We Are The City
Rio Theatre – December 10th, 2011
As the lights dimmed, the synth whirred and We Are the City walked onto the stage. The crowd, already pumped from striking performances from opening bands Treelines and Fields of Green, exploded with cheer and applause. As the first ever winners of The Peak Performance Project, this Kelowna band treated their Vancouver fans to an astounding concert at the Rio Theatre on December 10th.
Members Cayne, Andy and David immediately captured the crowd’s attention by opening with their hit single Happy New Year; and simultaneously, fans began to jump and clap. We Are The City captivated the audience with their echoing, bone-chilling instrumentals and party-setting indie rock songs from beginning to end. To add to the visual presentation, halfway through the show, the screen behind the band suddenly lit up with brilliant scenes from their High School video series produced by Amazing Factory Productions. This backdrop created a darker more personal element to the concert as masked faces jumping into the ocean flashed behind them as they performed.
Their set included two new songs from their upcoming album, and a mix of tracks from In a Quiet Word and High School. The audience bobbed their heads in unison to the loud and futuristic guitar and synthesizer riffs during Astronomer and loudly sang along to both versions of Morning/Mourning Song, almost louder than the band itself. On top of the incredible music, the boys eased the crowd with hilarious awkward banter that varied from Cayne’s horror stories of donating blood to Andy’s fear of ruining punch lines.
Once the last song ended and the boys walked off the stage, without any hesitation, everyone chanted “one more song”. Upon their return, Cayne wittedly remarked, “Are you sure? Because we would love to,” and closed the show with 1987. Although he laughed at first, you could see on all of the members faces how much it meant that so many were eager to come out to see them.
Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
Ryan Adams’ remarkable new album, Ashes and Fire is steeped in a perfect amount of emotions and bluesy piano riffs. The sounds of the soft, county/rock guitar paired with Adams’ flawless voice brings the whole album together perfectly. A swell of emotions can be felt while listening to this record. Every song on Ashes and Fire tells a tale, and the lyrics seem to build a framework for what feel like musical excursions. With help from Norah Jones and the keyboardist from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Adams has created a brilliant album that I would certainly recommend to anyone who enjoys the blues or is simply looking for an easy listen.
Favorite Track: Chains Of Love
It’s been a crazy year for Canadian band, Yukon Blonde. Along with releasing a new EP, they are just wrapping up a huge North American tour, they have recently released a new music video and they even had their name dropped on prime time television. Just before their show at the Biltmore this past November, I got the chance to sit down with the band’s very talented and very charming singer and guitarist, Jeff Innes. While the other band members were sound checking, I talked to Jeff about life on the road, their new EP “Fire//Water”, and what fans can expect from the highly anticipated full-length album.
AC: You guys are in the middle of an extensive North American tour to promote Fire//Water, How do you keep up the energy for all 60 tour dates?
JI: I don’t know, [laughs] I have no idea. I actually wonder that all the time. Sometimes we don’t. I mean, I guess we tour a lot so we’re kind of used to it. I guess it’s kind of like anything, like doing sports or whatever, the more you do it the more you’re used to it. Also, we’ve learned to take care of ourselves on the road, which is a big thing, you know? It sounds silly but, eating right, exercising, we don’t just get hammered every night; we have to be on our game.
AC: Why is it that you guys tour so much and when the band first came together did you know that you would be on the road this much?
JI: Yeah, well we wanted to, that was the idea that we would be on tour all the time. Now it’s just perfect, we don’t pay rent and we tour all year long, it’s great!
AC: So, what’s the significance behind the title of your new EP: “Fire /Water”?
JI: Well there are two songs on the EP, one is called Fire, and one is called Water. I guess it’s just named after the two songs on it. But we did that, it’s kind of funny, the songs weren’t written at the same time or anything, it was just a total idiotic fluke that one was called Fire and one was called Water.
AC: I read that this EP marks kind of a transition for the band. How did this new direction come about and as a result did this latest project push you out of your comfort zone a little?
JI: No, it didn’t really. But, okay how did it come about, let’s start with that. We’re recording a new record right now, we just a had a ton of songs recorded, 15 songs, and the songs that didn’t really fit with the majority of the rest went on to the Fire//Water EP. They kind of had a theme, and this project, as every project that we do, we hope to push ourselves to be doing what we want to do, and not be uncomfortable with the music that we’re playing. So, it didn’t really push us out of our comfort zone, but it did push us.
AC: How do the four songs on the new EP reflect or differ from what fans can expect to hear on the full-length album?
JI: The full-length record is a little faster, a little bit more in depth; we kind of experimented with different textures and different sounds, and some songs have like a late seventies post-punk sound, it’s all very cohesive. The Fire//Water EP sounds a little bit like that, but more like our old record.
AC: Half of the songs on the new record were written while on the road and the other half was written in a cottage in Comox. How did you find the inspiration differed from when you were on the road and when you were in the cottage?
JI: Well it was kind of an interesting process, we toured for about nine and a half months in 2010, and during the time that I had off, I would demo and write as much as I could. When it came time for us to do songs together, we started in Comox in this nice, amazing area. It was so cool, we had groceries and just made food everyday, we started at ten in the morning and would finish at eleven at night; it was like a job, but so much fun. There was even like a fireplace, and a dog, [laughs] it was so cool. So there was like this total isolated kind of vibe going on there. We didn’t have everything totally finished by the time we left, we knew that by the time the tour was done, we were going to have to record it, so we started arranging all the songs, and doing them in sound checks, which was totally crazy. So half the record is sort of made live, and half of it’s kind of made in this like completely different atmosphere.
AC: So when you’re not performing or driving to the next city, what do you like to do to unwind?
JI: Watch a lot of shows, [laughs] I’m a big HBO show fan. I play a lot of scrabble online; um that’s pretty much it.
AC: Well how did react to being mentioned on “How I Met Your Mother”?
JI: It was great, I was actually really excited, and it’s like everywhere you know, and that’s pretty crazy. A lot of people are saying, ‘they’ve set you guys up to be like a Canadian iconic band, and it’s a big deal.’ And I feel the same. It’s really crazy, we’ve just finished shooting a music video, and recording an EP, but we’ve heard more about this ‘How I Met Your Mother’ mention than anything we’ve done. So, its kind of like, ‘Hey, well we also did this video…’ [laughs]
AC: Ah, I see. So who’s music do you like to listen to while you’re traveling?
JI: We’ve had a lot of stuff on the player lately. We’ve been listening to the new ‘Fiest’ record a bit, and we also listen to a lot of the bands we tour with. You see a band every night you would think that you’d get sick of it, but we just get it. Yeah, the ‘Fiest’ record is really good, also ‘The War On Drugs’ we listened to a little bit too much of that though.
AC: Have you had any embarrassing moments on stage?
JI: Um… yeah.
AC: [Laughing] like what?
JI: Last night we played Kamloops, [sighs] and we were just playing, it was just so typical, people were… actually I don’t want to get into it. [Laughing heartily] We’re not going to talk about that. Let’s uh, let’s talk about a different embarrassing moment… Okay, so, the other night actually we were playing Edmonton, and Graham actually fell off the stage! No joke. He was trying to get off the stage, legitimately, but I don’t know, he just slipped and fell. He’s actually done that like three times, he’s very clumsy. [Laughs] um, but what do I do? I’m just always embarrassing on stage; I always just do stupid stuff.
AC: [Laughing] Alright. So, do you feel like social media sites like facebook and twitter have assisted your guys’ success?
JI: Oh yeah. Absolutely. We’re like totally into it too. A lot of our friend’s bands are like, ‘whatever, twitter, that’s lame’, and I’m like, ‘alright, go ahead, don’t do it, but you’re just missing out.’ I love man, I love we have like a direct connection with people.
AC: Yeah, like your fans.
JI: Yeah! Yeah, totally, it’s great. It’s like the best thing that ever happened for a band, well maybe not the best thing, maybe like ‘The Gibson Les Paul’ [laughs] I’m just kidding.
AC: [Laughing] So 2011 is coming to an end, how would you sum up this past year for the band?
JI: It’s been a strange year because it feels like we haven’t really been there. We’ve worked really hard this year, but it’s been like really low-key working. I feel like 2012 we’re going to be working the whole time; it’s going to be a little out of control. I mean this year has been a pretty productive year, we did two American tours, two Canadian tours, cool. [Laughing] That’s good right? And we’ll be in Australia before the end of the year.
AC: Really? That’s awesome.
JI: Yeah! Like right after we finish the American tour, we have like three days off for Christmas with our families. Literally three days, and then we fly to Australia for two weeks.
AC: So what has been the fans’ reaction to the new music?
JI: Good. I think, I don’t know. It’s hard to say! You know it’s like the sophomore thing, there’s that expression ‘sophomore sound’, like every band falls into it. So for this record, we were just like, ‘whatever, let’s do whatever we want, and let’s not care’. So we still made music that we’re totally behind, and spent more time on it than anything we’ve done, and I think people do like some of the new songs that we play live.
Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” is a heavyhearted combination of somber vocals and strings-meet-hard-beats melodies. Del Rey’s vocal performances are beautiful, haunting and at times perfectly erratic. Her style is unexampled and her lyrics are a strange mix of tragedy, materialism and sorrow. Del Rey’s doleful voice holds the album together brilliantly and brings an overwhelming feeling of heartache. I don’t know exactly how I would categorize this album’s genre; it is so much more than pop. “Born To Die” blurs the lines between real and the fake, and Del Rey’s voice is unmistakable.
Favorite Track: Blue Jeans
This is an interview I did with Toronto’s Michala Todd for Youthink magazine. YT: Some of your songs are clearly aimed at teenagers facing high-school struggles, what was your high-school experience like? YT: Do you have any other interests or passions besides music? YT: Criticism can often be hard to take, how do you deal with feedback from critics and fans?
YT: What was it like to release your EP Millions Of Pieces?
MT: It was a really great experience. I got to go to Nashville and it’s my first EP that I got to co-write on! I got to experience how to write a song and the process of putting the track together. Coming up with the title of the EP was pretty hard. We went through a bunch of different titles and we couldn’t really get the right one but we finally came up with Millions Of Pieces. All these songs that I sing and all these songs that I helped write are pieces of me, so it’s like a big puzzle of who I am.
YT: You’re currently gearing up for a huge international campaign around your single, Make It Work. What can you tell us about the upcoming video for this song?
MT: I finished shooting the Make It Work video in North Carolina and that was really fun. It was my first music video so I didn’t really know what to expect. We shot it in three days and we have the finished product - we’re just waiting to release it. So, yeah! We’re excited for everyone to see it!
YT: How would you describe your live show? Do you have a favorite song to perform?
MT: I really like Make It Work. It’s one of the more upbeat dance songs and I feel the crowd really gets into it. We’re hoping to do a full-length album, so that’s kind of the direction that I want to take the next album, more of the upbeat dance songs, kind of modern.
MT: It was pretty good, actually, no really big issues. I had really great friends… I figured out who my true friends are - you know when you get into high school versus elementary school. I think the biggest thing was that I really found people who supported me, whether I was recording or doing a photo shoot or just performing.
YT: How do you find a balance between music, school and a normal teenage social life?
MT: It’s pretty easy. I always set out time each day to practice my music and guitar and sit down and do some songwriting… I always find a balance. I’ll hang out with friends on weekends and focus on my music during the week.
MT: I love skiing in the winter! I’m not very good at it, but I really like it! Nobody in my family wants to do it with me so I just go by myself (laughs). I also love working out, which is kind of good because it gives me time to think. I’ll be working out and be like, “Oh this would be a good idea for a song.”
YT: I read on your Twitter page that you recently started guitar lessons, how is that going?
MT: I started taking lessons about a year ago and knew the basic stuff, and I kind of stopped and I wanted to get back into it. It’s just really good for being able to write songs - have the chords behind it and eventually I want to be able to perform with the guitar.
MT: I like getting the criticism. It helps me grow as an artist and helps me see what people like and what people don’t like. I mean, I want my fans’ honest opinions; they’re going to be the ones buying my stuff and coming out to the concerts so I want to hear all the criticism and be able to change stuff.
YT: Is there anyone’s opinion that you value most?
MT: My mom’s. My parents keep me grounded and I really trust their opinions. Also my sister… she’s younger than me but she knows what’s good in teen music and stuff (laughs). She helps me get ready for performances and helps me choose outfits.
YT: In your eyes, what has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
MT: Well, I work really closely with the D.A.R.E. program. I took D.A.R.E. when I was in elementary school; it’s a drug awareness program for kids. It helps them understand the negative effects of drugs and alcohol and how to stay away from them - and how to stand up to peer pressure and to believe in their dreams. I really like working with that program. I get to sing to the kids and they get to hear my songs and it’s a demographic that I want my music to go to, so that’s really great. I also get to talk to them and see them after. Also, I got to go to Nashville and sing at the Opryland Hotel for the international D.A.R.E. conference, I got to bring my whole band and I got to sing in front of I think it was like, 2000 officers, so that was a lot of fun.
This is an interview I did with Toronto’s Michala Todd for Youthink magazine.
YT: Some of your songs are clearly aimed at teenagers facing high-school struggles, what was your high-school experience like?
YT: Do you have any other interests or passions besides music?
YT: Criticism can often be hard to take, how do you deal with feedback from critics and fans?
Neon Indian - Era Extraña
Reminiscent of the early eighties, Neon Indian’s third album is a brilliant collection of synth-tastic instrumentals, kaleidoscopic guitar riffs and acrid ballads. “Era Extraña” has an overall haunting, psychotropic feel, and if you’re looking for some relaxed, ethereal listening, this album is all that and more. These futuristic “chillwave” songs are an excellent compilation of nostalgic synthpop ballads. Although, the washed out, lo-fi sound can become tiresome really quickly and unless you’re in the right mood, 45 minutes of synthesizer can be hard to take. I’d say this album is best kept for long drives in the rain, or as background music in your friend’s basement.
Favorite Track: Fallout
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