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The Conscience Pilate Release Break Like Waves

The Conscience Pilate Release Break Like Waves

Formed in the midst of Toronto’s thriving mid-90’s live music scene, indie art rockers The Conscience Pilate shocked fans by disbanding after just one album and at the height of their popularity. During that charged two-year period, the group created enough interest to instill a legacy on the local music scene that endures today. Fast forward 25-years, founding members bassist Edward Pond and vocalist and guitarist Neil Leyton reformed with a vow to resolve unfinished business, committing to release new music between 2023 and 2024. The result is a series of singles including Little Things, Hope, Blue Shadows, Bloom and Army of Devils and the new singles have gone on to define a whole new musical era for the revolutionary glam band. Their new musical output quickly caught the attention of longtime fans as well as new musical enthusiasts who packed their recent Toronto performance at the Dakota Tavern.

Widely regarded for their guitar-driven pop, their unique sound is best described as a combustion of CBGB’s post-punk flavoured with the edgy romanticism of 80’s alternative. The Conscience Pilate have remained true to these musical roots but now emerge with an even more polished sound that digs deep with lyrics that tell a story in an irresistibly visual and evocative setting.

Their brand new single Break Like Waves, which explores modern paranoia and international tensions reminiscent of the Cold War Era, is inspired by Pond’s formative years growing up on Canadian Air Force bases. His experiences of being in close proximity to nuclear weapons depots with military jets in the air above him continues to find voice in The Conscience Pilate’s provocative body of work. Released today, Break Like Waves, which draws musical inspiration from bands like the Pretenders and Duran Duran, is a galvanizing track that weaves together imagery of surveillance, and the spirited defiance of youth amid perilous situations.

“When we started the band, we wanted to create something more theatrical and melodic, so we dipped into the 70’s and 80’s for a sound that was sort of T-Rex meets the Cure. Now, when we hit on an idea, we take something tiny, like a feeling, and blow it up into a big world event like war. We also take something big like the end of the world and shrink it down, so it fits into a relationship,” Pond explains. “Either way the words need to have heart, so when we rough a demo together, we try to write parts that let Neil really use his explosive voice”.  

While Pond remains the primary songwriter, his innate synergy with Leyton is the driving force behind the band’s creative success. The duo wants The Conscience Pilate to be known for their love of pop music which is heavily infused with their cinematic interests that is fueled by their film-school experience, Pond’s work as a celebrated photographer and their shared commitment to creating songs that bristle with influences that celebrate the songs they grew up on.

“We believe we need to stay true to ourselves and our conscience, or in good conscience,” says Leyton. “Rather than wash our hands of responsibility and close our eyes to the evils that surround us, we want to create music that motivates you and makes you think, so many of my lyrics have something to do with the decisions we make in life, emotions, regrets and happy-sad longings”.

Pond and Leyton remain the core of the band with many of their past musical collaborators returning for the live performances including The Conscience Pilate alumnus guitarist Stacy Stray whose credentials include the Valhounds, Die Mannequin and C.J. Sleeze. Stray, who first became aware of The Conscience Pilate in 1995, notes that they were the only band on the Toronto scene that had a bit of glam in stark contrast to the influence the Seattle grunge movement was having on local groups. 

Picture left to right: Mick McKenzie, Stacy Stray, Neil Leyton, Edward Pond and Justin Kadis

“This was a time in the music business when all up-and-coming bands were dependent on a record label to finance and promote them to the next level and when we just couldn’t seem to secure a deal the frustration led to a fallout,” Stray explains. Speaking of the band’s reformation, he adds “When you’re a younger person you maybe have less patience for how your career is unfolding but as you age you realize the journey is the reward. We played some great shows, made some really good music and had some fun times. I’ve been thrilled to revisit it again and see where the road takes us now that we can drive without speeding and enjoy the trip.” 

Veteran guitarist Michael “Mick” McKenzie known for his recent work with Lowest of the Low, who attended the band’s first gig at the Gasworks in 1995, also joins the live lineup as does long time friend, and newest member, drummer Justin “Juice” Kadis from Yoko Casionos. 

Pond and Leyton remain the core of the band with many of their past musical collaborators returning for the live performances including The Conscience Pilate alumnus guitarist Stacy Stray whose credentials include the Valhounds, Die Mannequin and C.J. Sleeze. Veteran guitarist Michael “Mick” McKenzie known for his recent work with Lowest of the Low, who attended the bands first gig at the Gasworks in 1995, also joins the live lineup. Long time friend, drummer Justin “Juice” Kadis from Yoko Casionos is the newest member.   


The Conscience Pilate formed during the height of the Toronto’s club scene in the late ’90s when songwriting duo Edward Pond and Neil Leyton finished film school.  Unlike other bands of that dominant grunge era, TCP brought a flair of glam and style with their focus on 70’s and 80’s pop-rock influenced by David Bowie, Poseurs, Suede and Manic Street Preachers.  

Their lofty art-school name is inspired by David Bowie’s performance as Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s screen adaptation of The Last Temptation of Christ coupled with the complexity Pond’s Catholic School upbringing. They went on to move a few letters around, add a “the” in tribute to Syd’s Floyd and a band name was born. 

Inspired by their shared love of movies, the duo wrote and recorded a 1996 debut EP called “Living in a Movie Scene” which quickly rose to number one on the Sam The Record Man’s independent release chart. The recording met with wide-spread successes which included many sold-out performances including regular Orange Alert events. A club night modelled after a 60’s style music, film, art and fashion, Orange Alert included regular performances by The Conscience Pilate, Vertigo featuring Mark Holmes of Platinum Blonde fame, The Spy and The Toppermost.

The Conscience Pilate have played sold out shows at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern alongside major recording artists such as Canada’s Thrush Hermit and the UKs Fluffy. Most notably they opened for the Manic Street Preachers in Toronto, Montreal during the rockers 1996 “Everything Must Go” Canadian tour. 

In spite of consistent media and public interest, The Conscience Pilate performed their final show at the Rivoli only two years after forming. Neil Leyton moved to the UK and eventually settled in Portugal 12 years ago, where he has continued to perform, record and produce, and he currently fronts the acclaimed collective Lusitanian Ghosts. Edward Pond remained in Toronto where he continued to produce music and build a career as a noted photographer.

Over the years, friendship and an enduring creative bond, kept the duo in contact and led to a fateful meeting in Montreal where they decided to reform the band. After a 25-year hiatus, they went on to write, record and release six singles in 2023 and have a new full album currently in the works. While The Conscience Pilate remains true to their original sound, their musical output continues to evolve as do their live performances. One significant change is shared lead vocal duties between Leyton and Pond to accommodate performances with Leyton is overseas.



About The Author

Jesse Read

Jesse Read is a videographer, writer and editor for Dropout Entertainment. As a musician as well as a videographer, Jesse has travelled the country numerous times, playing alongside and listening to the stories of hundreds of artists. A few of those are documented on this site. For video's, interviews & features follow the contact us tab!

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