Unfazed Unfazed by Adversity; Drops Debut Album
A Tchotchke is a small decorative object that serves little functional use; otherwise known as a trinket. I know this because it says so on Unfazed's new album cover. I fact-checked it and it adds up. It's a Yiddish word.
"Tanner and Bryson just started saying it cause it sounded funny, and then we looked up the definition to it which pretty much means small and useless." That's what Drew Osborne, the Regina band's drummer said. The Tanner and Bryson he was referring to are his other band mates in Unfazed, the Bolianatz twins.
"When we found the picture that we used for the cover, which is our singer Tanner when he was a baby," Osborne added, "we figured that that picture and the word Tchotchke just went so well together, so that ended up being the name for the album."
That's it. That's the backstory behind Tchotchke and it's strange album art; reminiscent of Nirvana's masterpiece Nevermind or even something you might expect from Brand New; which is an apt comparison to make, because Unfazed kind of sounds a bit like Brand New in that Tchotchke is emo influenced rock music.
The first line on the whole record exemplifies this: "we fill our brains with useless things (tchotchkes?) , like happy endings and suffering" sings Tanner Bolianatz, in "Crash n Burn".
"Cassette Song" comes in hot, sounding like "Treehouse" by Nada Surf. Then the rest of the record effortlessly walks that line between rock and emo. "Hot to Trot" rocks hard, so does "Dog Years"; while "The News" and "Bleached Shoes" both emote, tenderly. In the middle of it all lies "Fake Skirts and Collared Shirts", which does both. It's an album full of songs written about girls; presumably pretty ones, which happens to be the secondary definition of Tchotchke in Webster's Dictionary. The title serves multiple purposes.
The band has sort of been a band as long as any of the members can remember, just never really in the formal sense.
"We've been friends since Kindergarten" Osborne said. "Growing up, we were always pretty creative. We made little comic books for ourselves just when we were bored. Stuff like that. The idea of the band floated around when we were about 11. Since then we’ve just kept pushing to make it happen, and here we are however many years later with a full length out."
Tanner, the singer, and Bryson, the guitarist are twin brothers. Drew is not related to them in any way, "but since we’ve grown up and spent our whole lives together pretty much, it feels like we’re family" he said, adding, "if there’s something we wanna do, we go out and do it. We’ve never really cared what people think of us, we kinda have an “us-against-the-world” outlook on life".
In 2016 they released a three-song EP called Homework. Then they sharpened their musical teeth playing shows with impressive national touring acts like Red City Radio and Letters to Lions and even competed in the Queen City Rocks competition.
Recording Tchotchke was a new experience for the band though.
"We honestly had no idea what we were doing" Osborne admits. "Our first two EPs were more of a demo style recording (everything was recorded with simply an iPhone). On Tchotchke, we decided to do everything “professionally.” We rented all the recording gear from Long & McQuade, set it up in my basement, and just did everything ourselves. The longest day we had was 15 hours. We were recording vocals for some songs at two in the morning; our vocal booth was made out of mattresses and blankets."
"On the song "The News"" he added, "we had some buds come over and sing a big group vocal with us, that was really fun. Everything was pretty smooth sailing, except in the first day, I was recording drum tracks and got a call, and my one friend was in a decently bad car crash, so that side stepped things a little, but he was ok so everything was good."
Unfazed has no fear of dealing with adversity; hell, their reaction to it is in the band's name. Bryson, the guitar player, was born with Cerebral Palsy, and plays live in a wheelchair.
"That never stopped us though," Osborne said. Even as kids, we were always finding ways to adapt whatever we were doing, so he could also join in. This has resulted in us all playing Wheelchair Basketball, and playing Sledge Hockey
Turns out the Bolianatz family even started a Sledge Hockey team; the Regina Avengers, that's gone on to compete in tournaments before.
Listen to Unfazed's Tchotchke on BandCamp