Ace of Wands, a Dream Rock band from Toronto, formed around Lee Rose in 2017 to reflect a life-altering period of mental illness. Surreal and beautiful, Ace of Wands creates immersive and intricate soundscapes to explore the meaning of Dream Rock. From the tension and dread of a nightmare to the effortless freedom of lucid dreaming, Ace of Wands compels audiences to listen with attention, and not shy away from the dreams that may reveal hidden parts of themselves.
Jody Brumell Answers
Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?
I‘ll relate my experience drumming through the pandemic as opposed to writing. My Wife and I were extraordinarily fortunate enough to obtain a cottage on a small lake near Haliburton in the summer of 2019. When the Pandemic hit, she was given the green light to work from home and we moved up there pretty much full time. The timing of this was not lost on us. The alternative would have been three years downtown in an apartment on the corner of Queen and Spadina.
In January 2020, Neil Peart died of cancer, and though not a devout Neil disciple (I saw Rush about 10 times), I was profoundly moved by it. I decided, like him, to take some drum lessons at my older age. I hadn’t had a lesson since studying in New York City some 30 years prior. I was able to get two lessons in with Master Drummer Dave Clark, before leaving on a US tour with Ace of Wands, and then immediately after we were hit by the lockdown. Two lessons. I didn’t touch drums for 7 months after that. Come October 2020 another hero of mine, Eddie Van Halen, also passed away (fuck cancer all to hell!). I wanted to play “Unchained” from the Fair Warning! album so I set up my kit, including an extra rack tom for some seriously heavy rock fills. That was the beginning of daily play/practice, which has continued to this day. I play with the extra tom full time, something I’ve not done since I was 13. It has revolutionized the way I drum. The pandemic turned into an amazing thing for me, creative-wise.
What are your top two favorite albums of all time? Why those albums?
They would be Led Zeppelin’s “One” and Radiohead’s “Ok Computer”.
The first time I heard Led Zeppelin One was on my bass player Purk’s turntable in his bedroom when we were about 12 years old. He cranked it and “Good Times Bad Times” roared out of the speakers. It was a life changing moment. We listened to the whole record and the rest is history. John Bonham has been my number one influence and Led Zeppelin has been my favorite band ever since. My Led Zeppelin tribute band Zeppelinesque has been playing for over 20 years now…
Radiohead was on my radar in the mid-90s, but “The Bends” record and its singles had been way overplayed on CFNY, in my opinion. One day, while visiting my parents in Oakville, the tiny TV in the kitchen began broadcasting an animated video with an accompanying song that completely enveloped me. The song was “Paranoid Android” from the upcoming “Ok Computer” record. When the tour was announced (I most, unfortunately, missed the press/fan show where they played the album top to bottom at The Opera House in Toronto) I tried unsuccessfully to get tickets. On the day of the show, at Arrow Hall near the airport, my friend Joe and I went, hoping to buy scalps. On our way through the parking lot, there was staff exclaiming not to buy scalper tickets, that the band had deliberately held tickets to sell on the day. We walked into the box office in front of the 6000 or so people waiting in line outside, bought two tickets at cost and went right to the front of the stage. The show was magical and magnificent, one of the greatest I’ve seen. The next day I had $20 to my name and went to Tower Records on Yonge St. to buy the record. I’ve not missed a Radiohead tour since…
If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?
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I’ve always had the idea to write a book about every show (as memory serves) that I’ve ever been to. I’ve done some compiling over the years, and it would frame the skeleton for an autobiography. The title would be:
Rock Concerts…I’ve been too.
by John David Brumell.
Anna Mernieks Answers
What is one message you would give to your fans?
Your support matters. Kind messages, coming to shows, taking vids, tagging us on Instagram, buying merch of any value, saying hi, showing the music to your friends. In a world so completely oversaturated with music available for free, there’s almost no point for us indie artists to try to cut through the noise, especially when the only way to do that seems to be by making up some dance craze on Tiktok or pouring thousands of dollars into social media ads. The thing that lasts and helps us feel more loved is community. Every single person brings value and light to that community. It absolutely matters if you show up.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
My friend Beej told me this about writing when I was a teenager: “it’s like when you’re mining for gold, you have to get past the dirt so you can get to the good stuff”. That advice eased the pressure off of writing the perfect song – in fact, it prepared me to expect that I’m going to write some not-so-great songs, and to let it go and keep writing because just behind it will probably be an even better song. It helps me get through the times when I’m worried that the well has run dry. When I feel like I might have a bit of ‘writer’s block’, I mostly just go back to stuff I’ve previously written and try to flesh it out or divert my attention to something else that needs doing, like booking shows or practicing for other bands, and have faith that more songs will come. If it really stretches on, I make a point of sitting down and writing something even if it sucks, because there might be a good song just behind that one.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
The mission for expansion – is to get intimate with who I am and then figure out how I can best express that. And meeting people who are on the same mission. I love the adventure and the community around being an artist.
What makes you nostalgic?
Outboard boat motors, life jackets, 4:3 aspect ratio, meatloaf (the band and the food), calico carpet, sponge-painted rocks
If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
I’d make myself better at jumping.
Lee Rose Answers
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
There are many things I’d change about this industry, but the main thing really must be changing how artists get paid. It’s always pretty shocking how little money we musicians will work for when the work is so tied to a sense of self-worth, purpose and place in this world. The difference between working for love and working for money when the work is who you are can feel sticky. I want to see a change in the way people consume music and how governments and authorities view the value of arts in society. There’s got to be a way for a musician who will work for free because it’s what keeps them breathing, doesn’t ever have to because we value art in our society such that we’d never take advantage of that.
What are your musical plans for the next 12 months or so?
Release music and TOUR! Like everyone else in this business, we’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of live music, but it’s been hard! There are so many barriers to a successful tour and trying to break through the competition isn’t getting any easier. But we are so excited about our new album that the idea of NOT touring it isn’t really an option. My goal for touring this record is that it will be happy and healthy (and not destroy us financially). We’re really excited to be working with a booking agent now, Rocky Road Touring. They’ll help point us in the right direction.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
I can’t say any actor in particular, but the audition would involve a convincing portrayal of loving to eat chips and walk their dog in between anxiety attacks and rocking out on stage. Oh, and they need to depict an absolutely epic love for friends.
As a kid were you ever frightened of a monster under the bed or in the cupboard?
No monsters under the bed for me, but I was very scared of the dark. If the light was off upstairs and I had to be the one to turn it on, I would sprint up, slam the light on and run back downstairs (in case the unknown danger was still there).
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