Interview: Life In Vacuum Discuss New LP, Sibling Rivalry, And More

life in vacuum

Canada noise rock trio Life In Vacuum have released a new full-length ripper called All You Can Quit. The band is led by brothers Sasha and Ross Chornyy, who immigrated to Canada in 2004 with their parents from Ukraine. We spoke to guitarist and vocalist Sasha about the new album, his “competitive” collaboration with his brother, and more. Listen to All You Can Quit opener ‘Jazz’ here and read our Life In Vacuum interview below:

Life In Vacuum Interview

Dan Redding: There is a theme of quitting on the new Life In Vacuum album, which is titled All You Can Quit. What kind of things have you had to quit?

Sasha Chornyy: [laughter] Just trying to break off certain relationships with certain people. Trying to get it together a little better. Trying to grow up.

Two of your titles refer to the idea of ‘all you can eat.’ That phrase refers to this style of consumption and consumerism that I think of as being very American. Do you guys have that kind of marketing or mentality in Canada?

Absolutely. That’s exactly right. That’s pretty much what the song is about.

I work to pay the bills and do the band life. I worked at a pizza buffet restaurant for a while. That was pretty much the idea: buy more, eat more, get more. Buy more, get a better discount. That’s kind of what the song’s about.

I want to talk about your relationship with your brother Ross. When I think of brothers in bands – there are so many famous examples – sometimes there is a sibling rivalry kind of competitive relationship. How would you characterize your relationship with your brother?

You pretty much got it on point. It’s like that: competitive. You always have to prove your point. That definitely seeps into the music. We try to make it the best we can. In our writing process, half of it is music and half of it is us arguing. [laughter] That’s what makes it what it is.

When you two were learning your instruments, did you push each other to get to each next step?

Not really. We did it at different times, because I’m three and a half years older. Maybe we started playing around the same time, but we were in different bands back in Ukraine. I was going my own way, and he was doing his own thing. He went to a music school to study, and I just did it on my own. I didn’t take any lessons or anything.

When we moved to Canada, we started playing together. Before that, we were each doing our own thing.

What was that self-teaching process like for you? Was that mostly learning songs by bands that you like?

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. When my Dad was growing up, he was brought up in a traditional kind of family. It was his dream, I think, to learn guitar or be in a band. He never had a chance to do it, but his parents bought him a guitar and a book, to study. He never really did anything with it. When I was growing up, I got the guitar and the book, and started learning first chords. Then I was like, ‘the book is stupid,’ so I just learned the songs that I liked.

What was the first song you learned on guitar?

I’m gonna be cheesy and say ‘Come As You Are.’

Yeah, mine was ‘In Bloom.’ Nevermind is a great album to learn on!

Yeah, cause it’s so simple. And it’s intuitive. And it gives you an idea that you don’t have to know the scale; you can just intuitively think where [a note] would be on the guitar.

How long did you live in Ukraine?

Until 2004. We moved to Canada on May 23rd, 2004, I think.

What were your first impressions of Canada?

It was kind of weird. Growing up in Eastern Europe, you imagine this great big metropolis with glass buildings. But the first place we came to was Waterloo. We got picked up by a friend of a friend of a friend. It was kind of weird because I was like, ‘Where’s the downtown?’ Waterloo is kind of spaced out and suburban. There’s a lot of people there, but it’s not that city-like. I ended up living there until almost last year.

What is one element of a song that has to be absolutely perfect before you’re satisfied?

Probably the song structure. We would make sure that everybody knows what’s gonna happen next. For us, it’s music first, and words come after. We make sure that a song is the way that we want it to go. Then I’ll write the lyrics after.

In terms of being the singer and the guitarist, how did that come about? Did you feel that the role of the frontman was something that called to you, or did one come before the other?

It was just kind of the easiest thing to do. If you only need three people in a band, and I can do two roles, then it’s okay. We already had a drummer, so all we had to do was find a bass player.

Can you name one concert that you attended as a spectator that changed your life?

This is kind of cheesy, but I’m gonna have to say it. About six years ago, we took a trip to Coachella to see Refused. It was sweet.

Listen to the best
podcast in music.

Subscribe to the Culture Creature podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Android | Stitcher | RSS