Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Smith redefines strong silent type

Jazzberry loves to spread jam

Fear Factory assembles plans

Jazzberry loves to spread jam

By Terry Warne
Gazette Staff

"If only I had Molly Ringwald's tits," sings Drew Stewart of Jazzberry Ram in the song "Suburbia."

The lyrical content on Jazzberry Ram's new album That Sound We Make is quite a departure from what Drew and his brother Stephen used to write about.

"When I look back on the stuff I've written, a lot of times there's darker lyrics – I'll be writing about inner-city strife or teen suicide, but the music underneath will be quite poppy and funky and funny," Stewart muses. "That juxtaposition happens quite a bit in our music. It kind of freaks me out actually."

Even freakier is the fact Jazzberry Ram has successfully combined a slew of musical styles into a sound which is distinctly their own. Utilizing a sing-song style of rap, the brothers trade off vocal duties on jams which are funky, pop oriented, raucous and hip hop flavoured all in the same mouthful.

"It's pop-based music," Stewart states. "It has a funk, dance edge, but we incorporate bits of hip hop and jazz – it's basically all dance music with our little spin on it."

Jazzberry Ram have just finished recording their new album, a process which included three years of writing and five months of recording in Vancouver's Mushroom Studios. However, performing live is where the band feels it is most successful.

"It's our bread and butter," Stewart claims. "It's how we've sold all of our CDs – we've toured this country a lot and our fan base has grown through word of mouth through our live shows. The shows are generally high-energy, pretty crazy shows. That's where we've grown."

As an independent band, Jazzberry Ram often performs for an audience unfamiliar with their music. This means proving themselves every time they hit the stage.

"There's a perverse pleasure in having to prove ourselves," Stewart decides.

The band has found themselves opening for a number of top Canadian acts such as Big Sugar, Junkhouse and Great Big Sea. When asked how he reaches out to an audience who are there to see another band, Stewart has a candid response.

"If you don't make something happen in the first two songs, then it isn't going to happen. We try to do something crazy off the top to get people to listen. There's nothing worse than getting off the stage after you've travelled all that way and getting no reaction."

Because Jazzberry Ram's sound is so diverse, one might wonder if there is a place for the band on the popular music charts. Stewart thinks there is, but he qualifies that statement.

"I don't know if I see us in a Canadian context," he wonders. "Our music seems a bit too eclectic."

The band has achieved success independently and are now poised to take their music to the next level. The topic of greed arises when Stewart considers what drives the band to succeed.

"Our sound guy says great artists create out of greed and that most art in the world is motivated by greed." When asked if he agrees with that, Stewart pauses and laughs. "Well... it makes sense doesn't it?"

Jazzberry Ram will spread themselves over the Whippet Lounge tonight.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999