Volume 95, Issue 79

Thursday, February 21, 2002
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Joydrop's Juno nod satisfies hunger for success

London's Ruth's Hat rocks the old skool

Disc of the Week

Joydrop's Juno nod satisfies hunger for success

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

Tom McKay is making a living doing what he loves – exploring Canada and many other countries with his band, Joydrop, who have recently been nominated for a coveted Juno Award.

So, what else could he possibly desire?

For starters, a good, home-cooked meal.

"Finding good food is a challenge. You're always going down a highway and you can't always find the places that have the good food. What you see mostly is McDonald's and Wendy's and all that shit," McKay, Joydrop's bassist, says.

Aside from a rotted gut, McKay says hitting the road can be a terrific experience. "There's great things about the road, I mean, just communing with your audience," he says.

McKay and the rest of Joydrop will be part of the audience on Juno night this year. The band is nominated for an award in the Best New Group category, an honour McKay doesn't take lightly.

Gazette File Photo

"It's amazing. It's a huge thing to be nominated for a Juno, whether you win or not. I mean, you'd love to win, but just being nominated is very cool," he says.

Like most musicians, McKay began experiencing live shows from the perspective of a fan. His initial exposure came from Phil Collins and the rest of Genesis when they played a show McKay calls his first big concert experience.

For McKay there is nothing like being part of the live show, no matter what side of the stage you're on.

"You get a record – that's cool – and you listen to it at home, but, for me, going to see a really good show sort of legitimizes it. It's more meaningful that way," he says.

McKay says he and the rest of his Joydrop bandmates strive to leave a lasting impression on their audience.

"Tonnes and tonnes of bands make great records, but a lot of them come out and you watch them and it's like – man, they're kind of lame live. I've always wanted to be one of those bands that goes in and blows people away," McKay says.

Consequently, as Joydrop gains in popularity, the amount of people getting blown away is increasing, but McKay says playing larger venues has done nothing to detract from the energy of a live show.

"I think as a musician you relate to what you can see and you are always able to see people's faces and expressions in the mosh pit and people surfing," McKay says.

He also assures diehard fans an in-your-face experience.

"The people in the front row are still gonna get the sweat flying off my bald head," he laughs.

Despite his band's success, McKay says the aim of a Joydrop song will not be altered by pressure to produce singles. "Everyone's got those songs that are like – bang, that song is going to be with them forever. That's what we try to write," he explains.

He also offers a warning for any band on the brink of success.

"By the time you start writing songs for radio, you're not writing songs for the people who buy records anymore. You're writing it for a format that will sell you and that's like a one way ticket to hell," he warns.

Joydrop's holy path of songwriting has influences that run the musical gamut. "All of us have listened to a broad spectrum of music," McKay says. "It's a good education and it should never stop. You'll hear everything on the tour bus from KISS to Abba," he explains.

So, what do you get when you mix Gene Simmons with the Dancing Queen? "It's definitely rock music, but I always tell people we're a rock band that play rock music with a pop sensibility," he says, in reference to his own band's sound.

McKay was also able to clear up some confusion about "rock" bands of the past. "The Rolling Stones and The Beatles and all these builders, sort of pop stalwarts, they were pop bands – they weren't rock bands. Bands which were rock in those days were much heavier than that," he says.

As McKay looks to the future, he sees a new task on the horizon for his nimble, bass playing fingers. "I'd love to write a book teaching musicians how to get around all the crap this industry is full of," he says.

When the final chapter is written, McKay is certain it will end on a musical note. "I know that I will be playing music live until the day I die," he says.

Hopefully, he can find a decent meal along the way.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002