The Artist Life: starving artists no longer

Toronto band's latest video in rotation on MuchMusic

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Artist Life

Courtesy Erin O. Photography

YOU'LL NEVER SEE THIS MANY SMILING POP-PUNKERS IN A PICTURE AGAIN. The Artist Life keeps it characterisically upbeat — its pop-friendly, upbeat songs convinced MuchMusic to add the band's music video to its rotation.

The Artist Life lead singer and guitarist Ian Blackwood is passionate about music’s purpose.

“Music should make you think and inspire you. It shouldn’t be some lame song about nothing; it should give you a message, whatever that message is. I don’t care if it makes you want to drink a beer or if it makes you want to help somebody,” Blackwood declares.

From the time Blackwood and guitarist Dean Richards formed the band in 2005 after a chance meeting in Toronto, they decided creating understandable and professional lyrics was a benchmark they would live up to each day.

“We’re influenced by tons of great artists: the Clash, the Ramones, but we try to get our message across without having to scream,” Blackwood says.

Borderline impoverished and constantly looking for gigs, Blackwood and Richards decided on the Artist Life as the perfect name for the band, which has grown to include Chuck Leach on bass and vocals and drummer Jake. It was a fitting ode to their creative lifestyles, then and now.

“I’m also an actor when I’m not doing the band thing,” Blackwood says. “I prefer doing the music but when I’m not doing that, I’m acting.”

With the support of Blackwood’s testosterone-driven voice, songs like “Waiting Room” are receiving airtime on MuchMusic. The song’s upbeat, pop-driven rhymes (“I’ve got a feeling I can’t fight / If everyone’s so sick, am I the only one alright?”) stand out amongst the woeful lyrics of other current punk-inspired acts.

The Artist Life

Perhaps one reason for the Artist Life’s success is its strong roots in the Canadian music scene. Blackwood was formerly a member of southern Ontario punk-rock band Jersey. Jersey, now disbanded, inspired new bands including alexisonfire, Saint Alvia Cartel and the Creepshow. Richards, originally from an East Coast band, blends well with the artistic creativity of Blackwood.

As a relatively new band, the Artist Life may have some kinks to work out, but Blackwood feels he and his bandmates are maturing as a group every day.

“The chemistry between us all is great, our relationship has grown, and we’re all pumped to go out and play a great set,” he enthuses.

With the release of its debut EP Living as a free, eight-song album available online at, the band is hoping to increase its fanbase.

With the incentive of a free album, fans should recognize the band’s songs when they play at gigs across Canada " including a show at London’s Salt Lounge this Saturday night.

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