“Super underground” Canadian quartet WthCnvctn have created an intriguing fusion of metal and synth elements that they describe as a “chaotic, nostalgic and modern.”
However, we’re doing something a little different today because, for the first time in over four years of running GigRadar, their frontman Sabian Ryan asked to submit his answers via a video response. So we ran with it, adapted to his needs and, in addition to turning those responses into a blog, we also created a GigRadar video interview first. So, in addition to reading the article below, you can watch Sabian’s responses – helped by his cat Boots – in the video on our YouTube channel.
Wthcnvctn rose from the ashes of a goth rock band that Sabian was in with his brother Mac and bassist Kyle Johnson. Sabian initially started out as the drummer and singer, but as the band evolved into the current setup with a heavier approach, he moved onto vocals and production with the addition of guitarist Keelan Roussel and drummer AJ Howse.
On their sound, Sabian explains: “I say chaotic because it’s heavy music and the subject matter stems from the stories that I have from my past. Whether it be the drug abuse, the crime and all that stuff. We’re trying to emote something and we call ourselves an emo core band, we’re trying to emote some sort of pain or hopelessness or hope.
“If you listen to our discography, from beginning to end, you could see that we had no clue what we were doing for the longest time. We slowly constructed that clue, if you will, along the way and now here we are, in 2021, and we feel like we’re standing on our own two feet a lot better.”
Our latest taste of this evolution is the impressive Vices, which was released in November. It opens up with low synthy sounds and light vocals “I wish I was just a little better on my own two feet, ‘Cause lately I’m stuck in my dreams while the world turns around me, They say I lost my way somewhere along the broken streets, Somebody save me, Stuck in time between the lines I’m left in defeat.”
The synthy sounds build up to a huge cry of “Vices,” booming guitars and pounding drums join in as the vocals continue “Weighing me down, I can’t stop thinking about you, Drag me out of this mess, Hang me out to dry.” Wild vocals kick in as the huge guitars and drums continue, then drop into chunky chords over more intense screamed vocals that develop into guttural heavier screams. That flows into a heavier repeat of the opening lines, which develops into a more atmospheric section of clean vocals “You wanted a war well you got one, You wanted a war, Well you got one this time” over huge instrumentals.
A more strippped-back version of the chorus feeds into vicious vocals, then drops into synthy ambience. Clean vocals “They say that I’ve got vices like the devil’s trying to tell me I’m on one, Well it took me 13 years to say that I’ll be okay, So trust me when I say I’m not afraid to face the grand disillusion, I still pray about the things to come before I awake” before the vocals intensify alongside massive, pounding drums and sweeping guitars. Check it in the video here:
On the track, Sabian said: “It’s our best release to date as far as the numbers and how it was received by our peers. I think it was a better song than we had ever written before but, on top of that, we put our brains into the marketing and really paid attention to how we did a release this time. We’re getting to a point where it’s at least getting better, because if you look at the numbers on Spotify, for instance, Vices has a larger number than pretty much the rest of our music combined, almost.
“People have been hearing it and going ‘oh wow, that’s unique, it’s familiar, it’s nostalgic.’ So we’re very happy about that, to be honest. I think that all has to do with our new approach to songwriting, which has been fun.”
Vices was preceded by Inse(Cure), which starts out with stabbing synths that build into a really fun opening verse of clean vocals supported by driving drums. It drops into light synthiness and light vocals, which are joined by booming guitars and drums and a spinning lick. A brief pause explodes into a fast, catchy chorus then filthy low-tuned stabbing guitars then flows into a cool ambient outro. Check it out in the lyric video here:
You can also check out the single previous to that, Chemical Camouflage, and the band’s debut album, Burn Out Bright, which includes the excellent Alium Terra, the really catchy Sink / Swim and the super post-hardcore sounding Cigarettes & Sin.
WthCnvctn’s diverse sound and songwriting
As Sabian alludes to, Vices represents a step forwards in what WthCnvctn offer in terms of production value and all round sound. Sabian continued: “As long as you’re into heavy music, I think there’s gonna be something in Vices for you. And the funny thing is, even if you’re not really into heavy music, I’ve had a lot of comments of people saying it reminds them of this pop song or this dubstep song or whatever.
“When I started being a producer and a composer, in like 2012, I started off just making shitty beats on FL Studio 10 with dubstep and random electronic music. So now that I have my hands on the wheel a bit more in the production and composition side of the band, we’re really starting to infuse a lot of different influences, which has been really nice. Now I think we have a much smarter approach for writing and recording and stuff, so it’s been good to see the growth there.”
Vices also highlights WthCnvctn’s ability to fuse different sounds and genres, for example the emo, metal, metalcore sound merged with various electronic elements. They draw influence from heavy bands like Gojira and Bring Me The Horizon, as well as pop, emo and pop-punk to metalcore and post-hardcore, and even Skrillex.
And this is only the beginning of the band’s diversity, as Sabian explains: “If you’ve never listened to WthCnvctn, before, it’s gonna be a journey. I suggest starting with our newest music and working your way back because if you start at the beginning, you’re gonna shut it off before you get to the end! But as a whole, we do have a very mixed bag of directions because we’ve never really wanted to pick a direction nor have we been talented enough songwriters in the past to really have a direction. To me, we just wrote what felt good and we still do, to be honest.
“Our next song coming out is going to be not like Vices, in the sense where it’s a brutal, heavy track, but we have words going in this direction again. Then the song after that is going to be the heaviest thing we’ve ever released and we’ll probably continue to go in that direction. It’s just like I said, maybe those three words that I used to describe: it’s chaotic, it’s heavy, it’s emo. It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that – there’s something for all kinds of heavy music listeners and even some of the softer stuff too every once in a while.”
WthCnvctn’s songs are largely inspired by Sabian’s past experiences, from general viewpoints on growing up, having “hippy parents,” undiagnosed behavioural issues, and drug abuse. He goes into more detail in the video but he explains: “An overlying theme of our music would be stories from our past and how we felt while we were going through them, and I’m hoping that as time goes on we get to talk about the evolution of getting out of that. And then the aftermath of being out and getting out as a whole long process. So yeah, I’m specifically talking about drugs and confusion, the haziness of the brain, mental health issues.
“Chemical Camouflage is a song about the night that I overdosed on ecstasy. I was 15 in my basement with my brother and some friends and we just took way too much. It was my second time ever really doing hard drugs and I didn’t know anything about what was in ecstasy, nor did I care to know, I just wanted to escape reality. I was looking for a way out, I found one and we almost died that night. My brother especially. But yeah, things were kind of weird.
“Also, we did Alium Terra as an outlier. It’s a Latin word, with alium meaning other and terra meaning Earth – so other world. We wrote a song basically about aliens and space time, our place in this universe, in this solar system. That’s a bit of a reflective piece, if you will.”
We also asked Sabian for his thoughts on the Canadian music scene, which we’ve not delved into too much recently. He told us: “I think it really depends, we’re quite skewed. I’ve experienced a very unique experience in this scene where I either have people that really love me or they really hate me. A lot of that comes from my past and the wonderful mistakes that I’ve made along the way, but there’s the flip side of that coin, where there are a lot of people that really, truly do support a guy trying to make a change for his life, his community and the people around him.
“The scene is what you make it and how you allow it to affect you, because there are a lot of clicks, there are a lot of elitists there are a lot of gatekeepers. They’re there for a reason, they worked hard to be where they are, and I respect them for that.
There’s plenty more to come from WthCnvctn, including hopes of some form of tour, be it in Canada or further afield in the world. Aside from that, there’ll definitely be more new music, videos and live streams as they look to widen their content.
As Sabian explains: “It’s very tough because, us being in an emo band, we’re all very emotional people and sensitive and affected by the things around us – like getting laid off work and our entire realities shifting and changing, thanks to the sickness that is Coronavirus. Our role has been shaken up right now and I think it’s not done being being changed but there are definitely ways that bands can thrive in today’s market, climate and economy.
“So we’re doing the best we can to stay on top, stay relevant and stay on our game as we wait for the opportunities to play events to come through. But, while waiting, we’re also not waiting because we have to be able to make progress and stay on top of things. So it’s a unique opportunity to not have to worry about having money to tour right now and just spend all our money on the studio and the songs, the mixing, mastering and marketing to get the best product we can out there.”
Listen to Wthvnctn and more great new metal on the GigRadar Metal Spotify playlist