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.
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Your sound is very guitar driven, do you get your signature distortion from the amp or pedals? 
Neil: On the record, most of my distortion is from pedals. Depending on the song it’s either the Pro Co Rat or Boss Adaptive Distortion.
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? 
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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!)
Ibanez Tube Screamer (I mainly use it on choruses or to make any leads pop)
Strymon El Capistan (Mainly for new songs but I use it on a couple songs live)
EHX Holy Grail Nano (I pretty much set it to 11 o’clock and leave it on all the time)
– Boss Chromatic Tuner
I recently just bought a Zvex Box of Rock and Fulltone Supa-Trem but I’m just slowly starting to incorporate them.
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Boss DS-2 (I mainly use it on certain leads like “What’s That Good For” or anytime I want things to sound nostalgic)
EHX Soul Food (I use it as a basic overdrive, I just like how warm it sounds)
Boss 63′ Fender Reverb (I usually just leave it on all the time, I feel like it gives me my own sound)
Boss Tremolo (I only use once in a while on songs like “Lingua Franca“)
Ibanez Soundtank EM5 Echomachine (I use this more on new songs but on the record, I use it on “Colour of the Outside“, we just wanted that intro to sound a bit spacey)
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Xotic Effects EP Booster (Used sometimes as an always-on effect, and to boost levels when switching to Baritone guitar at live shows)
DigiTech Digidelay (For modulated delay live and in the studio)
MXR Micro Amp (For boost in some song sections/always-on live and in the studio)
DigiTech Bad Monkey (For most overdrive sounds at live shows and on all of our releases to date (Bass), a second bad monkey was also used for the guitar at live shows and in the studio)

Other stuff we use that’s not on our pedalboards:

– Roland SP-404SX (Used for recording and manipulation effects on “Mercy Works“. We use it live to play “Mercy Works” and to cue samples during song sections and tuning/guitar changes)
Boss BF-2 (As heard on “Faded Sound” and “Chicane, OH“)
TC Electronic Ditto (Used for loops on “Mercy Works“)
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.