Volume 95, Issue 57

Tuesday, January 15, 2002
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Breakbeating down the house

Orange County ripe with humour

Six degrees of Nurse Jane

Breakbeating down the house

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

It's about damn time.

That's what some folks are saying as they excitedly prepare for Tuesday night when The New Deal – a band conceived by accident in 1999 – arrive at Fanshawe College for their first-ever London show.

Having performed over 400 shows since their birth, one would assume the New Deal would have been here earlier. But, when you're The New Deal, shows like Moby's Area One tour and performances with Paul Oakenfold and Jane's Addiction at the Coachella Festival likely take precedent.

Not too shabby for a band that has never had a single rehearsal.

"The live shows are the rehearsals," explains Dan Kurtz, bassist and one third of the Toronto-based group.

It makes sense as their first release, This Is Live, began as an experimental coincidence.

The story begins when Darren Shearer (drums and beatbox) invited both Kurtz and Jamie Shields (keyboards) to play with him at his weekly house gig at a Toronto bar.

"It was kind of a pick-up bar – a very loosen-the-tie, get loaded and try and get laid kind of bar. People didn't listen, so we ended up doing whatever we wanted. It got to the point where the owners were like, 'Hey, can you guys play stuff that we know?'" Kurtz recalls.

"We did that and took this little nucleus of what we're doing and went to the local hippie bar in Toronto and jammed out like crazy. We taped that show and listened to the cassette and were like, 'Wow, this is totally wicked, we wrote 10 songs onstage' and that became our first record, [This Is Live]."

Kurtz is quick to point out that the key to the band's success is their popularity south of the border. It wasn't until they were established in the American press that the Canadian media followed suit.

"We didn't really get any press in Canada until we went to New York and got some press right away in The Village Voice and all of a sudden it was like, 'Whoa, these are our guys, they're from Toronto, we love them.'"

The New Deal's hectic schedule of live shows has helped the band's popularity spread like wildfire in the music industry.

Fans will tell you there is absolutely nothing like seeing The New Deal live. Their music is, after all, "live progressive breakbeat house." It is also impressive to see a band that boasts no rehearsals, improvises onstage and plays "electronic" music the good old-fashioned way – with "real" instruments and no sampling or sequencing.

"There's little hand signals and little musical cues and stuff that we'll do to setup. It's never like, 'At minute ten, we're going to do this,'" says Kurtz.

"Typically, what we'll do is lift-off from whatever is spinning on the record before we play and then from there, we'll change it up. It's all pretty much a slave to what's going on in front of us," he says.

Catering to the audience is no easy task, especially when all three members of The New Deal have various musical influences, ranging from jazz to progressive rock. Still, it's all a very positive thing, Kurtz assures.

"If you take Eric Morillo – a straight-up house DJ – he draws a very particular group of people because he plays a very particular kind of music.

"For us, it's like a thousand different styles of music coming together and naturally there's gonna be a thousand different people who are going to come as a result and that's what we like to encourage."

Gazette File Photo

The New Deal play Fanshawe College tonight. Advanced tickets are $3 for Fanshawe students and $6 for non-Fanshawe students. Tickets at the door are also $6.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001