Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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Musician flunks out of Western to play The Organ

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

"I went to Western in '95/'96 when I was 18. I drank myself into a permanent stupor, gained almost 30 pounds, fell in love, made a million friends – none of whom I remember – and like so many other students at Western, I failed out and went home. I haven't been back since."

No, this isn't part of Western's new ad campaign to scare off potential candidates in preparation for the impending double cohort. It's Katie Sketch, and she did come back – well, back to London anyway. Last week she showcased at Gravity Club as the lead singer of The Organ, a Vancouver-based band that has suddenly been making waves across Canada.

The Organ formed in 2001 and released Sinking Hearts in September 2002, which has been highly successful on the Canadian campus radio scene, peaking at number 2 on CHRW 94.7 FM's charts. They've since been signed to a "hybrid" record deal, began recording a new album and kicked off a tour that will take them through Ontario and Quebec.

Still developing, yet highly touted locally, the band was hesitant to sign a record deal early this year.

"We decided that it was too early to sign to a label, but Jonathan [Simkin from 604 Records] was very, very persistent. He wanted us to sign and we wanted to wait. One day he asked me what kind of label we thought we belonged to, and I said 'Mint' – just off the top of my head. Jonathan hung up the phone and called Randy [Iwata] from Mint [Records]. Randy liked the idea and here we are," Sketch explains, of the peculiar record deal which saw Mint and 604 join forces specifically to work with The Organ.

The Organ, a name adopted because it personifies the tones of the Hammond organ emanated by the band, has often been allied with the great depressive bands of the 1980s, such as The Smiths, The Cure and Joy Division. Sketch has learned to accept the inevitable comparisons.

"If we must be compared to other bands – and we must – then those comparisons are fine by me," Sketch says. "It's impossible to say who influenced me most. Probably every song I've ever heard has had an effect on me in some way. That's why I try not to listen to too much crap. I regurgitate what I'm fed easily."

The band entered the studio in early February to begin work on their first album, and despite – or perhaps because of – input from all five musicians, development has been heading in the right direction so far.

"It's going really well. Writing songs has always been a lengthy process for us. My lyrics are emotional, and usually pretty dark. They're definitely autobiographical, so I try to keep the specifics to myself," Sketch says.

Despite the recording contract, the tour, and the inevitable pressure those things embody, the band has remained unruffled. According to Sketch, the pressure has always come from within the band, and has never been imposed from the outside.

Perhaps a little apprehensive, The Organ has plenty on its plate as they embark on their tour.

"It's hard for us to think any further than the immediate future. We're in the middle of making an LP and we're about to go on tour. This is our first tour. We haven't a clue what to expect," Sketch admits.

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2002 THE GAZETTE