Volume 96, Issue 10
Friday September 13, 2002

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Hell's a blazin' at the Office!

Gazette File Photo

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

If you wander into Call The Office tomorrow night, you might think there is some kind of a cult meeting or Halloween party going on – and in a way, you would be right.

The Matadors are no strangers to the darker side of things. This London band, comprised of Joel Parkins on guitar, Jeff Shepard on stand-up bass and Steve Ormerod on drums, has been rocking this city for a few years, gathering a cult following of fans. On Saturday, they will finally be releasing their first full-length CD, Hellblazin'.

Although the band started out playing a more traditional style of rockabilly, they have since progressed from what you can hear on their 1999 demo to a more unusual style and sound.

"There is not a huge change. Really, we used the same kind of approach, live off the floor, and that was it," explains Parkins, also the lead vocalist. "The music is a bit different; there is a lot more messing around with sounds and tones. We used to be a lot more traditional rockabilly. Now it is a bit rawer sounding."

The album was recorded here in London at Infinity Studios and features 10 dark blazin' tracks. It's a little bit country and a whole lotta rock 'n' roll.

Parkins hails from St. Thomas (just outside of London) and admits that his obsession with horror started there.

"St. Thomas is like the land that time forgot. There is a theatre there called The Capital where they had a Saturday matinee movie when I was growing up. They always showed old movies like the ones that my dad had seen there when he was a kid. So growing up, I saw a bunch of crazy movies like Dracula," Parkins explains.

Mix Parkins' horror roots with musical influences like muddy watered jazz and the Chicago blues scene and you have quite the unique mix. In fact, when The Matadors first began playing in London, there were no other bands like them.

Here in London, The Matadors frequently take the stage at Call The Office, which is where they'll be holding their CD release party.

"We also have a show with The Damned coming up which is really cool," Parkins says. "Then our bass player is leaving to go on tour with another band for a month. So while he is gone, we will just book a bunch of shows."

Parkins says the band will most likely tour the "golden horseshoe" in southern Ontario, then hopefully move on to the United States.

"We do feel a little out of place sometimes playing in London. When we started, there were no rockabilly bands at all. After we started doing it, eventually a bunch began to pop up, like The Black Holes, who are great, however, that is also one reason we became a little heavier – to continue to do something different," admits Parkins.

"Our live show is nuts. We run a bunch of fog machines and we have these guys who dress up in "ghoulie" costumes and sing backups. Plus, our bassist spends more time on his bass than on the ground.

"The live show has always been more important than the disc for us," says Parkins. "We have always had two versions of every song: the one we record and the one we play. You can have a lot more fun with it live."

If you miss The Matadors this Saturday, they are playing again on Friday, Oct. 4 with The Damned and Tiger Army at Call The Office.

Parkins promises it'll be a great show.

The Matadors are holding a CD release party for their new album Hellblazin' tomorrow night at Call The Office (216 York St.). Tickets are $5. The album will be on sale for $10 at the show. Call 432-BAND for more information.

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2002 THE GAZETTE