BOY with PILATE , MEMORY BANK and PETER ELKAS at the Mod Club (722 College), Wednesday and Thursday (December 14 and 15). $18.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Boy's Stephen Kozmeniuk sounds like shit today. Maybe he's sick of doing press, or maybe he's just in difficult artist mode. Either way, he's not talking. Then he tells me he just got back from a two-month tour. I clue in - the guy must be nursing a giant hangover. So, lots of partying, huh?
"Oh, incredible amounts," concedes Kozmeniuk, 22. "I'm still trying to recover. We were getting sauced every night, so I got really sick as soon as we got off the road."
The last time I spoke to him he was extremely talkative. It was about 18 months ago, and he was preparing to hit the road for his first headlining tour. The slick video for his first single (French Diplomacy) was all over MuchMusic, and the national media - trying to get a handle on this kid who created a string-laden opus in his Whitehorse bedroom - threw around words like "genius" and "wunderkind."
For once, the buzz seemed justified, too. Boy's debut was the sound of Damon Albarn, Jeff Lynne and Noel Gallagher making out on a couch in the control room of Abbey Road Studios.
A week after that chatty phone conversation, though, I watched as a tranquilized Kozmeniuk and a proficient but uninspired backing band limped through a snoozy set at a half-empty club.
Boy, did they look bored.
And while it was clear that Kozmeniuk had talent, unless he wanted to hire an orchestra every time he played live, he needed a new approach.
"You learn that a lot of people are full of crap in this industry," says Kozmeniuk, referring to the lessons of the past year. "You learn to make your own destiny and surround yourself with the right people."
It's no surprise that Kozmeniuk ditched the bedroom genius routine, turned Boy into a full-on rock band and got to work on a riff-heavy new album.
The pieces of the puzzle fell into place last year after a chance meeting on Vancouver Island. "I met (drummer) Maurie Kaufmann in a music shop in Nanaimo, and we got to talking," says Kozmeniuk. "It turned out that he's a really smokin' drummer and wanted to get out of Nanaimo."
Also apparently dying to get off the island was guitarist Rolla Olak. The lineup is rounded out by long-time Boy bassist and Winnipeg native Steve Payne and Toronto's James Robertson.
Recorded in a cabin back on Vancouver Island with Sloan producer Brenndan McGuire, the new record turns up the amps, kicks up the tempos and rocks like early Rod.
"I wanted to do something that was easier to play live," says Kozmeniuk. "A lot of this album was a reaction to the last one. Only a few of those songs have translated well live."
Even with all the rocking and rolling, though, Kozmeniuk's knack for melody remains firmly intact.
"If you look at how we did this record, it wasn't that different from my bedroom anyway," he explains. "I was still really involved, but it was more of a communal thing."
The kid learns fast, it seems.
"I do feel wiser," adds Kozmeniuk. "I would've formed a band a lot sooner, but I just didn't meet anyone in the Yukon."
Which brings us back to partying. It seems that Kozmeniuk is having a gas.
"We don't get bored up there," he says. "A lot of bands want to be serious or weird or quirky. We just want to have fun."