USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) is currently on tour celebrating their band’s tenth anniversary as well as their new single, “Big Life.” The band played at The Ranch Roadhouse on Nov. 16 with The Elwins and Hotel Mira. Toronto’s very own Ashley Buchholz had a few comments regarding his musical journey with his bandmate, Jason Parsons. As this is a large milestone for USS, they have some special plans regarding this tour.
“We pulled some songs from our first two albums. Jay as a DJ, me as a songwriter, we’re actually like on a tour offering each other the whole stage as a gift to each other,” Buchholz says.
After 10 years of working together, the band can’t help but reminisce about how it all started.
“We were both very retracted people. And I saw what could happen if we found the right prism and concentrated ourselves …. This is what I was visualizing when we first met. And all the music has just been a melodic journal of the process of getting here,”Buchholz says.
USS’ new single, “Big Life,” is anticipated to be one of their biggest songs yet. Buchholz says that the song came from wanting to change his life and seek better things.
“I didn’t use to be able to leave the house before and I was so determined to live a big life that I’d image for myself,” Buchholz says. “I couldn’t leave the house for months, like I couldn’t do it. I was so afraid of being out and seeing anybody, I was like allergic to humans and allergic to happiness. It was paralyzing.”
The band’s name, while a symbol of strength for fans, holds a deeper meaning for Buchholz — when he hit his lowest point.
“Just looking in the mirror and being entirely dissatisfied and trying to figure out where the sparkle went in all capacity. I decided that I needed to overthrow the government of my mind and start making some good choices. A lot of people don’t make it out the other side, but we did.” Buchholz says.
Even though there have been moments of doubt within Buchholz’s journey, he has come a long way. The band has created many inspirational songs for their synergy seekers. Buchholz says that one of his favourites is “Us.”
“The song ‘Us’ was the first time that I let it all go, and I just sang that whole song almost in a row. A guy got me to sign a guitar for his daughter the other day at one of our shows; he asked me to write something on it and I remembered that moment of writing that song ‘Us,’ and I wrote on her guitar, ‘never stop trusting yourself,’” Buchholz says.
“Yo Hello Hooray” is another inspiring song that has had a huge effect on USS fans.
“When our song ‘Yo Hello Hooray’ came out, a cognitive behavioural psychologist emailed us and said that he prescribed that song to his patients; he said that it captures everything that he could hope to teach to any of his patients. So that was a very validating statement in terms of the work, the importance and the value of music. I don’t even have to sing that song, it’s louder than us,” Buchholz states.
USS has performed in many cities so far, and one of them stuck out in particular for Buchholz.
“We played in Nuremberg, Germany, and it was right beside where Hitler gave his famous speech. The only reason I say that is because my family came from war-torn Germany and my grandmother (wasn’t allowed to) play the piano, and she was like a concert pianist,” he says. “She had to sneak out at night under the threat of being shot to play the piano. When she got to Canada she never played the piano again just because it’s so traumatizing. So, for us to go back as free people and play in Nuremberg is really cool.”
Although USS has played shows all over the world, Buchholz still has fond memories of Edmonton.
“We played with Weezer at Sonic Boom a couple years back. That was extra special for me because my first public performance was when I was 14; we played ‘The Sweater Song’ by Weezer and my friend’s mom was a real estate agent, so she got a float in the parade of our hometown and we wore faded blue tuxedos. We played ‘The Sweater Song’ like 20 times in a row. Getting to watch Weezer at the side stage like 10 feet away… it’s connected,” Buchholz laughs.
As somebody who has had their fair share of ups and downs in life, Buchholz had some advice for the synergy seekers: “Reiterate the points and never stop trusting yourself. Start from there and make some faith. Make some faith and trust yourself.”
Cover photo via USS’ website.