February 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 77  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Somehow Hollow leave the garage

By Mel Wong
Gazette Writer

Next time Noel and Liam Gallagher are having another one of their little spats, maybe they should turn to the guys of Somehow Hollow for advice.

The boys — Mike Casarin on vocals, Ken Abbott and Shawn Till on guitar, Justin Degraaf on bass and Drew Clark on drums — each sport a tattoo of a crown with the words “Heirs to the Throne,” a visible expression of their friendship and commitment to constantly push themselves to the next level, both in music and life.

“We’ve all known each other for almost 10 years, so we know each other really well,” Casarin says. “We found each other through music and came together because of our love of music.”

Having performed throughout Canada and Europe, and currently making their rounds in the United States to promote their latest album, Busted Wings and Rusted Halos, Somehow Hollow have already taken themselves to stratospheric levels compared to their roots as a garage band from Stratford, Ont..

In the earlier days, it was difficult to distinguish themselves from the more established Canadian emo-rockers Grade. But considering that members of both Somehow Hollow and Grade often found themselves travelling back and forth between the two bands, it’s easy to see where the confusion lies. Even though Grade has since broken up, the comparisons still exist.

“I will admit that at times it gets frustrating,” Casarin says. “Grade was an amazing band, and no doubt had influences on every band on the scene in those days, but Somehow Hollow was in existence long before we even knew who Grade was. We don’t aspire to be like bands — more like human beings who are decent people.”

So if they don’t like being compared to Grade, who do they want to be compared to? Finch? A.F.I.? What would they call their music? Punk? Metal?

“We like to call it music,” Casarin says. “That’s how I would describe it.”

Maybe Somehow Hollow likes to refer to their music as just “music” because they don’t like the constraints of being labelled a band of a certain genre.

Or maybe they just call it “music” because there really is no genre in which they fit. On Busted Wings and Rusted Halos, the instrumentation has the thickness of solid punk, and the pulsing, driving rhythms are reminiscent of metal. The songs have strong, melodic vocal hooks, and the mood ranges from dark and ominous to downright optimistic.

Perhaps the difficulty of classifying their music stems from the fact that, Somehow Hollow isn’t trying to reach into the wallets of any particular subset of people.

“We don’t have a target audience. We play for anybody and everybody,” he says. “Our ultimate goal is to turn everyone on to our music, one by one. You realize a lot by being in a band. Things don’t just come your way. You need to work at it first.”

And the guys of Somehow Hollow have been doing exactly that. While touring and promoting their record, the band has watched their audience grow both in number and enthusiasm.

Indeed, when the band got their “Heirs to the Throne” tattoos, they certainly had the right idea: they must work for their success.

Somehow Hollow play the Embassy Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 28.

 

 

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