The Zyphoid Process (sometimes stylized as The Zyphoïd Process) was probably the only band from Quebec that I truly adored. This melodic, chaotic, post-metalcore band featured members who lived in various locations of the West Island of Montreal, but they practiced in bassist Pierre-Charles Payer’s house’s studio on L’Île-Perrot, Quebec.
Meeting from attending the same high school, College Charlemagne in Pierrefonds, Quebec, most of The Zyphoid Process’ members had crossed paths in previous bands. One of these, Deadly Awakening, featured Simon Talbot on vocals, Pierre-Charles Payer (aka PCP) on bass, Laurent Shaker and Eric Lapierre on guitars and Dave Powell on drums. Deadly Awakening played its only show in early August 2007 at The Vault in Pierrefonds. The set consisted solely of covers: As I Lay Dying’s “Meaning in Tragedy”, Atreyu’s “Lip Gloss and Black”, Alexisonfire’s “Waterwings” and Killswitch Engage’s “My Last Serenade”. Shaker had also been jamming with another group of friends, which included Shaker on bass, Lapierre on guitar and Raphael Sous-Leblanc on guitar.
By the fall of 2007, a new band had formed featuring Talbot and Sous-Leblanc on guitars and dual vocals, and Payer on bass. Talbot was responsible for naming the new band: The Zyphoid Process; an alteration of xiphoid process, a term he had come across during a first aid course. Musical influences came from Poison the Well, Norma Jean, The Chariot and other emocore and metalcore bands of the era.
*A recent find has rendered the chronology of the band’s formation questionable. A listing was located advertising a show on January 20, 2007, featuring The Zyphoïd Process, Deadly Awakening, Trigger Effect and A Scream From The Sky. Founding band member Talbot believes that the incarnation of Deadly Awakening listed on that show was prior to his joining that band, and that The Zyphoïd Process listed may have been a short-lived project he had started with different members, including Payer, Sous-Leblanc and drummer Julien Dubois, but that neither band ended up playing the show.
Initially, the band continued jamming with Powell on drums but this did not last very long. He was living in the complete opposite end of Montreal Island, in Pointe-Aux-Trembles, and was not available for jams often enough. Before the winter, he was replaced by Marc-André Lemyre. Lemyre had been introduced to Payer by his friend Jason at a party, and although Lemyre and Payer had played hockey together, they had yet to initiate a conversation. That very night, The Zyphoid Process setup a jam to try him out. Lemyre was by far the most talented drummer they had met and with him, they secured a stable rhythm section. Sous-Leblanc was also starting to have commitment issues, apparently due to winter sports. He was consistently training or working out while the band wanted to practice. So Talbot and Payer asked Shaker to come back into the line-up, as a temporary fill-in to continue writing dual guitar songs.
In November The Zyphoid Process started recording at Payer’s home studio. Four songs were recorded for their planned demo/EP, Are You Processed?. After tracking “Le Visage de Juliana”, “Dirty Fingernails”, “The Human Machine Gun” and “Wrath of the King of Apes”, Payer asked his friend Nicolas Kudeljian to design the artwork.
A Myspace page was created in December 2007, and in January 2008, the band’s first show was booked at Cafe L’Inconditionnel. Through the Myspace page, Talbot had met Kevin Fernendes who operated Wreck Your Face Productions, a concert booking and promoting agency. Fernendes would go on to book the band more than a dozen times during the next two years. The Zyphoid Process’ first show took place on January 11, 2008, with A Wasted Sacrifice, Madeline, Terracide, Systematic Denial of All, Avery’s Decent, Camalus and End of Crisis. During the show, Shaker remained on guitar, while Talbot and Sous-Leblanc altered between vocals and guitar. For this event, Talbot asked a college friend and fan, Maxance Vassart, to handle the venues’ light effects. Vassart had grown up with Talbot and Payer in the West Island and had been attending local hardcore concerts with them for the past couple of years. Vassart had also attended Deadly Awakening’s concert and knew the band well-enough to handle the lighting job.
The band’s Are You Processed? demo was no sold at the show, however. Apart from a few very close friends who had home-burnt copies of the four songs, the band wasn’t distributing the recordings. New songs were continuously being written and the band wanted to wait until a lengthier release could be released on CD. Throughout the early months of 2008, three more songs were recorded at Payer’s home studio, and added progressively to Are You Processed?: “Motorpsycho”, “I Hope Your Attitude Is As Positive As These Results” and “Every Hole Has a Little Glory in It”. Ultimately though, this demo was never properly released as the band moved on to completely new material later in the year.
The Zyphoid Process live at CEGEP Gerald-Godin, February 8th 2008. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Lepage.
Talbot and Payer were then attending CEGEP Gérald-Godin in Sainte-Geneviève. The college put up a talent show on February 8, 2008 and Talbot booked the band to play as the main musical act. After hearing samples of the band’s recordings, the school administrators asked that the music to be toned down with less screaming vocals, and for the lyrics to be translated and sung in French for their performance; they were up for a surprise. Talbot dressed up in booty shorts and their friends Vassart and Nicolas-Patrick Therien put on costumes. Vassart was dressed in a clown mask and outfit, while Therien put on a Furby suit with a werewolf mask. During the show, the two of them moshed all over the stage before disappearing. By then, not only was Sous-Leblanc’s contribution to the band extremely limited, but he was also struck by laryngitis and could therefore only provide limited vocals.
After completing the three new songs for Are You Processed?, The Zyphoid Process played its third show on March 22, 2008. Once again booked by Wreck Your Face Productions at Cafe L’Inconditionnel, this time the show was played with Darkness Rites, Shock Therapy, Terracide, Realizing Our Fatal Lies, WDNFRA and Systematic Denial of All.
With the spring came a new evolution for The Zyphoid Process. Sous-Leblanc’s dedication was still in conflict with his interest in sports, and Talbot wanted to focus on guitar. This meant finding a new lead vocalist to sing the clean melodies. Thankfully, Therien knew someone, who happened to be dating Talbot’s ex-girlfriend. Mathieu Callocchia, who had previous sung in Sin Silencer, was asked to come try out at their next rehearsal.
The Zyphoid Process live at Cafe L’Inconditionel, April 18th 2008. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Lepage.
Callocchia’s first show was on April 18, 2008 at Cafe L’Inconditionnel. This time, The Zyphoid Process shared the stage with As the World Fades, Azriel’s Curse, Breaking the Fourth Wall, Gone by Nightfall, No Hero for Today and Peroxide. Before Callocchia had come into the fold, the band was already working on a new demo, having officially abandoned Are You Processed?. The seven songs from the unreleased first EP were gradually dropped from their setlists, making room for the newly recorded “A Design in Decadence”. Planning to record a new demo/EP during the summer of 2008, The Zyphoid Process asked Kudeljian to start designing a new artwork.
In May 2008, after new songs were fully written without his input, Sous-Leblanc was officially kicked out of the band. But his departure was on good terms, as he later handled lighting duties for the band. On June 14, 2008, The Zyphoid Process played a show with IWrestledABearOnce, As the World Fades, Kissyface Fashion Faux Pas, Discordiance, Realizing Our Fatal Lies, Lenore and Demogoron at Cafe L’Inconditionnel.
While recording the second song for the Summer 2008 Demo, Talbot asked Vassart to officially join the band as their new screaming vocalist. With Vassart screaming and Callocchia signing, Talbot could then dedicate himself fully to playing guitar. “Stunning Facial Features” was the first-recorded song to feature Vassart, followed shortly after by “Nobody Wins in Gangster’s Bowls”. The band quickly posted the three new songs (including “A Design in Decadence”) on Myspace, just in time for Wreck Your Face Fest 2, a three-day festival booked by Fernandes.
The event celebrated the two-year anniversary of Wreck Your Face Productions and took place at Cafe L’Inconditionnel featuring twenty-one bands that had previously played shows for the promoter. The Zyphoid Process got to play on Friday, July 4, 2008, with These Silhouettes, Sydney, Haniston, As the World Fades, From Man in Ghost, Everlea, Syracuse Me and Lenore. The other two days featured GOB, Shock Therapy, The Divided Line, Old School Politics, Peroxide, Blind Witness, Come Clarity, Discordiance, Magellan, Realizing Our Fatal Lies, The Breaking Downfall and Business Window. A pretty amazing event welcoming Vassart’s first show with the band.
With a solid full band and the Summer 2008 Demo CD finally out, though distributed mainly digitally, The Zyphoid Process decided that it was time to get some apparel made. Kudeljian was once again asked to create the design. Talbot’s vision truly came to light with this t-shirt art. Kudeljian had already created a new band logo, and found a black and white picture of a woman screaming, as per Talbot’s request. One day in July 2008, before going to see the new Batman film The Dark Knight, Talbot and Payer, feeling a sudden and peculiar rush of inspiration, showed up at Kudeljian’s house to make some impromptu and final changes to the t-shirt design. A few effects were added to the woman screaming and the words “Get Freaky” were added in a cartoon balloon. Fifty t-shirts were then printed and sold for 15$, beginning at their August 9, 2008 show at Cafe L’Inconditionnel with Dead and Devine, Emarosa, These Silhouettes, Arise & Ruin, The Breaking Downfall and Here for the Crime.
The Zyphoid Process live at Cafe L’Inconditionel, August 9th 2008. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Scodras.
After being critically underpaid for each and every event booked by Wreck Your Face Productions, things seemed to be looking up for The Zyphoid Process. In late July 2008, the band was invited to join the roster of massive concert promoters, Supernova. With a promise of bigger and better things, Supernova started off by offering the band an opening spot for Metro Station at the Metropolis on August 14, 2008. The band quickly wrote a parody song to perform in front of this new audience: “Hannah Montana” (Metro Station included band member Trace Cyrus, brother of Miley Cyrus who starred in the television series Hannah Montana). But the promoters’ promises fell through and the show went on without The Zyphoid Process.
Supernova then booked the band at Club T.N.T. Concept Rock on Crescent Street in Montreal. This was The Zyphoid Process’ first chance at headlining their own show. September 4, 2008 was also the birthday of one of their friends, Alexandre Drouin, and they made plans to reserve the venue’s bar for an after-show birthday party, making sure that all of their friends could be present and have a good time. The evening as a whole was a success; playing for the first and only time their cover of Paramore’s “Crushcrushcrush”. But after the show, Supernova refused to pay the band, even though the members had each gone to extensive lengths to promote the event, and without help from the agency. This marked the end of the band’s collaboration with Supernova.
A few rehearsals later, Callocchia announced that he was no longer happy in the band. Since the release of the Summer 2008 Demo, Talbot had already written two new songs: “Predator’s Handshake” and “The End’s Not Near, It’s Here”. Both of these were a lot heavier and featured more screaming vocals for Vassart, leading Callocchia to feel somewhat out of place in a band that was, to him, obviously no longer “post-hardcore”.
Back with Wreck Your Face Productions, out of desperation due to lack of better offers, the band started playing at Cafe L’Inconditionnel again. On September 26, 2008, The Zyphoid Process played with Gone By Nightfall, Today I Caught the Plague, Here for the Crime, KidIcarus, Camalus and Unbeing. As only a few songs required clean vocals during their concerts, Talbot multitasked as vocalist. It was also around this time that Talbot joined another Montreal band, Polish Mi Yaya, featuring other students from CEGEP Gérald-Godin.
In early October 2008, Bird Wazo Studio contacted Wreck Your Face Productions to offer a free recording session. Fernendes compiled a list of bands which he felt could benefit from this studio time and put up a battle of bands. But this contest had nothing to do with talent or passion; it had to do with money. Fernendes decided that the band which sold the most tickets for him would “earn” (or rather “buy”) this free studio time.
The Zyphoid Process did not sell the most tickets. But it didn’t matter because the band was already recording new demos at Payer’s home studio. “Predator’s Handshake” and “The End’s Not Near, It’s Here” were finally recorded and Callocchia was invited to contribute clean vocals to the latter song. A third song was also recorded that year: “Everything We Know Is About to Change”. The band played their final show of 2008 on November 22nd, with These Silhouettes, Escape for Glory, Magellan, Skepsis, Edessa and Selana.
In 2009, the band started playing more shows in a short period of time. The first was on January 17, 2009, celebrating Sydney’s final appearance. Wreck Your Face Productions had of course booked this at Cafe L’Inconditionnel, along with These Silhouettes, Escape for Glory, Magellan, Skepsis, Edessa and Selana.
Less than a month later, CEGEP Gérald-Godin put together another yearly talent show. But this time the rules had changed. The school only allowed the band to play if every one of its members were its own students. This wasn’t the case for The Zyphoid Process, and the band wasn’t willing to rewrite all the recent songs’ lyrics in French. So Talbot and Payer created a one-off band, Le Projet. It featured one third of The Zyphoid Process: Talbot on guitar and Payer on bass; one third of Polish Mi Yaya: Laurent Ouellette on keyboards and Charles Blondeau on drums; and one third of Erewhon: Philippe Paquin on piano.
Le Project quickly wrote a single instrumental song and played its only show on February 12, 2009. Although the band technically won by receiving the most student votes, the judges chose to push them down to second place. The very next day, Wreck Your Face Productions had The Zyphoid Process play at the all too familiar Cafe L’Inconditionnel with Abandon All Ships, These Silhouettes, Hometown Beatdown, Bigger & Better Things, Skepsis and I Used to Pass Out Everyday.
Having built up a small following in the Montreal hardcore scene, Talbot received interest from Phil Worthy and Dave Boucher, who operated one of Montreal’s most successful independent concert booking and promotion agency, Extensive Enterprise. The Zyphoid Process’ first show for Extensive Enterprise was the D-Tox Band War II on March 27, 2009. Booked at CEGEP du Vieux-Montreal, The Zyphoid Process competed against Overend (featuring Polish Mi Yaya’s drummer Michael Guglia), Here We Stand, Best Regards and Die in Vain. Unfortunately, The Zyphoid Process did not win.
Overend and The Zyphoid Process would play another show together on May 2, 2009 at The Vault in Pierrefonds. Booked by Matthew Savage, the event featured his own band, Breaking the Fourth Wall, as well as Authors, Deadwalk and Chryses. In the spring of 2009, two new songs were written and demoed: “Diploma” and “Tonight’s Top Ten”.
The summer of 2009 was an uneventful period for the band. In June and July, Vassart and Shaker each went off to visit Europe (separately), while Talbot started touring with Polish Mi Yaya. The Zyphoid Process was constantly missing one of its member during a three-month period.
Back on track and refreshed after the summer vacation, the band played at Cafe L’Inconditionnel on August 14, 2009 with Abandon All Ships, Colossus Of Rhodes, Broken on Site, Sins Under City Lights, Four Feet & Fur and Skepsis. Somehow, after twelve shows for the agency, Wreck Your Face Productions managed to misspell the band’s name on the flyer…
The Zyphoid Process was then working on a new release; a concept EP titled Scandalmonger. Three new songs had been composed during the late summer and early fall of 2009: “Snuff”, “Gossip Girl” and “Winston Churchill”. Throughout the year, bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Isis, Converge, Coalesce, Every Time I Die, Fear Before, Glassjaw and The Bled had become major influences for the band and helped to shape a new sound in the music being composed. Early in its existence, The Zyphoid Process’ lyrics were mainly inside jokes that weren’t meant to be taken seriously. But with the writing of Scandalmonger, the band took a more serious approach with a darker and prevalent conceptual theme revolving around psychopathy, violence and sex. Although enough material had been written and demoed for a full-length album, the band held off of a release again.
The Zyphoid Process live at Cafe L’Inconditionel, September 18th 2009. Photos courtesy of Marina Polak.
On September 18, 2009, The Zyphoid Process played at Cafe L’Inconditionnel for the thirteenth and final time. The show featured Fear Before, Baptized in Blood, Trophy Scars, Noble Scale and The Fierce. It was at this show that The Zyphoid Process was approached by Abridged Pause Recordings, a record label operated by Alexandre Julien, one of Vassart’s childhood friends. Julien had taken an immediate liking to The Zyphoid Process after hearing them on Myspace earlier that month and brought along his roomate and label photographer, Marina Polak, to take some new live shots of the band. After hearing them play live, and liking them even more, Julien offered to release whatever the band was willing to put together through Abridged Pause Recordings.
In early October 2009, the band decided that it was time for a name change, reflecting the different music being created. Talbot was a huge fan of Botch and suggested the name Great White North, after the song “To Our Friends in the Great White North”. However, Extensive Enterprise had already booked the band as The Zyphoid Process for an upcoming show on October 18, 2009 at Cabaret Underworld. This was going to be band’s biggest show yet, playing with It Dies Today, Arsonists Get All the Girls, Awaken Demons, A Wasted Sacrifice, The Dresto and From Glory to Failure. Unfortunately, It Dies Today was refused entry into Canada from the American border and this considerably reduced the show’s turnout. During the concert, The Zyphoid Process announced to everyone that this was their final appearance under the old name, revealing that they would from then on officially be known as Great White North.
Shortly after the Cabaret Underworld show, Payer moved out of his parents’ house on L’Île-Perrot. He was attending the Polytechnique of Montreal University and found an apartment closer to the school in the city. Because of this, and with limited access to the studio and rehearsal room, the band practices greatly diminished.
Talbot nevertheless continued writing new songs with the same passion. “Dead Horse”, “1930”, “Sex Fiend” and “Life Lessons in Exotic Dancing” were all written before the end of 2009 and were demoed shortly afterwards at Payer’s home studio. Great White North planned to finish Scandalmonger at the start of the new year and book the its first shows, offering completely new material to its fans. Nearly fifteen songs had been composed and demoed for the release, but the band was unable to agree on a concept or direction; they had difficulty chosing which songs would appear on the EP. Things delayed during the winter and spring of 2010. Furthermore, some of the recorded songs were never completed with vocal tracks because Vassart went off to Europe for the second time, from May to July 2010.
Great White North rehearsed less and less during the summer of 2010, as everyone started following different lifestyles. Julien at Abridged Pause Recordings wanted the band to finish up Scandalmonger, so in an attempt to motivate them, he created a Great White North Myspace page in August 2010. This design once again penetrated Talbot’s mind. The imagery featured 1930s-1960s era photography of morbid, avant-garde and costume-wearing debauchery.
When Vassart came back from Europe, his interest in Great White North and hardcore music had vanished and he quit the band. The rest of 2010 proved extremely slow, and by January 2011, everyone’s schedules were clashing. Lemyre had started a new band, Skip the Foreplay, and was extremely busy with them, ultimately forcing him to quit Great White North in March 2011.
In April 2011, Talbot asked ex-Polish Mi Yaya bandmate, Michael Guglia to join Great White North. Guglia had been a long-time fan of the band and immediately agreed, prompting Talbot to send him two songs to practice to before they met up. A first rehearsal was scheduled at Guglia’s parents’ house on L’Ile-Bizard, with Talbot and Payer.
The band continued practising at Guglia’s house for the next ten months. But within this time, they also slowed down drastically. They weren’t jamming in a studio anymore so demos could not be recorded as easily. No shows were booked as multiple attempts at finding a new vocalist failed miserably. Vassart was constantly asked to come back but his schedule was always too hectic to make it work.
Eventually, Great White North moved into Marsonic Studio, a rehearsal space in Montreal on the corner of Park Avenue and Cremazie Street. By then, it was 2012 and Payer had also stopped coming to practices. One day after writing a new song, Talbot, Shaker and Guglia looked at each other and realized that it wasn’t The Zyphoid Process nor Great White North anymore. This was an all new band with an all new sound. Great White North was dead and Colours/Shapes was born. It was then that Callocchia was asked to come back as the vocalist for this new band, which is still active to this day.
-Complete Show Listing:
- 2008-01-11 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) A Wasted Sacrifice, Madeline, Terracide, Systematic Denial of All, Avery’s Descent, Camalus, End of Crisis
- 2008-02-08 CEGEP Gérald-Godin (Sainte-Geneviève, QC)
- 2008-03-22 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Darkness Rites, Shock Therapy, Terracide, Realizing Our Fatal Lies, WDNFRA, Systematic Denial of All
- 2008-04-18 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) As the World Fades, Azriel’s Curse, Breaking the Fourth Wall, Gone by Nightfall, No Hero for Today, Peroxide
- 2008-06-14 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) IWrestledABearOnce, As the World Fades, Kissyface Fashion Faux Pas, Discordiance, Realizing Our Fatal Lies, Lenore, Demogoron
- 2008-07-04 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) These Silhouettes, Sydney, Haniston, As the World Fades, From Man in Ghost, Everlea, Syracuse Me, Lenore
- 2008-08-09 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Dead and Devine, Emarosa, These Silhouettes, Arise & Ruin, The Breaking Downfall, Here for the Crime
- 2008-09-04 Club T.N.T. (Montreal, QC)
- 2008-09-26 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Gone By Nightfall, Today I Caught the Plague, Here for the Crime, KidIcarus, Camalus, Unbeing
- 2008-10-11 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) A Devil May Cry, Sins Under City Lights, Untold, Amongst the Shadows, Our Own Justice, Insanity Takes Two
- 2008-11-22 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) These Silhouettes, Escape for Glory, Magellan, Skepsis, Edessa, Selana
- 2009-01-17 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Sydney, Lifestory Monologue, This is Gravity, Kinsley, Fannie, Modern Ghost
- 2009-02-13 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Abandon All Ships, These Silhouettes, Hometown Beatdown, Bigger & Better Things, Skepsis, I Used to Pass Out Everyday
- 2009-03-27 CEGEP du Vieux-Montreal (Montreal, QC) Here We Stand, Overend, Best Regards, Die in Vain
- 2009-05-02 The Vault (Pierrefonds, QC) Breaking the Fourth Wall, Authors, Deadwalk, Chryses, Overend
- 2009-08-14 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Abandon All Ships, Colossus Of Rhodes, Broken On Site, Sins Under City Lights, Four Feet & Fur, Skepsis
- 2009-09-18 Cafe L’Inconditionnel (Montreal, QC) Fear Before, Baptized in Blood, Trophy Scars, Noble Scale, The Fierce
- 2009-10-18 Cabaret Underworld (Montreal, QC)
It Dies Today, Arsonists Get All the Girls, Awaken Demons, A Wasted Sacrifice, The Destro, From Glory to Failure