Known for their very own brand of angular and caustic tones, Winnipeg’s noise punk champions, Tunic, are back today with their third full-length, Wrong Dream, via Artoffact Records. After releasing two albums in 2021, Quitter and Exhaling (the latter being a compilation of EPs and singles), the trio was able to delve deeper inside themselves to excavate an array of fresh new sounds and yet unheard structures.
The new album, Wrong Dream does not feel pre-chewed in the slightest. Quite the opposite actually; it feels so whole and complex that you might start to think you’re going to choke on it. An ambitious album that shows they can convey deep emotions while also being as heavy as ever. I had the pleasure of speaking with the group’s singer-guitarist, David Schellenberg, about creating songs with intention, the joys of touring, and the timelessness of music.
PAN M 360: How did the pandemic affect the band? Did the fact that you had to stop playing live for a while change the way you’re writing songs?
David Schellenberg: Yeah, Tunic played about 100 shows a year before the pandemic. We toured a lot and that was a big part of who we were. Sort of just being road dogs. And then, sort of being broke because of it. So, because we always had a tour coming up, we would write as fast as possible and, this time, we were able to think through arrangements or be a little more cognizant of what we wanted the band to sound like. I actually wrote a big chunk of this record by myself, in my basement. I never had any recording software before, so that’s something I dove into during the pandemic, so it was a completely new experience of how we work together.
PAN M 360: Do you usually write everything the three of you together as a unit?
David Schellenberg: Typically, I would just bring like a riff or two, and then we will go from there, and sort of see where the music took us, if you will. Whereas this time, I was delivering maybe about 60% baked ideas, and then we fleshed them out. So I guess, more and more like a traditional band would work. I already had songs, like a singer-songwriter has, not that I would call myself that!
PAN M 360: Your new album, Wrong Dream, seems to have longer songs and seems to be slightly less sonically abrasive. Is this something that came about organically or something that was intentional?
David Schellenberg: It was pretty natural. To be honest, the last two records before Wrong Dream we made with my friend Jace Lasek at Breakglass studio in Montreal. And for everything we did, I just wanted it to sound like Converge. I wanted it to sound as blown out and as heavy as possible. And we did a really great job of doing that. Then when we worked on Wrong Dream we had these more thoughtful arrangements and we wanted to maybe have some more thoughtful production to it. So it was a decision that we made to show that we aren’t just a one-dimensional band. I think when you play out in the street, you don’t want to be giving people the exact same thing. So it was just time to kind of show that we can still be that heavy, abrasive band, while also occupying a different space.
PAN M 360: Do you usually prefer being in the studio, or playing live shows?
David Schellenberg: That’s changed for me recently. I’ve always hated the studio because I always played in a band with musicians that were much better than me, so when it came for me to track a part, I would just get really nervous and really anxious. And I love touring because it’s just, like, a moment, and then it’s gone. And if you fuck up, who cares? But now I’ve really come to fall in love with the studio and sort of creating these pieces of art that live forever, because, you know, we practice and we write and we make this art so that it can be a completed project and sort of be this thing that stays forever and so, I really switched my gears and I now much prefer the studio because the longevity of the project is there.
PAN M 360: You seem to put a lot of effort and focus on the visual side of the band, like the music videos, for example. Do you usually come up with the concepts or do you let the collaborating artists take the lead on that?
David Schellenberg: Yeah, a lot of those concepts for all the older stuff, thinking back to Disappointment and Boss and the Exhaling videos, like “Fade Out” and all that stuff, are just like: “How can we make a music video for $100, $200?” “The Whispering,” video was all my ideas that were helped, like, broadly about 80% by Jen and Adam, who worked on that video with us. The video for “My Body, My Blood” that Torin Langen made, he just took it and ran with it. That’s all him. I can’t take any credit for that! And that has been my favourite thing that he’s ever done, that we’ve ever made. So all the ones that feature real people are from me and all the ones that are animated or sort of higher budget are from other people.
PAN M 360: So you’re going on tour in the US and in Canada in May. Are there bands you’re excited to play with, or places you’re excited to go back to or go to for the first time?
David Schellenberg: Yeah, of course. I love playing Minneapolis. Minneapolis has always been a great city for us. I really consider it to be Tunic’s first home, like, we played for more people in Minneapolis than we did in Winnipeg, which is funny. I love going to Montreal because I love Turbo Haus and I love Sergio and the dance floor! I also work part-time remotely for Constellation Records, so getting a chance to head to the office and see my coworkers there is always nice. and we’ve never played Nashville, so that’s the first time we’ll be playing Nashville on this tour and it’ll be cool! This is maybe a lame opinion, but I like the cheesiness of Las Vegas so I think I’ll like the cheesiness of Nashville.
PAN M 360: Maybe get a pair of cowboy boots or something?
David Schellenberg: To be honest, when we went to Austin, one of the places Tomas, our bass player, had never been to, he bought a hat and a belt buckle and a big Texan flag shirt. So I just know that he will definitely buy some Nashville tchotchke stuff!
Tunic plays Turbo Haus 10 Year Anniversary May 13 w/ Kennedy, Offset, Whoredrobe, Pnoom