The Fuzz with Creator Destroyer , Kyprios and DJ Jinja at the Mod Club (722 College), Friday (January 28). $15, a benefit for the Innocence Project. 416-588-4663. Rating: NNNNN
As adorable a couple as Dan Kurtz and Martina Sorbara are, the relationship is not without its disagreements.
The pair, who recently started a joint music project entitled the Fuzz, lay tracks separately to avoid spats. They explain the process in the basement studio of their holy-crap fabulous house, where two cats are busy rolling around, snarling and playfully trying to kill each other.
"Dan will come down here and do his thing, then he'll play it for me and ask if I like it. Then he has to go upstairs while I record vocals," says Sorbara, showing me the computer they do all their recording on.
"We had a fight last night," she says, then plays me the offending bit of track onto which Kurtz has added backing vocals Sorbara didn't like. They sound fine to me. "Yeah, I'm liking it better now," she agrees.
"It's a much more honest and open experience than any writing relationship I've had before," says Kurtz (the New Deal). "This isn't going to make or break our marriage."
So, there will be no Fleetwood Mac-style drama?
"Well, maybe if we were snorting coke off each others' perineums."
The Fuzz, including Simon Craig on guitar and Joel Stouffer on drums, rocks hooky tunes drawing on power pop and 80s electro, kind of like the Cars, the Police with some Daft Punk and elements of No Doubt, with lyrics about sex and hating people. Great stuff, and a radical departure from Sorbara's lower-key solo work.
"I'm starting to get into the 80s electro stuff now," she says. "My solo work comes from listening to Tom Waits and Dolly Parton, country, that sort of thing. I've always been out of it when it comes to popular music."
"I was into that stuff because I was actually alive and trying to kiss girls at that time," says Kurtz.
"Not only can you borrow overtly from 80s music when making music like ours," Kurtz says, "but also, this is the first time electronic instruments have been available at consumer prices. So people are buying drum machines and synthesizers and putting angry guitars with them, and that's what I'm doing."
The Fuzz started kind of by accident.
"A friend sent me some lyrics," says Sorbara, "so we put them to music. It was called Zombie. It was supposed to be a joke, but we decided we actually really liked it."
Riding the momentum of two well-received gigs in one week, the first at Supermarket and the second opening for Scissor Sisters, the Fuzz take the stage Friday at a benefit for Osgoode Hall's Innocence Project, which works to free wrongly convicted Canadian prisoners.
According to StatsCan, in 2003 Canadian criminal courts entered almost 230,000 convictions. On average, 200 of those guilty verdicts constituted wrongful convictions. That's only .01 per cent, but one wrongful conviction is too many.
"If there was any political activism in my family, it's been in this area. My mother works in law, my uncle was a lawyer, so it's not totally foreign to me. And the Innocence Project is grossly underfunded," Kurtz says.
The Project's work is expensive. Event organizer Ahmed Shafey explains that merely obtaining trial transcripts can cost thousands of dollars.
Raising awareness is a key aim of the event.
"Wrongful convictions are a larger problem than people realize," says Ahmed.
The Project recently celebrated its first major success with the release on bail of Roméo Fillion, who spent 31 years behind bars for a murder it now appears was impossible for him to have committed.
Also featured will be Vancouver's Kyprios (hiphop/funk/rock), Creator Destroyer (indie rock) and DJ Jinja (hiphop/house/rare grooves funk).
While the Fuzz will be performing as the Fuzz, the name isn't necessarily going to stay.
"We were thinking of Gay Paris," says Sorbara. That's Paris pronounced the anglo way, not "Paree," which is an error people are bound to make. This she sees as a potential problem.
I suggest that perhaps they might spell it Gay Pariss, to avoid disaster, but she dismisses the idea, saying, "I don't like to mispell things."
Fine. Scroo yoo.