|Volume 92, Issue 61
Friday, January 15, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Finding themselves in The Grand scheme of things
©Gazette File Photo
THE VARIOUS POSITIONS POSSIBLE WITH FOUR ROCK 'N' ROLL STARS. These boys next door are actually London's New Grand, who'll jump off the couch onto the stage Saturday night at Call the Office with special guests the Local Rabbits and Buddy.
By Michael Murphy
Tim Smith and Malcolm Scott both walk and talk like normal university students. In fact, both exude such an endearing guy-next-dorm-room quality it's nearly impossible to mistake them for up and coming rock stars.
Yet the fact remains that Smith and Scott are two upper-year Western students who both sing and play guitar for The New Grand, a London-based pop rock team who have already released two full-length albums and currently enjoy relative eminence on the Canadian indie rock scene. Drummer Pat Morgan, bassist/vocalist Mike Clive and recent addition Matt Kersnler on organ round out the group's energetic roster.
Originally operating under the appellation Trout, the group managed to establish itself with 7" singles and compilation appearances before tenderly surrendering its CD virginity to Sonic Unyon Records in 1996. This studio deflowering resulted in a self-titled debut album and was followed up two years later with The New Grand's sophomore effort, Incognito.
Often characterized as upbeat power pop, the band's music has been enthusiastically embraced by scores upon scores of Canadian rock fans. Smith relates his own thoughts on The Grand's style, suggesting it might take more than one adjective to describe the group's sensibility.
"I think our music is generally pretty upbeat," Smith says. "No one likes a whiner, but our lyrics [and] our songs aren't just about being happy or driving around in golf carts." Eat your heart out Hootie!
When asked what one could expect from a New Grand live show, Smith responds with a definitive description, delivered with mock Gene Simmons-esque ferocity. "Three and a half hours of rock and roll. I can't take it anymore," he snarls, like a man possessed. However, Smith then returns mentally and earnestly addresses the vital issue of audience attitude.
"When we started out, many years ago, it just seemed like everyone let go a little more and had a better time and just sort of got into the music and didn't worry about looking like lame-os. Now, everyone just sort of stands there with their arms crossed and they clap after songs and they watch you the whole show, but it seems more like they're analyzing you more than enjoying the music."
They've now toured territory from sea to shining Canadian sea, but despite their new found worldliness, The New Grand still seem to heartily enjoy playing the occasional Forest City gig. "We can always count on people coming out and having a good time in London," Smith comments. "And we don't have to drive anywhere after the show or anything."
On the business side of things, these mates seem thankful for their moderate successes, but definitely aren't clinging to Lear jet dreams and unrealistic groupie fantasies. "In the music industry it's easy to get disillusioned," Smith honestly states. "But you've just gotta keep making music because you want to."
Since producing their second album and braving the rigours of a cross-country touring schedule last year, this ensemble have been more or less inactive of late.
"We've kinda taken a bit of a hiatus over the last couple months," Scott says. "We're just kinda getting back into the swing of things and trying to get together more often to work on the old songs and start getting into new territory."
On the surface, these two easily fit the description of the average Canadian university student. Heck, they might even be in one of your classes. But beware Western, because behind their easygoing, unassuming facades, Smith and Scott are insidiously concealing something scary the pointy horns and scaly green skin of rock and roll trolls.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999