Chris Kessler of the band Terra talks songwriting process and Medicine Hat origin

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Photo of the band Terra by Sheena Zilinsky.

Owing its origins in 2013 to Brandon Saucier and Chris Kessler’s meet ups, where the Canadian duo would “smoke a bunch of cigarettes in a big park and self-consciously pluck around on [their] guitars,” is the band Terra. The band, consisting of Braydon Charlton (keys), Chris Kessler (vox and guitar), Quincy Phaff (drums) and Brandon Saucier (bass guitar), formed in city of Medicine Hat, located in southeastern Alberta.

So far, the band has released an EP with Shake! Records, where Kessler notes that Terra has shaken its former identification with post-punk, preferring instead to be labeled under pop or dark pop.

Kessler was able to provide some more insight into the band’s future plans and songwriting process. See the full interview below:

1. Do you write your own songs? If so, could you discuss the songwriting process in detail?

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Via: Terra Band Page on Facebook.

Yes, [but] I am super self conscious about playing my own music. Everything has to be set in stone and flowy or I am like, “Fuck, people won’t like this!” That’s a curse and will probably be our eventual downfall.

Sometimes, I try to approach songs like they could be played on an acoustic guitar before I bring them to practice. Lyrics have to be kept simple otherwise I forget them; and the phrasing needs to flow to keep me from completely losing track of where I am. [Saucier] and the other guys are mostly left to their own devices, mostly because they are probably sick of hearing me boss them around.

The band is great and everyone knows where they fit in the mix, they are a great bunch of guys. We are all still looking for ways to improve as writers, and musicians. We feel as though we still have a long way to go.

2. Could you describe your song “The Fold?”

“The Fold” was written while I was working here in town [Medicine Hat]. I have worked pretty hard at most jobs I have had, I guess it’s just about the boss always wanting or expecting more? I have sort of learned to live with that as a fact of life. Currently really enjoying my job, keeps me busy and makes me feel a part of something other than music and of course allows me to fund my musical ventures while keeping a roof over my head.

3. My favorite song from Couldn’t Save This EP is “Incurable Condition.” For me, the song sounds like a person’s relationship with a drug addiction? Correct me if I’m wrong. What were the influences behind this song?

Yeah, you could certainly look at it from that point of view. I have a tough time being completely open about the meaning of some of the songs, but “Incurable Condition” is mostly centered around hypochondria. The whole EP has a pretty big poor mental health vibe despite the really minimal and ambiguous lyrics.

4. What are your biggest challenges as a band?

Finding money is a huge issue, I have spent a lot of money on playing music and the record and stuff. Hard to put away money when you are constantly playing shows and making plans for music

Our practice space is another chunk of money to rent every month, too. I also want to hold everything to this standard that isn’t even viable on our budget, and I don’t know how to write grants and get overwhelmed every time I look into them.

5. Do you have any notable experiences as a band?

Just being from Medicine Hat and having anyone care about the band has been pretty notable for us. We are so grateful for the support we have had over Canada and other parts of the world. Other notable experiences – well, the worst thing about being in a band is [having to change] blown tires in the middle of the night [on the highway when you’re coming to or from a gig] while cars whip by at 140 km/h a few feet away from you.

Want to check out Terra on social media? Click these links: Bandcamp, and Facebook.

Have a band you really love and want to share their story on A Quarter Young? Let us know!

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