If you want to know what Toronto based musical duo Ubiquitous Synergy Seekers sound like, take grunge, hip-hop, techno, a dash of friendship, throw it all in a blender and hit purée.
Then you drink it like a milkshake.
USS will be serving up that recipe at the Algonquin Commons Theatre on Oct. 22. In a telephone interview with the Algonquin Times hype man and turntablist Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons discussed the band, their history but most importantly their music and upcoming tour.
“We officially became USS in the summer of 2007, but we consider 2008 as basically the start,” Parsons explained. “[Our song] Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole got on the Edge… everything changed after that.”
USS is a harmonic alliance between Ashley “Ash” Buchholz (pronounced Boo-Shultz) providing vocals and guitar, plus hype man and Parsons.
The band first got its big break in January 2008 when Canadian radio stations, including Toronto’s 102.1 the Edge, started playing their first single.
Parsons and Buchholz met while working at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, which Parsons views as vital to the band’s existence.
“It’s funny because in all the stories you hear, you never hear about people that have had success in their industries, about the moments that mattered,” he said. “That was a moment that mattered to me. I went back to my old job and it was almost like I went back to meet Ash.”
However, the band wasn’t an overnight success. The two have been working on their music together for over a decade.
“This January will be 14 years since we started our first song,” Parson said. “Ash showed me the song Cloudboy on the drums while he sang, and we figured out how to make a beat for it on my laptop.”
In the beginning, it was just about making as much music as possible in any way they could.
“All we wanted was to make enough beats so that we could play our first show,” he said.
The band played its first show in Parsons’ hometown of Stoufville, ON. in April of 2005 and spent the next few years creating their unique sound.
“In the beginning, it was less about songs and more about the message, how far could we take each track,” he said.
USS’s early care-free “mess around and find out” style was integral to the band when they performed live as well. Early live shows included Parsons throwing frozen fruit and ice cream into a blender on stage and looping the blender noises into the songs.
“We used to actually give the smoothies out to the fans,” he explained. “Until I got electrocuted in Singapore in 2012 so we had to stop.”
Parsons blames the blender incident on the rain and international voltage converters.
“It was fun while it lasted but when it goes wrong the clean-up is a disaster,” he said. “Especially when you’re just the opening act.”
Parsons credits the band’s success and longevity to its ability to adapt, evolve and recognize what does and doesn’t work.
“Our first two records, the songs didn’t really have any chorus’, just giant streams of consciousness and cool sounds,” he said. “We were getting to the core of our live-show: what are the best parts, what feels the best, how are the fans reacting.”
Crediting Tom “Tawgs” Salter, the producer on the last three USS albums, and exposure to international music scenes on tour, Parsons says their new music has become more focused and streamlined.
“We reached a crossroads where we learned how to become better songwriters, how to get to the message quicker and how to find ways for our music to be heard further, beyond Canada.”
For Parsons, the band’s newest single is the culmination of that process.
“Medicine is a testament to how we went to the core of what it means to be in a band,” he said. “To be open to change and growth.”
USS’s newest single was released on May 24. and the first stop of their new tour Oct. 22. in the Algonquin Commons Theatre. With so much on their plate, you might assume Parsons and Buchholz would be getting some rest and taking it easy, but you would be wrong.
“We’re just working on the final mix and stuff on a new single,” he said. “It’s called Big Life and we’re hoping to have it out before the tour.”
USS brings the first stop on its tour to the ACT Oct. 22. with opening acts The Elwins and SHOTTY HORROH.
Look out for Algonquin Times coverage on Oct 23 online or in print for the November issue.