Volume 90, Issue 63

Thursday, January 16, 1997



Dancing to a yellow, chunky beat

By Jordan Mitchell
Gazette Staff

There are no one-sixteenth beats. There is no reminiscence of the rave culture. There are not even plastic clothes. However, the four-beat merchants who call themselves A Block of Yellow seem to always get at least one member from their audience dancing.

"There seems to be a dancing response," explains guitarist/vocalist Alex Whalley. "There was some sort of coat dance going on at our last gig in Toronto. We had trouble figuring out what it meant."

A Block of Yellow's appeal to get people off their feet and dancing is rooted in the band's care for providing solid beats and rhythms. Anthony Nastasi (guitar/vocals) believes the reason for this phenomenon is that the songs are "sort of jumpy." The rhythm section, which comprises Terry Vatcher (drums) and Dan Tomas (bass), brings different perspectives on the band's dance sensibilities. Vatcher states, "I come from a much harder rock background, but it's still about putting together good structured songs with strong beats."

Vatcher joined the existing framework for A Block of Yellow, which at the time included Whalley, Nastasi and a revolving bass player. Vatcher says, "I began my involvement with the band when I saw an advertisement for a drummer at my local A & P grocery store while doing my weekly shopping."

"We figured that all drummers have to eat. In fact, everyone has to eat, so what better place to advertise than in a grocery store," explains Whalley of the band's innovative attempt to obtain a backbeat. Dan Tomas put his foot in the revolving door a month later to solidify and complete the quartet.

Most efforts to gain exposure have been through intriguing live shows and a four-track demo tape Hot Flashes. Since the tape was released, the music has evolved; not out of an attempt to become experimental but rather as a result of comfort. Tomas believes "for a band to work, players have to be comfortable and have confidence."

Whalley supports this notion by saying, "We're definitely getting more confidence on stage and with the music, mostly because we have the right members now. However, we still try to work within the boundaries of a pop song."

Taking nods from pop songsmiths such as The Zombies and The Pixies, combined with various influences such as Blue Oyster Cult and King Crimson, the band believes a varied musical agenda is a positive attribute. "We like different flavours of ice cream," giggles Whalley, proving there is good reason to be well-versed in different genres.

The verses and genres will appear more noticeably on a future recording scheduled for release in a couple of months. Tomas says the upcoming release "definitely will not be a CD, nor anything to do with the Internet. The technology is moving too fast."

Nastasi disagrees with this view, saying, "I think it's a good promotional tool, but unfortunately we just don't have the money."

Vatcher adds, "Whatever happens, we want to wait and make sure that we do it right."

In the meantime, A Block of Yellow will sweat behind its instruments tonight at The Whippet Lounge as if participating in an all-night rave. Creating an atmosphere conducive to dancing, the band hopes once again to probe audience members to tap and swing without inhibition.

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca