Potential Red heavily inspired by love of the 80s

Local band Potential Red released their self-titled debut album earlier this month, which is a fast, raw, post-punk experience heavily influenced by the band’s love of the 1980s.

The group came together after the Preoccupations’ set at Bluesfest 2016. After seeing the Calgary-based post-punk band, guitarist Mark Howell reached out online looking to form a band. Singer and guitarist David Sklubal answered the call, more members were brought on board, and Potential Red was formed.

The album was recorded by Cody Parnell of the local band Blve Hills in his basement. The recording process reflects the raw energy of the album, with most songs recorded in only two takes over the course of five quick sessions.

“I just love the raw sound of, like, Jesus and Mary Chain, when they’re just screaming and recording everything with a bunch of crazy reverb and it’s going all over the place,” said Sklubal. “It’s kind of muddy but the energy is on the track.”

“For guitar, there’s also just intentional muddying up that we were doing. There’s one bit in ‘Lost in Paradise’ where I’m just hitting chords and you cannot hear the actual notes,” said Howell, who studies English at the University of Ottawa, “I showed it to my mom and she said ‘that’s garbage.’” Howell, for his part, told her to listen to My Bloody Valentine.

Those early-80s bands are highly influential to Potential Red, for a variety of reasons.

“The song-writing is so modern and so timeless,” Sklubal gushed, “If you converted it all to modern production it would all be number one hits because the song-writing is so good.”

When asked if Ottawa lives up to its boring, government town reputation, the two quickly shoot it down.

“If you want to have fun in Ottawa you can spend every day of your life losing brain cells as much as you can in Montreal,” Howell said.

“Or Toronto,” Sklubal added.

“You gotta just go out and try your hardest,” Howell said, “You find a mate … then you just keep going to shows, keep seeing people, keep meeting them, then they invite you to parties … that’s it.”

Sklubal rapidly listed off a half-dozen bands that make up just a tiny slice of the Ottawa scene, ranging from grunge to dream-pop

“Every band I would ever want to see has pretty much been in Ottawa,” Sklubal said.

The Ottawa scene isn’t just full-time musicians either—there’s a good amount of U of O students making an impact on the scene, including Blve Hills, and many more. But while there might be a lot of U of O musicians, a good music-student balance isn’t always easy to achieve. Often, one wins out over the other.

“When I’m at school I’m tuning out in class because I’m thinking about riffs,” Howell said. “I don’t want to think about Beowulf, I just want to think about writing a song, and that kills my school.”

With the album done, the band isn’t relaxing though. They play a free show on Sept. 16 at Clocktower Brew Pub in the Glebe, and are already back in recording mode.

For now though, Potential Red is available on Tidal, Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify, and vinyl in a few months.