By Orrin Farries
A face-melting drive en route to Tasty Jamsville, Edmonton’s own psychedelic rock outfit “Squids” will take your ears for a cruise.
The Squids formed in 2016 as a project re-imagination by a group of longstanding friends formerly known as Campus Thieves. Ryan McGale, brothers Spencer Huddleston and Mac Huddleston, and Caleb Steinwandt, had a strong run with the Campus Thieves, highlighted by their opening performance on the bill with Canadian rock legends April Wine at a local festival in 2013.
When Campus Thieves hung it up in 2014, they went their separate ways in life and in music. Spencer and Mac had been sharpening their craft as musicians in MacEwan’s fine arts program, Ryan went to school for sound engineering, so when they came back together in 2016, they were new men.
But you must be wondering why the name ‘Squids’?
“Well look at us…we’re a bunch of fucking squids,” said guitarist Caleb Steinwandt to the laughter and unanimous approval of his bandmates.
“When we were first getting back to playing music together, it was kind of hard to hone in on our sound, but over the last few years, we’ve found our niche,” said vocalist and keyboardist Ryan McGale. That niche is ostensibly an eclectic musical fusion of funk, 70’s acid rock, and jazz with modern production sensibilities at the foundation of it all.
“Honestly, [describing our genre] is the hardest thing in the world, you just tailor it to who you’re talking to,” said bassist Spencer Huddleston.
“If you’re talking to one of your dad’s friends, you tell them it’s like Pink Floyd, but it doesn’t really sound like Pink Floyd.”
“There’s so many different influences that we take in, and we put into consideration when we’re writing that you just can’t nail it down [to one genre],” said drummer Mac Huddleston.
The band name funk legends Weather Report and prog-rock pioneers King Crimson as artists influential of their sound. However, the practice of labelling the Squids with a genre is antithetical to the good-time atmosphere of a Squids’ live performance. Silky conductive vocals, ramrod keyboard wizardry, punchy basslines, hot-blooded guitar riffage, and decisive drumming come together to make up the diffuse lively sound of Squids. The music, as a result, is a well thought out experiment in rhythmic ambience and genre fusion wherein the technical skill and natural camaraderie of the band shines.
The Squids are entering 2020 with fresh vision and energy for their music, anticipating a full-length album release and a tour to follow. You can stream their latest release, “Yeax11” on Apple Music and Spotify.