Volume 92, Issue 23

Thursday, October 15, 1998

talk it out


They paint a mean picture

Photo by Ivan Otis & Margaret Malandruccolo

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE OLD MEANIES? These New Meanies will be showing their skills at The Spoke on Saturday night.

By Erin Phelan

Gazette Staff

The New Meanies are a band engrossed in evolution – learning the ins and outs of the music industry and experiencing the differences between independence and major record label status.

The last two years have served as both classroom and training ground for the Winnipeg-based group, with the past 13 months spent touring in support of their freshman release, Three Seeds. Countless interviews are teaching the band the importance of having a single on the radio before they hit a new town, far from the safety of a supportive home crowd or their parents' basements.

"[Our career] has really turned around for us," says bassist Sky Onosson. "One thing I can say is that it is always getting better. Things have been going up since day one."

The band's music is a collaborative effort with lead vocalist Damon Mitchell writing most of the lyrics. Jeff Hondubura and drummer Jason Kane joined the band in playing the local scene, which led to releasing two independent projects and then signing to Virgin Records.

"Everybody thinks that's the moment when it turns around for you," Onosson says wryly. "But it's not. We worked on our songs and went into the studio. A year later Three Seeds was released. The process is slow."

A huge difference for the New Meanies has been the support from Virgin. Along with the non-stop touring, they have also filmed a video in Mexico City. The release of the album brought the band to a new level – a level they are looking forward to working from once they get into the studio in 1999.

"We didn't really have ourselves together, as a band, as much as we would have liked," says Onosson about their first studio endeavor. "We wanted to have this real group idea and direction and I don't think it came together as well as it could have. Now we know what is involved [in the studio] we will use that knowledge next time."

Touring has kept The New Meanies busy while offering new perspectives to their music. However, this busy schedule also translates to a lack of down time in which they could work on new material. But all four members of the band want to wait until they have a substantial period to sit and write together.

Their experiences on stage have given them the chance to play off the audience's energy and slowly become a self-professed live band. "[Being on the road] isn't always easy and there are definitely times when arguments flare up and fights occur," Onosson says.

"It all depends on how you approach it. If you take it in a bad way then you are going to have a bad time. I love being out there, so I have a good time."

Their music is a gritty melange of thick and energy-packed sounds which stem from such influences as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, whose styles have seeped their way into Onosson's writings. His deep, full bass lines lend support to pure, uninhibited rock.

Even though the band's karma is riding high, their drive keeps them striving further. "There's definitely room to improve," Onosson admits. "It's kind of tricky. We're always learning about the right thing to do – we get advice from managers and reps at the record company. We're learning what works and what doesn't. We now see the effect of having a song on the radio, of having videos and of doing interviews before the show. You begin to see how that all fits together."

The New Meanies' career is a jigsaw puzzle and its pieces are all coming together. Let's just hope when the picture is complete, it's one worth keeping.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998