Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


Inbreeding a winning heart

By Jamie Lynn
Gazette Staff

Within the dance community, one of the latest sensations to sweep across the club scene has been a form of music called "drum and bass." What few tend to realize, however, is that The Inbreds have been Canada's premiere drum and bass combo for a number of years. The difference is that the Halifax band is a sensational pop-rock group that has spent the majority of its existence as a duo, convincing skeptics everywhere that these two instruments are all that they need.

Fresh off the release of their raw and wonderful new record, Winning Hearts, The Inbreds have returned with many of the same earnest qualities that have made their entire body of work so engaging. At the same time, they have continued to update and perfect their very distinct musical style.

"The album is probably a little more raw than on other records," explained the band's lead singer and principle songwriter, Mike O'Neill. "But that wasn't really a conscious decision. I used the biggest amplifiers I've ever used on an album and it was recorded in a room where the music was just completely cranked. But [producer and former Rheostatics drummer] Dave Clark, sensing what we were going for – a heavier fuzz sound – responded by making sure the drums had a real roomy sound. But each song was treated completely differently."

Lyrically, The Inbreds' albums have always been quite unique. Underneath the crunching bass and multi-layered harmonies are words which are as consistently compelling as they are infectious and fun. "For me, I'm happy with my lyrics when it's just a series of words that fit really well with the music. That's about as much as I think about it."

Still, O'Neill is always making changes to his writing style. "I write about very personal things but I try to make it a little ambiguous to protect myself. When we started as a band I wrote very specific songs and that was good, but it was very harsh. I find you can be more clever about it now. I admire [The Tragically Hip's] Gord Downie's ability to write about things that don't seem that personal. But the advantage to writing about things that you feel is that maybe people will be sympathetic."

The band also seems excited about their current situation as independent artists. When their former record company, TAG, went bankrupt shortly after the release of their under-heard second album Sydney or the Bush, they decided to sign with Murderecords. As a result, the band has been thrilled with all of Murder's assistance, including Chris Murphy's directorial talents, which were recently used on the band's new video for the single "Attitude."

"Chris had the idea to do a video that takes keys from A&E's Biography show," explained drummer Dave Ullrich. "It's basically a two-hour show in two minutes. The character portrayed is loosely based on Houdini, whom Mike plays in the video – requiring a lot of stunt work and acting. But [Murphy's] approach on this one was definitely good."

So, after a short tour of Ontario, The Inbreds next stop will be in San Antonio, Texas where they will be a part of the prestigious South By South-West music festival. Before then, however, they'll be bringing their always fantastic live show to London on Sunday. Despite Call The Office's decision to schedule the show in the afternoon, The Inbreds are guaranteed to be winning hearts long after the sun goes down.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998