Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


A successful transition that was no mean feat

©Gazette file photo

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

Four guys, kicking a ball around the neighbourhood streets, strumming a few chords together in high school just for kicks – and the next thing they know they're shooting a video in the mountains of Mexico.

Maybe the transition wasn't quite that easy, but The New Meanies aren't arguing with the outcome. Just back from the exotic location shoot and lacking a couple nights of sleep, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Sky Onosson says the transition from casually playing around with his buddies to a hectic recording and touring schedule agrees with both him and the band.

With video shoots down by the equator, what's not to agree with? But touring for the Meanies is not always that nice. "[Life on the road] can go on a little too long sometimes," Onosson says while stifling a yawn. "With the video, we tried to cram as much as we could into a couple days of shooting. We shot until about three in the morning on the first night, then we were all up at 8:30 a.m. for the next day. Granted we weren't shooting all the time, but you always have to be ready to go."

To this energetic band, that means going as hard as possible for as long as possible until every 80-year-old lady and her cat within a five-mile radius of their show is 'going' as hard as they are.

"I do enjoy recording, it's an interesting and different thing," says Onosson, but he insists that the Meanies true love will always be the live show. "We try to get everyone up and jumping – get some interaction going with the crowd."

Onosson and lead vocalist Damon Mitchell, grew up side by side in a little suburb of Winnipeg. Hooking up early on with guitarist Jeff Hondubura and drummer Jason Omand Kane, they spent their formative years hanging out in each other's basements, playing their own version of an unpretentious rock rooted in blues. No big dreams or aspirations, just a few buddies sitting around and experimenting with different sounds and honest lyrics that come for the most part from Mitchell.

Slowly, with a few chords here and a couple of harmonica solos there, The New Meanies began to evolve into a band that has gained a reputation for playing pure and uninhibited rock, with an enthusiasm that's contagious.

The band's second release, Three Seeds, is a testament to their live performances – that in Onosson's opinion, keep the band fresh and avoids the "stagnation sickness" that plagues a recorded track. The ability to improvise and do new things with a song night after night is what Onosson likes the most about playing the circuit. "[Recording] is kind of static. You finish it and it's done. With the live show, it's never finished – you keep playing and reworking a song and coming up with new ideas for it forever."

Gearing up for a tour of Ontario and Quebec in April, Onosson has his sights set high for a busy year conquering most of North America and maybe someday taking The New Meanies for a jaunt across the ocean. "I always wanted to play in China," he admits. "I don't know why, just that whole other-side-of-the-world thing."

From basement tunage to a gig in China, The New Meanies' aspirations have come a long way and they have no intention to bow nicely to anyone – except maybe to fans at The Embassy tomorrow night.

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998