Victoria band ‘Leisure Suit’ brings class to the post-punk scene

Culture Music

As their name suggests, if there’s one thing Victoria based band Leisure Suit has over other local acts, it’s their dress code. The quartet rarely perform without keeping up to their catchphrase of “casual but classy” by stepping on stage in dress jackets and shirts buttoned to the collar. But make no mistake in assuming that attending their show is a formality. Their last performance at the Alix Goolden hall had them insisting for the crowd to get up from the church-like pews so they could have their own congregation of swaying bodies and bobbing heads. The atmosphere felt as though it could drop at any moment, at one moment ethereal and seamless, and the next a carefree dance-party.

The band first began when lead-singer and guitarist Oliver Brooks caught drummer Andrew Taylor practicing in their high school music building’s practice room. After jamming together in the cramped space, they would go on to write the track “Backyards,” a blissful steadfast reflection on summertime gone by.

The song title of “Foul Bay” was considered first, but was shot down after worry of being overly associated with Victoria. “[The name] Leisure Suit started out as a joke, as many band’s names are,” says bassist Rowan Mackenzie, “but it stuck.” Since playing shows at local venues, which included a spot on the 2012 Rifflandia lineup, they’ve have been busy working to gain recognition beyond their island base. They have amassed a series of “Chapel Sessions” videos on YouTube, released their first professionally-mixed single “Distraction” earlier this year, and sometime in the future, hope to release a debut album.

As to be expected, Leisure Suit’s most complimented aspect is their sound, which has been turning the heads of anyone who’s already familiarized themselves with post-punk or shoegaze. Vancouver music blog Red on Black has described their sound “as if Modest Mouse and Explosions in the Sky had a lovechild that grew up listening to Joy Division,” which does make sense given the band has been associated with acts such as Interpol, Deerhunter, and Radiohead (more specifically, the Radiohead of “In Rainbows”), which they fully embrace. “We’re not doing something that’s totally out there and brand new,” says Mackenzie. “It’s interesting though,” Brooks commented, “for some reason with very well-known bands that have distinctive sounds there’s a negative connotation for indie bands that tread onto [their sound]…And why is it a bad thing to sound like Radiohead?”

A track that shows their ability to breach expectations is “The Whale Song,” which features a sampled excerpt of beat-poet Michael McClure’s “For the Death of 100 Whales.”

When it comes down to it though, if you’re interested in Leisure Suit, you don’t need to look further than the tagline on their website, “Leisure Suit is not a garment, or a statement, or a new age gimmick. It is a band from an island. They will be conducting shows, capturing music and journeying through the Internet. You are invited.”

Tickets are on sale for a December 7th concert at the Alix Goolden Performance Hall featuring Said the Whale with opening acts Leisure Suit and ZERBIN. Advance tickets are $22 at Lyles Place, Ditch Records, and Ticketweb.