One-on-one with Two or Three
A local band releases their debut EP.
Two years and two additional members after Two or Three met and formed at Trinity Western University, the band is preparing to release their debut EP. Resolve is the realization of months of tentative dreaming, determined planning, and skilled execution. The recording project rode the wave of a hugely successful fundraising drive on Indiegogo.com, which provided both a financial and emotional kick, but the road to this release has not been paved with yellow bricks.
Mere weeks before heading into the studio, harsh tragedy confronted the band. Andrew Harback, the band’s lead singer, songwriter, and maestro finger-style guitarist emerged from a final exam to news of the death of his father. Ten days later, Catherine Affleck, of Decreased Fire Potential fame and the band’s newest member, lost her father to an acute heart infection. This added to the turmoil that Addison Pasiuk, Two or Three’s bass player, had been feeling after the loss of a dear friend, an uncle, and a great grandparent earlier in the semester. However, if the thought to postpone recording did occur, it was quickly abandoned. Two days after his father’s funeral, Andrew and the band began recording. Two days after her father’s death, Catherine joined them in the studio.
Ice was falling from the Port Mann bridge as Two or Three drove to Fader Mountain Sound in Vancouver. Paul Boechler, the recording engineer, was ready and waiting for them when they arrived. The microphones were on and the tape was ready to roll. It was like entering a time warp. Everything else—the grief and the pain, the emotional roller coaster, the dark twilight zone that had enveloped the preceding weeks—remained across the river on the eastern shore. It was time to put it all out there; it was time to make music.
And what has this resolve accomplished? The recording is, in short, sophisticated and accomplished.
From Resolve’s first second “The Bees” explode in a swarm of sound and rhythm that is both arresting and engrossing. Andrew and Catherine’s vocals swirl in a measured disunity that leads to a frenetic bridge. The virtuosity of Fraser Field, Two or Three’s piano man, shimmers. The thrum of “Bees” demurs as “Not Sure,” the next song on the album, strikes a notably softer tone. Here we have a reprise of last year’s music video that featured the lovely Olivia Stephen; here we have the obligatory pop-styled love song dealing with angst and an unrequited love. Here we realize the added dimension a feminine voice has brought to the band in Catherine’s counter melody; the band would be but an echo of its present sound without her.
Here we have a hint at what Two or Three is shaping up to be. While the band manages to remain accessible, they are doing so without compromising on originality. We have heard music like this before, but we haven’t heard this music.
“I have been going for a guitar style that blends the precision and complexity of classical finger-picking with the power and energy of rock and roll,” says Andrew. This mixture, which leads and drives every song, pairs beautifully with Fraser’s intricate piano riffs. The interplay between these two instruments and the two musicians’ styles form the unifying base of the EP. And then there is Two or Three’s rhythm section: Joey Meraw on percussion and Addison Pasiuk on bass. The contribution these two make to the overall sound is restrained, and this wording is intended as a compliment. Like the foundation of a building is integral yet unseen, the work of these two empowers the melodic and harmonic interplay of the others.
There is an instrumental interlude separating “Rewrite”, the last song on the EP, from the rest of the album. It is a mark of musical maturity that was not expected on a debut album by a two year-old band of barely twenty-somethings. Furthermore, it is a lovely piece, equally appropriate as a wedding processional or as a requiem at a funeral.
“Rewrite” opens with the lines: “We are wandering // A father, son, nervous how?” The “father, son” reference is a rewrite that Andrew made in response to his father’s death. While the song has been around for a while—they play it regularly at concerts—“I’ve been wondering, ‘What is this song about?’” says Andrew. “I changed it so that it said “father, son” while we were in the studio, and that changed the entire thrust and meaning of the song.” Andrew’s lyrics work like this; they aren’t straight ahead ballads or protests or story songs, but musings that manage to tease at ideas and emotions through association and rhyme.
“None of us were looking for a pity party when we decided to carry on with the record,” says Andrew, “but instead, to pay our respects to the people who meant so much to us.” Echoing the sentiment, Catherine adds, “The people we lost are people who wanted to see us happy and to go and do great things.” Resolve is a great piece of work. It is diverse in rhythm and arrangement. In subject matter and in performance, it is real.
Two or Three released the single from Resolve, “The Bees”, yesterday on iTunes. There is also a music video to accompany it on YouTube. Resolve will be released on March 5. It will be available for digital download on iTunes and in hard copy from the band members. You can also keep up with Two or Three on Facebook and on YouTube. Look there for details regarding a CD release party currently being planned for March 8.