It’s a dismal rainy evening in Toronto and I take refuge along with a slightly disgruntled Jesse Matthewson, who’s trying to relax before playing an early set at Sneaky Dee’s after apparently getting in a spot of trouble during soundcheck.

Jesse and his brother Shane have been gigging with their band Ken Mode (stylized as “KEN mode”) for almost 15 years, but the band has been featured steadily in rock press across North America since early 2012 when their album “Venerable” won the inaugural prize for Best Hard Rock/Metal at the Junos. It took a few people by surprise that the award would be taken by an obscure noise-rock band from Winnipeg, and as such they’ve certainly been put under the microscope by opportunist writers and metal fans that were offended by their perceived encroachment into some sort of unmarked territory.

It’s no surprise then that many eyes are focussed on their new release entitled “Entrench” (their fifth). The album maintains the noise-rock tone that seems to be regarded as their signature, but it’s drenched in the sound of early 2000’s metalcore which makes much of it come across as rather hooky at times.

Sitting shotgun in the band’s overstuffed touring van while trying to ignore pedestrians taking ridiculous chances crossing through rainy-night traffic, I actually manage to have a pretty sincere chat with Jesse about the new record, the actual results of winning an award, and what it’s like to be classified as being on “the hipster side”.


A Journal of Musical Things