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Volume 91, Issue 25
Thursday, October 9, 1997
Gandharvas break it down
DON'T LOOK AT ME I DIDN'T DO IT. The Gandharvas present their local London rock Friday night at the NAC, with special guests The New Grand and Salmonblaster.
By Jamie Lynn
In 1995, after the release of Kicking in the Water, The Gandharvas' sophomore release, many assumed the band had reached its commercial peak. While this record did contain some glorious and infectious singles, the album as a whole seemed too complex for a mass audience seduced by power-chord flash. Yet, less than a month ago, these hometown boys released their third album, Sold for a Smile and they've become the band everyone's talking about.
"We just tried to simplify things on this album," explained lead singer Paul Jago, from his London home. "We're a five-piece band and that's all you hear on the new record. We didn't do a lot of overdubs or complicate the songs it's a reductionists approach."
This new formula seems to have worked. "Downtime," the band's current single, is tearing its way up the modern rock and even Top 40 radio charts. The song is, by far, the most accessible the Gandharvas have released to date, but Jago insists things haven't really changed that much for the band.
"It's cool to see more people interested in the music and see them react so well to it. We're just doing what we've always been doing to full rooms, instead of half empty rooms." Jago is quick to point out the band "still does a lot of pretty crazy and inventive things that your average Top-40 band wouldn't do."
The "Downtime" video, which is currently in heavy rotation on MuchMusic, also provided a new angle of the band. It's an energetic piece shot in Toronto on one of the most beautiful days of the summer. One reason the video is particularly exciting to watch is because of all of Jago's hip-swinging dance moves which captivate the viewer. The soft spoken Jago recounts the day when he became the true frontman performer.
"When we were discussing the video, I was saying to our director 'If you want me to stand there like some brooding, self-emulating rock star, I'm not gonna do that. I'm not a human prop. I'm just gonna dance and that's gonna be the video.' Now I'm comfortable watching it because I don't feel set up in a frame. Since we shot that video, the whole band got a little more comfortable with the presentation of ourselves."
Writing songs, however, is still what Jago feels most comfortable doing. While Sold for a Smile may have a more accessible sound, the lyrics are rather challenging and mature for such a young band. While Jago does not think in terms of themes while composing the lyrics, the ideas usually come from various related experiences.
"I throw in what I've been thinking about and just try to condense my thoughts. My goal is to make each line as powerful as possible. I may throw in references to books I've read, or conversations I've had, or things I've overheard. I discover the theme afterwards."
This fresh songwriting style and original music gives The Gandharvas a true edge over so many other bands which seem to recycle the same sound forever.
The Gandharvas certainly have no downtime in sight. The band is currently in the midst of a cross-Canada tour that brings them to the NAC tomorrow.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997