The first time I heard The Bicyclists, I was lurking with a cigarette in the alley off of my former Main Street stompin’ grounds, and I instantly gravitated toward the sounds blistering the night with rock and roll. It was like getting a musical injection of a much needed medicine I didn’t even realize I’d required. But yes, of course I needed it. Things had been feeling a tad gentrifica-droopy and renovict-beige around that ‘hood…
The following is a chat with The Bicyclists’ Corey Armstrong
BS: Your live show, much like your recorded sound, does not disappoint. How did you meet/how long have you been playing together?
CA: I met Mark when I was auditioning for a drummer back in 2011. I had been writing songs with a keyboardist and a bass player, but upon collaborating with Mark, we clicked and quickly fell in love with our raw 2-piece sound and decided to progress a band from there. He was a full-time student at the time studying audio and working a lot but we still found time to jam and write songs together. Mark eventually moved into my basement suite and we recorded our first DIY 7″ vinyl in his bedroom. We have been continuing to make noise ever since!
BS: Do you currently tour throughout BC/Canada?
CA: We have yet to go on tour, but with the purchase of our van and p.a it is looking very likely! Touring British Columbia is our first goal and then we will be looking elsewhere. It has been very important for us to have a large catalogue of songs before going on tour as we don’t want to repeat the same handful of songs night after night. Most of our shows have been in Vancouver’s Main Street and Commercial Drive areas but we are very excited to expand our audience elsewhere. Mark has been traveling Europe for the last 3 months and has made some very good connections, so that is another possible route for us.
BS: Do you have a fave venue to perform at locally?
CA: There are many very cool venues in Vancouver, though unfortunately two of our favourites have shut down recently, which were The Railway Club and The Electric Owl. Van City is a very tough place to find a nightclub that showcases up and coming artists, and many places are looking to DJ’s and becoming ‘pay to play’ venues. We have had lots of shows at The Main on Main and Falconettis, and we enjoy the intimate environment with the audience. We would like to have more shows at places such as The Astoria and The Rickshaw, as well as eventually progressing to places such as The Imperial and The Commodore Ballroom.
BS: How do you feel about the word ‘perform’? – because to be honest, you don’t strike me pretentious or swagger-y at all, just delivering the rock ‘n roll that seems to come naturally to you all: pure and raw.
CA: You are right, we definitely put the music first in our show. That being said, this still is the entertainment industry and it is important to keep the audience engaged while tuning your guitar for the next song.
BS: Have you had any standout holy-shit-that-was-a-disaster gigs you’d care to laugh *with* yourselves about in this piece?
CA: There’s always been shows where things have gone wrong, but not really disastrous. When I first started playing shows my biggest fear was dropping a pick… then I dropped a pick. Then my fear went to breaking a string… I have since broken many strings on stage. I’ve screwed up chords and lyrics, and tripped over cables. Working around mishaps is just another way to be creative.
BS: I hate the ‘influences’ question, but are there particular artists you hold in high esteem, who perhaps inspired the shape of your musical sound?
CA: My drummer Mark is a huge music geek and is really up to date with new music, especially local bands. He was really into Steven Wilson’s projects as well as Steve McBean’s music when I first met him, and he was also a big John Frusciante fan. He definitely listens to a lot of garage and psych rock and you can usually catch him at indie shows rocking out to bands such as Mosfett, The Pretty’s, Redrick Sultan, Dead Soft and Zen Mystery Fogg. He was given his drum kit by an old teacher of his while helping out at Scratch Records and it holds a lot of sentimental value to him.
For myself, various artists have influenced different aspects ; Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan are huge influences on my guitar playing. Lyrically, I look up to Jim Morrison, Tom Waits, Lou Reed and Gord Downie. As for songwriting, I’m very much inspired by The Beatles, David Bowie and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
BS: While I’m a total hack, I’d like to ask you about your gear…if you wouldn’t mind talking a bit about your choices in that regard without robbing any of the musical magic you conjure, because it seems pretty obvious that you have given this some deal of thought in regards to achieving your overall sound.
Guitars : Fender Stratocaster, Fender Coronado, vintage Yamaha acoustic
Ukulele : Leolani
Guitar amps : Mesa Boogie F50, Pignose
Bass : Rickenbacker
Bass keys : ’72 Fender Rhodes bass piano
Pedals : Ibanez tube screamer, Octavio, Cry Baby wah, Boss Tremelo TR-2, Boss DD-6, EHX Black Finger Compressor
BS: What are you guys working on at the moment?
CA: We’re working on our latest EP (which will be released late 2016 – early 2017)
Expanding our sound ; adding a new member who has been our artist for posters and album art and who has written some of our lyrics. She will now also be singing and playing bass keys.
The ever-growing set list ; currently sitting at 70+ original songs ranging from soft rock to folk and all the way to hard hitting, post-punk, hard rock, and everything in between.
BS: Awesome, and thanks for taking time to chat, Corey! Looking forward to hearing more scorching rock n roll (and everything else in between) from you all in future – even if it isn’t on Main Street:)
Check out their sound and give ’em a follow –