Published on November 8th, 2016 | by Craig Silliphant


Interview – Skot Hamilton / KEN mode

KEN mode has a new EP — they’re bringing it to Winnipeg and Saskatoon. It’s called ‘Nerve’ and it’s an extension of their Albini-produced record, ‘Success.’


Prairie purveyors of chip on your shoulder noise KEN mode has a new EP, hot on the heels of their recently released full-length ‘Success.’ It’s called Nerve and it comes out this week, with shows to support it in Winnipeg (the 10th at The Good Will Social Club) and Saskatoon (the 12th at Vangelis).

It’s a three track, 7-inch, featuring more tracks from the Steve Albini-produced sessions for ‘Success.’ There’s also a digital verion that has four more songs — one from a previous split with Atlas Moth and three demos from 2013’s ‘Entrench’ album. The digital tracks will also be included if you buy the 7-inch, so don’t get your shit in a knot.

I chatted with Skot Hamilton from KEN mode to talk about these new tracks and what the band has been up to recently.


THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: Now that some time has passed, how was the success of ‘Success?’

SKOT HAMILTON: Success was a self-fulfilling prophecy insofar as the record itself and exhaustive cycle we entered promoting it were at once affirming and grueling. The relativity of ‘Success’ and all of its irritating fruit and dark comedy were very much at the forefront on a conceptual level, so I would have been remiss were I to have been surprised that a double edged sword as notorious as the music industry ended up slicing in every direction. Thankfully, I’m not quite that naive. Artistically, we did everything we set out to do down to the letter, and that included a calculated dose of alienation, so things are going according to plan. Relatively speaking.

TFS: Why the push to release these songs? Especially so close after the release of Success?

SH: The three cuts that compose ‘Nerve’ were stylistic odd ducks that weren’t right for the full-length, but we didn’t really want to leave them in the vault either. We could have parsed them all out for more splits or something like that, but the logistics for finding three separate homes for three more songs were a nightmare. We’re starting to draft new material now, and in the interest of entering that process with clear heads, we needed to get everything ‘Success’ related off of the table.

TFS: Makes sense. You said the tracks were the odd ducks. How were they different?

SH: I think the three songs on ‘Nerve’ stick out as being at odds with ‘Success’ beyond not fitting in to the grande scheme of the overall album. ‘The German Businessman’ in particular feels like a unique tangent all its own, and it seems to demand its own space. ‘I’m Never Looking For You’ is actually one of my favorite tracks from the ‘Success’ session, but it wouldn’t have made any sense on the record.

TFS: I’m not often impressed when a local band name drops a producer that they’ve hired just like anyone else could, as if they were hand chosen or something. But that cynical shit goes out the window when we’re talking about you guys getting to work with Steve Albini, who is obviously a real, honest to goodness legend. What did he bring to the production?

SH: Steve brought an insatiable appetite for poutine and a winning recipe for fancy homemade coffees to the session. I don’t want to give him too much credit, but I think those coffees might have saved the record.

TFS: Tell me about the bonus tracks on the digital release.

SH: The bonus material is for the engineering geek set, and I say this as a complete outsider as I didn’t write or perform on any of the bonus material. The demos were engineered by the amazing Craig Boychuck, and feature material that would eventually be part of the album ‘Entrench.’ If you ever wondered what that record would have sounded like engineered by the dude that worked on ‘Reprisal’ and ‘Mennonite’, wonder no more! Craig is one of my favorite boardsmiths, so I really dig these cuts as a fan of his.

TFS: How busy has the touring schedule been this year?

SH: 2016 was the slowest year KEN mode has had since I joined. It was a necessary lull, and almost more of an extended recuperation, but speaking for myself, I found it very tough.

TFS: What are you guys working on beyond this?

SH: The gears are starting to turn on new songs, thank fucking god. I don’t want to speak to the new material too much yet as it all might end up jettisoned if we take some huge sonic turn and change courses, but so far the blueprints are reminding me off De Sagazan’s ‘Transfiguration’ performances and blood on concrete, so it can’t be that bad.

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About the Author

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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