Casper Skulls latest LP “Mercy Works” showcases a softer sound than their abrasive post-punk influenced beginnings. The record’s overall vibe is reminiscent of the post grunge alt-rock of the ‘90s, with Neil Bednis’ charismatic spoken word providing an original, edgy signature, and Melanie Gail St-Pierre’s soft vocals triggering the tracks’ welcome melodic openings. – Kris Gies
What was your initial motivation to form a band, when you started playing?
Neil: Since I can remember I’ve always had a need create music and it was just a plus if anyone responded to it. My motivation for making music has been the same since I was 12 years old and that’s just to make me happy and have fun.
Melanie: I always wanted to play in a band but I always kept it a secret… I always wrote songs secretly. When Neil moved to Oakville from Sudbury he motivated me to start working on things seriously and now I can’t picture not playing music.
What are the bands you dreamed to be part of, growing up?
Neil: Growing up I always wanted to be Nirvana. The first band I played in I played bass and the singer used to force his voice to be raspy so we could sound more like Nirvana.
Melanie: I always admired Brody Dalle and would’ve loved to be apart of the Distillers. Her energy and spirit was just so inspiring to me as a 13 year old girl.
Your sound is very guitar driven, do you get your signature distortion from the amp or pedals?
Melanie: I used to only like getting overdrive from the amps until I got the EHX Soul Food. I would use a footswitch for the amp but I’ve come to love the Soul Food more. Most of the distortion I used on my guitar during recording was either a Boss DS-2 or Zvex Box of Rock. Fraser: Something about the DigiTech Bad Monkey has always worked well for me on bass, and its worked well for us in the past for guitar stuff.
How did your interest for pedals develop? What was your first, and what effects kind of changed your life?
Neil: Until recently I had no interest in pedals. I always just used what friends would lend me or basic effects I thought the sound needed. Pretty much since we started the band I’ve just used distortion, overdrive and reverb but recently have been playing with delay and tremolo.
The first pedal my parents got me was a Digitech BP80. My favorite effect learning how to play guitar was distortion. I think because I loved Nirvana so much it was exciting to me that I could hit the distortion on and have my choruses be big like theirs.
Melanie: Lately I’ve had more of an interest in pedals as well. We’re working on the second record and I think we all just want to pay as much attention as possible to all the sounds of our instruments. We were still learning on the first record and just want to explore different guitar sounds.
The first pedal that I started using was borrowed from a friend. It’s a Boss 63′ Fender Reverb and I still use it to this day thanks to that friend haha!
Fraser: My first pedal was either a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix signature wah or a Digitech RP50. For me, distortion and delay effects have had a huge impact as they (especially distortion) can be really forgiving and can turn instruments into something else entirely.
What (else) do you have on your pedalboard right now and how do you use it?
– Boss Adaptive Distortion (I only use it a couple times in the set when I need to make parts noisy. I was originally using a Rat but I broke it and Chris lent me this pedal. It sounds really cool out of my amp but sometimes when we’re practicing and I’m using a different amp it can sound kind of weird. I’m going to replace it with a Rat one of these days though!)
Was there somebody outside the band who was instrumental in forging the band’s recorded sound?
Neil: Josh Korody who recorded the record was a huge part of getting our recorded guitar sounds. He swears by the Zvex Box of Rock when we record with him. That pedal is on a ton of the guitar overdubs. I bought one recently just for the sole purpose of recording.
What local bands do you have “tone envy” for, if any?
Neil: I don’t know if I’m envious of anyone’s tone but I think Morgan from Weaves has a really awesome guitar sound that works for the band. I like how playful he makes his guitar sound and how unique it is to him. The guitar sound on the newest Weather Station record is great. I really like the guitar sound on the newer Feist album too!
Melanie: I really admire Liz Powell from Land of Talk‘s sound. It works so well for the type of songs she’s writing. It’s really sharp sounding and always stands out in the mix.