The three guys in MOSFETT are sitting on a minivan seat under an overpass outside their jam space. It’s Sunday, the day that bassist Brendan Manning commutes by ferry from Victoria, BC and the group practices. Their session is over, so it’s time to drink beers and absorb some April sun.
MOSFETT was once a two-piece named Hemogoblin, formed around 2010 by guitarist Ian Kinakin and drummer Chase McKenzie. Their sole release, a tape called Roswell, initially came out under Napkin Records, and then again with the band’s own run under the MOSFETT moniker.
To some ears, Roswell is an addictive slab of doomy sludge-pop, including songs such as “Hand Sanitizer Cocktail,” “If you Leave Me I’ll Hurt Myself” and a crunchy take on the Friends theme — “Matthew Perry / Central Perk.”
But opinions differ.
“I think it sounds kind of shitty nowadays,” says McKenzie. “We did it ourselves and it took a really long time to make.”
And it was difficult to perform the songs live. Kinakin had to run his instrument through both a guitar and a bass amp, play extra low notes to fill out the sound, and mess around with loop pedals in order to layer multiple guitar parts.
“Often the loop would be off time, or it would just screw up,” says Kinakin, claiming early shows agitated him.
Around 2014, Nick Sabre joined as a bassist, easing live performance tensions. His addition allowed the group to change the style of their songs, freeing up Kinakin to shred sans loops.
Sabre couldn’t make it for the band’s first tour, though — a jaunt down the West Coast to L.A. — so Kinakin’s cousin Brendan Manning filled in. Soon Sabre dropped out for good, and Manning joined full-time. Though taking the ferry from Victoria can be a drag, he doesn’t plan to permanently join his bandmates on the Mainland any time soon.
“Vancouver is a great place to visit,” he notes dryly.
So with the band settled into their current lineup, MOSFETT started amassing new songs, many of which will appear on their self-titled debut LP due out mid-July. Recorded by MOSFETT and mixed and mastered by Jordan Koop at the Noise Floor, it will be released on Manning’s fledgling label Astro Supreme. Playing shows and touring together — last spring, they hit Alberta and the West Coast with pals Dead Soft — MOSFETT has put together plenty of new material, and changed their sound as well.
There is a “more bluesy influence in [our older] stuff,” says Kinakin. Now, “It’s a different band to me.” He likens MOSFETT’s current voice to a blend of “Sabbath and Pixies. Alternative, poppy songs but with a lot of heavier riffs.”
Because their new record took so long to tape — members of the band all have full-time day jobs, and McKenzie and Kinakin both play in another band, Doppelganger — the amount of new material MOSFETT is writing outpaces actual releases. By band members’ reckoning, they’ve got another one or two albums up their collective sleeves. The trouble is finding the time and resources to record them.
Part of that is a result of issues many independent bands in Vancouver face. Just finding a reliable place to practice and record can be difficult. East Van condo creep chased MOSFETT out of their previous jam space, Renegade. Located near Main and East 2 Ave, and home to 60 production and rehearsal studios, it fell victim to new neighbours.
“They were building these condos in the alleyway,” says Kinakin. “And then one day everyone moved in when they were done. And there was a sign on the door [of Renegade] that said ‘No jamming past 10 o’clock.’”
This was less than ideal for people juggling regular, adult lives with music-making. Due to work schedules, the band often wouldn’t be able to get together until 10pm, by which time the new neighbours were tucked snugly into bed.
“All these people move in, and then complain about the place they moved to,” says Manning. “It’s like, don’t move there if you don’t want to live next to a jam space.”
MOSFETT high-tailed it to Rock Space, near Clark and East 2 Ave. They were lucky to get a spot. Kinakin notes that he often sees requests and messages through Facebook from people desperate for a place to jam.
“Vancouver definitely gives you a hopeless vibe, but it isn’t truly hopeless yet,” says Kinakin. “Obviously the housing market makes things depressing, and the fact that a lot of venues get closed down for yuppie institutes.”
The working theory among members of MOSFETT is that all the Terminal City grimness translates into good music. You can taste a little of that angst in “Riker Logic,” an advance demo from the new record. Contrasting a sweet “woo-woo-woo” chorus with Ozzy-esque wails, and benefiting from a new bottom-end rumble, it’s a harbinger of things to come. And things to come will be loud.
That’s what their name stands for, after all. It’s an acronym: Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor. According to Kinakin — an electronics technician by trade — a MOSFET is a “discrete component that helps in the amplification process.” Meaning, it makes stuff louder.
And what does the extra T stand for?
MOFETT’s self-titled LP is due out mid-July on Astro Supreme. They play the Astoria on May 28 with Koban, Summering, Soft Haze, Milk and Cheap High, and will also be a part of Music Waste, which runs June 2 – 5.