Six men are slathering neon poster paint across their jugulars and philosophizing about the symbolic weight of a triangle.
One man, Man Made Lake’s lead singer-songwriter, Colin Craveiro is doling out most of the paint, while four others lie face-up, heads encircling a triangle smeared on a warehouse floor. Drummer Morgan Hradecky chimes in with notes on the power of the pyramid while hoisting our photographer to the rafters in an effort to capture a bird’s eye view of the psychedelic death scene – something he thought of when he was drunk.
In a half-hour, the colours washed from their faces will reemerge in soft hues; red lights and party lanterns warm the core of a former grain silo in Saanich. A drum kit, keyboards, guitars and a mess of cords leave just enough room for the six, next to a tower still filled with whole wheat flour.
If there’s one take-home from an evening spent with Man Made Lake – Hradecky, Craveiro, who also plays guitar, Nate Bailey on piano and synth, Steve Parker on lead guitar, Brent Gosse on the keyboard and synth and Aaron Blair on bass – it’s that they do things differently. From their start in China with punk Wu Wei, to polishing their harmonic rock tunes in a repurposed grain silo.
“We all wanted to make music our own way,” Craveiro says. “We didn’t really care whether we got known or not; it was like a therapy. This band’s kind of like a weird Alcoholics Anonymous – we are alcoholics and we all do drugs, but we don’t do it anonymously.”
The lack of concern over recognition couldn’t have been more apparent in the first chapter of the band’s story, the one where founding members Craveiro, Bailey and Gosse met twice a week for a year in Bailey’s parents’ basement without ever playing a show. When Craveiro decided to travel to China, he successfully convinced Bailey to come along and suddenly they had landed a Chinese drummer who spoke no English, a Californian bass player and a steady stream of show dates. The group hustled their way into opening for better-known Canadian acts on their way through China and soon they were immersed.
“You go to China and for people there it was a fucking party,” Craveiro says. “When a band was on stage rocking out, everyone’s just mosh pitting and dancing. Who gives a fuck? Beer was being splattered on the stage and there were real punks who live in squats. Everyone was smoking inside and it was a really hazy, gross atmosphere. No bouncers. No cover. It was just nuts.”
In other words: not Victoria.
Criticisms aside, they have been wholly embraced by the local music scene.
“There’s a West Coast vibe of music that’s very popular among lots of circles and that’s the predominant focus of the music scene in Victoria and that’s not at all what we’re trying to do,” Parker says. “So in one way it kind of alienates us but in another way, people see it as endearing because we’re doing something completely different.”
Dates throughout the summer – including June 14 at VIC Fest – are set to back their third album, Bodhicitta: The Shepherd, then they’re ready to leave again. The goal, Hradecky says: get the album heard, find management, tour the world.
“I don’t feel like I ever have time to reflect on it because it’s always changing,” Bailey says. “Right now I love where we’re at because it’s always moving and it’s shifting and changing, so there’s no complacency. It moves quick.”
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