Volume 95, Issue 51

Friday, November 30, 2001
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Bullfrog hops back into London swamp

Porn o' Plenty

Monopoly masters lunch game

Band doesn't mind the provincial gap

Heavy metal that's... poetic?

Bullfrog hops back into London swamp

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Bullfrog is hippity-hopping back to London. But first, the band members have to survive each other and arrive in one piece.

"They're so annoying today," jokes Kid Koala about his cohorts. "[They're] fuckin' children! We live in a van and it's my family. We've been together for fuckin' years. It's the live shows that keeps us together – not the travelling part."

Since their last visit to Call the Office earlier this fall, Kid Koala (aka Eric San) and his fellow Bullfrogs have released their first full-length album. Although the self-titled album is an accomplishment the band is really proud of, San stresses Bullfrog is still a live experience.

Gazette File Photo

"Our thing was to just sort of capture some of these tunes in one or two takes and try to do minimal overdub or studio trickery – to try to capture the fact that we're a six-piece band," San says. "There's also snippets from live shows and we tried to segue it altogether. It isn't just a studio project, we're definitely a live band."

The record's live feel shouldn't surprise anyone. Nine years ago, lead singer and guitarist Mark Robertson was first introduced to San's turntable mastery when he saw Koala play at the Montreal club, Savoy. San soon joined Robertson's band in basement jam sessions.

"[Mark] invited me down to go check them out. I went to a rehearsal in his basement one afternoon and there was an instant chemistry thing with me and Max [Sansalone], the drummer. Max and I were introduced to the band at the same time and we decided to play together. I brought them on to the Savoy thing and we became the resident lineup." San explains.

"We were never really [more than] three or four days away from a live show, so it was good for us, we got to try new ideas out on live audiences – live specimens," he recalls.

Despite the attention San has received for his solo work, he is quick to point out Bullfrog is his top priority. It is a large, talented family of musicians in which each member plays an equally important role.

"There's no super dictators in the band," he says. "As far as the songwriting's concerned, it's just whatever ideas are brought to the board. They're just interpreted by everybody. They'll always find a way to breathe a different angle into [my tracks] and turn it into a new track.

"Sometimes Mark will just show up with some chords and some lyrics or something and we'll just go with that. For me, that's always been a challenge – it's not some hip hop or funk break that's a more conventional platform for turntables. For me, that's what I appreciate about this project. I welcome opening it up so I find other parts to work," San says.

Every member's desire to excel, invent and evolve is what drives Bullfrog to experiment and create new sounds to perform. The key, however, is still the band's inexhaustible chemistry.

"[Everyone is] kind of a music snob in their own right, so when we come together, it's like we're never happy with it just being a gratuitous MC part or gratuitous guitar part or a gratuitous turntable part," he says.

"It's all about the song, trying to find something tasteful and meaningful."

Bullfrog plays Call the Office with Parkside Jones tomorrow night. Doors open at 9 p.m. and tickets are $12 in advance.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001