Without acid in the forehead and mood-heavy preaching about the machine. With Hamilton band Sianspheric, we get a lighter demand on the mind and a more positive absorption of the senses. The idea is to sit back, look within, reflect and experience the sounds as they guide you. Sianspheric is a journey to the oasis that is truly yourself.
Speaking with Ryan Ferguson, Sianspheric’s guitarist and synthesizer player, he laughs and says, “I guess you could say that Sianspheric is old enough to be its own drink.” While he’s been with the band for barely half a decade, he’s been a part of “the family” for the band’s whole life, which spans eighteen years. “And that’s what we are,” he explains, “We’re all a tight group that, instead of playing hockey, we get together at ten o’clock every Wednesday and jam.” But the band’s augmentation almost two decades ago was not exactly to play music to pass the time: it was therapeutic.
The origin of Sianspheric is reminiscent of the tragedy that formed Temple of the Dog. Before Sianspheric’s formation, a previous band, Gleet, had broken up due to the untimely death of their gifted lead singer. Consequently, Sianspheric was born out of loss to commemorate their friend. “But this isn’t a mood we’ve allowed to stay with us. The first album came from those feelings, and afterwards the band just grew and evolved as its own entity,” Ferguson explained.
Sianspheric’s music has grown diversely over the years and they are openly dismissive of any single subgenre. “We hope that the audience sees us as we see ourselves: from a recognition standpoint,” Ferguson said. Think U2. Hamilton’s version, of course.
While Sianspheric, like any other band, started out with an ideal, their focus now — which isn’t even a strict focus — is to just be, and let the music speak for itself.
I asked Ferguson whether Sianspheric fits into the category of “shoegaze” rock — a British subgenre of alternative rock that was so characterized in the late eighties and early nineties by musicians zoning out and gazing down at their shoes while playing. “I’m not concerned with telling people they’re wrong about these categories. But from my own point of view, Sianspheric has always been about adopting multiple styles, as in cross-pollination, to how we feel the music should flow through us.” While Ferguson made it clear that stress on quality control has been prevalent since the beginning, the music is nevertheless an effect of emotion and spontaneity. It is, in other words, a living organism.
Thinking about Sianspheric in light of Supercrawl, and Hamilton in general, I couldn’t help but make connections. Ferguson was humble enough to see the band’s experiences as exclusive to the members themselves. But the business is cutthroat, mean, and it offers temptations and opportunities for wealth, fame, and arrogance. Ryan noted the importance of an artist never submitting to his or her ego: “it’s always good to be aware of your feelings— and keep moving forward.” This statement about being true to yourself reflects the band’s overall character. For Sianspheric, playing their music will always be more rewarding than selling out for what’s mainstream.
Ferguson spoke with enthusiasm about Hamilton and said, “Hamiltonians should stop comparing their city to Toronto. It’s good on its own and deserves its success. And Hamilton, on the other hand, is just as good independently! We have enough arts and culture to define ourselves for who we are.” This attitude that Ryan reflects from Sianspheric has developed by the band’s own history of trials and tribulations. Yet it may be synonymous with Hamilton’s history as well, because the art scene here is finally beginning to flourish on its own accord.
He adds, “our label, Sonic Unyon, is doing something great here in Supercrawl.” I would add that it is doing something great for the city.