As I'm about to leave his Toronto apartment, Shehzaad Jiwani tells me with a mixture of humor and exhaustion, "I hope you didn't want me to make some kind of grand statement about my experiences with race. A lot of interviews want me to do that." I say no, then immediately wonder if that was true. Shehzaad is the frontman of the Toronto post-grunge band Greys and one of the most visible people of color in Canada's independent music scene right now. Conversations about diversity and racism in these circles have spiked recently. But reducing an artist's work to the most politically contentious aspects of their humanity is an easy trap to fall into, not to mention just plain wrong for an album like their new one, Outer Heaven.
Jiwani says that his band's second full-length, out today on Buzz Records/Carpark Records, comes from "the prism of perspective," but Greys set out to make an album informed by the times, out of a sense of responsibility. "It's not enough to be a rock band in 2016 and just write about being in the beach or having a bad day," he says. "You have to be saying something. If you're not, get out of the way and make room."