The Meligrove Band CD release with the OLD SOUL, SPITFIRES & MAYFLOWERS and DJ SHIT LA MERDE at the Mod Club (722 College), Friday (January 13), all ages. $7. 416-588-4663. Rating: NNNNN
Sitting down over coffee to talk shop with the Meligrove Band feels more like taking a lecture course called How To Make It As An Indie Rock Band 101.
They're going through a list of 10 years' worth of personal and band do's and don'ts. Guitarist/organist Andrew Scott offers up some good advice for new underage bands: "We actually started in Toronto by not telling promoters we were under 19 and playing in bars a couple of times a month."
A pretty ballsy move, considering that they all grew up in Mississauga not exactly a 10-minute ride on the subway to get to a gig or practice. At least now the band, whose sound singer Jason Nunes describes not in terms of genre but of aesthetic ("We know we like loud, we know we like high-energy and we know we like perkiness those are the guidelines"), can say they've all officially made the jump to the big city, even if it means changing up their rock routine a little.
As Scott explains, "In some ways it's more difficult to make music down here, because we don't have our parents' houses any more. You can't just go to anyone's basement and make a bunch of noise and not have people complain. In the suburbs you could do that. Now we have to pay for it."
But that's where the lecture probably makes its most important point: if you put up with all the bullshit of a billion commutes downtown and working to pay for rehearsal space, things may eventually begin to pay off which is exactly what happened to the Meligrove guys in 2005.
In fact, it's safe to say that 05 was a banner year for the foursome rounded out by drummer Darcy Rego and bassist Michael Small. They moved up to the big time with the release of their new album, Planets Conspire, on V2 Records, launched by former Virgin mogul Richard Branson, whose roster includes Gang of Four, Bloc Party and former Kinks singer Ray Davies.
It started in late summer when all the hard work and a little luck found them being courted by longtime friend and local über-promoter Eric Warner. But Small is quick to dispel any notion of an overnight rock 'n' roll success story.
"As a booker, Eric was always a friend to us as a band, and when he hooked up with [V2] we were one of the first things on his mind. He told us we needed something to show the label. We did, they liked it, and that's about it. There wasn't any mystique behind it."
They already have plenty to look back on, like playing with Dinosaur Jr. and Ted Leo, among others, which leads to another key point (it may be on the test, so take notes): being in a band lets you do some pretty cool stuff you wouldn't normally be able to do.
"My highlight was swimming in the ocean," says Scott. "That was exciting for me because that's not any other show, that's not any other day; it's something that the band brought me that isn't normal. When you're on tour playing shows every day, it's a show regardless of who it's with, but it's not every day you get to hang out with your buddies and go for a swim."
After a few years of steady touring, the band members obviously have their share of highs and lows, like having their steering column bust up in Saskatoon according to Small, "in the worst, crappy city-limits part of town where we were staying in a cinder-block room with no windows."
Scott concludes the lecture by offering the band's simple and effective approach to coping with lousy situations. Their rough-and-ready attitude has seen them through some miserable times and allowed them to grow from 17-year-olds from the burbs into a full-fledged rock band. "But we made it through and we made it fun and it wasn't that bad."
Man, these guys should give a seminar or something.