Now that we've put together lists of real-deal 50 Best Toronto Albums Ever, the Top 10 Toronto Hip-Hop Singles, the Top 10 Toronto Dance Singles, and the Top 10 Toronto Punk 7-Inches, it's only fitting that we index a bunch of the fake bands that helped define Toronto's fictional music culture. Even though these bands aren't "real" in any standard sense - though really, what even is it to be "real," really? - their presence in Toronto's made-up music scene helped propagate the city's image as a musical hub - the kind of place where kids could pick up instruments and jam in their garages, writing songs about their own band name and trampoline girls.
5. Armada (a.k.a. Rod Torfulson's Armada, a.k.a. Rod Torfulson's Armada Featuring Herman Menderchuk), from The Kids In The Hall
The dorks in Armada spent entirely too much time practicing their sound check, and sometimes arrived to practice not having eaten. Still, this plucky trio captured everything about the teenage dream of "making it," especially the part where you spend most of your time talking about "making it." It's tough to argue with the rough-hewn, almost Shaggs-esque garage rockiness of tunes like Jackie's Eyes, Drink The Bleach, and of course, Trampoline Girl.
4. Trigger, from Bruce McDonald's Trigger
Bruce McDonald's film about two musicians and former best friends (Molly Parker and Tracy Wright) spending a lonely night together long after their band broke up feels like more of a sequel to the seminal Hard Core Logo than Hard Core Logo II did. (In fact, Trigger was originally planned as a vehicle for Hard Core Logo stars Hugh Dillon and Callum Keith Rennie.) But Trigger stands on its own merits. It's as much a love letter to Toronto's music scene as Hard Core Logo was a hate letter to Vancouver's (and all of Canada's). And it also provides some pretty fun conceptual links between a handful of rock ‘n' roll tinted Canadian movies, working in references not only to Hard Core Logo (Rennie reprises his role as Billy Talent) but also Reg Harkema's Leslie, My Name Is Evil, the soundtrack album to which appears in Don McKellar's character's apartment.
3. Grain, from David's Town
There's a reason Fucked Up's David Comes To Life ranked so highly on our Best Toronto Albums Ever list. The record's a hulking mountain of ambition, down to the band going so far as recording a tie-in album of fake bands from the fake city the record's story unfolds on. So no, Grain is not technically a "fake Toronto band." Rather, they're a fake band from the fake UK industrial town of Brysdesale Spa, fronted by real Toronto musicians, with One Hundred Dollars' Simone Schmidt on vocals. But you know what? We think members of a real Toronto band faking as a fake English band is probably fake enough to qualify. And on an album comprised mostly of early punk influences, Grain's dreamy, Fleetwood Mac-ish rock number stands above the rest.
2. Sex Bob-Omb, from Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim (and Edgar Wright's film, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World)
Outside of the Degrassi universe (Degrassiverse?), Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim comics are likely responsible for creating the most fake Toronto bands - or at least fake bands that played the fake, hyper-real version of Toronto crafted in O'Malley's books and Edgar Wright's subsequent film. But chief amongst these was the l'il-garage-band-that-could, featuring O'Malley's titular l'il-self-obsessed-geek-that-could on bass.
1. The Zits (a.k.a. The Zit Remedy), from Degrassi Junior High and Degrasi High
Granted, the Zits may have been one hit wonders. But they milked their bass-driven pop-rocker "Everybody Wants Something" like a jersey cow. Featuring the combined talents of Snake, Wheels and Joey Jeremiah - three best friends whose lives would go very different ways as they grew up, and apart from each other - The Zits were like the non-satiric, alarmingly earnest equivalent to Armada. They may not have had as many hits as Gourmet Scum or the Savages, sure. But if there's one fake band that sums up the spirit of Toronto music, it'd have to be the Zits.