “A few years ago we played a Chuck Schuldiner birthday bash, and each band got to play two Death songs,” notes Labossiere. “Since Leprosy was our favorite album, we chose ‘Pull the Plug’ and ‘Open Casket.’ Instead of playing the song exactly like Death, we morphed it with our own style to create something different while still paying tribute to the original.”

Discussion with Psychotic Gardening isn’t complete without a look at the band’s mid-90’s days in the very small Winnipeg metal scene. The Canadian metal scene as a whole has grown by leaps and bounds since (just reference this year’s Wacken Metal Battle Canada where there were thousands of entries), but for a pair like Labossiere and Wiens, having trudged through the scene has left several lasting memories.

“There was a handful of bands really, and that was all,” says Labossiere. “Back then, it was still frowned upon. We have a small city, so there wasn’t a lot of people around playing heavy shit. There was still tons of people that went to shows though because back then, there was hardcore, punk and metal bands at the same shows.”

“I was playing more thrash back in those days and the first time my band opened for Chuck’s band, my mind was blown,” lends Wiens. “No one sang like that anywhere in Winnipeg until Chuck did, he opened the doors for a lot of bands in our city.”

The second-half of 2014 should find the Canucks active with a string of live dates across western Canada, along with continuing promotional duties for Hymnosis. And Labossiere and Wiens are understandably quite enthused as to what the future holds for Psychotic Gardening.

“We’ll be playing a lot shows right up through September and then take a look at the second leg of things,” says Wiens. “We’d love to get out to some different places we haven’t had a chance to get to before.”

“The rest of 2014 will be touring, probably another video shoot, writing and some pre-production on newer songs,” wraps Labossiere. “Gotta keep the steam engine rolling!”

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Psychotic Gardening Eastern Canada Hymnosis Tour w/ Will of the Ancients

*(No Will of the Ancients)

*Aug 13 – Thunder Bay, ON – TBA
Aug 14 – Sudbury, ON @ Zigs
Aug 15 – London, ON @ The Richmond Tavern
Aug 16 – Toronto, ON @ The Comfort Zone
Aug 17 – Hamilton, ON @ Doors Pub
Aug 18 – Toronto, ON @ 751 (CD Listening Party Metal Monday w/ Alexander Wurm Erhardt)
Aug 19 – Oshawa, ON @ The Atria
Aug 20 – Guelph, ON – TBA
Aug 21 – Belleville, ON – TBA
Aug 22 – Quebec City, QC @ Salle Unission
Aug 23 – Montreal, QC @ Crobar
Aug 24 – Ottawa, ON – TBA