Volume 93, Issue 82

Tuesday, March 7, 2000


Simon & Milo offer Prozzak to hopeless romantics

Trio's huge success shows no sign of fading

Pop duo winning on all fronts

Robert Palmer fails at original Rhythm And Blues attempt

Simon & Milo offer Prozzak to hopeless romantics

By Chad Finkelstein
Gazette Staff

A long time ago in a place far, far away, a war broke out between two opposing nations. A bloody grapple ensued and two rival warriors became entangled in an intense confrontation. As they fiercely glared into each other's eyes, the skies parted and a majestic voice commanded that the two must unite, abandon their aggressive instincts and wander the world in search of true and pure love.

That's the impressive fable at the heart of Canada's latest musical triumph, Prozzak – a fusion of traditional pop beats and a unique acoustic sound.

"Simon and Milo have been around for centuries," says James McCollum, one half of the pop sensation. "They're over 300 years old and they were zapped into the 20th century only to become friends and a huge pop success."

Of course, Prozzak's roots are much more contemporary than the historical legend would have some believe – its members are actually a fraction of the popular rock band the Philosopher Kings. What started as a little-known secret is quickly becoming common knowledge – McCollum and fellow bandmate Jay Levine branched off from the Kings to form a creative side project which acts as an outlet for their other musical interests.

"We knew it wasn't gonna work [within] the Philosopher Kings," McCollum says. "It was just this whole different style, so we started singing in this different voice and we liked it. It just kind of evolved."

The result definitely clicked, as evident by the success of infectiously hummable hits "Omobolasire," "Sucks To Be You" and "Strange Disease." In addition to commercial success, Prozzak's cartoon lead singer, Simon, has become a poster boy for hopeless romantics everywhere, something which McCollum didn't expect. Along with sidekick Milo, the duo are two greatly contrasting cartoon characters most recognizable by their respective shut-eyed nonchalance and detached head from body schtick.

"Simon is the little one with the broken heart and Milo is like his friend – there for moral support, who doesn't seem to have the emotional baggage that Simon does," McCollum says. "Milo's eyes are always closed and I think his optimism comes from him not being able to see how cold the world can be." And where did the inspiration from Simon come from?

"It just started as an impression that came out from Jay one day," he smiles. "[It was] this British guy and we didn't know where it came from." The band's debut album, Hot Show, is effectively Simon's show, chronicling his personal mission to find true love, with each song representing a different love-inflicted obstacle along the way.

This creative concept has received recognition throughout Canada from coast to coast all the way to the upcoming Juno Awards, where the hopeless romantics will be performing a selected segment from Simon and Milo's journey.

Though McCollum and Levine take pride in the success of their aesthetic epiphany, they admit Milo and Simon "are actually very egotistical and selfish, so they didn't want to give any credit to us at first."

With its eclectic sound, inspired vision, well-intentioned message and varied influences from all over the musical spectrum, Prozzak seems to have ignited a small revolution with a surprisingly intense following. And their vision of love warrants more than just a one night stand.

While McCollum will not confess whether Simon will ever find true love, he says enough material has been compiled for the story to continue. "The album should leave you with some optimism but at the same time, we're not trying to say that it's easy," James says. "It's a long, winding and treacherous road."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000