Whether he’s grappling in a wrestling ring or riffing in the hardcore arena, Vancouver’s Kenny Lush knows how to play up his strengths. When it comes to music, the former guitarist for “easycore pioneers” Daggermouth has dialled up the fuzz once again to deliver speedy, though sugary, melodic hardcore with his latest project, Rest Easy.
The quartet’s debut 7-inch, Sick Day, produces high velocity punk riffs, energy drink-chugging drum work, and raspy vocal melodies that reflect how Kenny and his bandmates (vocalist Dylan Hossack, bassist Dana Edwards, and drummer Jimmy Walsh) are longtime students of the Dan Yemin school of hardcore (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black). They play with the parameters, though, whether going all-in with double-time damage (“Get Busy Dyin’”) or leaning into a distorted, hook-forward anthem (“Bad Idea”).
Speaking with Gut Feeling, Kenny got into Rest Easy’s GarageBand roots, the bizarre precision of ESP’s EverTune tech, and how he’s peppering Vancouver hardcore history into an East Coast-influenced sound.
This interview has been edited and condensed
When did you start putting together Rest Easy?
Kenny Lush: Probably late 2019. Jimmy—who used to drum in Shook Ones and now lives in Edmonton—was hitting me up to start a new band. I was doing the Daggermouth reunion at the time, and [Daggermouth drummer] Dan [Donald] lived in Winnipeg, so at first I was like, ‘I don’t want to start another band with a drummer that lives somewhere else’. But he kept asking, and once the Daggermouth reunion was over, he started sending me tracks. ‘Put something to these drums on GarageBand, Paint it Black or Kid Dynamite-type stuff’. My work was slow at the time, so we would stay up late and send tracks back and forth. That’s basically it!
Dana Edwards, who had also played in Daggermouth with me, got involved, and last March we went out to Edmonton. We started practicing right before the pandemic shut everything down.
Were Jimmy’s beats already gridded out as full songs?
K: He’d send me 16-24 bars of a drum beat that he programmed with GarageBand, and I would just of plug in my guitar in and riff over top of that.
Rest Easy follows the Daggermouth reunion, but it also follows a more recent stint you did with the harder edged Punitive Damage. Since there are definite musical parallels between Rest Easy and Daggermouth, what is it about this particular kind of melodic hardcore that keeps drawing you back in?
K: I just love the style! Maybe it’s a fault of mine, but I still love the same stuff that I listened to when I was 18-19: Good Riddance, Lifetime, Kid Dynamite. Melodic hardcore has always been the most fun style for me to play. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting up there playing Cure songs or indie rock through a little Fender Twin, you know what I mean?
In particular, you’ve been very vocal and transparent about your love for Lifetime and Kid Dynamite, and how that influences your songwriting. How do you think you’re putting your own stamp on the style? Does that even matter?
K: I mean, I don’t want to be in a cookie cutter band. Being from Western Canada, there are certain other guitar players that have influenced me as well. Maybe other people won’t hear it, but guys like Andy Dixon from d.b.s., or Sean Lande from Strain and By a Thread are a big influence on my playing, too. That helps make the music of Rest Easy more unique.
Digging into that, Strain and By a Thread were chunkier, groove-oriented bands. Where do you hear that influence within Rest Easy’s speedy hardcore?
K: Some of our songs have a chunkiness to them! Also, By a Thread were never a noodly band; it was full of thick chords. That’s what I liked about them; that’s how I play, too.
I saw the post you had made about borrowing an ESP E-II Eclipse to get through the sessions with producer Tim Creviston (Spiritbox, Misery Signals). Was that your first time playing one of those?
K: That was Tim’s guitar. Before I went in, he hit me up and asked if I would mind playing it. It has an EverTune bridge on it, which I’d never used before, so I gave it a try. The guitar never goes out of tune! You can play a g chord, completely bending the strings while you’re hitting it, and it still sounds like a perfectly in-tune g. It’s pretty cool, that way! I guess from Tim’s point of view [it was a time-saver]. When I’d recorded before, it was always like, ‘That sounds like it’s out. Stop playing and tune’. This [ESP E-II] helped the sessions go much smoother.
What about the feel of the guitar itself? How did it compare to your regular set-up?
K: I normally play a Les Paul Junior. That ESP is kind of a Les Paul knock-off design, so the neck was the same size. I didn’t notice too much of a difference other than that Tim’s guitar was really clean. Mine is gross and sweaty, with mould growing on it. I don’t take care of it [laughs].
Did you likewise borrow amps and other gear for the sessions?
K: I used an Orange Rockerverb 100 that I borrowed off Mikey Jurek (Punitive Damage, Applewhite), though it was originally mine—I sold him the head, an Avatar 4x12 cab, and a road case when Daggermouth first broke up. No pedals [on the record], but sometimes I use a BOSS noise suppressor and an Ibanez Tube Screamer live.
This is a quick four-song EP. Did you record anything else during those sessions?
K: We just did those four songs. We’re writing for a full-length, but who knows? If it was up to me, I would like to make a 7-inch every six months. I think we have seven songs ready to go; Right now we’re working on a song that Dylan brought in. We’re kind of doing the same thing, except now we have a couple more ears to give us feedback while we’re sending things back and forth.
Rest Easy’s Sick Day sees release February 12 via Mutant League Records.
The Farewell Bend “Service Engine Soon” (Bandcamp)
I have a vivid memory of finding the Farewell Bend’s first 7-inch at a local record store in the late ‘90s. I was drawn to the front cover’s classy, minimalist photo grid, which showcased photos of a Les Paul, a Fender bass, and a just the hint of a drum kit. I definitely made a little gasp when I flipped it over and saw guitarist Brandon Butler and bassist John Rejba’s names on the back cover. Their previous group, Boys Life, had played Vancouver’s long-gone Crosstown Traffic the year before, and it left a lasting impression. A friend filmed the set, and I watched a VHS dub constantly. My band at the time definitely cribbed riffs and beats (albeit poorly) from their haunting, often aching Departures and Landfalls.
The Farewell Bend was a different, but no less awesome beast. The streamlined trio of Butler, Rejba, and Giants Chair drummer Paul Ackerman delivered unabashedly punchy post-hardcore—arguably reactionary, in light of the majestically moody vibe of Boys Life. Butler’s raw, crackling riffs were rarely backed-up by a second guitar track, leaving plenty of space to feel the gravity of his bandmates’ lock-and-load groove. Their lone full-length, In Passing, was released not too long after the 7-inch, and it’s still a scorcher. Spartan Records are now re-releasing the album some 23 years later, and it’s highly recommended.
My personal fave might be “The Pen Ran Out of Ink,” which features a spangling intro lick before Butler cranks up the drive, but bonus cut “Service Engine Soon” is just as excellent an introduction to the Farewell Bend. Honestly, I’d only discovered the song—originally found on a split EP with Shiner—about a couple of months ago while cruising through YouTube, and it’s been in regular rotation since. Incredibly stoked it’s seeing a proper re-release.
"This is not a happy, smile pop, shit record, it rocks you,” Butler said in a press statement, but damned if the Farewell Bend doesn’t still make me beam ear-to-ear. The remastered reissue is already streaming, with vinyl copies mailing out closer to February 26.