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Peripheral Vision - In Conversation

Couch surfing. No, it is not a new event you will see at a Peripheral Vision concert, much like Moshing was to Nirvana and Anthrax. But it is an endearing sacrifice band co-leaders Michael Herring and Don Scott made in order to develop a strong friendship with each other.

At various times during the first few years that Scott and Herring were friends; they frequently crashed on their respective couches when one had a place to stay and the other didn't. This back and forth "surfing" is ultimately what allowed the two to be such strong musicians with a powerful sense of each other's timing; which allows Peripheral Vision to be such a potent force. It also helps that the band can play their instruments extremely well. "I think musically we know each other well. Playing with someone, when you intuitively understand where they are going, helps the flow of the performance," said band co-leader Don Scott.

Peripheral Vision is just one project for the two band mates. "Peripheral Vision is the right dynamic. We just strike the right chord together when we perform. It's just a well-oiled machine," added Herring. Their bios on the band's website, list many other projects. Herring, for example, leads or co-leads a number of ensembles; including The Uplifters, while Scott lends his talent on such projects as Don Scott Trio, Run Stop Run, and The Offbeat.

True to the band's mission, Peripheral Vision's second album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' is part of the band's revisionary process. Said Herring, "We are looking at using some of the improvising gains we've made as a band." The second album even incorporated traditional recording techniques that dominated the 60's, a period in Jazz the band is influenced by. "This new album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' was produced very low-fi. We literary just threw up a few microphones and recorded a live show. So, maybe it is even closer to the aesthetic of the 60's than perhaps our studio album or some of the other projects we are involved in; which sometimes use multi-track digital recording with more editing," said Scott.

With all the various projects members of the band are involved with, they come full circle with Peripheral Vision as a more permanent entity. "Our goal for Peripheral Vision is to very much be a working band. We work on playing regularly. We are working on a short tour in Southern Ontario in March and another tour in Quebec in June. So, with us being a working band there is not that pressure to get so much out of every moment," said Herring. Added Scott, "'Spectacle: LIVE!' was released less than a year after our first album . So, we don't feel a need to put out another record right away. We can sit on this one for a little bit."

The two band mates share a couch, Scott sipping a cup of coffee. With the band enjoying the success of the album and tour, there doesn't seem to be much couch surfing going on these days. However, the creative process is a byproduct of their friendship. "Every time we go through a sound check, we revise something or add something. We always ask: what if the solo went here? What if the solo went longer or shorter? Every time you try those things I think the next time I sit down to write, then I think well there are a whole bunch of new options to try out," said Scott. Adds Herring, "It's kind of like choosing our adventure as we go."

Both Herring and Scott spend time developing their craft by attending seminars and workshops. Scott, for example, studied with Ben Monder and Adam Rogers. They both enjoyed learning from David Binney. "I got unique perspectives on music. I was trying to work what I learned into new pieces for Peripheral Vision. I tried to incorporate certain cord ideas," said Scott.

The band's philosophy might best be summed up through a workshop Said Herring, "I saw a Jim McNeely workshop where he said the composer's job is to ask 'What if?' So, I find while on the road we ask that question: What if? We constantly try new things."

In some ways the new album, 'Spectacle: LIVE!' was created by accident. "We weren't really planning on making an album. We were just planning a demo and we just got lucky. So, we weren't feeling the pressure that might happen with a studio album," said Herring.

Performing live has its challenges, but for Peripheral Vision there is one constant. "As a performer it is important every time to perform your best no matter what the circumstance, how many tickets were sold, or your state of mind at the time. As a matter of fact, a smaller show might make me push the envelope further. There's nothing to lose so let's see how far we can take the music," said Scott. Added Herring, "One of our strengths as individuals and as a band is that when we are playing music, we are giving it 110%."

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