As part of the Edgefest Summer Concert Series, Toronto alternative-dance duo USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) will play Echo Beach this Friday the 18th. Before hitting the stage, we had the opportunity of giving the band’s Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons a call to discuss playing Edgefest, getting thrown into a lake, Batman, their USS meets USS dream tour, and an interesting studio goof that become part of a song — enjoy!
AMBY: You released your new album Advanced Basics back in February. What were some of the highlights you had while creating the record?
USS: Nothing, it was terrible! Kidding [laughs]. The most bizarre thing about getting to Advanced Basics was that we actually started it in 2012. It began with This Is the Best where we were writing and then thought to each other, “we’re going for it, this is it”. From there, we were already so confident that we’d have a release we’d all be proud of and we kept the bar really high for ourselves. When we served it to the public, everyone seemed to like it and that was more so the foundation of how Advanced Basics came to be. I’d have to say This Is the Best was one of the highlights; it’s one of the biggest songs we’ve ever released in the nine years that Ash and I have been together. That was the start of the process.
AMBY: Now following This Is the Best, Yin Yang is having some incredible success taking the number one spot on multiple radio stations. When writing the song, did you ever expect that it was going to be such a hit?
USS: No, the thing with us is that we’re alternative-rock. We have a pretty good idea of how things are going to fare for our music; in our genre, you’re allowed to be weird and be progressive. When we set out to do the final song from Advanced Basics which was to become Yin Yang, we really had no plan. We had multiple ideas but our engineer Mike threw this track at us and it hit us completely at random! It appealed to our senses and it was really natural to sit in the studio and figure out the parts. The lyrics we even pre-styled in the studio. Ash was in the booth being funny and his joking around ended up being the “all I all I all I all I” part.
AMBY: Really? [laughs]
USS: Yes! The thing that’s amazing about musical creation is that as long as your intentions are in the right place, I think anyone can create any type of song they want. Whether or not it becomes successful publicly is kind of irrelevant; as long as you’re happy and proud of what you create. Yin Yang is such a fun song that people want to take it as a joke but we could play that for the rest of our lives because we like doing it and it’s fun. At the same time, the lyrics do come from a place of being very serious and hilarious.
AMBY: I think that’s why it’s had such appeal to listeners; it’s catchy as hell but the lyrics are relatable in those two senses.
USS: Exactly. Everyone perceives everything differently. It’s really up to the public to decide what you become.
AMBY: You’ll be playing a few festivals over the course of this summer, and I know that we really look forward to covering you at Edgefest.
USS: Ohhhhh Edgefest is going to be the greatest! It’s really cool because you’ve got the rock and roll day with The Sheepdogs and Monster Truck and all of the bands in that family – the long haired guys with beards who play rock and roll.
AMBY and USS: [laughs]
USS: Then you have the older bands who used to headline Edgefest like Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Sloan – Canadiana rock history. Then there’s the in-between; a two-piece electro duo playing with all of these cool bands. It’s pretty awesome.
AMBY: They should have had you write all of the festival’s biographies and descriptions.
AMBY: What do you look forward to the most regarding the rest of festival season?
USS: I think the most exciting thing is seeing what opportunities come up. What festivals, what venues, and what spots are interested in taking a shot at us is always interesting. I think the first one that blew our minds is playing Boonstock in Penticton. We’ll be playing with Macklemore and the line-up is so diverse and this opportunity is amazing.
AMBY: Congrats, Jason. That’s awesome.
USS: Thank you.
AMBY: When it comes to your on-stage performances, what’s a funny story you could share with our readers?
USS: We played a festival two years ago where the stage was right beside a lake. I challenged the crowd during our last song to crowd surf me into the lake. I crowd surfed off of the stage and about fifteen people walked me over two feet into the lake and they threw me in. But they only walked two feet in. So as soon as I landed, I hit the sand.
USS: It was the best crowd-surfing/lake stage-diving attempt ever. I tried to play it cool, though. I was completely winded and wouldn’t have been surprised if I had broken a rib. I was struggling [laughs] to get back to the stage and was freaking out. I got back on stage and was sliding all over the place because I was wet and barefoot. It was pretty funny.
AMBY: I can’t stop laughing, sorry.
USS: Go ahead, there are photos on the internet [laughs].
AMBY: Your music has been featured on Degrassi and the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you could have you music featured in any show or film, which would you choose?
USS: It’s so humbling seeing our music featured; we’re huge sports fans so the NHL highlight reel was a huge surprise. I would love to see This Is the Best in Batman. Batman walks out and says [impersonates Batman’s voice] “Hey Joker, you better run.” Then all of a sudden you hear [sings] “This is the best, this is–” and then he attacks the whole city.
AMBY: I can actually see that.
AMBY and USS: [laughs]
AMBY: You and Ash have known each other for close to a decade now. What is something interesting that you’ve learned about him over the years?
USS: I think the most shocking discovery in the years of knowing Ash is that he truly is an artist. That can be such a general statement that anyone can take any way they want… What I mean is that when him and I get together to perform, record, travel, or hang out to get shawarma [laughs], every single thing and breath that he takes is carefully calculated. I think that’s part of the reason why our music is translated so well with fans. He really is everything that he preaches whether he’s the happiest and most energetic man on the planet, or depressed and anti-social. That’s what makes him an artist. I don’t think there are many true artists out there now.
AMBY: For our last question, what’s something about USS that most people don’t know yet?
USS: Interesting. Okay! We came up with an idea a few years ago that we’ve never put into action. Maybe due to this blog, it might eventually get out there. We have always privately discussed doing an United States Ship Tour. It would be USS meets USS.
Thank you USS, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout