Interview: Club Sinister

by Nich Sullivan

Join The Club – The Kansas City two-piece making shiny goth pop to get lost in

The facade is backlit by the neon blue sheen of The Cure’s melancholy, and the structure is buttressed by the doomed brightness of more contemporary works like Title Fight’s Hyperview and Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close. In the dark windows, one can see flashes of Pictureplane’s inky black maximalism, but even with all this it remains approachable. When the wits are gathered and the nerves are steeled to walk through the blood-red door, these elements all become highlights of an experience that seemed intimidating from a distance but turned out to be bright and welcoming despite its outward gloom. Welcome to Club Sinister.

To say that Club Sinister are unique for their moment may be acutely understating the situation. While some of their explorations cover ground that has been trodden before, they are making something that is all of a piece and all its own. The current era has veered toward music that scans as happier and more positive on its face, or has swung in the other direction where listeners can find commiseration with artists who deal more in pessimism. For Ian Weidner and Alex Horton, the Club’s founders and leaders, the aim is for a space in the middle of these two extremes that pulls liberally from each side: a place for acceptance where the surfaces are largely obscured in shadow, enigma, and the ghostly coating of reverb.

 Alex says that the seed for the Club may have been planted long ago when the pair met in middle school. After spending their high school careers apart, they met back up in university and were in a rock band together called Colorblind. Ian echoes this, saying that they have always played music together very naturally: ‘If anything, I am surprised that it took us this long to get something new started.’ As if to prove out the sentiment, the band is already about to drop a new self-titled EP to ring in 2021 – mere months after embarking on a new journey that has challenged them to write and see music in different ways.

They both will readily claim influences ranging from Cocteau Twins to Killing Joke to David Bowie, but what they are creating is a vision where the cohesion belies the relative youth of its creators. When asked about how they formulated the project’s imagery and visual style, the answer had as much to do with luck as it did with knowing the right fit when it crossed their path. Alex’s memory of the eureka moment was that ‘Ian came across a photo shoot that his friend did of a girl draped in a veil in various positions.’ They immediately thought the images were perfect, and the rest took care of itself. Ian says, ‘the photoshoot was just soft enough while still looking eerie to bridge the gap between our sound and the darker, more “metal” imagery that we always love.’

 But it turns out that even lifelong friends with years of musical partnership between them can be surprised while in the act of creating. In the writing of Sheol, Ian says their original aim ended up shifting significantly. ‘We were both relatively sure that it was going to be a more 80’s post-punk style song with fake drums and a driving synth throughout.  Obviously, as we continued writing songs, we went in a pretty different direction.’ Alex’s biggest surprise was in the EP’s closing track, Creeping Towards the Deep End, and how it turned out different than originally expected. ‘I thought it was going to be too much of a bummer, but, after some tweaking, we ended up really liking the way it turned out.’

Now that the doors are open to the club, the best possible world for the band is for audiences far and wide to join in and feel welcomed. Ian says that he and Alex ‘have spent our entire lives living for live music and obsessively listening to records and we hope that we can create something that will give other people the same feeling that we get when we find a new favourite band.’

Groucho Marx made famous the joking sentiment that he wouldn’t want to be in any club that would take him. At a time when exclusivity and inside knowledge are often stand-ins for respectability and cred, Club Sinister bucks the trend. This club wants to initiate everyone they can as both a fan and an honorary member, and the rewards that come with being accepted into the tribe are more than worth the time.

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