Understanding the band 36?

Calgary’s very own 36?—a five-piece experimental, alternative band—teased listeners with the stand-alone single, “so what?,” this past November. The group hadn’t released music since their last full-length album, Tiger Tail, in 2015. Vocalist Taylor Cochrane explained they weren’t in a rush to release their newest record— expected out sometime in March of 2019.

“We wanted to give it time to breathe and make sure it was perfect,” said Cochrane.

Cochrane didn’t desist from writing vulnerable lyrics in “so what?” and teleporting listeners into his mind with the psychedelic melodies and impenetrable guitar riffs, creating a space of complete chaos.

“It felt like the right song to lead with because it’s a fun song, but it’s really weird and emotionally heavy. It captures what we’re all about.”

The single explores disassociation in public places and the feeling of being alone in a room full of people, a feeling Cochrane knows all too well. Mental health isn’t necessarily taboo in society anymore but the attitude has changed into self-deprecation and blatant disregard.

“’so what?’ is like when someone tells a funny joke about how they hate themselves. You laugh, but you also know they are serious,” he wrote in a press release.

“It takes someone off guard when they ask how it’s going and you’re like, I’m really sad all the time…I found the more open and honest I am in real life about feelings, the more people tend to have real conversations with me.”

Although, “so what?” isn’t a track on the upcoming record, it’s an accurate precedent of pandemonium of what to anticipate.

“It’s been a determent in the past for any labels to work with us because the songs are all pretty different. I listen to everything or at least the good stuff; they have to be emotionally honest, whatever that means. It could be abrasive or really beautiful. I do that with my own music. I really hate the concept of genres. It’s trying to define the indefinable. I didn’t have a vision except for it to be genuine.”

Sincerity is the standard 36?’s music embodies. After being heavily medicated for ADHD from 15 to 16-years-old, he lost touch with reality and had outer-body experiences.

“It had really intense reactions with me. I would often see things in the dark, and every night I would have sleep paralysis where you’re body is asleep, but your mind is awake, and you feel trapped. It’s like you’re body is a coffin, and you can’t breathe.”

During these years, Cochrane wrote over 250 songs that emerged as manifestations of dark creatures he would see and the paranoia he would feel from being attacked by his imaginations. In fact the band name came from repeatedly seeing the number, 36.

“I now have a grasp on reality, but I know exactly how it feels to be in a state of really intense psychosis… At the time, I didn’t even really know it was because of the medication. I just thought it was what life was like. I think it was the combination of the fact I was so stimulated by the ADHD medicine that I would only get 3-5 hours of sleep a night.”

The memory of when he finally decided to get off the medication still stands out to Cochrane.

Photo by Sara Grawbarger-Kuefler.

“I had this one experience at the very end of it where I was sitting on my bed listening to Beck who put out a record that came with stickers, and you could make your own album cover. I was looking at it, and in a song there was a machine gun tempo and when that hit, it felt like it was right behind me firing a gun into the back of my head, and I could feel chunks of my head flying off. It got crazy right, and it was like my vision turned into a stained glass window, and it eventually shattered. After I came out of it, I was like either I just had a seizure, or I need to see what it’s like if I don’t take this medication anymore.”

Writer’s block lasted about two years for him after, but he figured out the riddle to write about his new reality.

After thanking him for his rawness and honesty, he responded, “What is my past except for lessons? There’s no reason I should hold on to anything that ever happened to me because after a moment passes, it’s not really yours.”

Keep up with 36? here.